oodgeroo

‘I will bring you love’, said the young lover,

‘A glad light to dance in your dark eye.

Pendants I will bring of the white bone,

And gay parrot feathers to deck your hair.’

But she only shook her head.

‘I will put a child in your arms,’ he said,

‘Will be a great headman, great rain-maker.

I will make remembered songs about you

That all the tribes in all the wandering camps

Will sing forever.’

But she was not impressed.

‘I will bring you the still moonlight on the lagoon,

And steal for you the singing of all the birds;

I will bring the stars of heaven to you,

And put the bright rainbow into your hand.’

‘No’, she said, ‘bring me tree-grubs.’

—  Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Gifts

Born Kathleen Jean Mary Walker, Oodgeroo Noonuccal (3 November 1920 – 16 September 1993) was instrumental in winning the vote for Indigenous people. She is one of Australia’s most respected poets and a noted educator and political activist, who fought to improve conditions for her people.

Oodgeroo was elected Queensland State Secretary for the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) in 1962. She worked tirelessly towards gaining equal opportunities and equal citizenship for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. In a paper delivered to the FCAATSI conference in 1969, Oodgeroo called for collective Indigenous action in order to achieve basic rights:

“[w]hen you leave this conference and go back to your rat holes — rat holes you call your homes, that you have inherited from the Australian society, unite your people and bring them out fighting." (Political Rights for Aborigines, FCAATSI Conference, 5 April 1969, p. 4. UQFL84, Box 30)