It was a big week for Black Star. We were on the road taking the station to the people, beginning at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) for 3 days, then like “show people” we packed up and travelled up to Cooktown, for the annual NAIDOC week celebrations held at the PCYC, and then we packed up and went to the Atherton State High School for a NAIDOC day of celebration, entertainment and food.
Our first engagement was at CIAF celebrating the 10th year of the art fair. The event was huge, it was like show day at the Cairns Show, lots of peo
ple looking at the Indigenous art on display and also the art works from the community art collectives available for the people to buy.
Sales were popular and the traffic was heavy. Some of the stalls sold out of their stock on the first day and one sold out in 2 hours of the first day, so good was the quality of work. The average punter had to compete with the gallery owners from all over the country, who were prepared to pay the premium prices for the quality sculptures and paintings. This was our first CIAF, but we will be back next year promoting the Indigenous artists and art collectives which cover all of the Black Star Network communities. The broadcasts were heard by all of the 19 network outlets, giving the people who could not afford to travel to Cairns, the opportunity to stay in touch with the activities down in the big smoke over the 18 hours and 52 interviews of the live broadcast.
It was the second time we had broadcast the Cooktown NAIDOC event. The organisers did a great job in promoting it. Schools from around the region attended and there was lots of awards for the participants, food, drinks, and entertainment. We were kept busy with interviews with elders, students, rangers, council, and NGO’s. Cooktown NAIDOC is unique, it is well attended by school students, mums and dads, teachers, elders and carers.
We are gearing up next year, for a month of activities built around the 2020 anniversary of the landing of Captain Cook, on the Endeavour River to repair his ship after colliding with a reef. He beached his ship on the site of present day Cooktown.
The history is that Cook landed, on what is well know among the Traditional Owners as common ground, shared by the tribes. Following a dispute over turtles that had been illegally taken, tensions rose and were eased when an elder approached Cook in an act of reconciliation and broke the heads of the spears, signifying that no fighting would occur on the common ground. Black Star will be in Cooktown for the month long celebrations in 2020 and also at Laura festival and NAIDOC, promoting the indigenous culture and heritage of peoples of the region. We’d like to thank the Aboriginal Corporation Gungarde, for organising the event and also the Council for their assistance, the PCYC for the venue and people who participated in the interviews.
Then it was back to Atherton for the NAIDOC day celebrations, at the State High School to round off the week.
Atherton NAIDOC reminded me of the old NAIDOC days, big feed, local entertainment, lots of families. In contrast to the Cooktown event, Atherton was more family focused, we met a lot of the local family groups and traditional owners and owner groups. Its not surprising, that there is a large population of indigenous peoples in and around the Atherton Tablelands, considering they have been there for thousands of years. One cave site has revealed, occupation going back 45,000 years.
The Djirrbal and Ngadjonji tribes were part of the Djirrbalngan language group, other tribal areas were the Jidabal and Barbarum, while the northern end around Kuranda was the domain of the Yidinji and the Yidinji Yabanday (tribal land boundary) covered a large area from the Barron River in the north to the Russell River in the south, east to the Murray Prior Range and west to Tolga. The Yidinji consists of 8 clans who are the custodians of the tribe’s estate.
Many of the people who we met were descendants of these clan nomenclatures and people of the present day tablelands. The NAIDOC in Atherton has been only going a short time and judging by the success the event will only get bigger. The entertainment was great, traditional dancers put on a great show of local dancers and were also supported by Torres Strait dancers. A big hit was the all female band of 4 talented up and coming artists led by Indigenous artist and singer songwriter Aziah Davis.