By ERWIN CHLANDA
Penangke: If anyone wants an Aboriginal cultural centre in Alice Springs the first thing they should do is follow cultural protocols and talk to the apmereke-artweye and kwetungurle for Mparntwe. Otherwise it’s gammin.
Elvis: The following of cultural protocols is correct, but the finding of such owner and manager of Mparntwe is unachievable in the landscape of behaviour and attitudes among Aboriginal people who have affiliation through lineage to this country.
Knowledge and understanding of who these people are is always contested and dismissed as not true.
Craig: There will never be a cultural centre here. Just the idea of one sparks arguing among various Aboriginal stake holders. It’s a nice idea though, one that could be a huge drawcard for tourists. But only in our dreams.
Aranda: The owners and caretakers of Alice Springs and the surrounding estates continue to bicker amongst themselves about land ownership protocols.
There is a lack of strong, determined leadership to negotiate such proposals that would provide huge benefits both culturally and economically for Aranda people.
Meanwhile to our children, the town and its visitors I’m afraid to say: This proposed national cultural centre will end up in Canberra, Victoria or NSW, [amongst] the people we criticise for having no knowledge or lack[ing] culture … while we continue to argue about “who comes from where”.
The fact that these well informed Aborigines, or people connected with them, consider they need to write their comments to the Alice Springs News Online under anonymity speaks volumes about the disunity and fear of retribution that is abroad in our not-so-fair town.
Lack of leadership is set to scuttle yet another project for which the town should be the perfect fit, and for which there is the most desperate economic need. These four recent commentators are not on their own with this view.
The town is yet again about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: That’s how Deputy Mayor and CLP candidate for Araluen Steve Brown (pictured) sees it.
He says the NT Government’s resolve to put money and effort into an Indigenous cultural centre, be it national or regional, is beyond doubt.
Chief Minister Adam Giles has gone public offering $20m for the project and has hinted there could be more money, says Cr Brown.
And there seems to be a likelihood of Federal money but “I believe there is keen competition for it from Sydney. But in Senator Scullion we have a friend in high places,” says Cr Brown.
Both governments are between the devil and the deep blue sea while there is no agreement by the local Aboriginal leaders: “Of course it wouldn’t be possible to build a cultural centre if the people whose culture it celebrates are not in agreement,” says Cr Brown.
“Local Aboriginal people have to own the project, they have to have a genuine interest in it. A minister spending $100m would have to be convinced of that.
“There is high time for Aboriginal leadership. They have to be able to come to a joint position on something like this. I am sure it can happen, and I will do anything I can to make it happen.”
Harold Furber, the founder of the ill-fated Desert Knowledge movement, and Scott McConnell, CEO of Ingkerreke, and ALP candidate for Stuart, are working in the background to advance the project.
It is not clear by whose appointment or mandate they are doing this, says Cr Brown, “but I wish them all the best with it.
“When Mr Furber and McConnell came to the Town Council we offered our full support. It would be a great start for 2016 to see a united front.”
Is it worth watching this space? At least four of our commentators don’t think so.
(We have left messages for Mr McConnell and Mr Furber and will report about any comments they provide.)
PHOTO: The Art Gallery of South Australia (pictured) is making the most from Central Australian art.
Culture centre: Where is Aboriginal leadership?
By ERWIN CHLANDA