The Guardian 30 January, 2008
"The 2nd invasion of the Pilbara":
Invasion Day Function, Perth, 27 January 2008
While Western Australia continues to bask in the economic sunshine of the current resources boom, there is one group of people who share neither in its benefits or enthusiasm for its further development.
Following on from last years successful Invasion Day function at which her son David Milroy spoke about the history of the Aboriginal people in attempting to maintain their country and culture, Gladys Milroy addressed the 30 people who had come to hear her speak about the impact of the mining companies on their peoples culture, art and heritage.
Gladys Milroy is an elder of the Palku people whose country covers 16,000 hectares of the mineral rich country around Marble Bar, of which every piece of land is covered by a mining tenement signposted to warn people to keep off the mining company’s land.
The deprivation of their land which is so integral to the being in the world of the Aboriginal people was also assisted by the taking away of their children from 1904 to 1976. Gladys Milroy is also one of this generation who were stolen from their parents accused of not being good parents according to white mans ways.
The Aboriginal people had been aware for some time of the mineral wealth which lay beneath their land, however they are more interested n preserving the integrity of their country and the Dreaming Tracts that run through the land which if disturbed will destroy the spirits that inhabit the land and bring meaning to their lives.
The Fortescue Metals Group run by Andrew Forrest, one of Western Australia’s most well known billionaires, wants to build a railway line including four bridges across the Yule River which will significantly alter the spiritual integrity of the Palku’s country and FMG want to use local Aboriginal labour at vastly rates of pay in its construction.
The local Aboriginal elders are resisting these moves at present including a half baked apprenticeship scheme to teach Aboriginal people railway building skills-which have little portability or relevance to their lives.
Australian Workplace Agreements are also abundant in the Pilbara as mining companies try to capture and exploit the young Aboriginal people so that they will be so busy working and consuming that they will have little time to participate and maintain their culture and look after their country.
Ms Milroy made the point that it is this maintenance of culture and guardianship of country which will ensure that something will be left for the next generations.
As it is expected that Aboriginal children learn "white mans knowledge" for participating in "white mans world", so to Gladys firmly believes that white children that live in the Pilbara should learn Aboriginal knowledge so that they too know how to respect the land and that the land will be kind to them in return.
The scarring of the land, the destruction of water holes, the despoliation of the landscape with waste and other rubbish contribute to a diminution of the land as well as its beauty.