We’d been on fishing trip to King River and were driving back to Wugularr. The old men were sitting in the front seat of our four-wheel drive, finishing their beer. Old Kotjok turned to Claire, who was sitting in the back with the kids.Holding an empty can in his hand, he asked, “Can I throw this out of the car, Bangirn?” Claire answered “Do what you want, old man. It’s your country. ”Kotjok wound down the window and threw the can onto the roadside growling angrily, “I’m Junggayi for this country. I can do that.”
After a relaxed day fishing, Kotjok’s anger seemed out of place. When we thought about this later, we guessed that at some time a white person must have chastised him for throwing litter from a vehicle. By imposing their European values on Aboriginal actions, this person unwittingly had insulted the country’s Junggayi the senior, traditional custodian, the person who had the highest authority and responsibility to care for the land.Kotjok’s anger was in remembrance of this earlier incident.
If the person correcting Kotjok had been a woman, then she would have been compounding her mistake by interfering in “men’s business,” and the outcome of her seemingly simple exchange with Kotjok would have been serious damage to their relationship. Cross-cultural relationships are full of hidden hazards…”
Smith CE & Jackson GT (2008). The Ethics of Collaboration. Whose Culture? Whose Intellectual Property? Who Benefits?. In Colwell-Chanthaphonh C and Ferguson TJ (Eds) Collaboration in Archaeological Practice: Engaging Descendent Communities. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, pp. 171-191.