I was advised to go back to the very beginning and to look at the records from the 1st surveyors of the land, such as Dutch, French, English and Chinese accounts. We discussed the layers of veneer that have been placed to create an illusory and possibly incorrect version of the new refugees that landed on the shores of Australia. Their plight was also a means of escape - whether it be from class, crime or poverty- a dream of a new life. The veneer are the stories that were written of the people they encountered - what did the surveyors say - and what was possibly not heard so that British government could make claim, how the history was written to suit the needs of the colonialist government.
I enter a round space filled with small green palm heads. A woman with blue eyes sits on the right, Rebecca Casey is her name, and she is kind enough to suggest a new contact in the Busselton area. Plus she comes with a good tip about the bush - these small palms.
Brett, his daughter Lilly, and Ron sit in a small semicircle in the sun. The conversation focuses on the questions I have had and which have yet to be answered. Finally some Nyungars are willing to help me with concrete answers, and yes, my understanding so far is not far off—for the most part. It is a relief to finally have this conversation in which the intimacy and exchange is finally there. I am so thankful to Soula to having introduced me to Brett Nannup and his mother the day before, and to Brett for extending his hand in friendship and allowing me access to his friends and family. The day before the time keeps getting extended, in a kind of a way that would have in Jamaica - you feel the atmosphere is right and good - you keep going and you do this because you feel the interest and need.
Brett, and Laurel Nannup, his mother and artist are seated. Coffee and cake wait. Brett gives an in-depth overview of his mother’s art, which is connected to personal narratives. Brett has dedicated his life to creating that wholeness which links him and his family to each other, it is really wonderful to experience, be inspired and to see this kind of love. At one point, there is a kind of funny experience; we go out into the yard, where he shows me this stone that he has been working on and carving into small spearheads. This stone seems very familiar, as I had just photographed this stone in the collection at the museum in Northcliffe. So I mention that I know this stone, and he turns around and looks a bit shocked at me. Reason being is this stone is pretty precious, and he has gotten a hold of it through another friend who has had access to it. I keep feeling that it is somehow these small connections that are beginning to make sense in my journey.
So much has happened in this last week. A possibility to visualize a potential thread in the project is finally coming about. I have been looking towards nature as a possible method for healing - it seems obvious that this is needed, and it is only returning to it - that somehow the freedom presents itself as a tool for the spirit.
If the spirit of death and sadness remains from all these murders, what veneer is laid on the truth? So much can be borne by people, without one beginning to distance oneself from this oppression and the oppressor. I have no answers it is just guessing, and there are so many questions that are connected to one’s own displacement - and if your story is different from those around you, can you fit in? Will you be accepted? It seems the splitting of so many families has really created an enormous task in repairing the deep wounds that must be present. If it isn’t from the abusive existence, and trauma, then it is from the disconnection that is placed between you, the family, ancestral lore and tradition. After all if each Songline was to be carried on by specific families, and if I make the comparison to a Vodun family where each household was responsible for each deity - what happens when the family is split and the Songline has not been kept properly as the ancestral wishes demands? And what happens to the Songline that is then connected to a larger proportion with other families throughout Western Australia who have are also connected to one another? This is the question that Ron Bradfield brings up for me to understand and think about in rethinking this history.
Moreover what happens to the spirit of the dead who have not found peace? If we consider the fact that tradition demands that the dead transcend through the caves in some form of burial ritual and are to be freed to a beyond. This realization comes about through another meeting I have with an elder, Wayne Webb, who has written extensively on this issue of the caves in Western Australia. So the question remains how and when will tourism balance their condition, since they are profiting by that lies within the caves? And what happens to the tradition according to which Nyungaar bodies still remain to be buried in the caves? I remember a case of an American Indian corpse that was held by an American somewhere, and where the community wanted the body returned so that they make the appropriate burial ceremony within the caves, the solution seems so relevant to the situation here.