The Aboriginal Tent Embassy will highlight the Frontier Wars in their annual story camp in the lead up to Anzac Day next week.
19 Apr 2018 - 10:33 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2018 - 10:33 AM

Around the sacred fire of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, stories of sacrifice and suffering will be shared. 

"We have a past here, and it's a bloody past," says Yambah elder Chris Tomlins. 

He's travelled from his remote outstation on the outskirts of Alice Springs to Canberra to ensure the legacy of the Frontier Wars is remembered. 

"Their [Australians] ancestors may have went to war to defend this country, but our ancestors were the first to defend this country," he told NITV News

Mr Tomlins says the Frontier Wars is the nation's best kept secrets.

"The First Australians have spilt a lot of blood on this country. The people have to answer for the blood that has been spilt. It's healing for the people of Australia to know that, to understand that they have a past that's built on genocide and slaughter," he said. 

"Its something they can come to terms with and learn about. And that way we can grieve and heal and move forward together." 

Over the next week, the Frontier Wars Story Camp will aim to raise awareness of Australia's first conflict in the lead up to Anzac Day. 

"We're asking all to come from anywhere and everywhere, from the towns and cities to the small country towns, to bring a story from the place you come from and to share that story here," Mr Tomlins says. 

Each day the camp will hold themed storytelling sessions with special guests Lewis Walker, a Widjabul shaman from Tabulam in New South Wales and Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, a Bunurong man from Victoria. 

While floral activist Hazel Davies will make a desert pea flower wreath, the native equivalent of the Anzac poppy, to be placed at the Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day. 

"It was the First Nations flower of mourning, a blood flower, like our Flanders poppy," she told NITV News

She says the desert pea should have the same national honour as the poppy. 

"It should be saluted by military, it should not have a police line on Anzac Parade saying you have to stay fifty metres apart from the marches, you're not part of us this is not your day," she says. 

Her desert pea project hopes to open up the narrative of the Frontier Wars. 

"I'm quietly hopeful, whilst I'm not a war memorial official I'm just a florist on the outside, that there is an opening narrative there and we are moving in that direction - Australia is changing, you don't get 60,000 people marching in Melbourne for Invasion Day if people haven't got a heart for change." 

Warlpiri elder Ned Hargraves, from Yuendumu in the Northern Territory, says sharing stories from the Frontier Wars will help the nation move forward. 

"We want to tell them what has happened to our loved ones who have fought for this country and massacred aright across Australia," he told NITV News

"People need to work with Indigenous people and, most importantly, share Australia. We, as Indigenous people, want to share that lore, tjurpka - we want to share that." 

Chris Tomlins hopes the Frontier Wars Story Camp will help unite the nation. 

"To heal this country we need to heal the people. And to heal the people, we need to look right back into our past and move together from there."  

Multimedia experience seeks to keep the dark history of the frontier wars alive
A new multimedia exhibition opening at the Museum of Victoria gives voice to a frequently overlooked and dark part of Australia’s history
Lest We Forget: why we need to remember the Frontier Wars
OPINION | Conflict was protracted and anguishing, but our warriors’ resistance was widespread and persistent, writes Jidah Clark.
What are the Frontier Wars?
The Frontier Wars refer to conflicts between Europeans and Aboriginal people including battles, acts of resistance and open massacres.