Acknowledgement of Country
Hello everyone my name is Doris Stuart
Stuart was the name of my father. This is my name because this is our country.
I am Apmrereke Artweye for Mparntwe.. this is where I come from, this is my country. So the name of my fathers family were given by Europeans in Stuart. We’re from here apmrereke Artweye custodians for this country.
Stuart was the name this place was given by the incoming Europeans in the late 1800’s. That lasted until 1932…maybe fifty years?
Then the name of this place changed to Alice Springs. The name Europeans gave a spring, an important place a little way north of this spot. The place on the river where they build the telegraph station.
But this place has another name Mparntwe
That place you call Alice Springs was named long before you all came here, and it still is.
We are here at our Caterpillar Sculpture so close to the Yaye’s – the two sisters, the big sister and the little sister who have been here for a very long time, these sites are where I get my strength from and energy to continue to respect them.
I am here along with my many friends in the arts community to acknowledge the land that we all are gathered on.
I want to acknowledge the respect of family and to show respect to Big Sister Hill behind us who was chosen to be the one to have a water tank put on it way back then for the services of the aerodrome that was here. Following that Big Sister hill was used as a dumping and camping ground and buffell grass came into play, an introduced visitor.
It saddened us to see our Sacred Site used as such. With the help of Araluen staff Tim and Kate and Sue O’Connor from AAPA, Greening and Volunteers Australia, Desert Park crew and the late Mr Laws we were supported to get the site cleared and the fence put up.
Big Sister can rest peacefully now.
This wonderful Caterpillar sculpture that was built 21 years ago. It stands testimony to show respect of this Arrernte land.
My family continue to maintain strong connections to over a hundred sacred sites in this small area we call Mparntwe. Our stories are still strong and our connection to them is continuous. Our pain when they are disrespected is real. I would like to thank Central Craft here for consulting properly and acknowledging our family’s unbroken connection to ampere, to this place. The respect that has been shown to our stories and recognition of our role as Apmereke artweye for Mparntwe.
I like to talk to people like yourselves, because artists see country and have more understanding being artists. They help to at least get that little bit of understanding out there, that it’s not all about dollars you’ve gotta put country first and the ancestors.
It is very distressing for us that not everyone shows this same respect, that people who should know better do not follow our Aboriginal laws of governance relating to who has responsibility for particular sites. It is very upsetting when proper consultation is not undertaken and this leads to situations where our Aboriginal laws are broken and this puts us all at great risk.
Welcome to Country – it sounds easy doesn’t it? You acknowledge the authority of registered Native Title Holders, such as myself. I greet you all, and I welcome you all in response and we all feel good. But in truth it’s a little more complicated than that. Just a few years ago my sister and I had a long discussion with friends from the Alice Springs art community about this very issue of Welcome to Country’ over a BBQ.
When I was a child, not so long ago, and for all the time before that, people couldn’t just walk into Mparntwe uninvited. They had to sit down at certain boundaries, places such as Ntarpie (Heavytree Gap). The gap as you all know it – they had to sit down and ask permission of Apmereke Artweye to enter Mparntwe, and they knew they might be told they weren’t welcome.
My sister and I explained that these ‘welcomes’ didn’t feel reasonable to us because the truth was that if you knock we are simply expected to open our door and say welcome. It’s a ritual that doesn’t always make us feel respected… it doesn’t necessarily leave us feeling like our voices have been herd.
Can we actually so, no your not welcome?
We can’t … you are here already, you have walked through the door and moved the furniture around.
The one thing we all agreed on was that Acknowledgment to country would feel more appropriate. So I ask you to join me in Acknowledging this Country and all it gives us every day that we live here, as we celebrate this gathering on my fathers country.
This acknowledgement was delivered by Doris Stuart Kngwarreye at the opening of Apmere Mparntwe - The Australian Ceramics Triennale in 19 July 2022