Eileen Wani Wingfield

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Eileen Wani Wingfield is an Aboriginal elder from Australia. She was jointly awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2003[1] with Eileen Kampakuta Brown, for efforts to stop the plans for nuclear waste dump in Australia's wild desert land, and for protection of their land and culture.

Wingfield (with other elder women) formed the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, Cooper Pedy Women's Council, in 1995.

Early life[edit]

As a young woman Eileen Wani Wingfield mustered cattle and sheep with her father and sister, but later on her own children were taken by the authorities, who were kidnapping bi-racial children and training them for a life of servitude.

Protest against Nuclear Tests[edit]

In the 1950s and 1960s, a dozen full scale nuclear tests were conducted in the southern Australian deserts by the British military. The Aboriginal inhabitants were told nothing of these tests in the aftermath of which many old people died prematurely, many people went blind, suffered radiation sickness or developed cancer. It was not until decades later that the true cause of the illnesses was understood.

In the early 1990s the Australian government suggested building a radioactive waste dump near Woomera in South Australia, to store waste from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney and from nuclear facilities around the world. Aboriginal communities feared further poisoning of their land, water and health. When she moved to Cooper Pedi, Eileen Wani Wingfield joined Eileen Kampakuta Brown in the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta or the Cooper Pedy Women's Council, with five other senior women.[2] Eileen Wani Wingfield was honored along with Eileen Kampakuta Brown for his efforts in April, 2003.[3]

Mission[edit]

They travel round Australia speaking against the project and working at keeping their culture alive. The group's declaration of opposition makes the following comments: 'It's from our grandmothers and our grandfathers that we've learned about the land. This learning isn't written on paper as the whitefellas knowledge is. We carry it in our heads and we're talking from our hearts, for the land.'[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goldman Environmental Prize: Eileen Wani Wingfield (Retrieved on 2 December 2007)
  2. ^ Australia's Nuclear Waste Still in Limbo, Environment News Service, 12 August 2004, retrieved 2009-09-04 
  3. ^ Environmental Awards Celebrate Grassroots Action, Environment News Service, 14 April 2003, retrieved 2009-09-04 
  4. ^ Eileen Wani Wingfield and Eileen Kampakuta Brown (1930s-), 8 March 2005, retrieved 2009-09-04