Rich cultures come together
A cultural exchange from across the ditch is helping to build ties between two traditional owner groups separated by some 6000km.
Last year, Russell Museum representative Barrie Bell visited the Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation, where he was given a book on Yindjibarndi culture to take back to the Ngapuhi people of Kaikohe in far north New Zealand.
Now the Ngapuhi have repaid the favour, gifting a book on the life of Maori Kaumatua Riwhi Clarke to Juluwarlu in return last week.
Mr Bell, who was tasked with presenting the book to Juluwarlu, said the two cultures shared many similarities.
“I think the common thread here is the connection with the land — that seems central to all the things that go on,” he said.
“The people here do so much with bush medicine, and do it so successfully. The medical profession doesn’t feel comfortable with it, but often that is the same with Maori medicine.
“Then there’s that idea of the pursuit of excellence — anyone can do that, given the chance, and we have got to encourage Aboriginal people to see more opportunities by themselves.”
Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Lorraine Coppin said it was heartening to get recognition for the work of the corporation.
“We published a couple of books, which we gave to Barrie as a present to take back to his homeland and once Barrie got home, he showed a couple of the elders over there and they were really appreciative of the book,” she said.
“That’s why we brought Kelvin and Henry (Jerrold) — they have sort of been down that path of being on country suffering injustice of society back then, so they can relate to the old fellas’ story.
“It’s similar to our story — the Australian Yindjibarndi story.”
As well as the book, a video message from Mr Clarke was watched by some Yindjibarndi elders at the Juluwarlu offices.
Barrie Bell, left, with Juluwarlu chief executive Lorraine Coppin, Kelvin and Henry Jerrold, and Angus Mack.