Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker) is Australia’s best known poet for her indigenous people. Her publication of “We Are Going” in 1964 was her first collection described as “pure propaganda–to make people sit up and take notice” (1021). This author’s style includes a little bit of irony, humor, and challenging racism. Much like many of the indigenous women writers, nature and animals play a huge role in writing. Animals and culture tend to bring the Aboriginal culture together and make it what it is.
~We Are Going~
They came in to the little town
A semi-naked band subdued and silent
All that remained of their tribe.
They came here to the place of their old bora ground
Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.
Notice of the estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish May Be Tipped Here’.
Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.
‘We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.
We belong here, we are of the old ways.
We are the corroboree and the bora ground,
We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders.
We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.
We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.
We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill
Quick and terrible,
And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow.
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.
We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.
We are nature and the past, all the old ways
Gone now and scattered.
The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going.’ (Walker, 1022)
The last five lines are something that should be looked at. The fact that the author is implying that without the scrubs, hunting, eagle, emu, kangaroo, and the bora ring, the rest is all going as well. Without the nature and animals around than the people than too have to leave and are gone. Walker uses some good metaphors in this poem. For example, the white men are represented to be “like ants” because they were hurried to them and much like ants, the white men come in large groups and scattered eventually. The bora ring in this poem is essential. The ring represents the Black civilization. The ring is what the Aboriginal culture had come for and seeing that the ring is gone, there is no more purpose for the people as well.
Native Americans believe that all animals are sacred and should be an offering of spirituality. To express their gratitude, Native Americans thank their animals for giving them their food, clothing, and shelter. They also praise nature such as the clouds for bringing them rain.
The Aboriginal Culture lives throughout Australia. Currently, there are 300,000 Aboriginals which only makes up about 1.5% of the Australian population. The hallmark of Aboriginal culture is “to be one with nature.” In traditional belief systems, the Aboriginals view nature as a Christian would worship God.
The legacy of racism runs deep within Oodergeroo Noonuccal writing. In some places, thankfully, settlers treated Aboriginals like civilized people but unfortunately this was not always the case. Certain instances of genocides were sometimes practiced and ironically, this heightened the awareness of these people and their existing culture.
In the 1950’s Aboriginal children were sometimes taken from their families and brought into foster families who are non-aboriginals. This was thought to benefit both the children, their natural parents, and foster parents. This was known as the “Stolen Generation” which only became a widespread movement into the 1990’s. In contrast to President Clinton’s apology to black slavery, the Australian government has yet to make a formal apology over this Stolen Generation.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) centralizes her writing based on her indigenous people and their culture. With the use of what she has experienced and the natural world around her, she brings the reader of her poem “We Are Going” into her experiences.