• In Alice Springs. (NITV News/Elliana Lawford)
In Pictures: A group of young people from a remote community in Central Australia have ridden 127 kilometres through the desert on wild brumbies to honour the role of Indigenous soldiers in the war.
By
Elliana Lawford

25 Apr 2017 - 6:36 PM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2017 - 11:17 AM

Yesterday in Alice Springs a group of 36 students from a remote Central Australian Community finished their 127 kilometre ride through the desert on wild brumbies to honour Indigenous soldiers.

The group of 36 Ntaria school students from Hermannsburg finished a week-long journey yesterday by riding and marching in the Alice Springs Anzac Day Parade.

"I feel proud when I jump on, because before I didn't even know how to ride a horse."

“[They were] representing our Aboriginal light horsemen soldiers, who some of them never came back, really some of them came back for nothing, didn't get realised or recognised or anything like that,” Assistant teacher and trainer Jeremy Moketarinja told NITV.

“[The ride] is important for every blackfella in Australia, because we representing all them across the land here, across Australia, because not only our family fought war, but a lot of other people family.”

Many students echoed their teacher's sentiments.

"It makes me remember the Aboriginal people that fought in the war...I do it to make the elders proud, so they can see their grandchildren marching representing the soldiers that maybe they knew from the army," Zennith Yamma said. 

15-year-old Sheila Rubuntja agreed: "We are respecting people that have passed on by fighting for us," she said. 

"I feel proud when I jump on, because before I didn't even know how to ride a horse."

The seven day Arrarnta Tribe Ride For Pride honoured the Indigenous soldiers in the Light Horse Infantry, and the central desert brumbies used in the First World War and their Aboriginal trainers.

Many of the riders were honouring family members.

“My grandfather's father was in the war, he served in the war and that's why after my grandfather told me that that's why I wanted to do this thing and yeah, makes me happy,” One of the students Johnny Reid said.

“I'm thinking about my great grandfather when I'm riding, if he was still alive he'd be proud.”

The trip is part of a community driven program, Stronger Communities for Children, which is designed to boost attendance at school.

Through the program, students from year 9 to 12 gain a certification in either agriculture, rural operations, or tourism.

“There's more kids turning up at school now, attendance is high, at 90%,” Jeremy Moketarinja said.

“[The program] gives them life skills for the rest of their life,” he said.

One of the students is already putting his qualifications and skills to use.

“Through the program we went to Mistake Creek, worked a bit there, and I got offered a job out there at Mistake Creek,” Ethan Kantawara told NITV as he saddled his horse up.

“I feel proud about it hey," he said.

"And while marching I was feeling tall and proud, it was really good for the families to see what kind of man I am."

Ethan’s is one of the senior riders in the program, along with his brother, and says he loves working with horses.

“They’re just good friends, it’s fun to work with them and bond with them, good friendship hey,” he said.

The Ntaria School students helped break in and train the wild Hermannsburg brumbies before the ride, many of them hope to continue their work with horses.

“I would like to run my own station, have cattle, horses,” 16-year-old Stanley Kenny said.

Stanley’s mother held back tears as she waved him off at the start of the ride.

“I think this gives them a lot of responsibilities and just in the past couple of years I've seen Stanley go from this little quiet shy boy to this young gentleman,” she said.