In 1995 an invitation was issued to Representatives of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation from Mr Toshimi Mikami, Mr Harvomi Hosono and Mr Tadanori Yoko to attend a Healing Gathering in Kobe City, Japan.
This public gathering was the first following the tragic earthquakes which hit Kobe City in early 1995. The gathering consisted of visual and performing artists, cultural workers and traditional dancers.
Two years after this Healing Gathering in Kobe we were to return again, following four years of active campaigning against Marlo Morgan and to eventually confront her at a lecture theatre in Kobe City. This confrontation could have happened in any city in the world but I believe due to the energy of the Healing Gathering it was like a spiritual omen that this particular city was the place of confrontation.
On the 7th of April the coordinator of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, Mr Robert Eggington, and the Bardi Elder, Mr Paul Sampi, travelled to Japan to continue the campaign of opposition to Mutant Message Downunder, written by American Author Marlo Morgan.
On arrival in Osaka we were met and warmly welcomed by two of our Japanese Support Group members, Mr Saya KOKUBA and Ms Aki ONO TOMOKO. Whom for identification was proudly displaying the Aboriginal Flag.
Marlo Morgan arrived in Japan on the 8th of April to commence a 9 major city tour. The intentions of The Dumbartung campaign was to continuously hold press conferences and speak at venues where ever she was scheduled to speak on her book.
During the campaign in Kobe myself and Mr Paul Sampi were involved in the following press conferences and seminar venues.
This press conference consisted of Japanese media representatives from both major OSAKA print media, as well as national Japanese print media, and ran from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. More than eighty people attended this conference which included members of the BARAKU MOVEMENT.
Myself and Mr Paul Sampi attended, by invitation, the Rotary Club meeting in Kobe and were very much welcomed by the president of the Rotary Club. We both addressed the meeting of the members on issues regarding Mutant Message Downunder and spoke about the social and political influences affecting Aboriginal people currently in Australia. The members were also interested in the recent racial unrest created by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, and what this meant to both Aboriginal and Asian People within Australia. An excess of 40 extremely influential people attended the Rotary Club meeting.
This press conference was the focus of the initial article printed by the Asahi National Newspaper of Japan for national distribution across the country. Representatives of NHK, the National Electronic Media (television), were present at the conference. We discussed the possibility of covering the proposed confrontation between, Marlo Morgan and ourselves, at the Nishiyama Memorial Hall in Kobe
Another article in the Kobe newspaper was published after this press conference. Five major Osaka/Kobe media networks were represented at this conference that commenced at 4:00 pm and concluded at 6:30 pm. Major emphasis reflected questions from the media regarding future legal proceedings against the author Marlo Morgan.
More than 1,500 people gathered at the Nishiyama Hall on the 13th of April to hear Marlo Morgan’s lecture. Myself, Paul Sampi and members of the Support Group arrived at the Hall moments into her speech. Negotiations between Mr Komei Hosokawa and Morgan’s organisers were intense, as Komei negotiated at the halls entrance he created an opening for myself and Mr Sampi to walk through. As the organisers tried to further prevent our entry, Komei ushered us through (he was also the translator for our protest statements). As a result of previous media coverage Morgan would have been aware of our presence in Japan, however, I believe she was not aware of the confrontation taking place. Both Paul Sampi and myself were painted with ancient paint (ochre) and wore special feathers. Mr Sampi carried ceremonial boomerangs and hair belts accompanied with pearl shells, I carried an old Didgeridoo.
As we walked through the auditorium the first of our statements were spoken loud and clear, being translated by Komei.
The statements I made to Marlo Morgan after taking position in front of the podium was:
1. We come as the custodial owners of Aboriginal Culture.
2. We come representing our spiritual leaders, our Elders, our grass roots advocates, our ancestors and our future generations.
3. We have come united as one voice representing the spiritual strength of all our people across our lands.
4. We condemn you Marlo Morgan as a fraud and a spiritual thief.
5. Your story of Mutant Message as a fabricated new-age fantasy and your journey with the real people as nothing more than a hoax.
6. The Bounuh Wongee message stick is the undeniable truth. The voice of all our people is to cease this hurt, stop these lies and make right what you have done wrong.
7. May this act as a warning to all those outside interests who steal and exploit our cultural knowledge for commercial or religious gain that our people will continue to challenge and fight against the appropriation of our culture and spirituality.
Following my statement Mr Paul Sampi, on behalf of all Aboriginal Elders, addressed the audience with the following statement:
Marlo Morgan, I am a traditional Aboriginal Lawman.
You Marlo Morgan have done our people a great injustice.
You must stop what you are doing and admit your hoax to the people around the world to who’s trust you have betrayed.
Following these statements, prior to leaving the hall, I played the didgeridoo to Mr Paul Sampi clapping sounds of the boomerangs. A small amount of red ochre and emu feathers were left at the podium with the words translated ‘if you have any knowledge or respect of Aboriginal Culture, Marlo Morgan, you will know what this represents’.
We then left the Nishiyama Hall.
A member of our support group proceeded to record Morgans lecture. Marlo Morgan’s first words to her audience following our absence was ‘these two men travelled to the United States in early 1996 to carry out an attempt to assassinate me, but this did not work. They have now travelled to Japan to try the same, but it will not work either because they represent all that is bad, and I represent all that is good and in the end goodness will prevail.
I believe she made this statement due to an international statement we made in 1994 that ‘if Marlo Morgan has done what she claims to have done this is punishable by death under Aboriginal law’, this reflects the law that no woman is to participate or witness mans ceremony and that no man is to witness woman’s ceremony. These laws have been part of Aboriginal Culture and practiced since time began. Again it indicates her abysmal misunderstanding of Aboriginal Culture. Legal advice is being sought on this public statement that she has made.
Following her lecture our support group along with myself and Paul Sampi commenced to hand out over 1500 printed leaflets and fliers, in Japanese language, to the people who attended her lecture. Both myself and Mr Sampi spoke to many people who had questions regarding the issues. Much sympathy and support was offered to us regarding our campaign and hundreds of people now had an opportunity to reassess their opinions.
Following Kobe we travelled to Kyoto the ancient capital of Japan.
The first press conference in Kyoto was held at the University club from 4:00 pm 15th of April. This press conference was attended by three media networks based in Kyoto.
The conference was centred on the campaign and the cultural and spiritual implications of the new-age infiltration into Indigenous Cultures Worldwide, also focusing on potential legal proceedings against the Author of Mutant Message Downunder.
Following the press conference we held lectures at the Kyoto University. Approximately 170 students and associated lecturers attended. We extensively discussed the issues regarding Mutant Message Downunder and the campaign ignited great interest and support from the audience concerning our future endeavours, to expose the fraudulent process of Marlo Morgan and her supporters. There were also a number of foreign lecturers and professors in attendance at this venue.
Another major lecture was given at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. This public venue was arguably the largest public speaking venue we addressed in Japan in excess of a hundred people including the Dean of the University, professors, associate lecturers and students attended this forum. Enormous interest and support was shown by all who attended this forum.
An extensive history of the Marlo Morgan campaign especially the series of incidents in the United States campaign was discussed during this lecture. A panel was formed to respond to questions and statements which people had. This presentation was followed by a reception and concluded in the evening.
Our large Support Group in Japan continued the exercise of distributing the pamphlets and fliers to people who attended the Marlo Morgan lecture in Kyoto. More than 1000 fliers were distributed by our support group, and placards of information statements were erected outside the venue. By this time her organisers had contracted extra security at her venue locations. On the 16th April we left Kyoto by train, destination Tokyo, capital of Japan.
Following successful negotiations between our Support Group and the Japanese publishers, a meeting was arranged and coordinated for the 17th April. This meeting was attended by Robert Eggington, Mr Paul Sampi, Mr Yoshiniko Murata, Tomoko Takemura, Sayoko Kokubu and our translator. Representing the Kadokawa publishers were the editor, the international public relations officer and their international translator.
The meeting was informative with an extensive cover of our concerns regarding Mutant Message Downunder. The publishers made specific comments on their concern that Harper Collins, at the time of negotiations with Kadokawa Shoten, gave no indication to the fact that there was extensive controversy with the book. In conclusion to the meeting with the publishers we presented a document consisting of 4 points for them to address. These points were as follows:
1. To cease immediately the publication of ‘Mutant Message Downunder.
2. To immediately recall all existing publications of the book from Japanese bookshops.
3. To , wherever possible in their written journals, print our view and our side of the story.
4. To immediately withdraw the Burnum-Burnum declaration at the back of the publication.
Since the Elders arrived back from the United States campaign, held in February 1996, Burnum Burnum faxed the following statement to the Dumbartung Office.
On the 17th April we attended what was to be our largest press conference at the Senate Hall, Tokyo. A number of major media networks were represented including the ASAHI National Japanese Media, The Japan Times and the MAINICHI Daily News Tokyo. The press conference raised many important issues regarding our campaign such as Legal Issues, Moral Issues, Intellectual Property Right Issues, Cultural Knowledge Ownership, the Multi National Company Issues, The Bounuh Wongee Report and the current Political Issues in Australia regarding the human rights of our people. This press conference also resulted in two columnists writing stories on our campaign and issues (please refer to media section).
During our campaign in Tokyo an extensive radio interview was carried out by a Californian based radio at UCLA (University of California Los Angeles). This was a National radio program broadcasting throughout the United States. A tape of the confrontation with Marlo Morgan was taken by the radio station.
The second confrontation with Marlo Morgan during her Japanese Tour was at the Curian Centre Shinagawa, Inner Tokyo. This particular day was extremely tense with an unexpected response from the organisers responsible for Morgan’s venues. Because of a number of strange occurrences and unknown people trying to engage in discussions with myself and Mr Sampi, our Support Group felt it best that - prior to our confrontation - we wait in a nearby café a number of streets away from the venue. As we finally entered the foyer of the venue, Mr Murata and Mr Hosokawa, negotiated our entry with Morgan’s organisers. The venue was filled to total capacity, an excess of 3000 people gathered to hear Marlo Morgan speak in Tokyo.
Following the negotiations we entered the forum. We then continued with the same statements from our earlier confrontation with Marlo Morgan (in Kobe City).
Accompanying us as we entered the venue were Australian, Japanese and American Media representatives. Morgan’s response to our second confrontation was expected to be different to Kobe, she was obviously more aware of our intentions. A video cassette recording was made of this second confrontation and is available on request by contacting the Dumbartung Corporation in Perth, Western Australia.
Following a number of media interviews we left the hall and were warmly welcomed by the Ainu Community at a reception gathering in the Shang Hai Restaurant, Inner Tokyo.
We departed Tokyo on the 19th April.
Prior to our departure we had been advised that the Marlo Morgan Lecture in Sapporo had been cancelled. This was due to the pressure put on her from both the Ainu people and the Japanese public. This news was extremely pleasing, marking the success of our campaign and the tireless support of all our Japanese Support Group.
On our arrival in Sapporo we were welcomed by Mr Toshimi Mikami and Mr Haruomi Hosono. Our first meeting in Sapporo was as invited guests. We attended the completing of a traditional Ainu Hut and participated in the Ainu ceremonies with the local people. We had the honour of speaking with an Ainu Elder (see media article) regarding our campaign in Japan.
That evening we attended a reception by the Ainu people that was held at the Noboribetsu-shi Tetsunan Friendship Centre. We were accompanied by Mr Wataru Takeuchi, the coordinator for our Hokaido campaign who is also the secretary of the Ainu Association in Hokaido. This reception was attended by Ainu Elders, with a sharing of cultural strengths our bonds of solidarity were further consolidated.
The following day, 20th April, we visited the Nibutani Dam and met with Mr Kayano Shigeru (the first Ainu person to become a member the Japanese Diet. On our last night in Japan we attended a reception held by the Ainu people at the Chitose-shi Rankoshi House of Life. This night was full of rich cultural exchange. Myself and Paul Sampi played didgeridoo and the Ainu people performed traditional dance. Long term agreements were made by both parties to work towards intellectual property rights issues and cultural ownership issues in the future.
Our campaign to enlighten the minds of the Japanese public against Marlo Morgan’s Mutant Message Downunder, was extremely successful.
Although Morgan may have lectured to over 7000 people in Japan, each paying $30 per seat (it has been estimated by our Japanese contacts that she generated an excess of $385,000 Australian dollars) a great amount of discredit has been placed on her integrity and honesty by our campaign process.
We constantly stated throughout our press conferences that our cultural knowledge and spirituality can not and should not be sold in the NEW-AGE market place, by charlatans and spiritual frauds such as the likes of Marlo Morgan.
This campaign has allowed our people to address at an international level and prioritize the issues of the Intellectual Property Right question.
How can one American woman, from Kansas City Missouri, be right and all of our people be wrong regarding our cultural knowledge and the question of Mutant Message Downunder.
Mr Wataru Tekeuchi
Professor Komei Hosokawa
Mr Yoshiniko Murata