TAOH: Kerrianne, I understand you were bought up in Beagle Bay in the North West Kimberley region of Western Australia which is at the heart of the proposed gas and mining leases. Would you like to comment on where this is up to?
KC: Yes, I would love to. Firstly, I have been an active campaigner and voice for myself, my family and my people to ensure that the sovereignty rights of this region are protected. Beagle Bay means everything to me. Everything I am doing with the government is for the people, by the people, about the people and with the people. However, every day is a great challenge. Essentially, the North West Kimberley Region of Western Australia has become the hub and focus of attention by large multi-national mining and gas companies for onshore gas processing and distribution. Significant large-scale industrial proposals include:
• the establishment of two bauxite mines
• the establishment of two major port facilities
• An alumina shelter
• A 200,000 ton per year zinc mine
• Iron ore mining
• A possible zinc smelter
Allowing any of these proposals to go ahead will significantly change this whole area – forever. Vegetation, ecosystems and thousands of plant and animal species will be put at risk. My people will also be affected as many rely on bushtucker from the land as either a secondary and sometimes primary food source. Mining and gas extraction requires a huge use of all natural resources which includes tons and tons of water, so the whole environment is directly affected. Heavy industrial development impacts on the environment immediately and will damage country, our sacred sites and songlines. The infrastructure which it brings will open the land to further destructive developments and an erosion of country and culture, an erosion of us.
Although we are trying to work with the local WA government, they have said that they will compulsorily acquire the land if our people are unable to make a decision. I personally believe that small eco-sustainable, community- owned and controlled businesses offer the best way forward for my people, and would like to work with the government to find a way to move forward that respects both the people and the land. However, it is not easy. My people – particularly the old people – often feel threatened and oppressed by the ‘big government’. I feel we are always having to meet endless (and often unnecessary) needs and guidelines, and comply to a system which is not healthy, is not sustainable, and is no longer serving anyone’s needs.
an invalid law, so it is hard for us to understand this approach – let alone be governed by it.
It would be good if the government could just step away and give us time to heal, consolidate, grow and build as a family and community with clear minds and clear hearts. Then we will be in a better position to put forward a clearer vision. I can see, along with many of the younger people coming through, that there is a more healthy and sustainable way forward that recognises future generations, but we can all see that the current system is pretty much out-of-date. It is self-defeating rather than pro-active.
“This way of working against the land goes against our culture. We are caretakers of the land only. The land is available for us to take what we need. It is not there to be ravaged with an all-consuming need”. Over the three albums I have produced, I have written many songs about country. For example, in Mother Song I wrote:
“Stop raping the land
We can’t take what she can’t give no more...
Motherland is here for us to love and take care of
Who are we to forget about her...
We must make a stand
Work with her to exist
Then we will have a place, to live with her in harmony!”
I also question land councils and who they represent. We have been waiting decades (from way before I was born), to receive our official ‘land titles’. I believe all the people of this country need to come together to put together new laws which allow us to reach new visions.
TAOH: You are involved in many communities and seem to have a compelling desire to educate people about how they can step into leadership roles. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
KC: Any leadership program that allows self-development and people stepping up to leadership roles are essential. It is important that people learn to work together and realise the power they have, both individually and collectively, to bring about change. One of the positive things about the gas/mining situation is that it is bringing a lot of people together and getting people to talk which in itself, brings about reconciliation. I am also seeing that white people are starting to really feel how we have been feeling — although for us, this has been since the beginning of colonisation!
But to really move forward as a culture, all our children need to know what has happened in the past to heal it and reconcile it. I experienced childhood trauma myself and made a very conscious decision to not remain in certain unhealthy situations. Instead I chose to “fly”. My music has been the vehicle for this. My music has shown me a way forward and enabled me to express my pain and heal myself by sharing the truth — not in a painful way, but in a good way.
It was incredibly life-changing and empowering when I realised that as a first original woman of this place I too could choose greatness and have a long life.
So now I feel in an incredibly unique position, because I am able to move, travel and communicate in both the white and black peoples’ worlds. And I don’t take advantage of this situation. I honour it, value it and see it as my way of being able to be of service. It has enabled me to create a great exchange for people. For example, our people are now going into new communities and learning how to build organic gardens. We are looking and embracing alternatives because we are also a little frightened of what is happening in the world, and what is happening with our food, and having to accept food that is not good for our health. (A lot of the medicines we are given to use in our health clinics are also out-of-date).
TAOH: So how has your music helped you to find out who you are and how you want to be in the world?
KC: Music has helped me to find and bring out my knowledge and wisdom. My first album was particularly instructive, as the songs I wrote helped me make a decision to not live a life of nothingness — to get pregnant, to have children, to get on drugs. My music helped me to see how I could work through a potentially unhealthy lifestyle of addiction and abuse. It also helped me get over my early sexual abuse and take my first step forward to another type of life. Some of my songs articulate this and recognise the stolen generation and families that are still having to deal with this trauma, even now, in 2012. My songs and my music have helped me determine my place within the family, within the nation, and within the earth woman’s role. I have come to understand that even though I am living in a partriarchal system, my female strength is very special. I have learnt to honour myself as a woman and a mother. My music has been a stepping stone to my finding out what it is to be a true woman.
My songs are also about moving away from the fear of the unknown and the comfort of family, of taking opportunities and following the yearning to go out and discover the world. I essentially had a calling from the earth and my higher self to expand my body, mind and spirit — which I answered.
I learnt how to study the land and how it flows. Old culture teaches you how to become one and be one with the earth, which has enabled me to balance and move through the Western world. I have learnt to keep close to my heart what is true, and how. to give life and wisdom and knowledge to those who are open. I practice using the love of light rather than anger.
I now also use music as a bridge-builder and value things to make sure that they resonate with my true dreaming. I believe it is time for us to let go of things that don’t serve us any longer and become masters of our own destiny. In the same way that I have learnt to heal, honour myself and build boundaries, I now pass this knowledge on. If you love yourself and are happy with yourself you too will pass this knowledge on and become a strong giving-receiving person of this land. It is very necessary for women who want to heal this place, to move forward as well so they can feel at home in this country.
It is very important for me to learn about the white people in this country so I understand who they are and their systems and get very clear on how to move forward. I also think it is time that white people come and live in our world. I am already starting to see this happening which is helping to create a beautiful shift. We all need to give each other light and strength so that we can continue to work to build on this together. For Aboriginal people, I see more doors opening all the time, and I believe that the time is right for us to share our knowledge, and share it wisely so that white people understand our world and the spirit of our land. The spirit and vibration is all in the land. It is our role to put everything in place for future generations to come. We all need to recognise the importance and responsibility of this and step up to the challenge.
Everything you have come through has a karmic experience which thereby becomes a gift or remedy in your service as a healer.
This article appeared in Vol 1 Issue 38 of The Art of Healing