Welcome to My Country
Laklak Burarrwanga and family invite you to their Country, centred on a beautiful beach in Arnhem Land. Its crystal waters are full of fish, turtle, crab and stingray, to hunt; the land behind has bush fruits, pandanus for weaving, wood for spears, all kinds of useful things. This country is also rich with meaning. 'We can go anywhere and see a river, hill, tree, rock telling a story.' Here too is Laklak's own history, from her long walk across Arnhem Land as a child to her people's fight for land rights and for a say in their children's schooling. She and her family stand tall, a proud and successful Indigenous community.
Laklak Burarrwanga, Sarah Wright, Sandie Suchet-Pearson and Kate Lloyd are an Indigenous and non-Indigenous research collective. Laklak and her sisters are elders and caretakers for Bawaka Country in northeast Arnhem Land. Sarah, Sandie and Kate are three non-Indigenous academics from Newcastle and Macquarie universities who have been adopted into the family as granddaughter, sister and daughter. Bawaka Country refers to the diverse land, water, animals, plants, rocks, thoughts and songs that make up their Indigenous homeland of Bawaka. Theirs is a story of lives entwined and of new places of being and belonging. Welcome to My Country is also a collaborative narrative of unexpected transformations, embedded families and the spirituality and agency of non-human elements in and of the landscape. The group have worked together as a research collective since 2006, and have written 2 books and several academic and popular articles together. Laklak is a Datiwuy Elder, Caretaker for Gumatj, and eldest sister. As a teacher in the community at Bawaka, she has spent decades sharing her knowledge with the children of her community. She also writes and translates books for the Yirrkala Community School. Seven years ago she helped to establish her family-owned tourism business Bawaka Cultural Experiences (BCE) and through this business, as well as through being a member of the Yothu Yindi Garma Foundation, she has shared her knowledge with tourists, including government staff in cross-cultural programs.
Contents Preface Rangan, paperbark Hidden layers of Yolngu meaning 1 Wangany (one) Gapu, water Yirritja and Dhuwa, the Yolngu moieties 2 Marrma (two) Hunting miyapunu [turtle], gathering miyapunu mapu [turtle eggs] Witj, counting and sharing 3 Lurrkun (three) Banumbirr, the morning star Astronomy and space 4 D.mbu miriw (four) Gara, spear Makarrata, justice 5 Wangany rulu (five) Walu and Ngalindi Sun, moon, tides, time 6 Wa?any rulu ga wangany (six) B.ru Land, language, boundaries 7 Wangany rulu ga marrma (seven) Gurrutu and M.lk Kinship and connection 8 Wangang rulu ga lurrkun (eight) Ganguri Natural farmers, collecting food, messages Epilogue Dj.pana The Yirritja sunset, the end