Our Journey, Our Clan, Our People
Sisters Vikki, Agnes and Susan have fought for years to have not only their rights to their land recognised, but also the very existence of their clan group.
Since their parents journey in the Mapoon relocation, the sisters have learned about their history, their land and their people. They learns about a history that reinforced their unique culture and heritage, while their country and government denied the legal existance of either.
People of the Mapoon clans rebuilt their lives upon new ground, designated by Government and given to the community by the Traditional Owners, the people of Injinoo. Years later, some Mapoon clan people returned to Old Mapoon to rebuild their community, some travelled further south, and some remained in their new home, New Mapoon.
“As children we spent a lot of time with our grandfather who taught to us about our ancestors and culture of Old Mapoon,” says Susan. “When he passed away we three sisters fought for recognition of our clan [Mpakwithi people] and to be recognised as the Traditional Owners of our land.”
After their grandfather father passed, the sisters continued his fight to have the Mpakwithi clan recognised, and the rights to their land restored.
The sisters recently won their fight, proving the existence of the Mpakwithi people and being recognised by the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement (WCCCA) and Rio Tinto Eli agreements as the Traditional Owners of the land.
“We are lucky in a way,” says Anges Mark, who has lived in New Mapoon since the removal, raising her children and now her grandchildren here too, “we have two homes now.”
Both Agnes and Susan are artists employed at the local Arts Centre, based in New Mapoon. They continue to promote their cultural pride and strength through their artwork, sharing dreaming stories and history for the world to hear their story.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the relocation from Mapoon.
Their success in their claim for land rights has helped others to also claim their rightful titles. In light of their journey, they will be featured in the Australian Government’s Deadly Stories book, featuring outstanding indigenous Australians.