41 Indigenous people from across Wiradjuri country, asking about their cultural background and knowledge. These interviews touched on the Stolen Generations, dispossession and relocation to missions and reserves; the impacts of government policies; and how contemporary policies define Indigenous people today. “My Dad was a stolen child so we never knew where he came from. My Mum had two children taken from her at birth so I have two elder siblings I have never met. “This experience provides an impetus for a person to understand who they are first of all and then to go out and try to corroborate what you have in your own mind and your own heart. “I went out and spoke with Wiradjuri people of different ages and sexes to get their perspective on the history of this country, to get their thoughts, ideas, opinions and aspirations. “We are often seen by the broader community as being so far assimilated into non-Indigenous society that our cultures no longer exist or are no longer valid. “My PhD was designed around two things – to provide an avenue where Wiradjuri peoples could have a voice and to show the broader Australian community that we
are still here, that we haven’t gone away and we are just as valid now as we were 120,000 years ago. “In order to understand where people are today you need to be able to understand where they were in the past.”
Planting the seed
Yalmambirra is now turning his research into a text, which he hopes will help students better understand our history and Wiradjuri culture. “I think it is important that the voices of those 41 Wiradjuri people that I interviewed are taken into consideration when these students read the published historical narratives of Indigenous peoples and culture. “I think all of those resources that I used for my research are very important because they portray an Australia that is out of line with First Nations’ peoples. “People need to read those books to put what we say into perspective. It’s up to people to make up their own mind. We plant little seeds and how they nurture those seeds is entirely up to them.” Dr Yalmambirra was awarded his PhD titled ‘Indigenous Cultures in Contemporary Australia: A Wiradjuri Case Study’ in December 2015.
CHARLES STURT UNIVERSITY ALUMNI