I am not the problem

Last week on the ABC panel program Q & A, Arrernte elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks responded in the most eloquent and dignified way when another panelist touted assimilation as a solution to ‘the Aboriginal problem’.  Actions in the name of assimilation have inflicted much pain and anguish on the first persons of Australia, none the least of which were those of the Stolen Generation.

You know, I have a culture. I am a cultured person. I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John shows what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal or indeed, indigenous. I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country.

I didn’t come from overseas. I came from here. My language, in spite of whiteness trying to penetrate into my brain by assimilationists. i am alive, I am here and now, and I speak my language. I practise my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don’t call me a problem. I am not the problem.

I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am.

I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, female elder from this country. Please remember that.

I am not the problem.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks


  1. Audrey Ann Hill (Kanatonhyohs) said:

    Niawenkowa from Kanatonhyohs of the (Mohawk Nation of the Grand River, Great Lakes Region, Ontario, Canada). My mother was strong in our teachings, traditions and language. Your words, remind me of my mother and inspire me to continue to live with pride and unshaken dignity. We are the League of Five Nations and continue to seek unity, peace and alliance. Our Two Row Wampum directs us to live parallel to the Other, but never relinquish our history, identity or Great Law. Your words are powerful and will be shared. Onen.

    Thanks Audrey. Words that aren’t mine, but was very happy to share. Rosalie Kunoth-Monks is a very wise woman.

  2. VioletLeihulu Mamac said:

    I too am a cultural person of Hawaiian ancestry and feel that outsiders came here and are forcing myself and others of Hawaiian ancestry to prove who we are! We have never left our home!
    What’s wrong with this picture?
    Who are you?

  3. Irene said:

    Great response. Thank you for sharing this.

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