Australian singer and songwriter sums up our early days of being controlled by kawinj with his song 'special treatment'. We got special treatment alright! And it continues...
The gunjabul (policemen) and the mission kuwinj controlled our lives on the missions. We were not allowed to speak our language or practice our culture. We were told that we had to learn the 'new way' of life. We had to hide our things from the gunjabul and kuwinj including our children so they would not be taken away. To alert each other, we had special songs and signs that would alert us that the mission gunjabul was approaching.
But it was not all bad, some gunjabul helped us and we helped them.
the kuwinj and watjiin (white man and white woman) came to our mayi (land), Muruwari people had to move in to pastoral stations, Aboriginal reserves and missions. Muruwari people moved to Goodooga, Dennawan, Mundiwa, Brewarrina, Weilmoringle, and Angeldool. At these missions and reserves, kuwinjand watjiin prevented Muruwari people from speaking our language and we were told speak English and learn their way of life else you would be severely punished.
Muruwari people were also taken from Dennawan and Toulby to Cherbourg or Barambah Aboriginal Mission in eastern Queensland. Kawinj loaded our people on to cattle trucks and took them to them to Cunnamulla where they were put on trains and taken east to Cherbourg Mission. This was a sad time as it these were our elders and people with great knowledge of mayi.
Goodooga (little dove) - pronounced, "koot-tooga"
Goodooga reserve is in the east of Muruwari lands. Up to 52 tin camps were built there to house our people. Today, about eight houses built of mostly brick veneer are set high on an earth mound above the flood level of the Bokhara River.
In the early days (1940s), Muruwari people performed coroborees for everyone including non-Aboriginal people from Goodooga town. The kurmpu (coroboree ground) would be prepared weeks in advance, swept clean and sprinkled with buckets of water. It had to be done right so kurmpu could be done properly.
In 2001, Dennewan Mission was nominated for listing as an Aboriginal place by the New South Wales government.
Mundiwa is the oldest of our reserves and missions.
Muruwari people were moved to Weilmoringle Station and used for station labour. Weilmoringle or 'The Weil' as it is known locally, is an important place for Muruwari people.
Brewarrina was given the name 'dodge city' - after the old American western movies.
Angeldool is located south of Hebel in New South Wales.
The dispersal of Muruwari people out of our mayi occurred in the 1970s. People continued to move between Goodooga, Brewarrina, and Weilmoringle, and as far away as Sydney, Wee Waa (New South Wales), Cherbourg (Queensland) and Alice Springs (Northern Territory). We had no choice but to move into towns and cities of Australia. Work on the pastoral stations stopped and it was difficult for Muruwari people obtain jobs on our lands.