:: Mino's Oral History ::
Peter Read and Minoru Hokari - Side A
PR: One, two, three. Well then, shall we go?
MH: Sure. Why not? OK.
PR: Peter Read, talking with Mino Hokari, the 19th of December, and we're going to talk Interview in the kitchen of Peter Read's house.
PR: Could you talk a little about yourself first of all, please. What sort of upbringing did you have, Mino, a conventional one by Japanese standards?
MH: What do you mean, sorry?
PR: Upbringing, what kind of education? When you were a young fellow growing up, what was it like - in Japan?
MH: I was born and grown up in a place called Niigata. It's not - it's a rural town, or a rural city, I would say. It's a boring place, but as a place it's about 400 km northwest of Tokyo, and it's facing the Chinese continent, so it's facing the other side. It's usually called - this is sort of politically incorrect, but Japan is usually divided - one division is Western Japan, Eastern Japan, and I belong to Eastern Japan, which is the Tokyo area, the Tokyo region; another way to divide Japan is so-called the "front side" of Japan and the "back side" - is not a good word, but the "other side" of Japan, and I'm from the "other side," so it's pretty much the opposite of Japan, opposite of Tokyo, in this side. And it's rice field country, but I grown up in the city, the biggest city in the Niigata prefecture.
PR: What did your dad do?
MH: My dad? Working at a bank at that time, but he already retired. He's peacefully living at home these days.
PR: I have the impression that Japanese traditional religion has survived better, much better in Japan than it has in many other Asian countries. Is that the truth?
MH: What makes you think that way?
PR: Oh, I don't know - probably from what Ante Dabro says [author's friend - Australian sculptor], who's been to Kyoto, actually; maybe that's [c] there's a spiritual sort of feeling that comes through, sort of a feeling he gets from [c]
MH: It's interesting. I find it - always I find it difficult to tell to foreigners or non-Japanese about Japanese spirituality or religion, because at one side, if you look at the politics, Japanese are very, very secular. Secular, like Australia is secular, but if you compare it to the U.S., it's very much sort of Christian-emphasized country. But in Japan, the general impression is that if you ask the majority of Japanese, "Are you religious?" everyone says, "No." But maybe it's the same in Australia.
MH: - says "No," but at the same time, of course if you look at the sort of religious-like practice, such as every New Year, they go to the Shinto shrine to pray for the New Year, and if someone dies, the majority of Japanese, you know, do the Buddhist ceremony, so the religious aspect -
- I can't simply compare, like Japan is more religious or less religious, but certain aspects such as Obon, which is in August and the dead spirits come back to the graveyard or family so all the family come together and have a [good] ceremony.
PR: In August.
MH: In August, yeah.
PR: Isn't it like the Chinese Night of the Hungry Ghosts, as they call it, don't they?
MH: Oh, OK, I don't know about that.
PR: It's in - when is it - in July, July or August. It's when the spirits of the dead [c] the ones who died unexpectedly and are wandering around as lost souls and there are some who died in an improper way, and on that night, when they're abroad, you invite the souls of your ancestors into your home, and leave out food for them. And the Hungry Ghosts and everybody else who could cause mischief , they come on a different night, and [you leave food for] them outside. But that night in July is when you're closest to the dead.
MH: Right, right, yeah, that's very similar, I'd say, very similar. Like basically, the ancestry's dead spirits all come back to the family.
PR: Just for one night.
MH: That's - Obon itself lasts like three days, but I'm not sure if the spirit stays for three days, that I'm not sure. But anyway, then we all go to the graveyard together, and the monk came out from the temple and chant - what do you call - chant sutra, read or chant sutra, at a neighbor's place.
PR: Oh. And your family did that?
MH: Um - again, I have to explain sort of the Japanese family structure. It's like, my father is the younger brother; he isn't the oldest brother. And oldest brother is the one who so-called take over the house, or the wider house, family, so he's the one who have to organize this ceremony. Then my parents or my family always join what they organize. Yeah, that's how it is.
PR: Interesting. And so therefore, if you're seeing your uncle, and he says, "This is what we're going to do," everybody does it. And your family did that [c] and so you took part in that?
MH: Yeah, yeah.
PR: And no comments like "I don't know why we're doing this" or "I wish we didn't have to"? It was taken seriously by everybody?
MH: I know my uncle, like, my father's brother, take it very seriously, and - it's good? - Is it OK if sometimes I have to think and like slow down? It's really - well gosh, like, this is interesting; it's more difficult to talk about Japanese culture than about Aboriginal culture for me, maybe.
PR: What I'm getting at eventually is what you're going to bring from Japan which makes you react in different ways [c]
MH: Yeah, right. - My parents call themselves atheists, pretty much.
MH: Atheists, yeah. So I grew up in a very atheist nature, like, every house have a small - what do you call? - the small -
MH: Yeah, a tiny small shrine. And when my parents built our house, they didn't want it; they didn't need it. But the grandma strongly suggested, "You really have to do it." Like you know, it's too - you know, it's important to have a shrine. So they eventually agreed and they made it, but -
PR: Mother's side or father's?
MH: That was my father's side, yeah, my father's side. My father's side is the one which is organizing this, you know, Obon ritual anyways.
PR: [She was religious?] That's interesting.
MH: Oh, she was - my grandma, she passed away but she was very, very religious. She practiced chanting every day, every morning and every night. And I saw her, like I often played with my cousin at my uncle's place and I saw her always doing it.
PR: Did you know what she was chanting then?
MH: The meaning? I wonder if she knew? It's just reading the - some kind of sutra, but you know, usually, in my understanding, the majority of Japanese, even though you do chant, you don't know the meaning. It's more like just read through, voice out -
PR: I understand from talking to Dipesh [Chakrabarti] that while chanting in Hindu, even the priest may not know exactly what it's about.
MH: Yeah, yeah, that's right, it's pretty much the same way.
PR: I suppose you were to a degree, maintaining a spiritually healthy distance as opposed to grandma's.
MH: c My parents made it, that shrine, but they never used it. Sometimes they would jokingly say that the spirit was in my uncle's house and just visiting there, not staying here. That was kind of a joke, but they didn't really believe it. I mentioned a bit in the conference paper as well, but one of the year at the Obon ritual, I was there with all the core of my family, and after the chanting, I said, "I mean, this is nothing but just for the living people, and the dead people doesn't exist," or something like that, I said.
PR: You said that?
MH: I said that, and my parents loved it. They were so proud: "This son is so clever, so smart."
PR: And grandma didn't appreciate it.
MH: No. I don't quite recall how the other people reacted; I was too young. But I'm pretty sure I probably upset some of the families, some of the extended families.
PR: How old were you then?
MH: How old? I'll have to ask my parents, but probably five to seven.
PR: Oh, I was thinking sixteen or something.
MH: No, no, no, very young, very young.
PR: And as you grew up, did you follow your parents or follow grandma as you grew up?
MH: My parents, mainly. But again, I don't know if this has to do with this research, but recently, I remembered - that was part - I wanted to include this story in my conference talk but I couldn't because of the time length. At about the same time, five to ten years old, I was absolutely feared, scared of looking at the night sky. And I still can't explain why, but I had a fear something like dangerous or something uncontrollable is there, and whenever I looked at the sky I couldn't sleep well. The night sky. I don't know if other people experience a similar thing or not. But I don't think I told this story to my parents, and I actually had personally forgot about this story for a long, long time. And just recently I remembered. I can't remember how but I started remembering, "Yes, that's right, I remember, when I was kid, I used to be terribly terrified by looking at the night sky." And that me was the same me who said, "This is nothing but for the [living] people -"
PR: Sure. And is there something in Shintoism that would suggest that there was something dangerous about the night sky?
MH: I don't think so, there may, but that's not how I - feared -
PR: No. And you maintained your sort of - rationalist, positivist, agnostic kind of person?
MH: Yeah, yeah. I was probably more - My parents didn't take me to the New Year ritual at the Shinto shrine; they didn't care. And if you insist, my grandma sometimes gave me a lucky charm from this shrine, and I didn't thrown it away, I didn't laugh at it, I probably hold it just for luck. But if someone asked me, "Are you religious?" or "Do you believe in it?" I would probably say, "No."
PR: So you studied Economics.
PR: At what university was that?
PR: And where is that?
MH: It's in Tokyo. It's a national university, a very small national university, and pretty much specializing Economy and Commerce, so it's pretty well known in the Economy and Commerce field, but not in the Humanities or Religious Studies.
PR: The Japanese are not very famous for their interest in Humanities or nor spirituality, are they?
MH: No. The one interesting story is that - do you know the Ohm Cult? You know, the Ohm Cult in Japan, they poisoned the subway. They used poison gas.
PR: Oh, yes.
MH: At that time, it was very interesting, lots of students from Tokyo University, or some students from Tokyo University and Kyoto University, the two major very famous Japan university, the students are arrested because they are members of the Ohm Cult. But Hitotsubashi University, none. That something tells about the university I graduated: it's very secular.
PR: Yes. And so what age were you when you left Japan?
MH: What age did I -
PR: How old do you think -
MH: - when I left Japan?
PR: - to come here?
MH: Twenty-six? Hang on, I'd finished my master's, so twenty-two, twenty-four - '96, it was '96, and I was born in '71, so twenty-six? Twenty-five, twenty-six? Yeah.
PR: You did a master's after your first degree?
MH: Yeah, I did a master's in Japan.
PR: And then lived here.
MH: Yeah, and then I lived here.
PR: It's an interesting question. You know how - if you follow Dipesh's career for instance, you know, he was brought up in a Hindu setting. He doesn't go to temples much He's distancing himself - becomes a Marxist, by the time he gets to forty - [he asks himself] - I went through the same thing -you're kind of wondering if you haven't, as we say in Australia, thrown the baby out with the bathwater. In other words, you feel that very local, the sort local temple, the local, the household gods seems to offer something that universities that universalize in Marxism didn't offer, and in my case the universalizing sort of Western Social Science view of the world, and you begin to wonder what I've missed out on. So what I'm doing now, and what Dipesh is doing in some ways, I think, is answering something which we rejected in our twenties, but we've still potential. I'm getting around to it. And I'm wondering what's the potential in you, waiting to be released by something else by the time you go to Japan, you were an economic rationalist, probably, and a positivist, and I wonder what was there waiting to be released. Anything?
MH: Could you clarify the question a little bit more? I'm interested in it, but I don't know -
PR: OK, when I was a child, I was raised in the Church of England, and we all used to go up to the Church of England and was - I went through - what do you call it? - a kind of [Communion] where you, that you - I don't know the word for it now - anyway, you become a member of the church when you're about four or eight; it's like the Bar Mitzvah for Jews. And when I came to university, I used to go to church all the time, and then at some point when I was twenty-one or so, I decided it was a load of bullshit, basically, and I left for thirty years. And I'm still not an Anglican, but I've become much more interested in spiritual matters. Well, you could say, "Why have I become more interested in it now?" I'd answer: I think it is because of the lower groundwork laid down between the time when I was one and to when I was, say, fifteen, which I'd thought I'd put away, but actually it was just in the back of my mind and it's just come out again. In other words I had the potential there, even though for twenty years I didn't believe in anything. Nevertheless, the potential for spirituality was already here. And what was in - what was your potentiality, I wonder?
MH: I'm very interested in, by myself, why recently I remembered this, when I'm a kid I'm afraid of the night sky. So there's interest in why I didn't recall and why I now recall. I don't have an answer but that's one of the things I want to tell you. And another thing is I never - like I just explained, probably whole my life I've been atheist or very secular until very recently. And even when I started researching Aboriginal history, I started from economic history, and spirituality isn't an issue at all. So frankly speaking, meeting Jimmy Mangayarri, my teacher at the Gurindji Country - he is the one who -
c OK, first of all, after getting sick of studying Economics, I start reading c I liked anthropology, history, philosophy. At that time, the keyword wasn't spirituality. But that was definitely the first step toward spirituality, I would say. I was looking for something, something other than what we were expected to do, what we were expected to believe, in a sense. But at that time, I wasn't rational - I wasn't conscious about spirituality. I can't think of any other reason why I fall in love with Aboriginal culture and history, being in Japan, Tokyo, and my background that had nothing to do with that kind of culture. And I can't just by myself - it's probably a lie to say, you know, that I had a very inherited spiritually Japanese Shintoism. No, I can't say that. I can't say that. So - interesting - probably not university education, but time of being a university student, I started reading different types of books and expand my world - and if you're interested, I can tell several reasons why I fell in love with Aboriginal culture and history - then came to Australia, started my Ph.D. at the University or New South Wales. Still, I wasn't interested in - spirituality wasn't the keyword at all. It wasn't the keyword. So it was my experience in the Gurindji Country, the Gurindji Country that almost forced me to face this issue. You can't get away from this issue if you want to write a book about - they didn't say it that way, but that's how I felt. I can't write these people's history without facing the question of spirituality.
PR: As Ian Green discovered, too - a friend of mine [c] of thmy paper 'Eleven O'Clock on the Last Night of the Conference'. Ian Green's someone who worked in Central Australia and in Daly River, and he said exactly what you did. Your own - whatever you'd come to believe seems to [begin to change] seems to get into - in the bush at Wave Hill. That's exactly what he said.
MH: Yeah, yeah.
PR: So your interest in Aboriginal Australia started in Japan.
PR: Why Wave Hill?
MH: Why Wave Hill? I was looking - first time I was - I was looking at Queensland. I wanted to do research in Queensland., and that was simply because I loved Henry Reynold's work, and I just started studying - I just began to studying Aboriginal history, and the first thing you have to read is The Other Side of the Frontier, and Henry is an amazing historian. And OK, maybe I should do some research in Queensland. And then I told my senior - oh, you met Suzuki, Professor Suzuki? - he's the one who suggested, "If you want to do some fieldwork, and probably it's worth it if you're interested in history, look at the Gurindji Wave Hill strike; that it's an interesting story." So then I looked at the encyclopedia and looked at the history -
PR: From a historical point of view? It's economic, almost.
MH: Yeah, that's right. So my master's thesis back in Japan is already about Gurindji people's history. But that was economic history of the Gurindji people.
PR: OK, that's interesting. Right, right, right, right. And so when you came here, your first thesis proposal was along the same lines.
MH: Yeah, my first proposal - my first proposal is - oh no no no, actually that's not true. I was thinking to stop doing Gurindji history when I came to Ph.D. I wanted to do some several different areas and do the comparative studies. But I came to Australia because I wanted to do the fieldwork. I mean, I was just sick of reading - I'm not a historian by nature in a sense, I don't like - if you call historian who's supposed to read archival documents all the time. Probably you're not that kind of historian, either.
PR: I like being out in the bushc
MH: So all what I really wanted to do was oral history, which is very, very - not unpopular but not many people do in Japan, because Japanese history is pretty much divided by Japanese history or Chinese history or Western history. All are documents, so many documents; they don't care much about oral history. So I wanted to do the fieldwork; that's why I came to Australia. Still, my question is sort of about half economy, the economics of walk-about economy and this kind of stuff. That's right, I tried to do the history of the walk-about economy. Now I remember.
OK, the economic history - I wanted to do fieldwork. And the Gurindji people are one of the option, but I think I told you before, but I sent ten letters to the different communities asking if they would be happy to accept me as a researcher, and seven ignored, and then two said no, and the Gurindji people said yes. That's how I ended up with - keep working on Gurindji history.
PR: You had the experience like Debbie [Rose] had, going around and being shown all the places, with their names when you first went there?
MH: No, not much, not much, actually. No. First time I came there, they asked me, and "What do you want to learn?" and I said, "History and culture, your culture and history," and "Alright, alright," you know, and then started teaching language. And when we go hunting, they sometimes did, like you know, introduce myself. But it's not like, "OK, it's your first time here, so let's go around the country." They didn't help with that.
PR: They would occasionally introduce you to the culture, yes.
PR: And did you get to the point where when you were out there by yourself - if you ever were out there by yourself - were you?
MH: Only one place, the Seven Mile Creek, which is - I know the kids are always there for swimming, and I wasn't worried about being there. But most of the time, most of the time, ninety-nine percent, I go anywhere with Aboriginal friends.
PR: And did you like being introduced like that?
MH: Oh yeah, very much.
PR: And would you ever do that yourself, if you ever were out there by yourself? Would you remind the ancestors who you were?
MH: The funny thing is, since then, I do everywhere.
PR: Do you?
MH: Yeah, in a sense, like on the airplane on the way back to Japan, whenever the Gurindji Country is near, I say hi to the Country. You know the direction from the - like somewhere around there. And after meeting some Indigenous People in Canberra, even arriving in Canberra, sometimes I do by myself. I don't speak out, but in my mind, I say - But it's interesting, like beforehand, I did when I was in Gurindji Country, in the Gurindji Country, but I didn't care much being in Sydney or being in Canberra, but the more people know, the more you do, even though you're by yourself. That's how I feel.
PR: So who was your first significant person up there that you met?
MH: Always Jimmy Mangayarri. He's a Malngin man; he's not proper Gurindji, but Malngin, it's kind of - well, Patrick [McConvell] called Malngin is just one dialect of Gurindji. But he called himself Malngin. A Malngin Bilinara man, and he lived in Daguragu.
PR: How do you spell that, Malngin?
MH: M-a-l-g-i-n, I think. I think so.
PR: Malngin, I see. And he's kind of your principal teacher. And he did take you out to the bush? Or teach you in [the Country] or what?
MH: Mostly Daguragu. He's too old to move around. So I went to hunting with some young people, young studs and some adult people, but Old Jimmy was just too old. Most of the time we spent in Daguragu, and sometimes in [Yarralin], because he often goes visit his relatives in [Yarralin]. And I met him at Timber Creek as well, Timber Creek and [Yarralin]. He asked me to take him to [Yarralin] and Timber Creek and most of the time I took him there.
PR: Do you remember a time when your Western certainties began to crumble a little bit?
MH: Sorry? What do you mean?
PR: Your certainties about who you were and why you were and what you were there for, was there a moment when you began to wonder about anything at all in your kind of world view? The certainties of the universe as you'd constructed it. When was the first time that happened?
MH: The [one I] clearly remember is the one time that Old Jimmy asked me if I know why I'm here. And I said to him, "Because" - he asked me a couple of times, but one time I recorded it, which I can show you some time later, but in my understanding now, as I remember, is I said something like, you know, I wanted to learn history and culture. And he said, basically he said, "Country brought you here." And I said, "But I didn't hear. I don't remember. I didn't hear anything Country called me," and he said, "That's because your memory" - he pointed to your head - "your memory's dead. Or your brain is dead. You've got to wake it up. You've got to wake it up. That's why you're here." And that is the moment sort of - I'm sure there's other moments, but that's one, a very strong moment that I have to face it. Like it's not something you just do research for Ph.D.; it's about sort of transforming your world view to understand, to communicate. That's like, I repeatedly remember that time, I was sitting near the shop area, I think it's [c]
Any other time? One time I was - nearly drowned in the river - I knew I had to cross this river; otherwise I can't reach the car. And the current was so strong, and I didn't know how to cross it. I was fishing with the younger Aboriginal people, and what they asked me is, "Can you swim?" and yeah, in the pool, but not in this kind of current. So I had no choice. I can't just stay there by myself; they're all gone. So I just - like crazy, trying to hold all the branches - have you ever done before, like cross the river? Before that, before to get into the water, I asked the Country to save me. And that time I had to ask the Country to make me alive. And that time, in that moment, I was serious. It wasn't just cross-cultural politeness at all. I seriously asked the Country to make me - keep me alive.
PR: And it did.
PR: How long had you been there before that happened?
MH: Oh dear - that is summertime, right, it was raining. And I started my research in - staying there in like June or July, so it's about six months.
PR: Six months or so, yes. And when was that first moment you talked about, when Jimmy asked you why you'd come, and then gave you the answer? Was that earlier still?
MH: I can't - no, I can't quite remember, but I would say, four to six months. After about three months, they - first time they invited me for the ceremony. They say, I'm there long enough, so I invite you to the ceremony. At the same time, you know, as you know that the winter season there is not much ceremony anyway. So I don't know that's a major reason, but anyway, I remember they told me, "You're here long enough, so now, you know, I can show you the business of the ceremony." So they took me to the man's business side, and I participated in all the ceremony. But even that time, I don't think I was spiritually impressed. I was very honored, very honored and very thanksful to the people that they trust me, and they finally sort of, you know, it's the beginning of the getting to the secret aspect, which I'm not allowed to write, but still it's such an honor, and also it's such a learning, like personal learning. But I don't think that moment, I was suddenly become spiritual. No, I don't think so.
PR: It's quite significant - the river story, I suppose, that's the most significant one, that story. As you think back on it now, on the question of where you come from, had the Country called you, do you think? Was Jimmy right?
MH: - I'm struggling with that word. I think that's only way I can say - and I can guarantee - I am one hundred percent sure that I can't ignore that word. It's a word which is always constantly sort of asking me, "How much are you serious about this?" But I don't have an instant answer for that. I don't have an instant answer for that.
PR: Do you wish you had this confidence?
MH: Yeah. But I have to tell you that, you know, I don't think any other Gurindji people say that to me; it's just - just Jimmy. And so far, I haven't asked other Gurindji people, "Do you think the Country called me to come here?"
PR: I would imagine they would think so.
MH: They may, yeah.
PR: It wouldn't surprise me if they did - if you asked them, which doesn't help you. Which is a kind of question about local truths - what may be true there, or even to them, is not necessarily the same as whatever truth is to you - there are different truths. Ian often - in fact everyone I spoke to for that article, who were really profound thinkers, would say, "Whenever I'm in Aboriginal country, I almost become Aboriginal, as if I've been there forever; and yet when I come away from somewhere else, it's not the same. And maybe if you've been up and living in Gurindji Country for the last year, and I asked you that question, you would say, "Of course I was." Do you think? Or not?
MH: What do you mean?
PR: If you were living in - had been living in Gurindji Country for the last year, and I arrived with my tape recorder and said, "Mino, Jimmy said you'd come here because you were called. Do you think that's true?" you might well say -
MH: I might say "Yes, that's true." Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I may, yeah.
PR: So it's not just distance, and it's not just time. It's something about being there and absorbing a kind of local truth? Would you say?
MH: It's - also, it's also the moment. Even here, some moments I just truly believe that's the way, and other moments - you change it, you change your view. Is it change, or just the two different views always happening at the same time?
PR: [c] it's much more accurate, yes [c]
MH: Yeah, yeah, try again c
PR: When you go there now, does the Country know you're there?
MH: Well, yeah, yeah, I think so. The Country knows me, yeah.
PR: That's halfway to [working it out] already. So when you come to Gurindji Country now, do you say hello to it in your head or aloud?
MH: Sometimes aloud, sometimes aloud, sometimes just in head.
PR: Right. What about particular spirit ancestors or particular sites or songs?
MH: Particular dreaming, yeah. I have a couple of particular dreaming which I'm sort of personally attached. "Attached" is the right word? I don't know "concerned" or you know, or - ki ni naru - "care," yeah. But not necessary site, not necessarily site. But whenever - when people talk about that particular dreaming or when people singing that particular site, I really feel attached. Like there's one song I really - my favorite song, and I love to sing that part, and the elders know I like that part and they really encourage me to sing that part.
PR: Can you tell me what that is, or -?
MH: No, it's a secret. Yeah.
PR: And what about - stories of mischief makers? You know, which [appear] everywhere and every [c] country; in Sydney, they're sort of known as Gubjas up to an earlier age, and other people have spoken of them quite a bitc], but they're sort of little people, sort of like Leprechauns that sort of flash around and do bad things. They may be mischievous or may be quite dangerous; kill the men, rape the women if you get caught in their country.
MH: So that's not the bush "Blackfella"? It's not human?
PR: No, no, no. There is [c]
MH: Ah - the Kaya.
PR: They also call them Yuri-man in southern Australia
MH: But Kaya is more like doggie, though.
PR: They're like what?
MH: Like dog.
PR: Oh, really? Oh, OK, right.
MH: Yeah. Some people call it just a skeleton. Some people call you can see the eyes in the dark, but that it's going to attack people.
PR: Attack. Are they otherwise bad?
MH: Yeah, it's dangerous. It's ghost. It's ghost but it's often the shape of dog, or like a skeleton, a skeleton dog.
PR: Have you ever seen any?
MH: No, no.
PR: Would you expect to?
MH: - More close to no. More close to no than yeah. But it's not absolutely no.
PR: Right. And how do you regard the people who have seen them?
MH: How do I regard it?
PR: Well, have they seen them? Have they been hallucinating? Making it up? What? Which? Have they actually seen them?
MH: Well, I know sometimes the Kaya try to open the door, and they, you know - "Last night," the people told me," last night, it tried to open the door," so they're just locking with wire not to, you know, make them open. Or - what's the other Kaya - oh, the great Kaya story was: One Aboriginal cook, during the Vestey's time, Vestey's time, one Aboriginal cook - yeah, he was the cook, that's why he was close to the meat, and the Kaya steal the meat. That's right. And then one night he wake up too early, because he had to prepare the breakfast, then the Kaya took him away. And then for a few days they were looking for this Aboriginal cook and finally he - they found him on the very top of this huge tree. They told me about the name and they said, you know, I can see him in Darwin, but I haven't managed to meet him yet. But I'd love to meet him and listen to his stories.
PR: So he was still alive when they found him in the tree.
MH: Yes, he was alive. He was saved.
PR: Is it Kaya, K-a-y-a?
MH: Yeah, that's right. Kaya. But my personal experience was: we did hunting by the riverside, and we had so many feasts. That was great hunting, like two wild turkeys and lots of turtles and some kangaroo as well, and we had so many meats. I think that was one of my first hunting trip. And a friend of mine put so many fires around the camping, and I asked him, "Why do you put so many fires?" and "It's because the Kaya is looking for this meat. You've got to be careful."
MH: And Henry - not Henry, Raymond Evans - no, not Raymond Evans, that's the historian - what's his name? Raymond. Peter Raymond, yeah, he's a great man. He had a headache because he could tell the Kaya is close, and the Kaya affecting his brain. And he asked me for the aspirin to have it, and I was surprised that, you know, aspirin works in this kind of [c] for this kind of fear. But that time - how do I feel? That's a good question. Did I take the Kaya real? Probably not that time. That was pretty early, maybe the first two months or something. I was interested in the experience, but didn't take it as part of my - real real.
PR: But later on you did.
MH: Later on I did. But still, Kaya - I'm not sure about Kaya. Dreaming is more - Kaya is a kind of dreaming as well. Maybe I do have some criteria; I didn't realize until now, but if you ask me, like "What about Kaya? What about this dreaming?" some realities I value a lot, or I take it a lot seriously, and some realities which I may not particularly take it too seriously.
PR: OK, so Kaya is in the, which category of [dreaming] - serious or not serious?
MH: I'm not - put it this way: I know Kaya exists, but it doesn't affect me. It doesn't scare me.
PR: But why - if they're existent, you said probably you'll see one; why is that then?
MH: OK. To me - I can't say for the Gurindji people; to me - Kaya, more in general, the monster, exists. Not exist as in objectively exist, like Peter Read exists; but not like exist in my head. But they exist in certain dimension which is real.
PR: So something that is neither of those polarities?
MH: Yeah, and I get to that point very recently. I mean, without my experience in Gurindji Country I didn't come to this point. But that's how I feel.
PR: That's good.
MH: It does exist outside my brain, outside my mind, but maybe not sort of - may not exist like object -
PR: Like this.
MH: Like this, yeah. It doesn't exist that way. And that makes me much easier to relate to this reality.
PR: Yes, that's true. And so it's not because the Gurindji people are more perceptive, or is it? It's because they come from their country; they've seen it all these years?
MH: Partly. But not always. It's because - funny, huh? I didn't - one way to interpret it is: I didn't believe what they said; later I start believing it. But the alternative way of saying this is that the more I used to the country, the more I realized that this reality is there. You can say that way, too. You know what I mean, the difference?
PR: Yeah. It's true what Ian [Green] says, too, you know. And he started out as even more of an agnostic than you were, probably. OK. And it could be in part, you're not [as affected] - because you're not quite part of that community, of that country, so you're somewhat removed from that. OK. So they're on one side of the spectrum of dreamings, and you've got other kinds that affect you more profoundly, I think you said. OK, would you like to tell us about them, to the extent that you can.
MH: Some kind of supernatural reality, which -
PR: Whatever dreamings of the country, or whatever.
MH: OK, for example, Old Jimmy's teachings is the Earth tells you, the Country to tells you. So if I'm stuck in the middle of the road, I have no problem to take it: "Ah, the Country told me not to go further." And if I see a snake, I can't - I have a fear, a fear which - not just poisonous or not, but it's a fear that - one of the dreaming that I always matters me is called [Jundagao]; it's a big snake dreaming. And it's very powerful, and mostly men's secret. It's the one that Old Jimmy very often told me. [Jundagao] itself isn't a particular species of the snake - in my understanding, I could be wrong - but since then, whenever I see snake, I can't help think of the [Jundagao]. I just automatically connect it. The fear is like: This is very powerful beings which you really have to take care of them, as well as myself. And that's real, real as in like it affects me so much. Other things - this, again, I said this in my conference, but - there was an Aboriginal art exhibition in Japan; I was invited for the opening. And when someone was giving a speech, suddenly the rain starts, and I just couldn't help like: "The Rainbow Serpent is visiting Japan with this art, all these paintings." And that's so natural to me to think that way, to take it as real if - I don't know if "real" is the right word, but the conventional word is "real"- I take it as the Rainbow Serpent visiting Japan with the art. That's how I felt, or that's how I found, maybe.