Earlier today I posted a news story reporting on the indigenous protest about the cultural and environmental damage from the Xstrata mine at McArthur River.
Jacky Green is an artist and cultural warrior fighting for his people against the might of Xstrata.
This painting and his story below gives some background to this struggle.
……from Jacky Green 2013, Private Collection
Mount Isa Mines Limited was the company that first owned the McArthur River Mining lease from the 1950s to 2003. When they first came to the Gulf they were doing tests and drilling to see if they could make an underground mine. The traditional owners of the place wasn’t happy with it, but they said alright because they are going to do it underneath the ground and not damage the property on top it, so they let it happen. But when Xstrata Mining Company took over the lease in 2003 they didn’t respect the agreement that we had with the mining company.
This painting tells the story of our fight with Xstrata Mining Company and how they expanded McArthur River mine from an underground to an open cut mine making it one of largest lead-zinc-silver mines in the world. The mine is built right on the resting place of The Rainbow Serpent. It’s a
spiritually powerful place, real powerful.
The men standing at the bottom of the painting represent the junggayi (Boss for Country) and the
Minggirringi (Owner of Country). Together, these are the people who have responsibility for protecting country. They are powerless, just staring at what is happening to their country, to the animals and sacred sites. They are afraid the land is being poisoned. They have to stand on the
outside of the mine lease, they can’t walk freely on their own country because the mine has restrictions and we can’t enter unless they say so.
Near the airport you can see a tree. This is the place where the Turtle rests. The Turtle is an ancestral
being and part of The Rainbow Serpent story. The tree is a powerful place and only the junggayi can go there. Women, children and young boys can’t go near the tree because it’s too powerful. If anything like kangaroo, stone, fish, turtle or sugarbag is in the area it can only be touched by the
Junggayi. But now the miners are there, not the junggayi. That’s not right

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