To fill in a little more detail before you start to read, it was after the glorious burial ceremony of Ninija’s son Ginger, known as The Djang, and the banishment of lumaluma, meddling white fella ghost, from the Lands forever, that ninija and the elders put an end to all the dependence. They decided that they would move back into the centre of the desert to resume their traditional life. They no longer wanted the ‘Easy’ of white man. As I mentioned before, the group consisted mostly of the elderly, and the orphaned or abandoned children of the straightbacks. They are the young adults who were compulsorily clothed, shoed and cleaned up, then dragged off to desert schools. There they were forced to study hygiene, along with reading and writing, in white fella’s style.
Before she left, Ninija told me with great joy that she had called the straightbacks who were slowly making their way back to join them. Soon the whole tribe will be together once again to make a new start deep in the interior. That’s where rifca and her team come in. They had been sent quickly by the Rotary Club to help ninija with the hard physical work involved in erecting shade shelters. These would protect the tribe from the intense day-time heat so they could walk during the night. But the white-skinned people would only be able to accompany them a certain distance because white flesh was certain not to survive the rigours of the very centre of the Lands.
Rifca’s ‘white-fella’ group had walked into the settlement one day and made an encampment around one of the larger dog-boxes. They were exhausted, bruised and dizzy, after two days of gully flying in their silver goose,. Their clean bodies were already encrusted with desert orange dust which they hated. She, ninija, knew when and how they would come. She had seen it in the Lands, in the new Dreaming forms made by Rainbow Serpent, the Lord of the Dreaming Ancestors. Also, she heard it in an important new Lands story called ‘Red Dress Woman’ given to granddaughter Gina in a sleep-dream. Ninija has no need of telephones or radios, telegrams and letters.
Each member of the white team had come with skills to offer and the need to learn more from ninija’s wisdom before she disappeared out of human contact. An acupuncturist, hoping to exchange skills with her for Bush remedies; a herbalist, come to collect botanical knowledge of Desert Plants; a musician, come to learn the story-songs and how to make rhythms with hands and feet and Earth as instruments; an ecological architect, come to learn how to build ancient shelters from natural materials; a painter, come to learn how to make pigments from Earth, Rocks, and Plants. And leader rifca: story-teller and psychic, who had come to learn more about intuition, natural intelligence and integration with nature.
It was not long after the ‘white-fella’ group arrived at the settlement before rifca asked me how I came to be here. I said the real words of how it had happened out loud for the first time, sitting there opposite her, a naked Crocodile man. But I listened to myself as if to someone else. I heard how I had been a foreign tourist at Ayer’s Rock, the ‘Earth’s belly button,’ and of how I had been mesmerised by the magic of it.
One day at Sunset I went wandering off to explore the innumerable galleries of Rock paintings made by aboriginals, and got lost. The mighty Ayer’s Rock was changing colour like a chameleon from one moment to the next as Sun disappeared. Then how I had heard ninija’s voice calling me, and had seen her black naked form disappearing into a sheer wall of topaz, encouraging me after her. It is curious that in this account I made no mention of my profession of anthropologist, or my Desert contract, my precious brief and record collection, or my academic standards.
Rifca’s blue eyes lit up as she told me that she too had been called by ninija in a series of strange dreams. As a result, she had also unhesitatingly made her way to Ayer’s Rock, selling up her secure civilised life in London. For us both there had been no previous connection with the plight of indigenous peoples in Australia. Indeed neither of us was truly aware of what our emigrant forefathers had done in the name of pioneering in the remote southern hemisphere.
Then, once we had established our common calling, I admitted that I had no idea how long I had been at the settlement, or even where it was in precise geographical terms. I remember clearly saying the words, ‘There is no more need for questions.’ Rifca added that for her there was, ‘never a need for them, only a flirtation!’ The word ‘Dreamtime’ occurred and re-occurred many times in our short conversations together whilst the white workers were making the complicated preparations for the tribe’s departure. It had for both of us been a phrase that we had played with through the years, a fashionable pre-occupation in western life at that time.
We laughed together when we each confessed what we had previously thought the ‘time of Dreams’ might be made from: ether; vapour; strange substances through which people might walk; sequencelessness; a conveyor belt through a mountain side; a gigantic mirror; and other surrealist fads. We realised then that this was part of the paraphernalia of thinking, of words and images, all mere frivolities to traditional life. They had nothing to do with the real meaning of ‘Dreamtime.’
Wisdom Tip: Since Europeans arrived in Australia over 200 years ago, many indigenous Australians have become tempted by the ‘Easy,’ the ‘Happy’ and the ‘Sexy’ of the kind of life white people live. In desert life, there are no comforts, no easy ways to survive. In traditional life everything is provided by the Great Mother. So, many of the younger people were taken by force to become slaves for white Australians. They were ‘civilised,’ – taught how to live like white-fella, and that white fella’s way was best and represented progress. However, despite modern comforts and technology, modern people do not have the innate wisdom which traditional desert people still have. They are not wise, and their self-centred greed and race for fame, have blinded them to the subtle forces of the Universe. So, ninija had decided that her people would no longer live in white fella’s destructive way distanced from nature. She led her tribe back into traditional life deep in the Lands.
Now teams of young people were coming to learn desert wisdom and spirituality from this tribal leader. The Dreaming was attracting attention, modern people, disenchanted with lives of convenience driven by ego, were coming to see for themselves what this spiritual dimension was like.