This is my first post in a while – I have been neglecting my blog in favour of finishing my thesis (which I submitted at the beginning of July) and having some post-thesis rest. Naturally, I am going to start with what was most important to me throughout my Honours degree: people. The graffiti, the field work and research skills were important yes, but the relationships I formed with members of the Jawoyn community mean far more to me than anything else I experienced during my Honours year. The dedication, acknowledgements, prologue and epilogue of my thesis, which I have posted below, highlight these relationships perfectly.
The reason for my sudden motivation with my blog, and the reason why I want to talk about the relationships I have formed in Jawoyn communities is because less than a fortnight ago, a senior traditional owner from Jawoyn country passed away. I will refer to this lady by her skin name, Gamung; in the kinship system, she called me son. I am both upset and shocked by the sudden passing of such a great and determined lady, my mum. Gamung was only 43 and this is a devastating loss to those that knew her and the entire Jawoyn community.
A major event in Northern Territory politics occurred during my last week of writing. The Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (which is one of the focusses of my research) was extended by ten years through the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012. I wrote the dedication of my thesis to reflect this:
I submitted this thesis a few days after the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2012 was debated by the Australian Senate. This bill passed with bipartisan support. The new legislation extends the Federal Government’s Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 for a further ten years. Some of the measures will continue to stigmatise Indigenous cultures and undermine Indigenous rights to self-determination. The reconciliation of Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians requires that basic human rights be restored in the Northern Territory.
I dedicate this thesis to the people of Jawoyn country, past, present and future.
I have worked closely with people from Jawoyn communities throughout my Honours year, such as Gamung, Margaret Katherine and Rachael Willika (and family). At times, I have found their experiences in the face of government sanctioned racism distressing and difficult to comprehend. However, their perseverance and determination to achieve social justice, independence and survival of their culture has been the inspiration and motivation behind this thesis. I am eternally grateful for the relationships I have formed throughout this research and thank every member of Jawoyn communities for hosting me. There was once a time where my education was nothing more to me than a series of stepping-stones to a career; this research and these people have helped me understand that there are more practical uses for my education. The moment you understand that Indigenous archaeology is about people, rather than ‘things’, is the moment you understand Indigenous archaeology.