This has gone beyond what I intended to say about …

Comment on Trees on Melanka block no longer sacred? by Russell Guy.

This has gone beyond what I intended to say about a complex situation, but to clarify the point about bad faith.
The only incident involving a fabrication of a Sacred Site that I can recall was the Hindmarsh Island affair in 1994, which had repercussions for the South Australian community involved and led to a Royal Commission.
It had political repercussions for the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Keating Government, before Keating went on to make his famed Redfern Speech.
The point about bad faith in any spiritual complex is that it has consequences regardless of whether the person(s) involved are aware of it or not.
In the 1980s, the tail of the Ntyarke ancestral caterpillar, where they crossed Barrett Drive was cut by roadworks.
Around the same time, whilst working at CAAMA, we reported on how subdivision in the Gap was threatening trees sacred to Yeperenye where they emerged as butterflies, like children from school, as it was explained by the TOs at the time.
There are many such stories in recent times of TOs advice failing to be heeded, including of late, the issue I drew Hal Duell’s attention to with Doris Stuart and my comment about pressure to partake of an economy. Informed people can read between the lines without having to have it spelled out in great detail.
I do not personally know of any examples of bad faith in the Alice, which is why I challenged “Ray” and “R. Henry” to put up, but the point is that pressure has been applied since whitefellers arrived for compromise on sacred sites.
The affect of this suppression has taken its toll on many indigenous people of course, including many of my friends who have tried their best to remain true to their Dreamning inheritance.
They have not acted in bad faith, nor they are infallible in conscience, but the trees at the Melanka site are one of the remaining places where something can be done to restore faith in the Dreaming in this town.
As I said at the beginning, this is a complex area, as is the current challenge to absolution within the framework of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Sexual Abuse Royal Commission, but it seems to me that some people don’t want to understand as Lindsay Ross has commented.
The consequences of bad faith are not just applicable to Dreaming subscribers.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Trees on Melanka block no longer sacred?
@ Hal: You may well know the old historical truth which still applies in terms of not acknowledging a sacred site for fear of it being destroyed.
This complicates what is far from a straight-forward Western approach to land management, even appearing to be non-logical in reasoning, either through faith and/or politics.
In the Hindmarsh Island affair, which Chris Kenny addressed in a book-length account at the time, the situation begged the question of whether a TO can be judged in bad faith according to non-subscriber standards, given the historical persecution.
That was along the lines of what I am trying to say in my initial comment about bad faith.
Since my last comment, my attention has been drawn to a recently published book by Stephen Bennetts, “The Right to Protect Sites: Indigenous Heritage Management in the Era of Native Title” (pub. 2016, AIATSIS).
It offers an insight into how complicated preserving the Melanka site could become under existing legislation.
Constitutional Recognition is a step towards preserving Dreaming heritage, whereby some of the intense social pressure may be taken off TOs and indigenous communities, more especially if we can find some way of interpreting Keating’s Redfern Speech in the spirit of which it was made.


Trees on Melanka block no longer sacred?
@ Hal,
If you care to read in context, you might note that I was careful to distinguish doctrinal matters in the examples given, but if you want to go on to comparisons between the Dreaming and Catholicism that’s your business.
The only point I attempted to make about faith is that it can belie logical reasoning to a non-subscriber.


Trees on Melanka block no longer sacred?
To attempt to answer your question, Hal, the nature of Traditional Owners (TOs), as anyone following Doris Stuart’s input to the new installation on the riverbank might understand, is to speak for sacred sites within their authority.
That authority is vested in the Dreaming as a spiritual belief system, much like, but different in doctrine to others, e.g., Buddhism, Islam, Christian, Hindu, etc.
Persons who do not ascribe to that belief system, either by birth or faith, would be expected to speak from a lesser authority.
A TO, I believe, cannot speak in bad faith.


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In my opinion, the “historic” issue is just a beat up or a sop.
Pass me another piece of Bicenttennial birthday cake, please.


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