Friday, February 23, 2007

Vincent Lingiari

Speaking of Paul Kelly, have you ever heard of Vincent Lingiari? I never had until I heard Paul Kelly's song "From Little Things, Big Things Grow". Its the story of an Australian Aborigone leader who led an 8 year protest in order to gain the return of the land to the Aborigone people. Its an amazing story and hard to believe that as recently as the '60s that the Aboriginal people were treated so horribly. Here is what Wikepedia has to say:

Vincent Lingiari (1908–1988), was an Aboriginal rights activist who was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to the Aboriginal people. Lingiari was a member of the Gurindji people from the Northern Territory's Victoria River District. Lingiari led the Wave Hill Walk-Off, which eventually resulted in the return of the land to the Gurindji by the Commonwealth of Australia.
While there had been complaints from Indigenous employees about conditions on Wave Hill over many years, including an inquiry during the 1930s that was critical of Vesteys employment practices, the walk-off had a focus that was aimed at a wider target than Vesteys. Before 1968 it was illegal to pay an Indigenous worker more than a specified amount in goods and money. In many cases, the government benefits for which Indigenous employees were eligible were paid into pastoral companies’ accounts, rather than to the individuals.
The protesters established the Wattie Creek Camp and demanded the return of some of their traditional lands. So began the seven-year fight by the Gurindji people to obtain title to their land.
The strike lasted seven years. Over that time, support for Aboriginal rights grew as the struggle intensified. The protest eventually led to the Commonwealth Land Rights Act (Northern Territory), 1976. This Act gave Indigenous Australians freehold title to traditional lands in the Northern Territory and, significantly, the power of veto over mining and development on those lands.
An important and symbolic event in Australian history occurred when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari's hands and handed the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people.

I've googled and found little else about him. No books or articles. Mostly references to the song. Seems like it would make a great movie. Here's a link to the song. Its nice.

From Little Things, Big Things Grow.

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