The AIATSIS Possum Skin Cloak

The AIATSIS Possum Skin Cloak

Cloaks were our way of recording who we were The way we recorded it was by Incising with sharp shell and stone markings that denoted our country, our clan, our sacred sites So that’s been our way of telling story So firstly I looked at the foundation of AIATSIS being lore or ceremony Firstly there had to be a smoking ceremony on the site and then I was looking at the other ceremonies Which was like the Rom Ceremony from the people from Northeast Arnhem Land And the third one that I looked at, that seemed a key point was the ceremony for Uncle Big Bill Neidjie, ‘Kakadu Man’ and so I was looking at the Lorrkon ceremony as well Across the southeast, the diamonds often represent lore and I looked at it in terms of ceremony, because I had the three of the three of the diamonds, so I looked at that as the foundation. This is the Bunjil feathers and this is the Waa feathers, or the crow So Bunjil is Eaglehawk, or what we call today “wedge-tail eagle” and Waa is the crow and I was looking at this pivotal letter that was written saying that more Aboriginal involvement should happen in AIATSIS at the time and that there needed to be a new direction. Bunjil and Waa covers a lot of southeastern Australia. That’s a really important letter so I will look at the Bunjil and Waa being half of the same coin in a way in that they’re both creators and their story is a creation story. So I had Bunjil transforming in to Waa This is about the Native Title Conferences and the support for the language retrieval work that AIATSIS does and I was looking at this idea of continuing stories and the ups and downs, I suppose, in our native title battles and recognition Yeah this one is the fish net So in the rivers in the old days they made fish nets and that was like publication, our stories and the library A chance for us to go and find our stories or find our people or even find our family stories there So that’s something that binds us together and nets us together, if you like. This one here, I was looking at the shape, when I was up at AIATSIS, of those big, disks of film and they were different shapes some of them that were going on the reel-to-reels That’s our stories there- stories about country, stories about families So I was kind of looking at how they’re all recorded And the last one is like the Family History Unit and the photography collection, which is where a lot of us begin to access AIATSIS and have contact with AIATSIS, I know it was for me, is in asking for family photos and how that, sort of like a basket weave, it meshes us all together because that’s where a lot of our stories are kept together and that’s kind of critical to us as Aboriginal people coming in to the organisation That’s where we begin to have any idea of what is at AIATSIS

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About the Author: John Markowski

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