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Episode 3 EV4ET: Ellen van Neerven and Charmaine Papertalk Green
Posted 10.09.2020

Episode 3 EV4ET: Ellen van Neerven and Charmaine Papertalk Green

Duration 30min 59sec

Familiar Lines

Charmaine Papertalk Green

I am here
I am from
This country
Ngathajungu barna
This barna
Ngatha Barnagu

There are no fucken surprises
During COVID-19 here in
Geraldton on Yamaji barna
The lines on the maps
Were drawn long ago
6pm Curfews- reserve segregation
Markings on the ground known

A mask on our face is not
A tape over our mouths
We cannot be silenced
BLM Stop Black Deaths in Custody
BLM Justice for Ms Clarke …RIP
BLM Justice for Ms Dhu …RIP
Colonial hate remains the killer

I am here
I am from
This country
Ngathajungu barna
This barna
Ngatha Barnagu

I get fidgety standing on
retail floor line markings
The looks of annoyance
The looks of disbelief
Oops that white multhu
Gave me a dirty look
For standing too close

Covid-19 did not stop the
racist online violence here in
My community where they
Still post in cyber blood on
Geraldton Neighbourhood Watch
With keyboard fingers oozing hate
They want to kill us Yamaji

I am here
I am from
This country
Ngathajungu barna
This barna

Ngatha Barnagu
Ground markings for thousand years
Memory into Yamaji DNA to carry
Onwards and forward into time
Survival instinct of our Elders
1905 Act experiences and stories
Bush life Station life shared in yarns
Teachings passed on giving strength

While the others stressed about
Toilet paper to wipe their backsides
The White Australia wheel rolled on
Over us adding extra layers of trauma
Suicides in parks, prisons, communities
Cyber bullying of our young ones
A pandemic stopped nothing in WA

I am here
I am from
This country
Ngathajungu barna
This barna
Ngatha Barnagu

Some Elders said “we be right”
Remember many Ancestors survived
The Pandemic of Colonisation
Segregation is good for us in 2020

Freedom Matters

Ellen van Neerven

one day we were free       then everything hurt us.

Sun’s out
and we squeal
at the ocean. Rush
down the hill to the beach
skipping to the water
our anchor, shells, sand,
free our legs from the domestic work
the sitting under the desk. Our
rigid uniforms soften with wind. Soften with sea
a blue tender cover, air soothing
our youngest stomach.

She is little for her age. Sick
since we have been imprisoned
and this place has been renamed to myora: mission.
She has her grandmother’s legs, and her father’s eyes.
She feels at home near the water.
Her brother
is with the boys let out to bathe.
He is singing out, telling her
how good it is to see her. At first she is frightened
she hasn’t been close
to her brother for three years.
she hears the smiling sound of his voice.
we follow her to meet the boys
she grows more relaxed
her hands finding her brother’s, fingers interlink.
wet from swimming in the sea.
it’s like playtime but then Matron screams
calling our cousin the devil’s spawn
we are held back.

Our baby cousin is smacked.
The force sends her spinning. She gasps
and clutches her stomach.
Matron is yelling, you will not refuse me
grabs her, violently pushes her head under water
we are too shocked and frightened
our hair is being cut by careless fingers.
our cousin’s head emerges from the sea. Crying
she is dragged
to the hill.

Aunty’s by the well, her eyes on
the stick and the boot
kicking our cousin.
we cry quietly.
Our older sister’s in the kitchen window.
we think one of them will charge down the hill
and help our little cousin.
Aunty stood up to Matron before
when she tried to hit her daughters.
For her disobedience, she was ordered
by the superintendent to leave
the grounds.
Our baby cousin calls out to us, carry me.
She is losing her strength. Her life.
Aunty is running. She picks up our cousin
and holds her to her chest.
Matron yells, it is none of her business
you must put her down.
Matron swings her cane and takes our little cousin
into the dormitory

they hate our freedom       so only freedom matters – Dionne Brand


'A story told to us by Aunty Mabel Brown and Aunty Janie Sunflower was that as with separate dormitories they had to swim in two different groups. One day the Matron took all the children down to the beach to have a swim, one of the girls slipped away and was swimming with the boys, the Matron of course found out and when she took her back home gave her a flogging for breaking the rules, out of this flogging the girl died. At that time everyone was too scared to speak up about the flogging because it would have meant that you were sent away for speaking out against anyone.'

Aunty Phyliss Donovan & Aunty Joan Costello, 1984. Friends of the Myora Aboriginal Cemetery C/- Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland, St. Lucia.

I wrote this poem in memoriam to the little girl who passed away and those who lost her.

What happened on that day at Moongalba in September 1896 is continuing to be told. She will not be forgotten: that little baby girl, only five years old, flogged to death by a white woman, the acting Matron. We remember her, we honour her. The injustice will never be forgotten - EvN, Minjerribah, 2020.