BACK TO THE PEOPLE
Uncle Glen Morris
My name is Glen Morris and I was born in Kempsey. I’m a Dunghutti initiated Elder.
I started with the Shire Council putting in footpaths, but then my mentor Ray Kelly Senior had an opportunity for me to work as a sites officer, to record traditional cultural knowledge sites with the Elders throughout the communities of New South Wales. And I said “ok,” so I quit my job on the Shire Council and went to work with National Parks and Wildlife Service.
We were sort of like pioneers in those early days. We would go to Aboriginal communities and ask the Elders, but they said, “Oh no we know nothing. We don’t know sites, the only sites we know of are the old mission burials”.
We had to gain their trust, we had to go back to communities like every three months. But once we started recording the old burial sites they would say “Oh we got another site down here, and it would be a story place we would go to”.
When the Land Rights Act came in, we saw the need to train a lot of the community and Land Councils in cultural resource management and identification. We decided to start the Aboriginal site school to train the Aboriginal communities in site recording, protection and management. We used to run that every year.
I started with National Parks in 1974. In 1980 I think there was a world first conference on National Parks in Colorado. They were looking for Aboriginal speakers to go and talk at the conference. My manager asked, “Would you like to come across?” I said “ok.” She told me, “You got to write a paper.” I said, “Yeah, no problems”. So, I sat down and wrote the paper. It was great being the only Aboriginal person to be invited to a cultural conference.
“We were like pioneers in them days.”