Elders cel­e­brate his­tory recog­ni­tion

The Western Star - - News -

THE Mitchell Yumba was ded­i­cated as an

Abo­rig­i­nal re­serve in the 1930s and the Depart­ment of Na­tive Af­fairs built a num­ber of cor­ru­gated iron cot­tages to house those who had been moved from un­of­fi­cial fringe camps in the area.

Sev­eral of to­day’s Gung­gari elders grew up on the Yumba along­side fam­i­lies from neigh­bour­ing Abo­rig­i­nal tribes, in­clud­ing Bid­jara, Kooma and Man­dan­danji peo­ple.

De­spite the chal­lenges pre­sented by lack of run­ning wa­ter or elec­tric­ity, many hold fond mem­o­ries of their Yumba days, liv­ing among a vi­brant and close-knit Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity.

The Abo­rig­i­nal re­serve over the Yumba was can­celled in 1957 when the land fell un­der the con­trol of Booringa Shire Coun­cil.

In 1968, cit­ing con­cerns over san­i­ta­tion and lack of run­ning wa­ter, the coun­cil forced the Yumba’s in­hab­i­tants off the prop­erty and bull­dozed all of the dwellings.

For many Gung­gari peo­ple, the bull­doz­ing of the Yumba marked a sig­nif­i­cant low point in race re­la­tions in the town of Mitchell, from which it took many years to re­cover.

The re­cip­i­ent of the NAIDOC 2018 Fe­male Elder of the Year award, Aunty Lynette Nixon, lived at the Yumba as a child in the early 1960s and said the com­mu­nity achieved their rights be­cause they stayed to­gether and spoke as one voice.

“De­spite the long and frus­trat­ing bat­tle for recog­ni­tion of our rights, we could not be hap­pier with the out­come,” she said.

“The Yumba re­ally is a very spe­cial place that the Gung­gari peo­ple are re­spon­si­ble for. I was al­ways told that ‘Yumba’ means ‘home’ and you have to look af­ter your home. The na­tive ti­tle de­ter­mi­na­tion made by Jus­tice Ran­giah to­day means our home is in safe hands for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Gung­gari peo­ple to en­joy.

“Gung­gari peo­ple had to fight to stay con­nected to coun­try and en­dured many years of hav­ing to chal­lenge our rights and have our voices heard.

“Many fam­i­lies were forced away from coun­try but are now re­turn­ing and our an­ces­tors will be happy to see our mob com­ing back to Mitchell to live and/or re­tire.”

PHOTO: DAVID KAPER­NICK

HIS­TORY: Gung­gari elder Aunty Ethel Munn, Mayor Tyson Golder and elder Aunty Lynette Nixon.

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