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one voice

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It was the stories of the children and their distraught parents that hit hard and moved you to tears.

Sadako Sasaki famously folded over 1300 paper cranes in the hope that by completing 1000 of them, she would have her wish met be cured of the leukaemia caused by the atomic bomb. These are some of the tiny cranes she made from medicine wrappings and other paper scraps. She died eight months after her diagnosis.

This is the tricycle that belonged to a little boy who was about to turn four. His father buried the child and the tricycle together.

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No more Hiroshimas.

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