I have been asked to publish this letter, which I do so gladly. I have no intention of engaging in Central Australian tribal politics but I believe this letter indicates a dimension of Aboriginal politics that is often overlooked in the white left/right commentary. So called “supporters” and opponents of Aboriginal power alike have tended to line up Aboriginal leaders in opposition camps according to standard white ideological narratives. The result of this has been, once again, dismissing Aboriginal perspective on its own terms.
Discussion of the issues at “Workers Bush Telegraph” (comments run from bottom to top) – A Message from the Warlpiri People
In support of Bess Nungarrayi Price
Sir – This is an open letter to those who think they know us better than we do
We are Warlpiri people from the communities of Yuendumu, Wirliyajarrayi,
Lajamanu and Nyirrpi as well as the town camps of Alice Springs.
Bess Nungarrayi Price is with us today to say goodbye to one of our lost children. We are sorry and in mourning. Bess Nungarrayi is one of us. She was born here at Yuendumu and grew up here. We are all family to her. It makes us sad and angry when we hear that white people and town Aboriginal people in Sydney and in Alice Springs are insulting Bess and telling lies about her. When you insult her you insult all of us, we are her family.
Nungarrayi lives in Alice Springs but she talks to us all the time. She listens to what we tell her. Many of our people also live on the town camps in Alice Springs. Barbara Shaw does not lead them, she doesn’t speak our language. Nungarrayi always does her best to help any of us when we are in trouble. We support her in her struggle to make life better for us.
We are hurt and angry now by the things that these people have been saying.
Aboriginal people should know better than to hurt people who are in sorry business. No white person knows us better than Bess does. We don’t know who this Snowy River woman who calls herself Nampijinpa. We don’t know Marlene Hodder. They don’t speak our language like Nungarrayi does. They don’t know what is in our minds and hearts like Nungarrayi does. These people should apologise to her and to us, her family, for the things they have been saying.
More than 120 signatures are in the possession of the Alice Springs News. They are available from firstname.lastname@example.org