Images and annotations exploring the nature and culture of Australia's tropical deep north
7 o’clock this morning at the McArthur River mine — the smoke is from out-of-control chemical reactions deep inside the mountain of waste rock. There’s no doubt this is an environmental disaster — the only question is … Just how big a disaster?
This is what Jack Green and the rest of Aboriginal people who live at Borroloola have been protesting about. Watch this space. Just finished a 1000km drive today.
Another powerful picture and story from artist and activist Jack Green in Borroloola. Traditional owners in the Borroloola area are struggling against the powerful alliance of government and big business. They say Xstra’s mine and disregard for the environment is killing country and culture.
Read what Jack has to say…
FIFO —Jacky Green, 2012, Private Collection
I call this painting Fly In and Fuck Off. It tells the story how the government mob and mining mob fly into our country to talk at us. They fly in and tell us one thing and then they say they will be comin’ back but we never see them again. They fly in, use complicated words and then fly right back out,
real quick. The people sitting on the ground in the painting are us Aboriginal people. We all focused on the government people standing with their whiteboard. The bring ladies in sometimes who do all the talkin’. But we not really understandin’ what they sayin’. Many of us don’t read and write so the words on the board mean nothing. It’s really hard, getting our heads around what it really means.
That’s why some of them just sittin’, scratchin’ their heads and others they got their hands up wantin’ to ask questions. Why they here in our country? The government story doesn’t go through to us properly. Their paperwork and their story always two different things. They just put something
in front of us and when they think they got it right they outta here real quick and we don’t know what they really meant. This top-down way of talking with us been going on too long. Things gotta change. We want things to be explained to us proper way so we can sit and talk about it amongst
ourselves. We’ll be switched on then and make our own decision to say yes or no. None of this “gotta
hurry up ‘cos our aeroplane is leavin”. They gotta give us time. No more of this Fly In and Fuck Off stuff!
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