The Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation has been at the forefront of political activism for the Bibbulmun-Nyoongah people in Perth for the last three decades.
The organisation has coordinated many human rights rallies and protests. During 1994 Dumbartung co-ordinated the highly successful Yokai rally which focussed predominantly on Police and community relationships issues such as Deaths in Custody, Racism in the Media, Housing issues, and Cultural exploitation issues.
Other major rallies co-ordinated by Dumbartung include the Yenna Wumbudin Rally, the Djiddar Boodja rally, the Fremantle Round House smoking ceremony, and many associated rallies with the Black Lives Matter groups.
Cultural Initiatives and Art Projects
Many of the aims and objectives of Dumbartung reinforce the importance of nurturing Aboriginal culture and art. Traditional or contemporary, art is important in healing the individual and the community. Art reaffirms identity, pride, spirituality and unity.
Dumbartung promotes community art and artists in a non-commercial manner that is consistent with our core objectives and is relevant to the wellbeing of Nyoongah people and the spiritual growth of the community.
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The following initiatives are a history of the work of Dumbartung:
Changing the Date (26 Jan)
Dumbartung coordinated the inaugural ceremony that saw the City of Fremantle become the first local government shire to change the date of Australia Day.
On the 28th Jan 2017 a smoking ceremony was held at the Fremantle Round House foreshore to change the date.
See the Smoking Ceremony video here.
Following is a poster showing Dumbartung's involvement in the filming of Utopia during March 2013. Utopia was credited within the top 3 documentaries of the year.
"Tonight is an extraordinary event. The film you are about to see - which took me two years to make - is being shown on Noongar land in a state that features prominently in the film. The planning of Utopia began soon after the infamous 'Intervention' in 2007 - I believed this demanded a documentary response. But the film received its greatest boost when I came to Perth early in 2010 and met Robert and Selina Eggington and saw the remarkable work of their healing centre at Dumbartung. Listening to Robert and Selina then, being guided by Robert through the Kyana gallery, I was reinforced in my belief that the uniqueness of Australia lies in the first nations of my homeland - and that justice for them ought to be the nation's highest priority. The film you are about to see is made in honour of them."
John Pilger statement prior premiere screening of Utopia at Murdoch University Perth Western Australia.
Also shown below are two photos from the Australian premiere screening at Redfern in NSW where Robert and Selina spoke to the film.
Official trailer of "Utopia - A film by John Pilger"
The Prisoners Art Project
This initiative was first established in December 1991 by Dumbartung as a result of the acknowledgment of the therapeutic benefits of Aboriginal art in healing and making a positive impact in the lives of Indigenous prisoners in incarceration. In addition it was also found that art done in prison by incarcerated Aboriginal people was prone to a high degree of exploitation. The project was created to enforce some control over the Aboriginal artists’ artistic endeavours, especially in the arena of promotion and marketing.
The prisoner’s art program allowed the Aboriginal prisoners wellbeing to be given priority by offering a therapeutic benefit which allowed the prisoners to explore their creativity and express their feelings of isolation, stress and frustrations that are part of the incarceration experience in a healthy manner.
Dumbartung is active in repatriating artworks and items of cultural significance from religious, government and academic institutions across the world. It is well documented that this material has been removed by unethical means from the traditional owners and institutionally allocated across the globe. This material needs to be repatriated to enable the spiritual healing of Aboriginal people and the restoration of cultural pride and identity.
Intellectual Property Rights and Cultural Ownership Issues:
Wall of Shame
Initiated in 1994 by Dumbartung, the wall of shame commenced primarily due to the Marlo Morgan book “Mutant Message Down Under” to allow people to recognise the extent of Aboriginal cultural appropriation and exploitation. Since then the scope of the wall has broadened to encompass many other aspects involving exploitation of Aboriginal culture.
Marlo Morgan and Mutant Message Down Under
In 1990, Marlo Morgan published a book, Mutant Message Down Under, which chronicles the journey of a middle-aged, white, American woman with a group of 62 desert Aborigines, the “Real People”, across the continent of Australia. The author states the book was written after the fact inspired by actual experience.
Mutant Message Down Under quickly attained popularity with the New Age movement in the United States and consequently the book was picked by giant publishing firm Harper Collins. To date over half a million copies of the Harper Collins version have been sold in the United States alone. Ms Morgan has completed many successful tours lecturing on the book in the United States and Europe. In her lectures Ms Morgan speaks of her actual experience with the “Real People” and states she is an Aborigine.
A survey of Aboriginal groups in Central and Western Australia failed to uncover any indication whatsoever of Ms Morgan’s presence in the area or of the existence of the “Real People” tribe. Aboriginal groups believe Ms Morgan’s desert journey to be utterly fabricated and that her book and teaching lack any credibility whatsoever.
It is deeply offensive to Aboriginal people for a white woman to be misrepresenting Aboriginal culture for self-promotion and profit. Aboriginal people are appalled that Ms Morgan’s false message is being accepted as fact by a naive American and European market and are extremely concerned about the resulting long term implications for their culture.
This report details the process undertaken by Aboriginal groups and initiated by their response to Mutant Message Down Under, which has led to a unified voice of opposition to the exploitation of indigenous cultures throughout the world.
Dumbartung has been active in coordinating many protests and rallies. These public protests have generated media and political responses to issues important to Aboriginal people as well as the wider society. This activism has resulted in a focus on the human rights of Indigenous peoples and traditional ownership issues.
Yokai was a protest march held in 1996 that was coordinated by Dumbartung which translates in English to “shout of victory”. Protesters were rallying against high-speed police car chases, racist comments on the radio and the number of homeless Aboriginal people. The protest crowd marched through the Perth CBD, stopping at various significant organisations such as state government agencies, local radio stations and Non-Aboriginal owned art galleries that exploited Indigenous artists.
Yenna Wumbudin in Nyoongah language means “Walk Proud”. The rally was held in 2004.
A key message that came out of the rally was for young Aboriginal people to understand and be proud of their identity, and take from the ancestors and old people, an understanding of their pain and suffering thus allowing them strength to overcome and endure against life’s challenges.
Two flames were lit in remembrance of Aboriginal people who have died in custody and for the strength and solidarity of all Nyoongah people.
Kootamiara Quab Women’s Healing Program
The Kootamiara Quab healing program is a unique and important initiative utilising our cultural arts and spiritual identity to help in the healing process from trauma associated with child sexual abuse and domestic violence issues.
The program also co-ordinates water colour and paperbark courses. These courses are also available to the public to attend.
The program also helps support individuals facing deep grief from the loss of loved ones.
Controversial presence on the site of Clontarf.
Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGM)
Perth, Western Australia 2011.
~ May Our Campfires Burn For You Forever ~
How much money in the world of artistic creative expression can be made from pain and suffering? How many academic thesis, doctrines, and professorships can be awarded to research fellows for theorising trauma associated with genocide, racial oppression, brutality including self -injury and suicide without ever leaving the comfort of their university or political offices. These people become arm chair human rights advocates
Robert Eggington "Hamburgers For Masterpieces" March 2009