Cul­ture is their crown

Joondalup Times - - FRONT PAGE - Lau­ren Pi­lat

CAP­TUR­ING strik­ing images of three gen­er­a­tions of em­pow­ered Abo­rig­i­nal fe­males is the ba­sis of Dianella pho­tog­ra­pher Sasha Mor­ti­more’s lat­est project to cel­e­brate Naidoc Week from July 8 to 15.

In­spired by this year’s theme, ‘Be­cause of her we can’, she cap­tured Balga res­i­dent Eve­lyn Mitchell, daugh­ter Anne Mitchell and grand­daugh­ter Dana Wood­ley to rep­re­sent their ma­tri­ar­chal her­itage.

For­mer Mercy Col­lege (Koon­doola) school­mates, Mrs Mor­ti­more (pic­tured, right) and Anne worked to­gether to bring the project to life, with Ms Mitchell and her only daugh­ter Dana (10) fly­ing from Kar­ratha for the oc­ca­sion.

Ms Mitchell, who comes from the Pit­jakarli tribe and is part of the Ny­gangu­marta lan­guage group, said the project recog­nised strong in­flu­en­tial women in her fam­ily who shaped her iden­tity and who taught her how to men­tor younger gen­er­a­tions through a con­nec­tion to her in­dige­nous cul­ture.

“My late grand­mother Lucy Mitchell was a big part of my life grow­ing up and I learnt who I was through her and dis­cov­ered my­self through her tak­ing me back to coun­try and show­ing me where we’re from, out near Telfer where I felt a big sense of be­long­ing,” she said.

“My grand­mother is my roots, my rock and as in­dige­nous peo­ple our grand­moth­ers are who we are and it’s im­por­tant to have that bond be­cause it shapes your iden­tity.”

Lucy Mitchell and her hus­band Ernie helped lead one of the long­est strikes in Aus­tralia where un­paid Abo­rig­i­nal labour­ers stopped work­ing in Pil­bara pas­toral sta­tions.

Ms Mitchell said her mother Eve­lyn grew up know­ing the strength and worth of her mother, which had fil­tered down the gen­er­a­tions.

“My mum is an In­dige­nous men­tor too and she’s helped a lot of In­dige­nous women and men in Telfer through the is­sue of hav­ing a gold mine up there and sup­port­ing them for our land rights,” she said.

“My mother has done so much for other peo­ple, not just In­dige­nous peo­ple but for other cul­tures and I look up to her in that re­spect be­cause she walks in those two worlds, she’s my role model and I wish to show my daugh­ter that we need to help ev­ery­body, not just our peo­ple.”

Pic­ture: Sasha Mor­ti­more (bot­tom right)

Three gen­er­a­tions: Dana Wood­ley, her mother Anne Mitchell and grand­mother Eve­lyn Mitchell.

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