Written by members of the Kosciuszko Aboriginal Working Group
on behalf of Aboriginal people associated with the mountains.
Our Mother binds us to our laws/lores.
This country is our Mother. We - the Aboriginal3 People of the Mountains - belong to this country. She is our beginning, giving us our identity and culture. She brings us together, and takes us away.
The Mountains are very old and an ongoing life force that strengthens the ancestral link of our people. We have a living, spiritual connection with the mountains. We retain family stories and memories of the mountains, which makes them spiritually and culturally significant to us. Our traditional knowledge and cultural practices still exist and need to be maintained.
We recognise the diversity of Aboriginal clans and People of the Mountains - Wiradjuri, Wolgalu, Ngunnawal, Monaro Ngarigo. We recognise that Wiradjuri, Wolgalu and Ngunnawal are known by their totem, and acknowledge the matrilineal (mother’s) bloodline of the Monaro Ngarigo people. We also acknowledge that many other clans have associations with the mountains. The mountains recognise the language names given by our people and naming of places strengthens our living culture.
Our people travelled from many directions over long distances to gather peacefully on the mountains for trade, ceremony, marriages, social events and to settle differences.
The cycle of life and many seasons influence the movement of our people through the mountains to the sea and the desert. The stars, clouds, sun and the moon guided people to and from places of importance. These travel routes continue to be used and spoken about today.
Living by natural cycles, the land provides our people with life, ceremony, family lore/law, and resources, such as tools, plant medicine, plant food, waters, fish, animals and insects e.g. the Bogong moth, while the melting of the snow gives life to the many creeks and rivers that flow out of the mountains. There are places of spiritual and physical significance to our people, and we are committed to working in partnership with others to protect, maintain and manage these places.
Forced separation from our land had a profound impact on our family life. European governance disrupted and destroyed our traditional ways. We were moved away from our country, and many people were herded onto missions. Aboriginal family lives were torn apart with the removal of children, and people were threatened with death in some instances if they tried to practice their traditional ways, especially lore, language and culture.
Let us not forget the past while we look forward to the future. Past and present practices make us strong and we are committed to making this a better country for all.
It is our vision for the future to cooperatively and collaboratively work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to manage the park and maintain its spiritual, natural and cultural values. This will build a strong cultural and economic base for future generations of our people. The development and provision of employment, training and economic opportunities will deliver benefits to our people and communities. Our culture will be strengthened by access to our traditional lands and the development and participation of our people in cultural camps and cultural maintenance programs. By passing on knowledge to future generations of Aboriginal children, our culture will stay alive and strong.
Written by members of the Kosciuszko Aboriginal Working Group on behalf of Aboriginal people associated with the mountains.
Kosciuszko Aboriginal Working Group
Monaro Ngarigo Sharon Anderson, John Dixon, Paul McLeod, Phillip McLeod, Carl Mundy, Doris Paton, Matthew Stewart, Iris White and
Pat Davison (Community Forum representative).
Wiradjuri & Wolgalu Ramsay Freeman, Phyllis Freeman, Alice Williams and Mary Williams
Ngunnawal Carl Brown, Dorothy Dickson, Tina Williams
Ngyimpa Richard Kennedy (for Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation, Albury).
Elders and others
Monaro Ngarigo Aunty Deanna Davison, Aunty Margaret Dixon, Aunty Rachel Mullet, Aunty Rae Solomon-Stewart, Aunty Valmai Tungai,
Colleen Dixon and Stan Mundy
Wiradjuri & Wolgalu Aunty Margaret Berg and Uncle Vince Bulger
Ngunnawal Louise Brown
1. Yerribie means going, moving in the Ngarigo language.
2. Dhirrayn means mountain in the Wiradjuri language.
3. Aboriginal is defined in this statement as Aboriginal people who are descendants of the traditional owners of this country.