A Brief History
The Ngalia people live in Leonora, Western Australia. The Ngalia community retains many aspects of traditions, laws and customs from the tribal past. Members of the Ngalia tribe continue to participate in tribal law ceremonies. They observe, maintain and practice spiritual and cultural responsibilities and still harvest bush foods and medicines from the land. The Ngalia retain considerable and in-depth traditional knowledge, tribal history and tribal wisdom. Ngalia people have been active in protecting Aboriginal sites from the impact of mining since settlement of our lands in the 1890’s. Early conflict with prospectors in the 1890’s through to the Weebo dispute in 1969 and the Yakabindie dispute in 1989 are historical flashpoints in the conflict of land usage and values. Ngalia have engaged in Aboriginal site surveys as a means of protecting sites by identifying their location and negotiating impacts at the start of mining activities.
In the 1980’s Ngalia elders became concerned that the younger generation were losing their cultural knowledge, they were also concerned that aspects of their culture were being destroyed by mining and development activities.
The Ngalia elders formed an organisation called the Ngalia Heritage Research Council Aboriginal Corporation (NHRC) to work on recording and preserving Ngalia oral history, heritage and culture. The activities of the NHRC were diverse, the methodology employed to pursue its objects ranged from direct confrontation with developers who sought to destroy places of cultural heritage value in the landscape, to recording oral histories, songs and family histories through to the compilation of a Ngalia language dictionary. The Ngalia people are very fortunate that members of their community who were well versed in traditions, laws and customs were also literate and committed to recording Ngalia cultural knowledge in the form of artworks, sound recordings, reports and books.
The Ngalia Heritage Research Council has as part of its constitution the core objectives of “in essence to preserve wherever possible significant Aboriginal sites…to rejuvenate, restore, study and protect all good aspects of traditional Aboriginal culture and language…” (NHRC constitution, p.3). There are other objects relating to health, education, economic development and social development, however it has been the importance of traditional Aboriginal culture, sites and language that has been the core focus of NHRC research.
Today the Ngalia people have two key desires. The first of these is that they wish to protect and maintain their cultural knowledge for future generations. This desire is controlled by three distinct threats, a) the threat of loss to disinterested younger members, b) the threat of losing the integrity of traditions, laws and customs supporting Ngalia cultural knowledge and c) the lack of recognition and protection of cultural rights. The second desire of Ngalia people is to establish enterprises based on knowledge sourced from their traditions, laws and customs and to operate these enterprises on Ngalia tribal lands.
To help maintain our culture and heritage we have also set up the Ngalia Foundation to purchase our tribal lands back and start implementing our key desires. Click the Link below to see how you can help.
The Ngalia Foundation Appeal