Palm Island and Our People opening week

What an amazing week in kuril dhagun! Palm Island and Our People opened to record crowds over the weekend, but that was just the icing on the cake of an action packed visit from Palm Island Elders, dignitaries and dancers.

We started the week with a morning tea with local community with a welcome by Uncle Des Sandy, Uncle Sam Watson and Uncle Kenny Murphy. It was a great turn out with help from Link up and Preston Campbell catering.

Uncle Des Sandy, Uncle Sam Watson and Uncle Kenny Murphy

Mayor Alf Lacey and Jennifer Ketchell, Indigenous Community Liaison officer at the Joyce Palmer Health service, made time for an interview at 98.9fm about the showcase and the Palm Island Centenary celebrations back home before heading over to the Murri School at Acacia Ridge where we were treated to a tour, lunch and a deadly dance off between students and the Bwgcolman Dancers.

Murri School art room

Bwgcolman Dancers

Dance off in the hall

A selection of significant Palm Island artifacts are on loan from the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum for Palm Island and Our People so on Friday we made our way out to the Museum to meet with collection team who gave the group access to items which were unable to be a part of the showcase at State Library.

UQ Anthropology Museum

Bwgcolman Dancers at UQ

Bwgcolman Dancers livened up the University with their dancing, music and storytelling, bringing Palm Island culture out of the storehouse and into the present.

Honourable Jackie Trad

At the official opening on Saturday Deputy Premier and ministerial champion for Palm Island, Honorable Jackie Trad, spoke to a packed out crowd of almost 250 people. State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald spoke of the significance of the showcase and centenary;

“Our collections, held here at State Library and on our website, often tell a history that many do not know. The Palm Island and Our People showcase in kuril dhagun marks the centenary of the first forced placement of people on Palm Island. Almost 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were placed there between 1918 and 1971. The impact of colonisation is evident in their name — the Bwgcolman people — means “many tribes, one people”. They represent more than 70 tribal groups from throughout Queensland, including the Torres Strait Islands and into the Northern Territory. This centenary provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge and share all of this history. And it allows us the privilege of collaborating with the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and community to present this important story.”

Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey

Bwcgolman Dancers lead the crowd out to the knowledge walk where they performed together with the Nunukul Yuggera Dancers. The crowd were then part of a smoking ceremony before enjoying the showcase with a special performance by Palm Island crooner, Uncle Joe Geia.

Nunukul Yuggera Dancers

Germain Bulsey

Ida Richardson

Bwgcolman Dancers

Smoking Ceremony

Uncle Joe Geia

We feel so privileged to have been a part of this showcase and it’s celebration. We witnessed so many connections made over the week between our visitors, and both disconnected family, and community here in Brisbane. The joy we all felt can only be matched by our exhaustion from the journey!

Palm Island and Our People is open in kuril dhagun daily until 22 April 2019.