Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Custodian of the land Minjerribah, Peace Prosperity and Healing, Sacred Treaty Circles

The Agenda

What needs to be done –

The following is the action plan of the Noonuccal people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island).  The Treaty circles are a part of this process and are comitted to supporting, resourcings and funding this program.

1/ Restore and upgrade Moongalba

2/ Digitize and annotate the Oodgeroo Collection @ Fryer Library and other places for Elders treaty Circles as beginning of the process of owning our own information.

3/ Dry Camps – to rehabilitate, regenerate people in country.

4/Enterprise – Economic development to eminate out of dry camps’ processes.

5/Cultural Heritage Education Programs (CHEP) – development as requisite to sacred Treaty Circles.

6/ Elders’ Sacred Treaty Circles to set the agendas for the Mens’, Womens’ and Initiation Sacred Treaty Circles.

The dry camps are a development on the work and ethos of Oodgeroo at Moongalba.   Dry camps are a realistic and positive response to addiction and hopelessness amongst Aboriginal people, based on connection to county, culture and spirit.  Dry camps provide an alternative to prisons and develop the structures of customary law.

However, dry camps are not just for people with addiction or legal problems, they provide the basis for healthy community life for all, a space free from the contradictions and irrationality of the invader society’s assumptions, expectations and injustice.  Dry camps are a place for the people to get strong.

 

Oodgeroo on Moongalba
From an interview conducted in May 1981 by Bruce Dickson.

Full interview here

Would you like to expand on what you are trying to do with young people at ‘Moongalba’ (Oodgeroo’s tribal home on Stradbroke Island near Brisbane, Queensland)? What are your objectives?

There is no point in trying to do things for young people … when young people come there they do it themselves. It’s most important to understand that one. I do nothing at Moongalba but welcome them in. They do their own thing there.

Then what are you hoping to see come out it?

People who have their feet firmly on the ground, who can see things straight without having to go through the shemozzle of the falseness of living up to the Smiths, the Jones, and things like that. And to come out with their feet firmly on the ground and saying ‘well I know where I’m going and what I want to do, and I know what is right and what is wrong’.

So how does Moongalba contribute towards their appreciation and understanding?

Hopefully it does contribute. I’ve always had faith in it doing so and I’ve had 13,000 children on that land in the last six years.

What do they experience while they are there? What do they do to achieve these results?

Well they get introduced to what I call the Aboriginal way of life. You know … the first thing they learn is the most important person on Moongalba. And 9 times out of 10 when they first come in, when I say ‘who is the most important person on Moongalba?’, they say ‘Kath Walker’. And I say ‘rubbish!’ ‘She is not the most important person on Moongalba’. And then this throws them for a ‘sixer’ of course, and I then I say – ‘the most important person on Moongalba is your fellow man’. ‘And your duty is to your fellow man first, yourself after.’ And that is the concept of Moongalba.

And what about the link between Moongalba and an appreciation of the environment? There is an Australian environmental awareness created through it as well, isn’t there?

Oh yes. So what we do is we teach them how to go out and hunt for their food. My grandchildren do it, my son comes back and he loves to go out hunting … in the mangroves, he loves to go out fishing, he loves to go out after the shell fish (to you people) and the crabs. And so they live off the land. And the rule in Moongalba is ‘if you go out, don’t come back empty-handed’. If you don’t catch any fish, pick up a piece of wood … we need it for the campfires. So it’s that type of logic. You must contribute. You only need one rotten apple in the barrel to turn the whole of the barrel rotten.

How do you see those environmental issues actually changing people? What’s the link between experiencing that sort of activity and …?

I don’t want to change them, they must change for themselves.

But obviously you have seen changes take place, and what would you put those down to?

I’ve seen them change … I put it down to the fact that they’ve been there, they’ve had time to meditate with themselves, they’ve had time to look at themselves. And then they’ve had time to look at their fellow man around them and all of a sudden they realize that self isn’t important, fellow man is, environment is of top rate importance, and between the whole lot you can live in peace and harmony with each other and the environment.

And this is all happening away from the hurly burly of the city?

Right, all away from the hurly burly. But they’re also realistically healthy in their attitudes … i.e. one day I have to leave this place, I have to go back. And when that time comes, I say to them ‘you can always come back to Moongalba … go out into that society … if you see where it is wrong and it needs changing, well do your best to change. Don’t be surprised if you do not see change overnight, but try and change it.

You can return here because Moongalba is a ‘sitting down place’, a resting place of tired people … people come and after they’ve had their rest then they can think again about things like that.

And in effect recharge their batteries?

And they can recharge the battery. That’s what Moongalba’s all about.

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