It seems that the word “makarrata” is to be re-introduced …

Comment on First Nations want a ‘Voice’ enshrined in the constitution by Ted Egan.

It seems that the word “makarrata” is to be re-introduced into the vernacular. But let us learn to spell and pronounce it properly. It is not pronounced like the name of an American gangster, Mack A’Rata. It is properly pronounced like the surname of the famous American general, Douglas Macarthur and it should perhaps be better spelt as “makarrta with a “roll” on the “r”. Emphasis on the second syllable.

It is a reasonably appropriate word for “treaty” as the makarrta ceremony is a trial by ordeal in Arnhem Land in order that peace may be re-established. “Makarr” equals “thigh” and “Makarrta” means, literally, “into the thigh”. An offender is required to stand in a given spot, while the offended throw spears at him. As all boys were traditionally trained to dodge spears, that is relatively easy. I once saw an offender ask for five men to throw at him simultaneously. He was so adept, he could break spears in half as they whistled past his head. But honour must be satisfied. After a suitable number of spears have been thrown, the offended party dances in and the offender is ritually speared in the thigh. Makarrta. Blood is let. Peace is restored and the nice part is that no mortal blow has been inflicted.

Don’t hold your breath for a national treaty. We keep looking for Mandela style leadership and thereby national unity. But the minute Noel Pearson or Marcia Langton, or indeed anybody starts to speak “on behalf of all First Australians” they will quickly be told: “You don’t speak for me, mate”.

But regional treaties. Yes! Bring ’em on.

Recent Comments by Ted Egan

‘Voter apathy greatest threat to Territory democracy’
I think I am correct in asserting that NT Aboriginal people, once denied the vote, were given the right to enrol in the 1960s – well before the 67 referendum – and, once enrolled, voting for them was compulsory, as is the general rule in Australia. They are not compelled to enrol, so if they are not on the rolls that’s their fault
All enrolled voters are compelled to vote, even if they want to submit an informal vote.
My mother always voted informally: “Don’t encourage them,” she would say. That was her statement to the pollies: “You don’t impress me.”
I don’t advocate informal voting and to informal voters I say: “Don’t complain about the government: it’s put there by voters. You had your chance.”
If registered voters do not vote, even informally, they incur a fine.
So I would suggest to the Electoral Commission they take steps to impose those fines next time round. It should be a good earner?
People carry on about discrimination, but the voting power of the people is what determines our political outcomes.


Stuart Highway trek maintains its allure after decades
Well done Kieran. I share your love of that trip. Once we did it in two days, now a more sensible three. Once loved, similarly, to choose a clever camping spot, and unroll the swag, nowadays preferring a good motel bed. But the escapism, the meaningful discussions, interspersed with thoughtful reflections, always enjoying the sheer beauty of it all: aren’t we lucky? I’ve done 30 albums of songs over a period of fifty years and most of the songs developed during such wonderful trips. Time to think. Time to sing. Can’t beat it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
It’s like fracking. Until we know all the answers to all the questions, let’s dodge nuclear power.
Find out where the uranium is, but leave it there for the moment.
A Tennant Creek solar farm is a great idea. Has anybody ever noticed that Tennant is also perfect for wind generation?
It’s always windy, either hot or cold, but usually at speed desirable for effective functioning.
Here’s the chance for the Warramungu to become millionaires. It’s what they deserve.


Say no to no go, urge anti-frackers
Readers are invited to Google the map of the Great Artesian Basin and contemplate the outcome of fracking.
Fracking anywhere, at this stage of lack of knowledge, is nothing short of lunacy.
I hope it will be the major issue in the next NT election.


Ted Egan: Forget splitting hairs, counting drops of blood.
To Rose Jones
You ask: If you have a royal ancestor, are you necessarily superior?
No, and I am not asserting that First Australians are in any way superior: but they are primus inter pares, first among equals, if they can establish (necessary) genetic links to Australia dating beyond 1787.
The Queen gets recognition because of her family tree.
All persons have rights to property and other inheritances.
We base everything in life on inheritance: we draw up wills to enable our descendants to maintain the same rights to property that we accumulated.
All I am asking for is accurate history to be established in this country.


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