Young Indigenous Writers Initiative (Margaret Blackman) PDF Print E-mail

This story has been written with the support of the Young Indigenous Writers Initiative, a mentoring program run by FATSIL that helps young indigenous writers to develop their writing skills and get their work published. The aim of the program is to foster and promote the new generation of indigenous writers in Australia. Margaret Blackman, a Yidinji and Gurang woman, is our Young Indigenous Writers Initiative participant and Voice of the Land contributor for this issue. FATSIL acknowledges ‘The Towards a Just Society Fund’ for supporting this Initiative.

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Young Indigenous Writers Initiative (Alexis Wright) My name is Margaret Blackman, I am from the Gurang people which are my father’s clan group, from the area around Gladstone to Bundaberg and my mothers’ people Yidinji from Goldsbrough and Gordonvale along the Mulgrave River. I am the youngest of four sisters. My Language is very important to me, and for me to get a better understanding of how important is it to us as indigenous people, I interviewed my father’s older brother Uncle Shayne. He is a very strong Indigenous leader who has great integrity and values and who I respect very much. Here is our story:


Uncle Shayne: My Language is Meerooni Gurang and the area it is from is between Gladstone and Bundaberg

Uncle Shayne: I think nganyunda (speaking) Meerooni is important. I believe that it helps people to have pride in themselves by understanding who they are where they come from. It also helps them to see that they have a history associated with this land, and that they have a real sense of belonging. It’s not just where they are from but a real spiritual attachment to the land as well. The land has kept it’s people sustained for a long time and it is important and a part of their identity and a part of their cultural heritage. They should really take pride in the fact that they do have a history and do have a culture.


Myself: I feel this is a really great understanding on how important my language is and how I connect to my land. It makes me want to keep this alive for young generations ahead.


Uncle Shayne: I think that sprituality and religion are part of who we are. I’m indigenous and I believe in God. It’s about discovering the foundation of what you actually believe in and being able to incorporate that into how you express those beliefs. I believe that there was a creator of the heavens and the earth and that there is a God. And that God existed prior to white people coming here. Our people have a word for God. From where we come from we call him Biral. I have an understanding from an Indigenous Christian point of view who God is, and I incorporate that understanding into how I practice my beliefs.


Myself: I believe in God. I also know that language connects us spiritually to country by giving us the names of the mountains and rivers and everything else. Being an Indigenous person gives me a real sense of belonging and connection to this wonderful land of ours.


My thoughts in doing this project was that I had a spiritual understanding of what language is and what it is to my Elders. I feel I really need to maintain my culture and part of that is keeping my language alive and strong for generations to come. Yunandi (Goodbye)