Words and Silences: Aboriginal Women, Politics and Land

By Peggy Brock | Go to book overview

2
‘Speaking what our mothers
want us to say’ 1: Aboriginal
women, land and the
Western Women's Council in
New South Wales, 1984–85
HEATHER GOODALL

Dispossession can take many forms. Access to country can be blocked by guns and fences. It can be rendered difficult by removing possibilities of teaching about its meaning. Or it can be denied by undermining confidence about living on and caring for country. Aboriginal women in New South Wales, where colonialism has been powerful for so long, have been grappling with all these forms of dispossession. In this case, winning the land back is only the first step in restoring ownership. Like relationships between mothers and daughters, relationships with country need to be revitalised and refreshed, by frequent contact and experience, in order to continue strongly. Women in western New South Wales acknowledge the link between the two: learning between mothers and grandmothers and children is easier when people have free access to their land and the knowledge it holds for them. The relationships between generations and the relationships between women and country have been severely challenged in New South Wales, but women in the west have been exploring ways to restore them both.

This was evident in the Western Women's Council, which organised a series of bush camps in western New South Wales during 1984 and 1985. Land was a primary focus, but the

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