From November 25 to 30 a group of people will undertake "a long walk" from Adelaide to Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island). NvT readers will probably have some knowledge of the long saga of the Hindmarsh Island bridge. It started because a developer thought there was money to made by building a marina for Adelaide's wealthy on Hindmarsh Island. the island is at the mouth of the Murray some 100kms from Adelaide. Part of the deal was that the government would replace the ferry to the island with a bridge so that Adelaide's yacht owners are not delayed getting to their weekend playthings.
There were only a few small problems with the proposal. One was the environmental damage inflicted by the bridge and the opening of greater tourist access to the quiet island. Another was the opposition of many local people who enjoyed the environment and the quiet of island life. But most famous was the "Aboriginal women's business". The building of the bridge would destroy areas sacred to the Ngarrindjeri women. The details of the stories attached to those areas was secret. Perhaps the women should have said the stories were "commercial in confidence" rather than secret as that would have been far more acceptable to white law and white money.
After many protests, several government inquiries, court battles, injunctions and legal threats, and finally a South Australian Royal Commission (Inquisition!) which questioned the very existence of the "women's business" the bridge has again been given the go ahead. This decision, which represents the outright trampling of Aboriginal beliefs, will set the process of reconciliation back enormously. As such it is a major example of the racist backlash which has been set lose since the federal election and which threatens to undermine the gains made in the area of justice and reconciliation over the past few years.
It now seems more necessary than ever to
continuation of a journey which began for many people with the attempt to build the Hindmarsh Island Bridge.
The Long Walk from Adelaide to Hindmarsh Island is a pilgrimage back to where this story began.
The Long Walk to Hindmarsh Island beginning on Monday November 25th 1996 will see Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people walking together in solidarity and in protest at the proposal to build this Bridge.
This is a journey for peace where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people will walk together in love and trust, supporting and making a commitment to their shared beliefs and sense of each other.
This is a journey for shared knowledge where we will learn about the land over which we will walk, the significance of sunrises and sunsets, the sounds of the birds in the early morning and the importance of the knowledge handed down from past generations
This is a journey for protest where we will in a non-violent way protest at an abuse of power, at a process of law which questions the spiritual beliefs of people as well as a system that does not concern itself with the abuse of a community's spirit.
All Nvers are welcome to join the walk. For further information, contact Mary/Greg: ph (08) 232 2040 or email email@example.com.
show our support for Aboriginal Australians and take racism off the agenda. And so the idea of "the long walk".
But what is special about the proposed walk is that to me it is reflects nonviolence in the wider sense of the term - more than just peaceful protest and the settlement of a conflict. The walk is not simply a protest about the bridge, nor just a solidarity action with Aboriginal people - although it is both of these. It is activists taking steps (literally!) towards reconciliation between black and white Australians. It is people acting on changes they want to see, sharing knowledge and experiences as a way to repair the damages wrought by conquest and racism, all while protesting the latest example of that racism. Perhaps there are echoes of the Cambodian peace walks here.
The Statement of Purpose for the long walk (printed) strikes a good balance between the various agendas which people take into the Walk and I think captures a vision for nonviolent action.
Statement of purpose for the long walk from Adelaide to Hindmarsh Island
The Long Walk is the