:: Mino's Oral History ::
Peter Read and Minoru Hokari - Side B
Peter Read and Minoru Hokari
PR: Those Rainbow Serpents - although there's more than one river - they're somewhere in the same position as the Kayas are: they have a spiritual reality but not necessarily an objectively reality? Yes? Is that true?
MH: Yeah, OK, OK.
PR: And mostly, well, the Gurindji ones are associated with - whatever we're talking about - are associated with that Country. There may be the same snake around here, there may not be, but they tend to be associated with their Country, aren't they?
MH: But you know, the art - for example, the one I felt in Japan - there was no art from Gurindji Country, but there's a snake paintings, and still I connected to it.
PR: Yeah. So it might not have been - whatever it was might not have been from your Country; it might have been some essence of the Rainbow Serpents in general. Are they the kind of things one addresses? Or are they too careful for that? Do you ever speak to them, or does anybody? Do the elders ever speak to them? Or are you not supposed to?
MH: Speak to - ?
PR: In terms of addressing Rainbow Serpents or in certain places, are they the kind of people you talk to? Shout out to?
MH: There's a pond, there's a lake which - hey, that's really interesting. A really interesting experience I had is that there's one lake, or pond, or billabong which the Rainbow Serpent is there. And I went there with my - no, no, it's not myself. Someone told - my friend told me - that's really interesting; I almost feel like I eye-witnessed it. But anyway, my friend went - my white friend went there with Aboriginal young people and they are experiencing (experimenting) whether - they start swimming in the pond, which you're not supposed to do. But they're so scared, they're just shouting themselves, like you know, "We're just swimming! I'm not going to hurt you; we're just checking, just swimming!" And the friend of mine, the white man - he lives in the community for whatever the reason; he's very much an atheist - and he took that story as evidence of young Aboriginal people do not believe dreaming anymore, because they're checking - for him, his understanding is they're experiencing (experimenting) whether or not the Rainbow Serpent really exists. But I find - to me, it's more interested in the fact that they are keep shouting and checking, "OK, we're not harming you!" To do this experiment (experiment), they're extremely scared of the Rainbow Serpent.
PR: Yeah, that's true. Would you go swimming there?
MH: No, I don't.
PR: Is that for the Rainbow Serpent or out of respect for the elders? Is it possible to separate those modes?
MH: It's fear, yeah. You just simply can't, like it's too dangerous. But of course, the funny thing is that if you don't know anything about the story, and if there's a lake, I probably do swim. Do I? I'd rather check first whether or not there's a Rainbow Serpent there to someone local. Like Jim Jim Falls in the Kakadu National Park, if everyone is swimming, I do swim. But I wonder if I'm driving myself and suddenly I see the lake, if - do I swim there? Maybe not. I don't think I swim it. I'd rather - maybe I need some water, and I may say, "Hello?" - by the way, sometimes I speak to the Country in Japanese, because I feel more comfortable; it's more real to me. And I usually think they can take Japanese as well
PR: You speak out loud?
MH: Sometimes, again it depends. Sometimes out loud, sometimes in my mind. Anyway, probably I would say like, you know, "If Rainbow Serpent is there, I'm sorry but I just didn't know, so I'll just take some water." I would do that that way.
PR: It could be that that's just the way it is done.
MH: It could be, yeah, just make sure.
PR: Who are your principal teachers?
MH: In the Gurindji country? Jimmy Mangayarri? Are you talking about Jimmy?
PR: Can you talk about anybody else?
MH: Mick Rangiari. Mick Rangiari, he's one of the survivors of the leaders of the Wave Hill Strike, and I've heard so much stories from him about Wave Hill. And Billy Bunter. Do you know Billy Bunter?
PR: Oh, no [c]
MH: He taught me a lot too. These three are the main teachers from the knowledge side. And I have a lot of hunting friends, as well that's much younger. They also told me the stories, but it's mostly just for hunting together and running around the country.
PR: And they see themselves as custodians of the stories in the same way the older men do? Or are they just spinning a few yarns if you gather around?
MH: Woman does - women do more. That's my impression. Men don't do much. And - same? I would say different. I don't think it's the same. But well, I don't want to dig into this sort of continuity and change kind of issue. It's kind of boring. But you know, young people talk about spiritual experience as well. They talk to me about like went to the Wave Hill Station - he's like my age and his ancestor talked to him about, you know, "We are alright here; we're in peace, so don't worry about us," and he told me the story.
PR: Women, too?
MH: Women, too, yeah, probably. The woman is - I was too careful not to go out with especially young women; maybe I - later I found out I was too nervous. But anyway, I didn't spent much time with women. But a lot of women go to the fishing together and speak out to the Country first, like "We are hungry, and the kids are hungry" and "Give us fishing - give us fish," that kind of things. Yeah, I witnessed more from women. And now sometimes I do by myself, like sometimes I ask a question to the Country, like "What do you think? This is my problem." And most of the time they don't give me an answer, but I feel better. I feel just - I feel good just to ask -
PR: Maybe the answer is there but you never will see it.
MH: Yeah, that's right. These practices - more and more these days.
PR: The trouble is, though, if the Country is, say, Gurindji country, like we hear about Black Mountain Peninsula being a ceremonial site at one time, well, if the Country is alive in a spiritual sense, and people don't have the stories anymore, does it stay spiritually alive, do you think? The Country around here in Canberra, say?
MH: I don't know. Very good question. One time, which I'm not writing because I've not confirmed this story, but anyway I tell, is that they're having the ceremony, and I ask them what the ceremony's for, and this is a funeral. And "Who died?" and he said, "A particular part of the Country died." So it's a funeral for the country. And then they sort of - I don't think I can talk much about the detail; it's secret - but anyway, I ask them, "Is Country get up after this ceremony?" They said, "No, this Country died forever." And I asked them about the reason why Country died, and they said someone from Sydney, they said so-called half-caste, a woman's painter or someone, painted that part. That's why the Country died.
MH: Some sacred site.
PR: Pretty strong stuff, isn't it?
MH: Very strong stuff. And I tried to track down who was there, and which place - I'm sort of unsuccessful. I asked around, but I couldn't manage to find it, so that's why it's very strange to me still, like maybe I misunderstood what they explained to me. But it is clear they said - many times I asked them, "OK, the country, not people but the Country has died, and this is a ceremony for the Country?" and I asked them, "When the Country get up again?" and "Never."
PR: I've never heard anything like it!
MH: You never?
PR: No. Have you?
MH: No, that's the only one time. That is for sure, I know, but the reason, I'm not sure if - well, one man told me this story about the half-caste woman came to the country, and she's a woman but painted the Aboriginal men's sacred site, blah, blah - but I couldn't trace anything. I asked the government - the community council if any half-caste woman came here for to paint or something, but no one know. So it's not clear to me.
PR: Well, let's assume they were right. They probably were.
MH: Maybe they didn't want to tell me. You never know. OK, so the Country dies, dies forever. Actually Debbie asked me this question as well. She found this story very interesting.
PR: I'm sure she did. I think I asked Debbie the same question. I ask everybody the same question, because it's - I mean, there are all sorts of ways in which a Country can die, apart from what you said: if the people no longer sing the stories, if the people just go away, if the people are still there but they don't know anything, if the people get massacred, if they're still here but it gets put under three inches of concrete for a carpark, and even then, once we rule that the Country dies, does it just die like that, or does it dissipate very slowly? Does it actually seep away? To what extent does it need people to make that Country live, or does Country live independently of humans?
MH: This has nothing to do with Aboriginal teachings, but if you ask me my personal opinion, as long as - I think we need a human being to make Country alive, but - as long as you seriously care about that country, anyone can be a custodian - maybe not custodian is not the right word, but you can take care of your country, you can take care of your country, and Country is alive. But I don't think - Country is alive without humans. I think Country cannot alive without humans - cannot live without humans.
PR: Humans have to create it?
PR: Humans have to create life in that country?
MH: I don't think human is the agency.
PR: Ah, I thought that was what you were saying.
MH: No, no, no.
PR: What did you say then?
MH: Country needs human, and human needs country, but not the human is in control over country, or country is in control of the human. It's more interdependence?
PR: So a symbiotic relationship? Yes?
MH: Yeah. But then, how about ocean? Ocean is this [c]
MH: And [old] Japan? I don't care much about Japanese land. That's the funny thing. I know some people who live in a foreign country who become so nationalistic and they come to Japan and become nationalist. I don't take that path. To be honest, that's my dilemma. I'm learning so much about caring the country, and when I go back to Japan, I'm so critical about my nation.
PR: [About] the government.
MH: That I don't have an answer yet.
PR: The real point of asking all of these questions, although I think there's not a wrong answer for it, all through my book, you know, how the church which is near Bungendore and [cFlynn], you've got a bunch of Anglican priests carrying out an exorcism because some Satanists had been in there and dug up a coffin and implanted kind of an evil - not an evil "Spirit" with a capital "S" but this is a sort of an ambience. And they're carrying out an exorcism, you know, and it's quite powerful; they're holding up the cross, swinging the censer, holy water everywhere, "Anyone that is not - anything that is not of God in this church be gone!" And up in Flynn [Canberra suburb] are Indian people who are carrying out a "puja," which is a kind of - it's like an exorcism, except you just invite the spirits in, and "Who wants to stay?"and you say, "Well, if you want to stay, just be nice to us." So it's not a very violent kind of exorcism. So what's going on? In Jackie Lo's family [ANU academic] in her Chinese family, is a ceremony to summon the spirits from the Country they came from originally - it was Kuala Lumpur and Singapore - over here. They can summon the spirits of their ancestors out of the cemetery and bring them here [to Australia]- you get a priest to do the ceremony for you - to bring them over to set them up in the temple.
Ricky Maynard, my Aboriginal mate,[Tasmanian Aboriginal, and professional photographer] he didn't use the word spiritual once, and yet he was the only one that walked with a collective spiritual consciousness of the country. It was sort of very wide knowledge, as he had a million uncles and aunts and so on, and very deep as they go back six or seven generations, as long as they'd want to remember. But he used to go to [live in Cape Barren Island, as part of what we now call his walk-about.
You've got Ross Edwards, the composer - he sees some of his music as representing a common 'ground bass', upon which all human activities take place, that's sort of there before humans got there. So there's all these different takes on what part spirituality plays, and some of it is really, really quite specific, like in this room, people say they've seen an Aboriginal birthing lady sitting at the back there quite often. I never have; don't really expect to, but it would be interesting for anyone out there to see her. She's not there all the time, she moves around this country. But in other words, what I'm saying is, and a lot of what this discussion's been about: if there are local truths out there, and other kind of realities, when you go to other places, I kind of agree there's other realities down here, from everywhere else. In Flynn the Indian people, they call in the Indian priest, and they carry out this really complicated ceremony that goes on half the day. And they have to - and when he's finished there, they play the tapes every day for a month, and throw the ashes [of the ceremonial goods] up in the air, bury them later under a copper plate underneath the front steps and so on, and even then it may not even work. It's still there. Now, if you ask me the same question, "Is the spirit there or not?" I'd say, first of all, I don't know; but it's not quite the right question. It's not the right question.
MH: That's right. Yeah, that's the point. Yeah, I agree. The question isn't -
PR: I don't know what the question is. But that's not the right one. It's something to do with these other realities which exist - if you sort of make them exist. But if I say that, it sounds like they're not really there. But that's not it, either. Are they all manifestations of the same thing? Because if other people lived in that house, they might not see a spirit; they might not be aware.
MH: That's right.
PR: That's not to say that they're not there, though, whatever that means.
MH: Multiple-dimensioned realities, yeah.
PR: Yeah. [c] sounds a bit New Age-y to say that. The other idea out there] as somebody put to me once, is this: that the only reason we see this table is because we're solid; we're part of the same atomic structure, while somebody from another universe or whatever could actually pass right through this space here, going through outer space, and never know it was there at all.
MH: That's right, yeah.
PR: Do you think that's right? Interesting idea. This table exists for us because we're part of it.
MH: Even "Matrix," the film - theoretically, it's possible. Did you see the film?
MH: OK, it's the idea of what we're experiencing now is all created. Actually the real time is - I forgot - 2050 or 2100 or something. And at that time the computer is controlling the human, and what human doing is just become like battery to feed the computer. And within this battery, everyone is a cell and imagining we live like this. And that's what we're experiencing.
PR: Oh, OK. That's [c] kind of idea. If you accept that, that we only see this reality because we happen to be part of the same molecular anatomic structure, well, if that's the case, it would continue to stand that there are other realities, if other beings or whatever they are could plough through here and not know we're there. Or it stands, if these things are logical at all, it's kind of logical that certain realities exist for certain people. Which is an interesting way of looking at Rainbow Serpents. I mean, it follows that - it follows up there with your experience, I'm sure, and what you do, whether it be respecting the Rainbow Serpents or whether it be asking them to care for you as you cross the river and so on. But I also have a problem with asking the Country to help me swim across the lake here, if I was going to do that.
Why is that, I wonder? Even though you might not - I don't know if you agree with that or not. Dipesh tells me that when he's here and he crosses the Murray River, he wants to get out and perform a ceremony, like he was crossing the Ganges. He looks at all the other people on the bus and says, "What's the matter with you? Don't you respect this river? It's the most significant river in Australia. Surely you should be carrying out the ceremony to cross the river?"
MH: Good question. But he doesn't.
PR: Well, he'd sort of get chucked off the bus, of course, so he does it in his head. He does it mentally.
MH: Yeah, yeah, I see your point. If I go - it's really recently that I've started to sort of sing out or call out when I arrive in Australia, like Sydney Airport or Canberra.
PR: Do you? And what are you calling out?
MH: "Hi, Country." Something like "Hi, Country, I'm from Japan. You know I'm here before," you know, just like, "I'm come back." It's not really Aboriginal ceremonial, either. It's more like my talk to - like you talk to your dog, right, I think? You communicate with dog? It's something like that. I communicate with Country.
PR: Yeah, and the dog can't actually understand it.
MH: Yeah, something like that. And I expect Country understands it. Or it's not necessarily - not always Country - is it true? Yeah. It's funny, a friend of mine is now back in Japan, thinking of whether or not she have to come back to Australia. And she has a cat there, and it takes so much fortune to bring cats to Australia, and she's wondering. And my instant, very normal suggestion was: "Why don't you ask the cat if she wants to stay there or not?" And she said, "How do you ask cats?" And I said, "Just ask her, and she's going to answer you. I know she's going to answer you." She couldn't get it, what I mean. But to me, you can ask Country. You can ask cats. And they're going to give you an answer sometimes; they may not, but it's worth trying.
PR: There [seems to be] a difference between Australia at the airport and Gurindji country. You said Gurindji Country knows when you come back. Does Australia?
MH: Not Australia, no. I sometimes - probably at one hand, you can say dwelling is important. I lived in Sydney; I lived in Canberra. That matters. That's convinced me that Country knows me. So it's not Australia. At the same time, on the airplane, you look at the sort of Country there, and place I've never been, like for example, Queensland. And sometimes I say, in my mind, "I haven't seen you yet, but I'll see you sometime." That kind of communication. But the interesting thing is, I don't do this in the US. Just now I realized, but when I visit my sister, I don't do it. So in this context, you can say Australia. But I don't say hello to Australia, no.
PR: Well, I asked [Professor] Lyndall Ryan this question -when she goes to Tasmania. She says, "Yeah, of course, I say hello." "Does the Country know you're saying hello?" She replied: "I don't know, it probably doesn't know. I don't think so. But it's important to me to say it." And it does suggest a relationship, even thought the Country doesn't know you're saying it - I'm not saying you said that; there's a difference here - the Country doesn't know you're saying it, but it's still important for our relationship to say it. Well, that's interesting.
MH: Interesting, yeah. I think Country knows, so my position is different from her. If Country don't know me - well, if I feel Country can notice me, I still say hello. That's how I communicate with, say, Queensland. I had a feeling that if I say hello, Country notice me. But for some reason, I can't justify this, but when I arrive at JFK airport in New York, I don't do this. And if you ask me why, probably the answer is that I don't feel that Country notice me.
PR: No. And you don't care if it knows you or not, is that right?
PR: It's important this Country knows you. Obviously? Do you think?
MH: You can say it's important that Country knows me, but also it may not matter if it's important or not. This Country just knows me.
PR: OK, good. And is that a gift of the Aboriginal people? A gift from Aboriginal - from Old Jimmy to you?
MH: Aboriginal people? Yeah, definitely, definitely.
PR: It couldn't have happened if you hadn't worked there.
PR: It could not have happened if you hadn't worked out there, probably?
MH: Quite true, quite true. There's one story, actually - if you don't mind - I want to record it somewhere. But this is - I'm not convinced yet I should talk this in public - is it OK? Jimmy died 2001 March. That was two months after I submitted my thesis. At that time there was a huge rain and all of Daguragu was evacuated to [Katherine]. And I haven't talked to the Gurindji people about the connection, but to me - this is my personal and not authorized by the Gurindji people - but the submission of the thesis and Jimmy's death and the flood is all connected.
PR: [Connected] to what?
MH: The flood. The flood, Jimmy passed away and I submitted my thesis - it's all connected.
- It's a story about dream, my sleeping dream. I was house sitting at Debbie's place, and you know Debbie's bedroom? I was sleeping there - and do you know kanashibari? Kanashibari is one - when you are sleeping, you wake up, you consciously wake up, but you can't move your body. What is it called in English? Do you have words?
PR: I don't know, but I know what you mean, yes.
MH: That happened, and then monster came out.
PR: People - there are a couple of people in my book talking about being in that state, and having Aboriginal ghosts coming out. I'll have to look it up.
MH: OK, at that time, at that time, I didn't realize if it was Aboriginal or not. Just all I could tell was the monster was there and pointing the - I was sleeping on the bed, and this is what, what do you call that small - bedside desk, small desk? And the monster told me, pointing that one, and said, "This is your number."
PR: Pointing at what?
MH: Pointing at the desk, and said, "This is your number."
PR: Number. Yeah? What sort of monster?
PR: What shape did it have, this thing?
MH: It's like a huge shadow, huge shadow.
PR: A shadow?
MH: A huge shadow, sort of reaching the ceiling.
MH: No. Oh, well, it's come up later. But at that time, I didn't think it's Aboriginal, anyway. It's just a monster, and said, told me that "This is your number." Then that's all. Then morning, I woke up, like I usually woke up. Then I was so curious, I checked the desk, and of course, there was no number on top of it. And I was thinking, what this desk have to do with number, and - was it Chantal? Yeah, then I told the story to Chantal, and Chantal said, "There are [three] drawers - sorry, three drawers." OK, that's one number: three. But I couldn't solve the riddle of this experience which just make me wonder. And when I'm back in Japan, I have a very good sort of - in my life, I've sort of met three people who I truly trust and truly admire, and take their stories, whatever it is seriously: one is Jimmy Mangayarri, another person is this man in Japan, and there's one person which - anyway, [not in] this story today. And he did all the psychotherapy, and he's a counselor, and if you know one of the counseling technique or focusing - it's sort of making - focusing on your body and connecting your body and the psychological - well, anyway, it's one of the techniques, this kind of technique. And I asked him if you can do it for me, because I'm so concerned about this monster thing. And then I did it, and a couple of things I found: one thing, monster is angry at me. Probably I have to explain what the focusing is like; ask me if you want to know more, but anyway, after this focusing what I found is, I realized that the monster is angry at me. And the number is three; three is three out of ten. I also realized, but monster doesn't intend to harm me. He's just angry. And then the image come out that three out of ten means - it's the score for my thesis. And the monster was angry because I was too confident that I did a good job. In my conscious level I - my score was seven or eight out of ten. I was very proud of my thesis, and I'd done -
PR: [c] ten out of ten.
MH: Then the monster was saying, you know, "You've got to be humble. You really don't know anything about Aboriginal culture," or "How much do you really know about Jimmy's teachings, or any of the Gurindji people's teachings? It's just a three!" So the message was, you know, "Don't be over-confident about your knowledge, or your experiences in the Gurindji Country." And after this realization, right after this in the same process, the same focusing process, Old Jimmy came out and he laughing at me and said, laughing at me and smiling at me and said, "Ha, now you know. Now you know. Now you know what it means." And then, the image was over, but then I realized the monster - you can say that monster is part of Jimmy, or I can also say the monster is dreaming. It's a monster, it's something - it's Jimmy, as well as dreaming, as well as Aboriginal something.
PR: This happened between the submission of your thesis and Jimmy's death?
PR: After Jimmy's death.
MH: Yeah. Right after Jimmy's death, I had a dream. In the dream, I was driving a car and he was next to me. And I was surprised, and I told him, "Oh, Jimmy, I thought you were dead." And he said to me that, "No, no, no, I'm still here, I'm still with you. I'm still with you. I'm always with you, don't worry about it." Yeah, that's right. If you make the order straight, that was the first dream I had, and that was pretty obvious and clear. Then I had this monster dream - I can't really - much later - I can't really recall -
PR: [c] the monster dream?
MH: The monster dream? No, no, much, much, much later. A few months. A few months or, yeah, a few months or even six months, I don't know.
PR: Oh, OK. [c So you didn't have] the thesis back then. [cIt was] before you looked at your thesis [after it came] back?
MH: Ah, that's a good question. I'll have to check which time Debbie was out. I know I was house sitting with Chantal; that's the time.
PR: Yes, OK.
MH: I don't think the Ph.D. result was - maybe result was already out, maybe around that time. Because the - because the examiners' report was so good, so praising me, and that probably made me more confident that I did a good job, yeah. So that was very - this is a very, very important story to me, and that story keeps drives me; that makes me humble and makes me - this is just the beginning, just the start, and you really don't know much about it -
PR: It certainly suggests that it was something to do with the Gurindji Country, at least Aboriginal, - Aboriginal-related , in some way. Very big?
MH: It's huge, yeah.
PR: In human form, or?
MH: Kind of human, yeah, kind of human form. It's not animal. It look like human, but reaching, you know, the ceiling.
PR: And black?
MH: Black, but not dark, dark black. It's more like grayish black.
PR: Do you recognize the face?
MH: No, but the facial part, I can recognize, this is somewhere around a face, and I could even see the something - an arm, pointing the desk saying, "This is your number."
PR: And you could see the whole way down?
MH: What's that?
PR: You could see the whole way down?
MH: I could have, but I was sleeping on the bed, and - my bed is here, and it come up like -
PR: It's actually called the Night Hag Syndrome, actually, I think.
MH: What's it called?
PR: The Night Hag Syndrome, yeah. There are several stories and I looked it up on the website, and it's been known for several centuries. Certainly I'm not saying it's not real, [some do c]
MH: What's that -?
PR: - and psychologists have a name for it; it's called the Night Hag Syndrome, N-i-g-h-t H-a-g. A hag is a witch. And often it involves paralysis, and there's something terrible that happens, and psychologists say it's to do with a deprivation of oxygen or something.
PR: It's something to do with when you're in deep - REM sleep, and at some point you get deprived of oxygen and [c] the explanation is [c] something along those lines. But there's no reason to think that the two explanations can't sit side by side; it could be that the Night Hag had a great opportunity for you to be short of oxygen. When I - this is a different story I may as well share with you, too, although certainly a conscious one. [Charles Perkins' rae [ie the rae, or spirit messenger, of Charles Perkins, first Aboriginal Secretary of a federal government department] you know his rae is the crow, awhile a very bad bird for him is the white cockatoo. I wanted to call the book Cockatoo and Crow as a matter of fact, but the publisher wouldn't let me, because they thought it would look like a book on zoology or something. Anyway, crows were very important to Charlie, and when the first edition came out in ninety- - whenever it was, 1988 or something, eighty-nine - and I had a heap of interviews at [c] and I went over to ABC to give my last interview, which was with Prue Goward. I did my last interview for the book, and came out - I'd ridden over on my bicycle, and came out, and here was a dead crow lying by the front wheel of my bicycle. Still warm. I was scared; I didn't tell Charlie. It didn't look like a good omen.
PR: So I never told him. But it was pretty extraordinary, particularly since I'd only been in there for about ten minutes. When I came out it was dead, quite dead, but still warm, and lying sort of - just before the front wheel. Extraordinary. There you go.
PR: That's right. I have no idea what it's - what that was a sign from, or anything else. Here, anyway, coming back to what we were talking about, I think I like your interpretation that it was partly Jimmy, partly dreaming, and maybe - yeah. But was Jimmy the kind of person who [c] young man?
MH: No, he's not the person.
PR: He seems like a happierc
MH: But whenever his image comes - one image is him driving next to me and saying, "Don't worry, I'm still here"; another image is that after the realization of the monster, he came out smiling at me, "Now you know. Now you understand it. Now you know."
MH: But, you know, so I can say - in a sense the monster is Jimmy, but the anger isn't like - I can't explain this - I know the monster is partly Jimmy, but that's not mean at all that Jimmy can be angry at me. It's a different thing.
PR: Yeah, yeah. That's right, to create a projection which was angry at you and [being angry with you] and wanting to harm you is another idea. Those experiences, do they stay with you, or do they need to be reinforced in some way? All the things we're talking about tonight, do you need to go back to - go back to Gurindji Country, do you think, keep in touch? Assuming you could?
MH: Yes, but I also have to tell - to be honest, after Jimmy's death, after he passed away, I lost motivation as much as before. I got a feeling like, you know, I go there and I can't see him or talk to him next to each other. And of course, there are so many different - so many friends are there, and as they say the journey never ends; that was the end of the chapter, anyway, of my Ph.D. So in a sense, of course, yeah, I want to go back every now and then and Country is important to me, but I also want to tell you that sometimes I wonder, I can say that Gurindji Country matters or Gurindji people matters, or it's a person, like - all my Gurindji experience in the Gurindji Country is through Jimmy. Sometimes I feel that way as well. He's just - to me, he's just and extraordinary person. [Mick Rangiari] is a great man and Billy Bunter and all the other stuff is great people, but that's like great people in Canberra, like you and all my friends here.
PR: [c] to Jimmy [c] a really profound sense of [order]? Or [healthy] as well?
MH: Something like that. So he's become extremely special. Whenever I come back to the Country, he told me, "Oh, I've been thinking about you."
PR: Do you feel him around here?
PR: Do you feel that his person is around here at all?
MH: Not all the time, but yeah, sometimes, yeah.
PR: Is it stronger there when you go back? I know you've been back once or twice since he died, yeah?
MH: No, no, I haven't.
PR: Not al all?
MH: Not at all, yeah.
PR: Oh, because he died after you presented your thesis, that's true.
MH: So that was extraordinary timing that I showed him - I'm so lucky that I showed him my manuscript; otherwise, I was going to regret all my life.
PR: That's true. That's true, Mino.
MH: And I really have to thank you, because it's you who strongly suggested that I take the thesis to the -
PR: And he really liked it, didn't he?
PR: He probably would; there were all these things in there that [he's told you]. Do you think you'd feel him more strongly there in his own country?
MH: I'd have to see, but I want to visit his - the graveyard. Of course, I have to. I haven't been to his Country yet, because his Country was not on Aboriginal land; it's a station.
PR: Which one? Wave Hill Station?
MH: No, it's Limbunya Station.
PR: Limbunya, oh really?
MH: Yeah. He told me that he was going to take me to the Limbunya Station some day, but I wasn't opportunistic because he's too old.
PR: How old was he?
MH: No one knows, but we all assume - like Darrell [Lewis], Debbie and me - assume like, over ninety.
PR: Over ninety. He never took you to Limbunya then. So he was always talking about his Country somewhere else?
MH: His country. He talked a lot about Limbunya Country and their land story, but he didn't take me there. He told me he was going to take me someday, but he was just too old. I wasn't even - I couldn't push him, either, because what if something happened in the middle of the trip? That's a scary thing to think about.
PR: And when you feel him around you from time to time now -
PR: - does he say anything to you?
MH: In that kind of sort of - special occasion, like right after, he came out and told me, "Don't worry, I'm still with you," and in the monster dream and after the focusing he came out, but in the ordinary everyday life, he doesn't talk much. But every now and then I feel he's there.
PR: He hasn't been here tonight, for instance?
PR: He has not been here tonight? You haven't felt him here tonight at all?
MH: Um - maybe. Maybe, yeah. Maybe. But I don't know how he - you asked me - what your question was? Is he there - here, or how did you ask?
PR:Is there some kind of presence here?
MH: Yeah, presence is an interesting word. Again, I don't know how to take this reality dimension, like I don't know if he's out there like object, or I don't know if he's - I don't think he's just imaginary of me, but you know. Yeah, presence is a good word, but I don't know how he's present. But whenever I think about him or talk about him, probably my gut feeling is that he knows I'm talking about him. Or he's listening to what I'm talking about him. That's how I feel.
PR: Where is he buried?
PR: Where is he buried?
MH: I heard in Misty Creek.
PR: Oh, is he?
MH: That's what I heard, yes. They had a funeral there.
PR: You must have wished you could have been there for the funeral.
PR: You must have wished you could have been there.
MH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't remember why I couldn't - oh, yeah, my visa running out. They were organizing the funeral and I had a few weeks left, and if they had a funeral before my visa expired, I was definitely - I was ready to fly, but the funeral -for some reason, because the - probably because of the flood, they couldn't organize the funeral for a long time, and then my visa running out, so I had to go back to Japan. And anyway, I knew I was going back, anyway.
PR: How do you spell his name?
MH: His name? Jimmy, J-i-m-m-y, Mangayarri, M-a-n-g-a-y-a-double r-i. Mangayarri, yeah.
PR: And what language was that?
MH: He called himself Malngin. But it's pretty much Gurindji. He lived in Gurindji Country, so generally speaking, I called him one of the Gurindji teachers. But you know, he's Malngin.
PR: Did he say this is your Country, too, at any point?
MH: He didn't say, "This is your country." Others - Billy Bunter says, "You're one of my family. You're always welcome to here, and you're part of us."
PR: That's not the same thing exactly, is it? That's not the same thing, is it, as "This is your country"?
MH: Yeah, yeah. I remember Billy said that, and I was very fortunate.
PR: Did they suggest you should be initiated at all, or [garner] any steps in those directions?
MH: In my understanding, I went through all the ceremonies, as in initiation and all the other difficult ceremonies.
PR: You did. Right.
MH: But you know, I didn't go through the initiation as Aboriginal young people do; I rather participated as someone who'd already done. So I was there, and people sometimes call me "Businessman," because I've been through all the business. So they say, "Ah, that Japarta - Japarta is my skin name - from Japan, he's "Businessman," he's been through all the business." So people understand me as a foreigner or overseas man who went through all the business, but if you ask me do I went through the initiation like the younger Aboriginal people do, no, that's not what I did.
PR: Would you ever want to? Not necessarily?
MH: Not necessarily, no. But if they ask me to do, I will definitely consider. But it's not something I'd ask them to do, no.
PR: And you'd have to have been there for a length of time, too. And he regarded you as someone he could confide? There are some things he couldn't tell you, presumably? Yeah? Jimmy? There were some things he could not tell you, do you think?
MH: He is consciously avoid telling me something? No, I don't think so.
PR: Oh, you don't. No.
MH: I feel - I don't think. No.
PR: "C" in that respect.
MH: That's true.
PR: In other words, he was telling you things he wasn't telling the younger people because they weren't ready for it or something? Do you think?
MH: Ah. Well, he certainly he complained that the younger people not listening much to the elderly people, and -
END OF TAPE