"Hey David Clark, we yarned up 'Sharing Culture' and Miriam said… 'David... lets grow belonging and connection'. Love to you and your family and Carlie Atkinson and Judy Atkinson… a seed planted for a sit down together up here in Nauiyu?"
This message was sent in response to me asking Pip to check whether Aunty Miriam, a remarkable spirit-filled woman known for her reflections on dadirri, wanted to collaborate with Sharing Culture.
Pip, who lives in Katherine in the Northern Territory of Australia, and I have been slowly ‘growing’ this collaborative project since then, which we have called Voices of the Rivers.
Pip has been talking to and working with Elders and other members of local Indigenous communities. She visits Aunty Miriam in Nauiyu, Daly River - which is about 260 kms from Katherine - to update her on progress and discuss ways forward.
Pip and I talk on skype. Recently, Pip introduced me to Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy, another eminent Elder from the region, who has also become a Rivers’ collaborator.
Mel sent me a letter in which she said: “I hope that in your way you might support us to allow others to hear about the lives, the culture and the many stories of Indigenous People in Australia.”
I felt emotional as she described what is happening to Indigenous peoples. And what will happen if remote Indigenous communities are closed by the government, as they intend to do.
I was touched by Mel’s statement, “I am most honoured to be heard by you and feel grateful and thankful for our connection.”
I have to say that I felt a very strong connection as Mel talked to me on skype. I felt her pain and the fear of her peoples about their future. At the same time, I could tell how much I can learn from Mel and Miriam about their culture and healing… and more.
Voices of the Rivers will be a long-standing Sharing Culture project.
It will not just be about helping Indigenous peoples. It will be about listening to, and learning from, Indigenous peoples. And disseminating the knowledge and understanding I acquire to as many people as possible.
This week my new journey begins when I fly up to Darwin to meet Pip and her family and take part in a Cultural Tour. This tour, with its 13 adult and six children participants - will start in Darwin and continue in Nauiyu, Miriam’s home. You can read more about what it involves here.
After the Tour, I will head with Pip and her family to Katherine where I will stay for just over a week and meet Miliwanga and others… and plan the next stages of the Voice of the Rivers project. I’ll talk more about this project tomorrow.
I know that this trip will be the start of a new personal journey. I have learnt so much from Indigenous peoples since I have developed Sharing Culture. I know I will learn so very much more when I visit these communities in the Northern Territory.
I won’t be running Sharing Culture whilst I am away, but I will update my activities on my facebook page as much as I can.