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Ancient Cultural Sites and Heritage Protection
"As chairperson of the Adjahdura Narungga Heritage Group of Yorke Peninsula, it is my role to stand up and speak out for our group – to do the best I possibly can to protect and preserve what is left of our ancient cultural sites and heritage".....Quenten Agius (traditional owner of Adjahdura Land)
The deep spiritual and physical connection we have with our country comes from our ancestors and our mothers and fathers passing down their stories and knowledge, from generation to generation for thousands of years - and this knowledge identifies who we are as Aboriginal people. We talk about country in the same way that we talk about a person: we speak to country, sing to country, visit country, worry about country, feel sorry for country, long for country - and we want to protect our country and what’s left of our ancient sites and burial grounds, which link us to our ancestors and culture, and identify who we are as Aboriginal people.
For 40,000 years the Adjahdura people have lived and died on Adjahdura Land. Even though heritage sites and cultural landscapes have been desecrated there is still significant evidence left to understand what a rich country this once was for the Adjahdura people; Archaeological sites, artifacts, stone tools, stone quarries, ochre quarries, camp sites, cultural sites, middens, burial grounds and fish traps are all evidence that black fellas lived here for thousands of years before white fellas stepped foot on this land.
Quenten Agius of Aboriginal Cultural Tours - South Australia can give you an amazing insight into the traditional owners of this country, of their rich cultural heritage, Dreaming stories and traditions - and the issues they are facing today.
Sacred Ground - Documentary Film (www.sacredground.com.au)
Critically acclaimed as one of the year’s most significant Aboriginal films – Sacred Ground tells the true story of Aboriginal people fighting to hold onto the last remnants of their ancient heritage and culture.
Aboriginal heritage - Australia’s ancient heritage, is the heart, soul and spirit of this land. The ancient sites of the first people, their beliefs and traditions, are not being respected or protected. Their sites are living breathing museums in the sand. Much of their heritage has been destroyed, so what they have left is precious to them.
Sacred Ground is a universal story that exposes the shameful truth and injustices being perpetrated on Aboriginal heritage and culture. When Quenten Agius (central character) speaks we can see and feel his pain. There are many powerful and personal moments that connect us to his culture and enable us to begin to understand the importance of preserving his people’s ancient heritage for future generations.
In the lucky country, 40,000 years of ancient heritage, culture and traditions are being swept away – it’s an international disgrace. Quenten’s mob are witnessing the desecration and destruction of the last remaining heritage and cultural sites on their traditional lands - sites that are vital to their Dreaming stories and cultural beliefs - stories and beliefs that have been handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.
7 years in the making, Sacred Ground is a deeply moving story. From the opening scenes to the thought provoking climax, it takes us into an Aboriginal world that is rarely seen or heard. Quenten and his mob have the guts to stand up, to speak out and express their views, to fight for what they believe in - Sacred Ground is their story.
Statement from Quenten Agius: The truth about Heritage
The following information from Quenten Agius tells the shocking truth about the state of Aboriginal Heritage on Adjahdura Land - it gives some insight into major problems and conflicts the traditional owners are facing today to protect what is left of their ancient heritage.
Australia's Ancient Heritage under threat
Our culture and Dreaming sites are being destroyed before my eyes. If something isn’t done soon, our heritage, Australia’s ancient heritage - the final resting places of our ancestors - will be lost forever.
People forget that black fellas have lived on this country for 40,000 years before white fellas first stepped on this land. Our ancestors are buried all over this country, in the sand hills, along coastal areas and near water holes.
In the 200 years since white fellas invaded this country, Adjahdura Dreaming sites, burial grounds, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites have been desecrated and destroyed. And the invasion never stopped - it continues today. Land Developments along coastal areas are disturbing and desecrating the last remaining burial grounds, cultural landscapes and ancient archaeological sites of the traditional owners of this country. Everything possible should be done to protect these sites, for future generations.
Wattle Point Wind farm Conflict
Several years ago, the State Labor government railroaded through the $170Million Wattle Point wind farm development, the largest wind farm in Australia The developers, Meridian Energy and Southern Hydro, desecrated an Aboriginal burial ground and archaeological site that was supposed to be protected by law, and they then went about covering it up. While the developers, Southern Hydro and Meridian Energy (New Zealand Government owned companies), put out public relations propaganda, they just kept on destroying and desecrating the site at Wind Turbine 4.
How is it, that in Australia, 100 year old buildings are heritage listed and protected, yet ancient Aboriginal heritage sites that are thousands of years old don’t receive the same protection? And how can land developers like Meridian Energy and Southern Hydro bulldoze ancient burial grounds and archaeological sites and get away with it, when there are laws in place to stop this from happening?
Governments have learnt nothing from their mistakes in the past - they continue making the same mistakes.
Lack of respect for Traditional ownerswith knowledge
I have been very critical of the way our heritage has been destroyed in the past and the lack of respect shown for the traditional owners with cultural knowledge of Adjahdura Land, not only from government people but also from Non-Traditional Owners who are in positions of power. People who care very little about our heritage, who are blinded by greed and are more concerned with personal wealth than preserving what is left of Adjahdura heritage for future generations - and these same people have very little understanding of what our heritage means to us and what they are destroying and that these sites are a significant part of our life and culture. If these important places are being destroyed, our culture is also being destroyed - but these people don’t care about standing up for Aboriginal rights because in my eyes they are a lost people and they have lost their culture - and this is very sad.
Our knowledge comes from our ancestors - knowledge that’s been handed down by word of mouth - from generation to generation - for thousands of years.
Traditional Owners with Knowledge
Only some of the families who are traditional owners of Adjahdura land have knowledge of our country, heritage and Dreaming stories. And the Non-Traditional owners who grew up on this land only have 100 years of history on this country because their families were herded like cattle to Point Pearce by governments when other Aboriginal missions from other parts of the state closed down.
Adjahdura Land Traditional Owners Group
The Adjahdura Narungga Heritage group and the Narungga Indigenous land Use Agreement (ILUA)
The Adjahdura Narungga Heritage group was formed several years ago to try and preserve and protect the last remaining Aboriginal heritage and cultural sites on our country (Adjahdura Land) - our struggle continues today. As a group we were against the ILUA because it offered very little protection for our cultural and heritage sites and actually extinguished what little native title rights we had.
Senior Heritage Monitor
In my role as Chairperson and Senior Heritage Monitor for the Adjahdura Narungga Heritage group and past role as Cultural Office for the Aboriginal community of Point Pearce, I have re-buried many of my ancestors skeletal remains - remains that have showed themselves because of erosion, been dug up by land developments or farmers, stumbled over by holiday makers, or showed themselves to me while checking known sites.
See: Traditional Owners