Aborigines in Australia have launched new moves to press the Federal Government to recognise their rights to tribal land.
abos on mission; in church; tribal customs; on cattle ranch; planting tomatoes; various aspects community and tribal life; interviews Father Kevin McKelson; Tom Fitzgerald retired market gardener aiding the station; corro???borees; children and family life.; sofint Cologne University anthropologist.
COMMENTATOR RICHARD PALFREYMAN:
"This perhaps is symbolic of La Grange. A Christian hymn sung in one of the five native languages still used in every day life on the mission. (INTERVIEW WITH FATHER KEVIN MCKELSON)
start "The Philosophy behind this mission .....
end "..without doing any violence to their cult..
"This is the task facing Father Kevin McKelson, the Pallottine priest who looks after the spiritual and physical welfare of so??? 350 people at the Grange. On top of that he's also in charge of a cattle station spreading over half a million acres of Kim???erley grazing country.
"As on other stations in the area, most of the stockmen are aborigines. But unlike the others, the profits made from the three thousand head of cattle are ploughed back into the mission for the common good of the people who call it home. And here the emphasis is not only on cattle. Other small centres are springing up -- projects of no interest to the surrounding station owners, but of vital importance to the work being carried out at La Grange.
"Ventures like market gardening. Bores are being used to irrigate some 14 acres of the red dirt of the Komberley to grow tomatoes for sale in Broome, 100 miles away. Normally the effort might not be considered worthwhile in this type of country. This is one of the ways in which full blood aborigines are being shown how to run their won business. Tom Fitzgerald is a retired market gardener from Carnarvon, 750 miles to the south. Tom spends up to three months at a time helping and advising the aboriginal co-operative which runs the tomato plots.
"This is one of the small, but nevertheless significant ways in which the aborigines at La Grange are being trained and encouraged to learn more about society outside the mission. Surprisingly enough, the school at this Roman Catholic Mission is staffed by teachers from the state government education department. The Catholic Church handed over schooling to the Western Australian government several years ago because of the difficulty finding enough ordained teachers to staff the mission. However, the husband-wife teaching team have become important members of the staff. They're non -Catholics, but the compromise seems to work well.
(INTERVIEW WITH FATHER KEVIN MCKELSON --
Starts: "Do you find that
Ends : fishing and that kind of thing"
"Hunting and fishing are encouraged. But at the same time a certain amount of paternalism is needed to make sure that the 340 people living in the camp are properly nourished. Basic foods such as meat, vegetables and bread are provided by the mission. The rest is bought from pensions and from the pay cheques both men and women earn from work at the station.
"The camp is about a mile away from the mission and station buildings. It's probably no better or worse than the average cluster of simple corrugated iron or aluminium huts which are prescribed standard housing on aboriginal reserves in Western Australia. Ninety per cent of the people here are full blood aborigines, and some of them saw a white man for the first time in 1967 when they gave up life in the desert.
"No real effort has been made to force these people to adopt the standards of white society. Half profess Christianity -- the rest carry on solely with the old tribal beliefs. The aim of the mission is to introduce education and Christianity without driving out the culture and traditions of the five tribal groups that live here. It's a difficult compromise.
"One man, who's had an opportunity to observe independently the problem ??? of the aborigines is anthropologist, Doctor ??? of Ethnic Studies at Cologne University, No's been making regular trips here for the past 33 years.
(INTERVIEW WITH DR PETRIE:
starts " .. do you find.
ends "they try to combine it."
"Besides Father McKelson and a Pallotine Brother, La Grange is staffed by eight missionaries -- five women and three men.
"One day all this will be theirs. The Roman Catholic Church has come out in favour of Aboriginal Land Rights. Part of La Grange station has been offered to the people who live there -- but the handover must wait upon their ability to manage it.
"Father McKelson is looking forward to the day when this might be possible. But he also sees plenty of problems yet to be solved.
INTERVIEW WITH FATHER MC KELSON:
"of course the obstacles ..
ends: "but straight away, one of these days."
no pre mix available on this report ex Perth.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Aborigines in Australia have launched new moves to press the Federal Government to recognise their rights to tribal land. Legal measures are being taken in the Northern Territory to protest areas regarded as sacred by aborigines form the incursions of mining operations. In the cities, regular demonstrations to support aborigine land rights culminated in recent clashes in the national capital, Canberra, when an aborigine tent "embassy" was pulled down.
As a contrast, a new style mission station on the far north west coast of Western Australia is encouraging aborigines to develop their own pastoral and commercial enterprises. The La Grange mission, run by the Roman Catholic Church, 100 miles south of Broome --- 1250 miles north of Perth -- merges tribal life with Christian activity and economic development to help aborigines raise living standards.