Ngarrindjeri flag raised over Hindmarsh Island

December 1, 1999


Ngarrindjeri flag raised over Hindmarsh Island

By John Nebauer

ADELAIDE — Two hundred people, led by Moogie Sumner and traditional Ngarrindjeri dancers, made their way through Goolwa's main street on November 21 to purify the place of evil spirits and to declare their opposition to the Hindmarsh Island bridge.

The smoking ceremony in the middle of the town was a powerful moment as Ngarrindjeri people, the traditional owners of the area, reasserted their presence and their place in the community.

On their return to Amelia Park, people sang, messages of support and solidarity were read out, the Tal-Kin-Jeri traditional dancers performed and people expressed their outrage at the construction of the bridge.

Sandra Kangk, an Australian Democrat member of SA's Legislative Council and a long-time opponent of the bridge, told the gathering that the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Bill had been passed earlier that week, placing the agreement between the developers, the state government and the local council beyond legal challenge.

Later in the afternoon, Ngarrindjeri people invited all their supporters to walk with them to Ngarrindjeri Pulgi, their property on Kumarangk.

During the previous week the Aboriginal flag had been flying in a corner of their property and was visible from Amelia Park and along the river in Goolwa. A few days before the rally, the sapling flagpole was pulled down and damaged late at night. A stronger, taller pole has been erected, and a new flag is now flying proudly over the island.

On November 22, 300 people marched onto the bridge construction site, once again led by the Tal-Kin-Jeri dancers. Matt Rigney, a Ngarrindjeri community leader, read a proclamation rejecting the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act and reclaiming his people's rights over the island. The new Ngarrindjeri flag was then raised.

Copies of the proclamation will be delivered to the governor of South Australia and to the queen in coming weeks. Further actions are planned to support the Ngarrindjeri struggle to stop the bridge. Supporters meet each Thursday, 6pm, at the Pilgrim Centre, 12 Flinders St, Adelaide.

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