Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta – Australia

Disambiguating: Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta seems to be a ‘collective name for the Senior Aboriginal Women’, from Coober Pedy, South Australia. The members: Ivy Makinti Stewart, Eileen Wani Wingfield, Eileen Unkari Crombie, Angelina Wonga, Emily Munyungka Austin, Myra Tjunmutja Watson.

Linked with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with Irati Wanti, with The Irati Wanti declaration; and with Articles for Indigenous Peoples on our blogs.

They are collectively one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

They say: “We are only the caretakers of the country. If we look after it, it will look after us. Government has big money to buy their way out – but big happiness that we won against government”.

Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta - Australia rogne redim 70p.jpg.

The Collective of Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta – the ‘Senior Aboriginal Women’ from Coober Pedy, South Australia.

They work for Irati Wanti, and for the Senior Aboriginal Women’s Council of Coober Pedy (named on the Australasian Legal Information Institute).

They say also: “People said that you cannot win against the Government. Just a few women, us. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up. We always talk straight out. In the end he (the sdid not have the power, we did. He only had money, but money does not win. We are winners because of what is in our hearts, not what is on paper. Big happiness that we won against the Government. And the family and all the grandchildren are so happy because we fought the whole way. Kids growing up, babies have been born since we started. And still we have family coming. All learning about our fight.

We are the caretakers of the country. We women have rights of this land. We protect it. We do not want money. We want life and land for the kids. Generation to generation we are thinking about the kids. When we heard about the (radioactive) waste dump we said, “Do not waste our country, do not waste our future.

All of us were living when the Government used the country for the (atomic) bomb. All the Old People died and all the families are sick. We have been working for years against the poison.

We are the Aboriginal Women. We know the country. We started talking strong against the dump a long time ago, in 1998 with Sister Michelle Madigan. We thought we would get the Greenie Kungkas (Non-Indigenous women environmentalists) to help us. Greenies care for the same thing. Fight for the same thing.

Against the poison. Since then we been everywhere talking about the poison.

We were worrying for the kids and the country.

We had to do everything we could. We worked with people in Coober Pedy, people in the cities, people in the towns along the road the waste was going to drive through. Greenies, Church people, Government people. We helped them all understand about the country. Never mind our country is desert, it is where we belong. And we love where we belong, the whole land.

We stayed true to our culture passed down from our Kamiku and Jamuku (Grandmothers and Grandfathers). Our strong words speaking from the heart, our true stories, stayed the same to anyone we talked to. We did not change for anyone. We believe in ourselves. The Greenies helped us get our story out, writing everything down, sending it everywhere. And we travelled everywhere to talk straight out to people in the cities. We sang Inma (traditional song) everywhere we went too.

We travelled a long way with the stories of the land, speaking strong against the Irati (poison). Talking every step of the way. To the Government, we were not afraid of them. And we talked to the media all the time. On the radio, television, video, newspaper, the internet.

Only a little bit of English. We had posters, postcards and t-shirts with our story on them.

All the time with the Greenies, teaching them about Anangu (Aboriginal) way. In turn, they helped us with the Whitefella (Dominant white society) way.

We know the country. We were born on the earth, not the hospital. We were born in the sand; we really know the land. From a baby we grow up on the land. We have to keep it clean from the poison for the future. We love our kids, our Manta (country), the underground water and the bush tucker.

When two of the ladies won the Goldman Prize (2002), it nearly split us up because there was four main ladies doing all the work and two won the prize. Money (large cash prize) made trouble for us and changed things.

We are poor people with no money. The Government mob has big money. We did it all the hard way. Always camping out in the cold.

Travelling all over with no money. We went through it. Survivors. Even had a car accident where we hit a bullock one night on the way to Roxby Downs (uranium mine). We even went to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney! It is a dangerous place, but we went in boldly to see where they were making the poison. We lost our friends. We lost our loved ones. We never give up. Been through too much. Too much hard business and still keep going. Sorry business (funerals and grieving) all the time. Fought through every hard thing along the way. And we are old ladies. Lots of medicine, seeing doctors all the time. With high blood pressure, diabetes, even end up in hospital sometimes.

People trying to scare us from fighting. It was hard work, but we never stopped.

We are all grandmothers, even great grandmothers. Some of us even have our grandkids and great-grandkids living with us.

Always helping our families out. Even when they are in trouble with the courts we are there.

We are always keeping the culture and our language strong, and teaching the young ones. Still going out bush all the time for bush tucker and medicine, painting and making baskets and punu (carved wooden artifacts). We are board members and we always going to meetings about Native title, aged care, Elders Council, health, alcohol and drugs.

The Lord God has helped us. We pray to keep us strong and safe all the way when we are travelling and when we are worried. And all our family supported us when we were going here and there. And working with the Greenies. We showed that Greenies and Anangu can work together.

Greenies could come and live here in Coober Pedy and work together to stop the waste dump.

Kungkas showed the Greenies about the country and the culture. Like family you know? Working together – that is family. We cannot write.

They help us with the letters, the writing, the computers, helped tell the world.

We all help each other and look after each other. Sharing everything. Rubbing bush medicine on each other, giving massage. And singing. We sing Inma (traditional song) and Christian songs all the time. Worry wia (No worries).

The Australian Government abandoned their plans to locate the national radioactive waste dump in the Kungkas land in July 2004.

We will have a rest now. We are making a book with the Greenies with all the stories and pictures so we can pass the whole story on. We want to keep the culture strong and still go out for bush tucker trips and make sure the country is all right. We are caretakers of the country. Always.” (1000PeaceWomen).

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