Same story, settlers—miners. Painting by Jacky Green, artist and indigenous activist, Borroloola. 2012 (Private collection)

“The painting is about how we are tryin’ to pull up the mining companies from wrecking our country.
“We live in this country. It belongs to us. We tryin’ to stop them from wrecking our country.
“In the bottom left of the painting are the miners entering our country. First they come with their ‘agreements’, but they override us; they still come, it doesn’t matter what. Then they come with their dozers.
“Lined up on the edge of the river are Aboriginal people ready to drive the miners out of our country.
“It’s not the first time that we have had people invade our country. It happened, first time, back in
the 1870s when white explorers with their packhorses started moving through our country, looking
round to see what was there. Aboriginal people were watching them from a distance, staying back,
not wanting to be seen. Others were ready to spear them. “You can see this story in the bottom right
hand side of the painting. Above this is a group of Aboriginal men at the foot of the stone country.
“They have been watchin’ what is going on and talking about what to do, how to protect our country.
” Nothing has really changed since whitefellas first came into our country. First time it was horses and now bulldozers.” — story from Jacky Green.

White Fellas Work Like White Ants, Jacky Green 2014, Waralungku Arts
I call this painting ‘White fellas work like white ants’ because it tells the story of how white fellas force their development projects on us and our country.
On the left of the painting is the white fella bulldozer pushing over what he thinks is just a tree. But it’s not. It’s a sacred site tied in with the songlines that run through our country. Above the bulldozer is a white ant. White ants destroy things.
On the right of the painting I show how white ants attack and kill healthy trees. The white ants find the weak spot, like a decaying root, they get in there and slowly start eating the tree from the inside out until they kill it.
This is what white fellas do to us, Indigenous people, when they want to get us to agree to one of their development projects. They find the weak ones in our cultural groups. They look after them. They use them to sell their plans, and to tell us there will be jobs and goods things for the development project.
This way of working always causes conflict amongst our people. It starts to eat away at our cultural groups and communities from the inside out, just like white ants do.
When they pick us Aboriginal people off and separate the weak ones from our cultural groups they killing them and our culture. I symbolise this in my painting by the body hung by the neck in the tree. The person is separated and isolated from the cultural group and might as well be dead.
White fellas they just work like white ants.
— picture and story from Jacky Green.