chapter  5
14 Pages

Changing relationships between the generations

In 1966 the elders were much concerned that the young people wanted to go their own way, to marry for love like White people and ignore traditional marriage rules. Money was important to them and they often claimed, ‘Money talks nowadays.’ The elders frequently complained that the young people knew nothing and that they could neither hunt nor work. There was much justification for these complaints. In their youth the elders had lived at a time when there were no White people on Mornington and the surrounding islands. They hunted and gathered without the benefit of European technology. If they were not successful they went hungry, which was a powerful inducement to develop into skilful hunter-gatherers. In their quest for food and while attending ceremonies and visiting relatives they travelled all over Mornington and the adjoining islands. They knew the names of places and the boundaries of Countries. They were familiar with the sacred sites and the stories associated with them. They were initiated and had shown themselves worthy of being instructed about sacred matters. They had participated in many ceremonies and knew many songs. They knew much about Native Law, the proper behaviour of kin and affines, and how people were related.20 They were well versed in sorcery and were skilful fighters with boomerangs, spears and nulla nullas (fighting clubs). Their first language was Lardil, Yangkaal, or Kaiadilt, and this influenced how they viewed the world and how they expressed themselves insomuch as they were less apt to be influenced by the Whites.