"Thank you for feeling our pain and hearing our voice and hearing
the calls of our cries." Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy
30th March 2015
It is with great respect that I write to you.
I heard about your work with ‘Sharing Culture’ and I feel honoured to be able to share some of my stories and perspectives with you. I have always longed for my culture to be known to the rest of the world. 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.
In hearing and knowing what is happening in north WA in communities such as One Arm Point it breaks my heart. I feel deeply sad when I hear what is happening to the people there. As we have been told that the government now has started the removal of Indigenous People (Elders, families, men, women, children) from their communities in to small townships and cities.
My deepest concern is that this will totally destroy their spirit and I think of my Elders and the children in the homelands of my community. When Indigenous Peoples live on the homelands, which are similar to small villages, they lives in connection with the land. When they move off the homelands, they don’t have a connection with the ways of the western world and they have no means for survival.
For an Elder to leave his or her homeland is like taking away the most valuable possession of their life, that they’ve held on to and cared for since the beginning of time. For an Elder to be removed and put in a town or city will mean much fretting over their land and finally end up losing their spirit and will to live and they will surely pass away.
For the children, they will be in an environment without listening to their language being spoken and trying in every possible way to adapt to their environment, this will cause them to become sick spiritually, emotionally and physically. A lot of their wellbeing is dependent on their connection with their lands.
Thank you for feeling our pain and hearing our voice and hearing the calls of our cries.
We hope that if we work together, maybe more people will hear and understand this is a crime against humanity. This is a repeat of the traumatic history of Australia.
I am most honoured to be heard by you and feel grateful and thankful for our connection.
Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy
Mel and Pip skyping me.
Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy is a traditional Rembarrnga women from the Mirratja clan group, originally from the Central Arnhem region. Miliwanga lives in Wugularr, her skin group is Galijan of the Duwa moiety.
Mel comes from a family line of traditional healers and is an advocate for sharing the importance of traditional Indigenous healing modalities.
Mel is a traditional artist, weaver, and healer. Mel has overcome adversity in her own life, coming from the remote regions of the Northern Territory. She stands now as a leader and Elder in her community and an advocate for the rights of Indigenous People.
Mel currently works as a Cultural Advisor and language interpreter, facilitating Cultural Awareness workshops with medical students and mainstream health providers, educating about traditional bush medicine and other traditional health therapies.
Mel is the Chairperson for Banatjarl Strongbala Women Association from Jarwoyn Nation in the Northern Territory.
Mel is a gifted public speaker and is often asked to travel interstate and speak at diverse forums about the importance of strong cultural identity, spiritual well-being and true reconciliation as found through the core cultural values of Unity, Belongingship, Identity and Connection towards achieving Universal Balance.
Mel has facilitated workshops with the Amnesty International and Oxfam Organisation relating to the United Nations Declarations for Indigenous Peoples of the World.
Mel often uses her art works to share the depth and wisdom of her ancient culture so as to bring about understanding and support for Indigenous People.
“It’s taken me many years to find the words and ways to give meaning to an intricate, complex culture. To be able to explain so that people understand the depth and uniqueness of Aboriginal Spirituality expressed through culture.
So many times we talk about it and people would not really get the grip of what we are saying. I am hoping a painting such as this will help.
A design such as this, helps the visual to see and understand where we are coming from and the story that is being told of our culture and how we live in it.
This is our Universal Balance, as we are connected to all things."
Mel and her beautiful painting.
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