Arakwal, Bundjalung 'don't exist'

James McKenzie and Elder Harry Boyd.
James McKenzie and Elder Harry Boyd.

THE Aboriginal nations known as Arakwal and Bundjalung are a fiction, based on racist European versions of history and language, Byron Shire Council heard yesterday.

The true identities of the peoples of the region had been removed as a result of this ‘false cultural information’, claimed James McKenzie, a great grandson of pioneer James MacKenzie, who was called Wollumbin Gum Jimmy.

Mr McKenzie maintains the Byron Bay Arakwal have assumed a false identity, based on an historical fabrication.

The Arakwal people never existed, Mr McKenzie said.

He said new information about his family’s provenance would invalidate Byron Shire’s indigenous land agreements.

Agreements signed with the Arakwal people by NSW National Parks and Byron Shire Council ‘rub out the Ngaraakwal, Nerackbul and Gindvulpeople’, he said.

“Are they able to provide information that Arakwal existed, or have they taken false cultural information recorded by anthropologist Norman Tindale and claimed it as a false identity,” Mr McKenzie asked.

The term ‘Bundjalung’ was made up by white men, misconstrued from linguists’ descriptions of the Banjalang dialect chain, Elder Harry Boyd, who was also present at the council meeting yesterday, said.

Mr McKenzie claimed there was no Bundjalung nation, tribe, people, language, culture, clan, nor horde. “No Bundjalung anything.”

“These are huge matters and will not be allowed to stand,” he said yesterday.

The two men want to see a parliamentary inquiry ‘into the scandals and the politicians involved’.

Mayor Jan Barham told Mr McKenzie he needed to take the matter up with ‘a higher authority – at State and Federal level’.

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