When is it Ethically Acceptable to Mine on Sacred Sites?

How would most Australians feel if a mob of Original Australians, such as the Githabul, announced they were going to extract a few million tons of rock from the site of the Sydney Opera House?

It is not a silly question, it is one that needs to be asked. One that has been needing an answer for decades.

Would people accept it if tribal leaders arrived in Sydney with pieces of paper, written and stamped by their leaders and elders, saying that they have debated and come to the decision that the best thing for the Sydney Opera House is that it be turned to rubble and used for whatever profitable purposes they see fit?

It is a rhetorical question of course, we all know the answer. We also know this would never happen. Yet, it happens regularly to Original Australian communities, their theatres, their colleges, their temples and their grave yards, are turned into open pit mines, housing estates or whatever corporations might find them to be profitable for. This happens firstly because Original sites do not look like non-Original sites, they look rather like unspoilt countryside, hills, caves and lakes. They are also not all written up on pieces of paper kept in government offices where protection might be arranged, no papers no protection, no matter how sacred and important a site might be.

First the people were bulldozed over, then it was their sacred sites. Can’t we come together and take the keys out of this damned machine?

Please take a moment to watch a documentary created by Neil Howe, about Original Australian sovereignty and land rights, with special thanks to the main speaker, Kevin Boota (Yillah) of the Githabul elders council, for his enlightening assessment of the general situation for Original people up and down Australia.

The film tells the story of a private quarry development threatening to destroy an ancient Githabul sacred initiation site at Cedar Point, NSW. The bluemetal from the proposed quarry would be used to construct roadways and drilling pads for a proposed coal seam gas field in the Northern Rivers Region of rural NSW. None of which is wanted by any faction of the local community.

Sadly, despite initially successful local actions portrayed in documentary, later in 2016 local government and the developers divided the Githabul council of elders and convinced a faction to sign the development. The developers have commenced construction of the quarry and the destruction of the cultural site.

I would also like to present here the trailer for the upcoming documentary, ‘Wirritjin – Blackfella, Whitefella dreaming together…’ which is mentioned briefly near the end of the film on the mining situation.

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