PICTURED: Back row, from left – Harry Hayes, Christiana Hayes, Angelina Hayes & babe, Janessa Ryder, Shirleen Hayes, Ursula Nicoloff, Shawn Johnson, Tyrell Impu-Hayes, Julie Hayes (in shadow), Felicity Hayes and (walking into frame), Kaileen Webb.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
“She is not moving. She is fighting mad.”
She is Felicity Hayes, and the place she’s not moving from is Whitegate where her extended family has lived for generations although by white law it is still no more than a squat.
Whitegate is at the eastern edge of Alice Springs, straight ahead from Undoolya Road and through some low hills.
The government has cut off the water to the handful of sheds and humpies, there is no power, someone has stolen the solar panels and the pit toilets are overflowing.
Rod Moss is carting water to Whitegate. Noted painter and author, his book about the Whitegate people, The Hard Light of Day, won the 2011 Prime Minister’s award for non-fiction.
It is named after the gate put there by senior man Mort Conway who raised his family there. The gate was to keep in horses he was agisting to supplement his taxi driver income half a century ago.
Mr Moss says there are stories going back much longer, trees, rocks and crests with mythological meaning.
The Hayses are Aboriginal royalty: the Alice Springs Native Title case in the Federal Court is named after Felicity’s aunt Myra, Hayes v Northern Territory of Australia.
Mr Moss says contrary to an assurance by government front bencher Bess Price, the government is determined to force the “Whitegate mob” out and resettle them in Hidden Valley. It is a town camp notorious for its violence and inhabited by people with whom the Hayses have a traditional animosity.
Mr Moss says the population of Whitegate fluctuates from a handful to 30 or 35 when bush relatives from Titjikala or Harts Range come to visit – and have nowhere else to stay.