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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Dinewan Healing

Andrew Ryan

"Recent scientific research in to highly dilute solutions verifies that reducing a substance to a minute quantity, such as a single atom, intensified the need and capacity of that atom to bond with others and to imprint its own energetic qualities on the surrounding shell of different molecules. In 1976 a council of Aboriginal tribal elders proclaimed that as their racial blood becomes increasingly diluted in the engulfing ocean of white blood, the spiritual essense of Aboriginal blood will increase in potency and cause the consciousness of the Aboriginal race to re-emerge.”
- Robert Lawlor, “Voices of the First Day: awakening in the Aboriginal dreamtime” 1991

For those who read this column regularly, you may have noticed a little drop off in my contributions, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you just why that is.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been exploring my paternal family history, after a lifetime of very little contact with that side of the family. I’ve known since I was a teenager of my Aboriginal ancestry on that side, but due to family disconnection, bad vibes and all kinds of other circumstances, the details have remained fairly elusive to those of us who want to connect with our roots.

I started with a google search for my father’s father, and have since followed every pathway that came from there.

This search has met a few dead ends, but it has also opened up a wealth of previously unknown family members, some of whom have quickly become very dear to me, for the help and support they’ve given me on my search for identity, the kindness they’ve shown me, and the information they’ve shared.

I got sucked up in to the research. I have gone as far as the genealogy websites and other online resources can go, have read the books of a few family members, spoken to them, looking for stories, looking for clues as to where my Aboriginal ancestors were born and raised, what their country - my country - is, our totems, our traditions… but it’s difficult to pinpoint, so much knowledge has been lost to every generation, because the mothers knew they would risk having their children taken from they should they raise them not according to European traditions. So much pain, repression and denial.

There are a lot of questions floating around my head, a big drive is running through my veins, and the search for those answers has become all encompassing, that drive has taken over all others.

The more I learn, the harder it is to separate myself from the chilling effect colonisation had on the spirits of this land’s First Peoples, because my family is embroiled in the mess and pain of dispossession, my family struggles with the trans-generational trauma of the loss of family connections, loss of traditional culture, forced assimilation and racial vilification, I have suffered from this unconscious handing down of fear, self-loathing, resentment, confusion… the process of learning and coming to terms with the realities my not so distant ancestors faced has been incredibly eye opening, mind expanding, heart warming, though still painful... it is healing. The torture I used to feel about disconnection from this aspect of my heritage has dissipated considerably, because I am on that journey towards re-connection. I’m finding my ancestors, finding my country, and I will sit with them all there soon.

The waves of emotion and understanding I’ve been riding since beginning this journey have lead me to where I now sit, on a little sandy island resting spot, on which I have been contemplating where to take this energy that builds inside me.

Two major decisions have been made: travel to QLD asap (where my family is from), and create art work+write a book about the entire experience, to be completed by late 2017.

The first step towards these goals has been hooking up with a Brisbane based genealogist, who will mentor me in family heritage research. With these skills, not only can I conduct further research in to my own bloodlines, but I can also empower other people who are interested in learning more about their families to do the same. There are so many Australians with Aboriginal heritage who are, through no fault of their own, disconnected from the traditions and culture that can keep our people strong. Together we can work towards bridging the massive cultural divides in this country, and it all starts with paying respect to the people who suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of the colonial, white supremacist, mentality. Learning why, and how. Learning to care. Learning from mistakes.

The Australian Cultural fund as afforded me the profound honour of being included on their website as a cultural project worthy of donations, of which I am incredibly grateful. I am fundraising to help pay the costs associated with this Brisbane based mentorship, with a target of just $1500, which I have very nearly reached within one week!!! There is one more week left of the fundraiser, and I’m hoping to go well over the target, with your help, to make the trip more fruitful; acquiring further research material, travel expenses to the towns important to my family line, art supplies…

Over the coming 12 months, I’ll be putting all of my energy in to this project. There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of people to talk to, a lot of traveling and searching and recording and thinking, soooo much thinking, so much writing, so much video editing...

If you’d like to donate to the cause, please have a look at the following link. More information is there. And if you’d like to chat with me about anything to do with this, please send me an email: tahliaisabel@gmail.com

https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/dinewan-healing-an-artists-search-for-stolen-aboriginal-identity/