Five Questions with Arabella Douglas

Arabella was Indigenous X host from December 30 to January 6, 2015.

Five questions to Arabella Douglas

I am the great-great-granddaughter of James Currie and Ellen Currie (Williams) – my country straddles Yugambeh country and Bundjalung country. I am a Minyunbal women from Fingal Head; and I live on country and as a guest in the Gadigal nation. I am a sovereign women and I act like it.

I am a maren, yigahn, nanang, and muyumgunn. I am an aunt, younger sister, older sister and daughter; and I take those roles very seriously. I am dedicated to “thinking with my heart and speaking my mind”. I lead with kindness and act my values always.

I am the baby girl of a family of 13 and the eldest girl of family another three; and both these roles have repercussions on my behaviour, my choices and my responsibilities. I started a company seven years ago with the ambition of empowering communities and that work now revolves around my work for my family creating the Currie Foundation and re-ordering our lines, history, and traditions.

This is my legacy work and it will strengthen my family for many generations.

I am also an environment and planning lawyer, graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, board director and I run my own businesses. I advise private companies, governments and corporates, specialising in sustainability and cousin consortiums.

I’ll be talking about #blackfullafacts, to inform, educate, and inspire pride in Aboriginal history. We’ll discuss black bodies: representation from Hottentot to Iggy, share intimate cultural stories, traditions and information, totems, spiritskins and the revitalisation of traditions.

I’ll also be discussing Indigenous Australian prosperty – the original economic “lifters” and on New Year’s Eve we’ll discuss what you can do to BeTheChange in 2015 on the #IndiXBTG15 hashtag.

My Great Grandmother Jane Currie, daughter of James Currie and Ellen Currie (Williams), my great great grandmother, was a women who learned to read English by reading the bible (a complex text at the best of times). She was one of the last recorded speakers of the Mulanjali language records held in QLD state archives. She wrote for The Australian Evangel, “a monthly paper for the ‘coloured’ people of Australia in the 1940’s and 1950”.

She was a single parent to 11 children, as a result of the murder of her husband, which the police failed to prevent because they did not wish to be inconvenienced by crossing the river. She insisted the missionaries addressed her by her married name even though at times she attended church in stockings without shoes. She believed a woman’s worth and beauty was what she knew – not the clothes that she wore.

She would say “the Earth is my mother – God is my father” and she balanced and maintained her Indigenous spirituality as she evolved educationally through her access to the Bible. I knew her and she died when she was 102. Her spirit, tone, grit and dignity prevail in my family and I am extremely humbled.

I have a myriad of other roles models in Australia and globally who have affected me with words, ideas, attention and life modelling.

I am passionate about recovering my family. We have formalised our lines, researched ourselves to death, and now in the re-building process to ensure cultural consistency and knowledge across our lines and for future generations.

There are three clusters of people in my family: Explorers/discoverers (those under 35), gladiators/sentinels (those between 35-55), and guardians/custodians (between 55-95) in my family. We have a structure, roles, positions and agreed values. We are a family of almost 1,600 people and we are revitalising our own family traditions, lines, stories, and information.

I wish more mobs would do this as I see this is the only way you can rise against oppression. We have formal decision making processes and I am passionate about ensuring this is achieved in my lifetime. This is the urgent work of my generation.

I am passionate about acting your values. I see no utility in having an opinion or view in which you are fearful or apathetic about turning into a positive action. I am passionate about sustainability, resources, land rights, and Indigenous economies – and translating this into independent Indigenous prosperity. I am passionate about health, the spiritual, mental and physical – and embracing my Indigenous spirituality with gusto.

I am hoping that more non-Indigenous people do their own “heavy lifting” and embrace their own cultures so that they make space for Indigenous people in their completeness on our own continent. I hope for critical interrogation of the cultural construct of whiteness in education system as part of learning Australian history.

I am hoping that more Indigenous families get back to doing the internal family work of rebuilding themselves away from the white gaze, and with a purpose of rebuilding nations and their structures.

I am hoping for more treaties between nations and a treaty with government within my lifetime.✊

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