Yesterday marks 1 year since the destruction of the Juukan Shelters, a traditional site of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinnikura (PKKP) peoples located in the Pilbara area in the northwest of Western Australia.
If you’ve been following this blog for the last few months you’ll know that I have made the facts of that event; the amount of time that the PKKP peoples had accessed and used the shelters – 46,000 years; the number of holes drilled into the shelters before the PKKP peoples were told of its impending blast – 382; and the reason they were destroyed – for more iron ore; into a large installation made from predominantly recycled steel.
I remember that the shock of finding out about this destruction was all the more galling because it came at the beginning of last year’s Reconciliation Week. This time last year, during the Indigenous Film Festival, I stayed on to see several Q+A’s for just-screened films. I watched as multiple hosts had to engage not only with the content of the films that they were charged with speaking about (generally involving weighty cross-cultural issues themselves), but also the Juukan destruction, as it filtered through the collective consciousness in the week following its detonation. The shock and sadness was all-pervading, and so it made its way into many of the question and answer sessions during the festival.
Watching it unfold in the media against this backdrop was heart-sinking, as here was a fresh way that government and corporate interests in Australia had failed our First Nations community. At the time it was a particularly unwanted extra burden, following as it did a bushfire season that had threatened and then razed so much of the east coast, and during a lockdown for a pandemic that many feared would be particularly serious for First Nations communities here, as many face poorer health outcomes than the general population.
It was immediately protested, and it would become an important fuel for us masked marchers at the Black Lives Matter rallies held here in Perth over last winter. And for me. It was and remains an important fuel for my practice, too.
And having mentioned the Indigenous Film Festival:
[text below from the IFF newsletter of this morning]
There is only 3 days left to secure your spot at the Virtual Indigenous Film Festival for Reconciliation Week 2021! Celebrating a collection of award-winning Indigenous stories, followed by Q&As with special guest speakers including film makers, community leaders and cultural academics. Join us in celebration this Reconciliation Week from 27th-31st May for a week of inspiring stories and inclusive, actionable discussion.fanforcetv.com
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. This year’s theme, #MoreThanAWord reminds us to always be working towards braver and more impactful action so take that action and join this years Virtual Indigenous Film Festival.
Grab an All Access Pass for 50% off all 6 films OR if you are interested in just one film, grab an individual ticket!
and just quietly, I have to acknowledge my financial supporter for the Juukan Tears project:
Thanks to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in Western Australia for their financial support of this project