By Daniel Jones
It was an early start for Uncle Lyle and I to go pick up James Tanis from Canberra ANU Australian National University. We first took James to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy Sacred Fire, a fire that has burned for 41 years in front of the now old Australian Parliament house Canberra. It is custom to place gum leaves on the sacred fire in prayer and solidarity against the vast injustices First Peoples continue to face throughout this country.
It saddened Mr Tanis deeply who had asked questions about where the Aboriginals where in Canberra and received no answer from anyone up until now. Uncle Lyle gathered some ashes from the Sacred Fire another custom of the Embassies and we head off for the Illawarra region about three hours away.
We arrived a little late to Sandon Point after collecting gum leaves for the welcome ceremony and people where waiting patiently for our arrival. The smoking ceremony and introductions went well with sacred ashes from Canberra added to the fire as we let the fragrant eucalypt smoke cleans our spirits. Lunch was served up next; Kangaroo meet rice and salad thanks to Food Not Bombs Sydney.
We started our discussions in the Geo Dome Tent after a tour of the History Pod (sand bag house) and Uncle Dootch’s recycled housing designs with the garden. I raised the point that Australia should be listening and learning from Melanesians on how to live sustainability and manage land to prevent landlessness and provide food security.
It was explained by Mr Tanis that Women own the land in Bougainville while Men have rights of use and responsibilities to protect the land in respect of the Mothers lineage. Various discussions of profound importance continued, and like always time fly’s when we’re having fun so the time had come to head back up to Canberra. More interesting conversations continued as I drove Mr Tanis back up to Canberra, we talked about planning more meetings with Aboriginal leaders in the future and
extending our networks of International Indigenous Affairs.
It was a pleasure to meet James Tanis and SPATE thanks you for sharing your time,
knowledge and wisdom. Tampara