Tuesday, 19 August 2008

By Amy Bowman

.............(Hear ME)

In the beginning when the World was still new,
our own kind, our own people, was all that we knew.
Our keeper the Earth we did treat with respect,
in return she made sure all our needs were met.
Food was good, renewable and plenty,
diseases were few in our isolated sanctuary.

One day a new man, he came to our shores,
his face was all pasty and what strange clothing he adorned.
He said, “Let us be friends, there is no need to fight,
so long as you give up your land and your rights.”
How strange were these men with their fences and deeds,
how hostile they became when we would not leave.

This is our country, our home, where else could we go?
You ask us to leave our ancestry, our identities, all that we know.
With no other choice we prepared for the fight,
our spears were no match for so many men with their weapons of might.
We were herded like cattle and murdered on sight,
a mere inconvenience to the lives of the white!

The next thing we knew the missionaries, they came.
They cried, “Stop with this slaughter we are sure they can come tame.
Poor wretched things surely there souls can be saved,
we will teach them to be like us, teach them good Christian ways.”
“Let us take care of you, keep you safe keep you clean,
so long as you give up your beliefs and your Dreaming.”

We are a people with a culture rich and strong,
you ask us to give up our essence, our song.
You claimed we could not be controlled, we were too heavily tainted,
so you focused on the children, you kept us separated.
Claimed it was for the best, for our lives were unclean,
you took hold of our children, any way you could, by all means.

Two hundred years on, once more our culture grows strong,
yet still many people cannot see what was so wrong.
You ask us, “why so angry?” “Forget the past, no need to feel so dejected.”
“After all we said sorry, explained that it was all well intended.”
We thank you, we do, for this chance to move forward,
but please do not ask us to forget the pain we have endured.

The past is as strong as it was yesterday to our people,
yet we can never be broken for a reason good and simple.
Remember when admiring the beauty of the land, the country,
our ancestor’s spirits still dwell in the mountains, the rivers and the gum tree!
I will leave you now to consider my words
and all that I ask, is that this story be heard.