Ngambri

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Ngambri people
Regions with significant populations
 Australia over 400[1]
Languages
Walgalu
Related ethnic groups
Other Aboriginal Australians

The Ngambri people (alternatively Ngamberri people) are a group of Indigenous Australians whose ancestors lived in the south-east of Australia, in and around Australia's capital city of Canberra.

It is sometimes said that the name for Canberra is derived from the word ′Ngambri′.[2] Some say that ′Ngambri′ translates to ′cleavage′[3] and describes the space between Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. Another is that the name Canberra might come from an early Aboriginal word meaning 'meeting place' or 'neutral area.'[4]

Sites of significance[edit]

There are many sites of significance for Ngambri people in and around Canberra, including:

  • Acton Peninsula, the site of the Ngambri people's Corroboree ground. The peninsula is now home to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.[5][6][7]
  • Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. The two mountains are the breasts of the spirit woman who lies in the Canberra landscape.[7] The latter was formerly Black's Camp, a woman's business camp where women went to give birth.[8]
  • The site of Parliament House. The site is the womb of the spirit woman who lies in the Canberra landscape.[7]
  • The Molonglo River, called the Ngambri River by Ngambri people.[9] The river is a provider of food for the indigenous people, including fish, turtles and crayfish.[5]
  • Sullivans Creek at the Australian National University campus. The area around Sullivans Creek, known as Ngambri Creek to the Ngambri people, was a campsite.[5]
  • Red Hill, another campground. Ngambri people camped at Red Hill year-round, including during the construction of Old Parliament House in the 1920s.[5]
  • An ochre site in Queanbeyan, where Ngambri people sourced brilliant white ochre for trade and for their own use. Ngambri people used ochres to decorate their bodies for song and dance and ceremony.[5]
  • Queanbeyan Showground, a campsite, gathering place and burial site for Ngambri people.[5] In 1841 and onwards, Ngambri people gathered at Queanbeyan Showground at the start of winter for government blanket distribution.[5]
  • The Tuggeranong sandstone axe-grinding grooves.[5] Ngambri women in the past prepared bread using native seeds at the site while men sharpened axes.[5]
  • The Wanniassa canoe tree, a gumtree used in the late 1800s or early 1900s to make a canoe which was paddled on the Molonglo River for a span of several summers.[5][10]

Language[edit]

Ngambri people traditionally spoke the Walgalu language.[6][9][11][12] As with other Australian Aboriginal languages, prior to the arrival of Europeans Walgalu language had been a purely spoken language and had no writing system.

Traditional diet[edit]

Yam daisy, a staple in the traditional diet of Ngambri people

Yam daisies, now rare in the ACT due to land development, were a staple in the diet of traditional Ngambri People.[13][14] Ngambri people also ate grass trees,[15] bulrushes, native raspberries, apple berries and native cherries.[16]

For protein, the witchetty grub, Bogong moth,[17] emu, koala, cod, platypus, echidna, brolga and bush turkey were all represented in the traditional Ngambri people diet.[13][16]

Government recognition[edit]

In 2005, in response to a question in the ACT Legislative Assembly about the status of the Ngambri people, the Chief Minister at the time, Jon Stanhope, stated that "Ngambri is the name of one of a number of family groups that make up the Ngunnawal nation." He went on to say that "the Government recognises members of the Ngunnawal nation as descendants of the original inhabitants of this region. There is no specific recognition of the Ngambri group outside of this broader acknowledgement."[18]

In 2009, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope reaffirmed the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners of Canberra after five signs on the Canberra border were defaced to include the Ngambri name.[19] Mr Stanhope at the time said that "one family that previously identified as Ngunnawal now identifies as Ngambri" and "this is causing confusion and distress within the community."[20]

Disputes[edit]

Disputes over the traditional ownership of Canberra and the surrounding region[edit]

The comprehensive dislocation of Aboriginal populations following European settlement has led to a high proportion of Indigenous Australians who do not know their traditional origins.[21] Australian Bureau of Statistics records show a high number of Aboriginal families in the ACT affected by the removal of children from their parents in the Stolen Generation era.[21]

Perhaps in part due to the dislocation of indigenous populations there has at times been disputes between Ngambri and Ngunnawal people who both claim they are Canberra's traditional owners.[19][22][23][24][25][26] The debate came to a head in April 2009 when five "Welcome to Canberra" signs on the Canberra border were defaced by replacing the words "Ngunnawal Country" with "Ngambri Country".[26][27][28] The signs were quickly restored by the ACT Government, with the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope promising that the signs would be monitored closely in the future.[29]

In December 2012, the Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council made three applications for native title:

  • McQuoid Street, Queenbeyan, NSW;
  • Karabar, Queenbeyan, NSW; and
  • Erin Street, Queenbeyan, NSW.

For each application, the court determined that native title does not exist.[30][31][32][33]

In 2013, an ACT Government anthropological report was released concluding that the struggle between various indigenous groups for the mantle of Canberra's "first people" is likely to remain uncertain. The report stated that evidence gathered from the mid-1700s onward was too scant to support any group's claims.[34]

Aboriginal Tent Embassy[edit]

In 2002, a group of Ngambri people burnt down a humpy and dismantled tents at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. At the time, prominent Ngambri elder Matilda House said her people were "cleaning up the site and making it respectable so that when visitors do come here we will be proud".[35] Ms House had been closely involved with the tent embassy since it was founded in 1972 and remembers the four men who founded the embassy as heroes.[36] Ms House had a vision for the future of the tent embassy:

Prominent Ngambri people[edit]

  • Louise Brown, Ngambri elder and member of the ACT Heritage Council.[37] Ms Brown is the sister of Matilda House.[38]
  • Matilda House, Ngambri elder.[23][36][39] Ms House calls herself a "Canberry" woman.[8] In February 2008, Ms House became the first Indigenous person to lead a Welcome to Country at an opening of Parliament.[40][41]
  • Paul House.[5] Mr House is the son of Matilda House.[9][42] He is a manager at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage[42] and a didgeridoo player.[38][43][44]
  • Richard 'Dick' Lowe, a labourer and stockman. Dick Lowe worked on the stations in the southern part of the Australian Capital Territory with 'Black' Harry Williams in the late 1800s.[9][21] Dick Lowe was the husband of Florence Ellen Lowe and fathered all or some of her children, who were all stolen from her prior to the First World War.[45]
  • Shane Mortimer, Ngambri elder[7][45][46][47][48][49][50][51]
  • Jya Ngambri, a Ngambri woman. In 1827 Ms Ngambri had a daughter, Nanny, with James Ainslie, after whom Mount Ainslie is named.[9]
  • 'Black' Harry Williams, a labourer and stockman. Mr Williams worked on the stations in the southern part of the Australian Capital Territory with Dick Lowe in the late 1800s.[9][21] Mr Williams claimed that he saw a group of warriors attack and kill a yowie in around 1847.[52]
  • Harold 'Crow' Williams. Mr Williams, born in Cowra in 1946, was the brother of Matilda House.[53][54] As well as being a strong advocate for Indigenous affairs, he was a founding member of the first Indigenous Rugby League Football team and has a conference room named after him at Boomanulla Oval in Narrabundah.[55]
  • Mervyn "Boomanulla" Williams. Mr Williams was the father of Matilda House.[53] He was a prominent sporting identity and one of the founding members of the Redfern All Blacks Rugby League Club. "Boomanulla" means "speed and lightning" in Aboriginal language. The Boomanulla Oval in Narrabundah is named after Mr Williams.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions: exhibition launch". 15 November 2011. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Ngambri Statement". Ngambri Inc. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Tony Wright (17 November 2012). "Cleavage gives Canberra allure". The Age. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Virginia Jones and Annie Schubert (7 July 2011). "Indigenous Canberra: Connecting the dots". 666 ABC Canberra. Archived from the original on 6 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Virginia Jones; Jim Trail and Melanie Sim (4 July 2011). "Hidden in plain view: Canberra's indigenous sites". 666 ABC Canberra. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander news". National Museum of Australia. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d Alkira Reinfrank; Shane Mortimer (16 November 2012). "Ngambri Country". Sound Design and Production at the University of Canberra. ABC Pool. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "The Future of the Tent Embassy". Message Stick. ABC Television. 25 November 2005. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Layers of significance – Reconciliation Place and the Acton Peninsula, Canberra". National Museum of Australia. 28 August 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Jon Rhodes (1998). "Canoe tree, Ngambri, Wanniassa, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1998". Cage of Ghosts 1994-2006. National Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Shane Mortimer, entrepreneur and traditional owner chats about: My Ngambri mob and looking after country". 9 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions: exhibition launch". National Museum of Australia. 15 November 2011. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Shane Mortimer (20 May 2010). "Appendix 9: Quote from Mr Shane Mortimer, of the Ngambri People". Report of the Grassland Forum. ACT Government. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Beaconhill Consulting (20 May 2010). "Report of the Grassland Forum". ACT Government. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  15. ^ ACT Territory and Municipal Services (8 February 2013). "Importance of Plants to Aboriginal People". ACT Territory and Municipal Services. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Dining with the Ngambri". Archived from the original on 22 June 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  17. ^ ACT Territory and Municipal Services (18 December 2012). "The Bogong Moth Story". ACT Territory and Municipal Services. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  18. ^ http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2005/week06/2028.htm |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "ACT split: Claims fly". Koori Mail. 12 August 2009. p. 4. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  20. ^ 702 ABC Sydney (6 August 2009). "ACT formally recognises Ngunnawal people". ABC. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c d "ACT Government Genealogy Project: Our Kin Our Country". ACT Government Community Services. August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  22. ^ Andrew Bolt (13 April 2009). "Canberra gets new owners". The Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Misha Schubert (1 February 2008). "Elders hit out over bungled protocol". The Age. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Patricia Karvelas (8 February 2008). "Rudd into a second tribal welcome". The Australian. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Melissa Polimeni (22 May 2009). "Stateline: Indigenous Times". ABC. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  26. ^ a b Crystal Ja (6 August 2009). "Indigenous groups fight over ownership". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Govt to quell dispute". The Post-Courier. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  28. ^ Michael Inman (11 April 2009). "Uproar at Aboriginal sign being renamed". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "ACT signs fixed after land rights stoush". ABC News. 11 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "NSW - Native title determination summary - Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council #1". National Native Title Tribunal. 2012. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. 
  31. ^ "NSW - Native title determination summary - Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council #2". National Native Title Tribunal. 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  32. ^ "NSW - Native title determination summary - Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council #3". National Native Title Tribunal. 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  33. ^ "Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council v Attorney-General of New South Wales [2012] FCA 1484 (19 December 2012)". AustLii. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Noel Towell (9 April 2013). "Canberra's first people still a matter for debate". The Canberra Times. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. 
  35. ^ a b Mark Metherell (31 October 2002). "Aboriginal group wrecks embassy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Joe Kelly (28 January 2012). "Hard work of 70s indigenous heroes 'destroyed'". The Australian. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  37. ^ "Meet the Heritage Council: An interview with Louise Brown". ACT Heritage. ACT Government. August 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. 
  38. ^ a b Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009). "Reconciliation Action Plan: Turning good intentions into actions". Access Online Magazine. AIHW. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  39. ^ Ewa Kretowicz (13 January 2013). "A problem kept locked away". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  40. ^ "Infosheet 9: A new parliament". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  41. ^ "A nation apologises". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 February 2008. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  42. ^ a b NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (24 May 2012). "Paul and Matilda House". NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  43. ^ Helen Musa (7 February 2013). "Top Aboriginal performers in the limelight". City News. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  44. ^ Bill Brown (4 June 2008). "Bermagui Waterhole handed over to Yuin people". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  45. ^ a b Paul Daley (2013). "Territorial disputes". Meanjin. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. 
  46. ^ "Indigenous genealogy report branded racist". The Canberra Times. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  47. ^ Julie Hare (12 November 2012). "Not fair: indigenous identity back in court". The Australian. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. 
  48. ^ Ross Bilton (9 March 2013). "Heart of the Nation: Mount Taylor 2606". The Australian. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  49. ^ Stephanie Anderson (21 March 2012). "Elders say teepee man can stay". The Canberra Times. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  50. ^ "Native title claim rejected". The Canberra Times. 20 October 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  51. ^ Paul Daley (12 September 2013). "Why does the Australian War Memorial ignore the frontier war?". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  52. ^ Stuart Webb (15 July 2012). Bigfoot and Other Ape-Men. Rosen Publishing Group. p. 70. ISBN 1448871743. 
  53. ^ a b Ngambri Inc. "When did Ngambri descendents reclaim their identity?". Ngambri Inc. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  54. ^ "Plans underway for Harold "Crow" Williams Knockout". National Indigenous Times. 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  55. ^ a b "Building Stronger Community Participation". Aboriginal Corporation for Sporting and Recreational Activities. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ann Jackson-Nakano, The Kamberri: a history from the records of Aboriginal families in the Canberra-Queanbeyan district and surrounds 1820-1927 and historical overview 1928 -2001 Aboriginal History Monograph 8, ANU Press, 2001.

External links[edit]