Aretha made me go looking for my own voice, whatever that was, no matter how white, how weedy, and I thank her for that and for so much more.
Mick Dodson, an indigenous Australian and a Permanent Forum member attended these early meetings and he said "If you closed your eyes and forgot the accents and just listened to what people were saying, you would have though you were at home, because there was such a commonality of problems and issues that indigenous people elsewhere in the world were confronting. He further stated "You’d hear the same stories at any community meeting in Australia; issues about rights not being respected; human rights not being acknowledged. It’s a common problem for indigenous peoples worldwide.
In the north of Western Australia in May 1946, an estimated 600 Aboriginal stockmen went on strike until they had been guaranteed a minimum wage of thirty shillings per week. Some had previously been receiving food and clothing but no pay; others had been paid up to twelve shillings a week. Though the strike was on the face of it, for better wages, it also had a strong human rights and natural justice aspect, with the demand that Aboriginal workers be paid in cash and not in goods. This strike was organised by an Aboriginal man, Dooley Bin Bin with his friend Don McLeod acting as consultant. The organisation was a mammoth task, requiring communication between stockmen throughout northern Western Australia. The strike did not end until August 1949.
We get into incredibly remote and exciting places like the Torres Strait - very few people have been to a place where they can look across to New Guinea while standing in Australia. So they are bonuses but doing the research and making new discoveries, and learning new things about natural history and ornithology and management - all sorts of things...
As usual, the locals have the last laugh - and the best eyes for a bird. Just before I left Saibai I had a yarn with Saul Aniba about this most beautiful bird. He told me that he had seen one a few months before - also dead - not far from where we found this latest specimen.
The most substantial single source of Aboriginal bird knowledge in the mainstream ornithological literature was John Gould's "Handbook to The Birds of Australia", published in 1865. I've not been able to find a replacement candidate as the primary source - and much of the information contained therein was collected by one of Gould's collectors, John Gilbert, who was taken from us too soon in 1845 while on a cross-country expedition with Ludwig Leichhardt.