The knowledge of the Rainbow Serpent has been told in a new documentary – The Serpent’s Tale – in an effort to highlight the importance of protecting the Kimberley region’s Martuwarra or Fitzroy River.
Aboriginal people have lived along the river in Western Australia’s north for tens of thousands of years and the river itself is the largest registered Aboriginal Cultural Heritage site in the state.
In 2011 the importance of the Rainbow Serpent knowledge was recognised by the National Heritage Listing of the river.
The documentary by renowned filmmaker Mark Jones describes the creation of Martuwarra and the melding of Indigenous Living Water Law and western science to protect the river.
It was produced for the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council, which was formed in 2018 by traditional owners concerned about the future of the river amid the threat of water extraction by major projects and farms.
Nyikina Warrwa woman and council chair Dr Anne Poelina says the film is part of a growing “body of evidence” around First Law proving Aboriginal people are the original guardians of the river.
“What we are seeing is a failure of so many of the laws in our country that are not protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage or the environment, it just seems to be full steam ahead with aggressive fossil fuel development.”
“One of the reasons we wanted to make the film was to show the triangulation of all the different nations along the Fitzroy River and through this Law how we are connected as one society even though we are diverse nations.”
The film premiered in Perth over the weekend and more screenings are scheduled to be shown across the Kimberley region in the coming months.
The Martuwarry Fitzroy River Council is also hosting an online festival as a tribute to the river, to be held at 5pm WT on Saturday, February 28.
The festival is headlined by well-known artists including Xavier Rudd, Missy Higgins and Bobby Alu.
For more information visit the Martuwarra Fitzroy River website at www.martuwarrafitzroy.org