...My kids were able to do the island dance...
'Koiki said to me "We need to be able to teach our kids our culture, otherwise we will lose it because there's nothing with the Islander culture in the white school." And he said, "if culture is not there, the identity will be lost as well." And he said "Do you think you'll be able to bring your kids over there?"
'So my kids went into the Black Community School. Then I was surprised to see my kids were able to do the island dance.
'At that time most of Islander families here in Townsville, all the Islander families who work on the railways, joined the Universal World Church. And with the doctrine of the Church, they were going against people doing Island dancing. They said that is too worldly.
'So all the Islander families none of them were performing any Island dance or any cultural thing here in Townsville. Then Koiki started to perform with the Black Community School kids. And when they first performed the dances everybody was shocked. Islander people in that church, were saying to me "Look don't hang around with Koiki." And these are Islander people who are relations. They say "Don't hang around with Koiki, because he's just come up with all these big ideas. He won't get anywhere." And I said "I want my kids to learn about culture." And you used to hear, "But culture won't save you" "Get your kids educated in the proper school." "Pull your kids out from there, if you die, your culture won't be able to get you to heaven" "Focus more on Jesus, that's where your salvation is."'
Keywords: Black Community School, culture, custom, dancing, education, family, Mabo, Edward Koiki, religion, Townsville, Whaleboat, Donald
Interviewed by Trevor Graham, Townsville, 1996.
Author: Graham, Trevor
© Film Australia
Source: Whaleboat, Donald