• Filmmaker Tyson Mowarin taken at Broome where he grew up as a child. (Chynna Campbell)
For a long time Tyson Mowarin had wanted to make a film that was able to demonstrate what connection to country really meant to Aboriginal people. Tired of seeing sacred sites decimated and deregistered by the Western Australian government, just over a year ago he decided to pick up the camera to try and show what many seemingly misunderstand.
By
Emily Nicol

3 Aug 2017 - 1:15 PM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2017 - 6:36 PM

WIth the help of NITV's You Are Here series of documentaries, Tyson Mowarin has been able to accomplish his dream of completing his film, Connection to Country, and share with others, especially non-Indigenous people, what that statement truly means.

It's a term that is often used, but obviously greatly misunderstood or brushed aside, especially when it comes to the significance of sacred sites to many communities. "My reason for making Connection to Country was to  show Australians what it actually means. Because we talk about being connected to country but when it comes to things like the government and government agencies who make decisions on Aboriginal heritage and sites - it's clear that they don’t understand. It would be much the same as myself as an Aboriginal person going to somewhere like Africa and telling those guys what they have to do with their heritage, that does not belong to me, it belongs to them cause if I wanted to know about it they would have to teach me." Mowarin says.

 

"It's all about connection to country to me - they want to destroy something that they don’t understand. We have had a strong connection and strong governance of our land,  and we have a responsibility to pass that on - as we’ve done for the last 40-60 thousand years."

 It's all about connection to country to me - they want to destroy something that they don’t understand. We have had a strong connection and strong governance of our land,  and we have a responsibility to pass that on - as we’ve done for the last 40-60 thousand years.

A beautifully shot documentary, it's clear to see that one of the strongest inspirations is the desire to pass on culture and country that is in tact for not only his people but his young daughter and generations after her. In Connection to Country we are first shown the Burrup Peninsula which is home to the oldest art in the world. Outdating the pyramids and Stonehenge by thousands of years, what should be an area that is protected and highly valued by the nation has been decimated by nearby mining and neglect by the government.

Even us as Aboriginal people, we are not fighting for country just for ourselves, we are fighting for generations to come, we want Non-Indigenous Australia to be part of the spirit of the land too.

With reports for many years about the importance of the site and the continued destruction in the area it's a heartbreaking reality for the Aboriginal community who have recently learned that along with this site, over 2000 other sites once registered as sacred have been deregistered without consultation with community by the Western Australian government. 

"They de-registered those sites by stealth, we don’t know how long it took them. One of the Ministers found out by accident that all these sites were being de-registered. They wanted to put a new classification on all of these sites that stated that they had to have a regular activity on these sites to be called a sacred site but – who decided that? It certainly didn’t come from Aboriginal people, it’s something that they have come up with overnight to fast track all those mining approvals." Mowarin says.

An insult to Aboriginal people, Mowarin laments that modern churches and street furniture get more money and care than these ancient sites. 

What is seen as missing from the understanding of connection to country is that is in an integral part of life in every way for Aboriginal peoples. When we look after country, country looks after and provides for us. "What I see as a big issue is non-Aboriginal peoples’ lack of empathy and understanding about connection to country. When an Aboriginal person looks at the country - we see a cultural map , we see living breathing being - mining people and such- when they look at country all they see is dollar signs. Connection to Aboriginal people runs right through our lives.

Mowarin hopes for every school to show this film so that the future generation can have a greater connection to this land and help to maintain it for the future. "You can’t buy connection to country. Non Indigenous people - if they had a bit more connection to country alongside us as Aboriginal people we would have more people to fight and protect the country and it will be there for us a lot longer for everybody. Even us as Aboriginal people, we are not fighting for country just for ourselves, we are fighting for generations to come, we want Non-Indigenous Australia to be part of the spirit of the land too."

Connection to Country tells the story of mining industries threatening the the sacred sites and ancient rock art of majestic Pilbra region. Part of NITV & SBS' #YouAreHere series airing on Sunday, 6 August at 8.30pm on NITV Ch. 34