“The frontier stories are important for healing. The frontier stories event has become part of our event calendar, it’s very important for us as a people to heal the wounds of the past and secure the future. We have Yidindji elders here today who have horror stories of beheadings and shootings at places like Skeleton and Davies Creeks, yet here we are, wanting to make things right.
“Many tribal nations have a story to tell, some are funny and then there are those which are difficult. There is a danger these stories will go unheard for most Australians.
“It’s easy to be overshadowed by COVID for example, but looking into the mirror as a country and working out who we are as a nation, is paramount – if we can’t sort it out there will always be a sense of unfinished business here. Frontier Wars is a tough one for us as Indigenous Australians, but in saying that this is a wonderful opportunity to build a new Australia. We’d like to encourage everyone to take part, even if one person is inspired we have done our part.”
Murrumu of Walubara
“Events like the Frontier Wars commemoration are a great reminder there needs to be formalised agreements or treaties between the Commonwealth of Australia and the various tribal nations on the continent called Australia,” Murrumu said.
“The Yidindji Nation is currently building that bridge which means people can be free of the feeling of guilt or shame, or sadness from things that have happened in the past. This is what reconciliation will look like in my view – the simplicity in it all is that it should be built on the greatest foundation, which is love for one another.”
Sovereign Yidindji Government Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Murrumu of Walubara.
People to People Ceremonies
People to people ceremonies are held around this Great South Land. Other nations have also been exploring Frontier Wars history and truth telling events such as the following photos show, held in Canberra in previous years.
- Ceremonies occur each year at the Myall creek site between the Wirrayaraay people – a clan of the Gamillaroi people and local non-indigenous people. A beautiful memorial has been built at the site of the Myall Creek Massacre, a place to walk through the landscape, to sit and reflect comes to life each year with a local ceremony.
- Ceremony occurs in Brisbane at the Dundali memorial on the 5th January in Post Office Square. First Nations people from Dundali’s tribe and people who live around on Jaggera Country meet there and remember the public hanging of Dundali who had been fighting for his people during the Frontier Wars when he was captured, incarcerated for months and then killed – a sign to all that the British were capable and willing to rain great terror and appalling violence.
- A ceremony occurs at Liffey Falls in Northern Tasmania during June each year to remember the Aboriginal Wars which included a massacre at that place.
- Other ceremonies occur now on 26th January and on other days specific to local people
The Gimuy Ceremony
“We think the Gimuy ceremony is special,” says Margaret Pestorius, a non-Indigenous participant at the ceremonies. “It is a collaboration of friends; a ‘people to people’ ceremony. It is a gift from us to those for whom we have great respect, the Gimuy Walubara Yidindji; but also an acknowledgement of the violence inflicted by OUR people, and their many, many years of resistance.”
“We conduct it on ANZAC eve – because that is the time for remembering the disgusting nature of war and the courageous resistance of people seeking to protect their families and their Land. On ANZAC eve we can transform the meaning of ‘Lest We Forget’.
“We start with the story telling of the Frontier. And we perform a lament in response. The lament we play has no words. It is a cry from our hearts and our bodies as we dance and play music. We then are led in song by First Nations performers from neighbouring tribes or from across the seas. And we process to the great shields of created by the artist Paul Bong, a Yidindji man, which are installed in the centre of Gimuy, Cairns.”
Telling the Stories at Anzac Time: Lest We Forget
“Why can’t Australians think about resisting war and Australia’s increasing militarism? Is it related to the silence and denial we have wrapped around the wars of invasion on this continent? I believe we must tell the stories of the Frontier – best we can. We must tell the stories of the Land. And we must tell the stories of the many families and tribes and nations that suffered the atrocities of colonising warfare. We need to build these real events in our minds: So we remember how war hurts people for generations to come; so we act decisively to stop it. Never again!”
“We have noticed that when we tell frontier war stories in partnership with Aboriginal people around the time of ‘ANZAC Day’, we also jam a spoke into the pervasive militarism that continues here. We disturb the manufactured ‘national narrative’ that overseas wars created this nation.”
Video Resources: Build a People to People Ceremony
Grants, Banners, Creations and Designs
We can send designs for creating beautiful banners. We can help you organise your people to people ceremony. We have small grants available to assist in creating Frontier Wars events.
What can we do?
- Offer your assistance to First Nations people in organising. Then do what you can. We may be able you help you think about next steps. Call us on 0403214422.
- Or invite your non-indigenous allies to help you create a people to people ceremony. We are happy to try an assist 🙂
- Create conversations between first nations people and non-indigenous allies about what you might do together.
- Invite people to help. Many people want to create and participate in these ceremonies
- Assist people to create songs and dances and music and performances that reflect the stories of the Frontier Wars – and their resistance and survival.
- Promote pre-Anzac frontier war storytelling locally
- Organise a Frontier Wars event in your community
In addition you might start participating in the local ANZAC day ceremony
- Make a Frontier Wars wreath out of local materials and lay it on your war memorial on Anzac Day
- Contact us 0403214422 and we can put you in touch with someone who can help with the creation of locally made wreaths
- Lay a wreath in the middle of the ‘Welcome to Country’ at your RSL event.
Colonial Frontier Massacres, Australia, 1780 to 1930
See also ABC news article about the map: New map plots massacres of aboriginal people in frontier wars ABC 5 Jul 2017