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B Y S Y LV I A L O CK YE R

ST

Y OR

Dream P rincess


DISCLAIMER This f ic tionalised stor y is based upon the wisdom and knowledge f rom elders; and writ ten f rom cultural learning and memories as an Aboriginal woman, nurse and mother; and f rom learning and yarning with people living with a disabilit y. Also, the stor y telling within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ culture and is thus written in creative prose and poetry.

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THIS STORY IS INSPIRED BY A N D D E D I C AT E D T O A N I K A C O P P I N - F O L E Y, W H O H A S TAU G H T M E S O M U C H A B O U T RESILIENCE AND LAUGHTER.

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PINDAN DREAM PRINCESS B Y S Y LV I A L O C K Y E R

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This is a story about a little Marlba (Aboriginal) girl from the Pilbara and her grandmother and grandfather, who take her home to grow her up. When she is three months old, she leaves her bush home to go live in a hospital. Her story takes us on a journey into the places she calls home with her family and a special nurse. Jeanika’s special medical issues means she needs to stay in the town to be closer to the hospital. She has many surgical operations to help her to get better. She is very brave. Even though she loves her new family and she often saw her Aboriginal family she missed them. Her homesickness for family and her Country (Ngurra) becomes stronger each day. She is sad and longs for her mob. On her tenth birthday, Jeanika goes on a camping trip with her nana and grandfather. It is on this trip that Jeanika finds her identity. In a dream she is given a new name and the calling for her purpose in life, as a rain dancer and a peace keeper.

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A hush fell in the room. A baby crying, its fists beat the air, thrashing and reaching for someone to pick her up. The small sobs fade into silence as a mumma reaches down and lifts up the baby holding her into the air and cooing gentle hushing sounds to her. The baby girl is welcomed into her new world. A life so precious, beautiful black eyes, gazing back at mumma as she is held fiercely tight in her arms. Teardrops fall, they glisten on the baby girls’ cheeks as mumma whispers ‘baby I need to go but I will always look for you’. Jeanika’s mum becomes very scared and alone because her husband is very sick and has to go to the city hospital for treatment. One day she just packs her belongings and goes back to her own grandmothers’ country to get healing. It is very far away. Jeanika’s dad comes home for a while and travels to Perth for treatment. He spends time with his baby girl and she goes to live with his parents.

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Jeanika goes home with her dad’s family to their bush block along a dusty bumpy road. Her Grandad and nana Trudy look after her. There are many other Marlba mums and dads and cousins that Jeanika has. All her mums’ brothers and sisters. All of her dads’ brothers and sisters. All of their children are also her brothers and sisters. In Marlba family kinships, Jeanika has inherited many other grandparents, mums, dads, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters and cousins. She is too young to know all of this, but everyone comes to meet her and tell her their significance to her. They all come to play with her and visit and yarn and talk to her. Singing songs to her and laughing with her. Jeanika has a wonderful spirit and laughs too. Jeanika is welcomed to Country with a smoking ceremony by her grandmothers and women in the community. It is a wonderful celebration of life and connecting the baby to the Country and ancestors.

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When she is three months old Jeanika is taken

The doctors and the specialists are concerned

Jeanika feels lonely without her Marlba

to the community health clinic. The doctor

as she also needs to be close to the hospital

family but her brothers in her new family take

and nurse tell Grandad and Nana Trudy that

and have someone to care for her until she

good care of her. Sometimes her sisters and

Jeanika needs tests done on her legs, and will

gets stronger and has physiotherapy and

little brother visit and come for sleepovers.

have to go into the town hospital.

operations during her childhood.

But Jeanika never goes out to the bush or community as it is too far away. She is

The doctor and nurses write notes and

The medical team worked to encourage

homesick for her home in the bush that she

organise for Jeanika and her grandparents to

Jeanika’s little body to develop stronger and

only hears stories about it when her family

come into the town. They arrive at the hospital

help her have more tests and to learn to use

visit in the hospital.

and the tests are done. It is not good news.

her muscles in her legs. In the meantime,

Grandad and Nana Trudy are told that Jeanika

Jeanika is given a wheelchair to help her

will need to spend a lot of time in hospital.

move around. The wheelchair makes Jeanika

After a while her grandparents need to go

feel safe as she is up high in the world and

back to their bush block but they come to visit.

able to see more and doesn’t have to be picked up and molly coddled.

Everyone in the children’s ward at the hospital gets to know Jeanika and everyone wants

The nurses in the ward, known for their

to read a favourite book to her, or to sit and

compassion and big hearts helped to find

play games with her. Jeanika grows up

families for Jeanika to live with. She spent time

mostly in the hospital until she is four years

visiting and staying with hospital staff on day

old and has to go to school. Luckily, they had

leave and went on excursions. A kind spirited

activities and learning for children in the

nurse named Sister Juniper started to take

Children’s Ward and so Jeanika was already

Jeanika out on day leave and eventually with

counting numbers and sounding the alphabet

community support and with the blessings of

and enjoying picture books. Jeanika loved

grandparents Jeanika was allowed to go live

story time.

with the nurse and her family, who accept Jeanika as family.

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Jeanika goes to her first new school and makes new friends. She also sees children she met in hospital. All of her new friends want to push her around in her wheelchair and take care of her. She has friends who make her feel special and strong and worthy. Jeanika laughs and tells so many stories and jokes giving joy and happiness to others; and encouraging them to fight through barriers and obstacles. Everyone who meets Jeanika grows to love her. Jeanika learns to walk with ankle foot orthosis also known as AFO’s and learns to dance and go to ballet school. The ballet teacher and her work together on dancing with her wheelchair and create a wonderful dance story. Jeanika stretches her body in time to the music, her arms stretch and legs and her feet adapt to the ballet positions in her own way. Graceful and beautiful her form is amazing. She is a natural dancer.

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Jeanika loves sport and loves to do what

She grinned and laughed so loudly when the

She reports back to the wheelchair athletes

all the children do. By the time she was

players just rolled onto the court with such

that people are interested.

10 years old Jeanika had travelled to the

speed and skills, sometimes crashing out

city many times for operations and therapy,

of their wheelchairs as they did wheelies.

Jeanika wants everyone to play. So, she

including fittings to her AFO’s. She would

Yet, up they got reaching for their own

organises with her wheelchair basketball

walk and stand as much as she could to

wheelchairs and levered themselves up swiftly

team mates to come to her hometown in the

strengthen her legs.

and seamlessly and got on with the game.

Pilbara. A big fundraising campaign begins.

Unless the referee whistled to give penalty the

A big basketball competition is planned and

Sometimes she goes to different places and

players just went for broke, competing for the

many people sign up to play.

has learned to ski in the snow. Jeanika loved

basketball to shoot hoops. Jeanika tells everyone you don’t have to live

the snow, it was amazing. Softly it fell from the sky making snail trails of wetness on

After the game Jeanika met the players who

with a disability to play wheelchair basketball.

her skin and clothes as it melted, reminding

invited her to learn and join the team. Meeting

The big day arrives and a special team fly

her of teardrops glistening in the sunlight.

strong champions, their stories embedded

from all over Australia to visit her.

But on the ground the piles of snow amazed

into her mind and spirit and Jeanika wanted to

They visit schools in the towns and in

Jeanika, her eyes popped out as she held

give it a go and play wheelchair basketball.

communities and teach children and teachers how to play basketball sitting in wheelchair.

it in her hands and lunged her whole body into the snow, making snow angels laughing

The next day Jeanika attended the stadium

There were school teams, and even the

until she cried and had a tummy ache.

and played with her new friends, and they

police had a team and so did the shire.

all swapped phone numbers and addresses

People learned to respect how it is to live

On her travels Jeanika meets other people

and took photos and selfies of each other on

with a disability and to always include

who live and work using wheelchairs and

their phones.

people from different backgrounds to work and play together to create change.

embrace it as part of their identity. In fact, on one trip to Perth Jeanika went to a

Returning back to her town, Jeanika and

Mostly the people learned that there are

basketball game. It wasn’t an ordinary

Sister Juniper organise and lobby for modified

athletes who play sports in wheelchairs and

basketball game. Jeanika rolled herself into

wheelchairs that are capable of being used on

have big gentle kind hearts.

the stadium and got a big surprise to see

the courts for wheelchair basketball. Jeanika

that all of the players on the court were in

tells all of the schools about the carnival, and

wheelchairs.

has meetings with the shire and the hospital. 15


Jeanika was never bored. There was always

“Grandad quick! Please come see us now.

Grandad said to the little girl “It must be time

some adventure happening. At home,

Don’t come later. we need your help NOW!

to come out on Country and learn about your

one day in the yard, the yellow plastic bucket

There’s a snake in the yard but it’s trapped

place”

was moving and there was a strange noise

under the yellow bucket’ Jeanika squealed and asked ‘can Mum Juni

coming from under it. Jeanika had never

come too?”

heard this noise before. Jeanika and her

They waited inside the house until grandad

mum Sister Juniper were scared, thinking

came to see if it was a snake. When grandad

it was a snake under the bucket.

pulled up in his car, he got out slowly and

“Yeah sure that’s proper good ways, Nana

They screamed and ran into the house.

checked the ground for signs. He was looking

Trudy and I will collect the rest of our stores

for tracks and movements of anything lurking.

and be back to get you and Sister Juniper

Let’s ring Grandad, says Jeanika”.

He walked slowly to the bucket and gently

tomorrow”.

“I saw him in town and he waved and

lifted the bucket up and laughed and laughed

called out that he was coming to visit later

and laughed.

“Pack your blanket, pillow and spare clothes and anything else you need, but don’t worry

and bringing cake for my birthday”. “He remembers I will be ten years old

Jeanika and Sister Juniper raced outside to

for tucker, we got it sorted. We even have your

tomorrow”

see what all the laughing was about. Grandad

birthday cake!”.

smiled and sang out “It’s a funny looking Sister Juniper gets the old dial phone off

snake, look ‘ere hahahahaha its your chicken”

the benchtop and sits at the table with it so that she and Jeanika could both talk to him.

Everybody laughed because the chicken was

Frantically rummaging for Grandad’s number

under the bucket making all the noise. It was

on the crumpled bit of paper that had been

not a snake.

tucked under the biscuit tin. They ring grandad and shout down the telephone line;

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Grandad sends out word to all his and

The vegetation constantly changes as

The children run off playing and come

Nana Trudy’s families to meet at the river

they drive further away from the dusty old

back when they see their sister getting out of

community. He drives to pick up Jeanika

town, and make their way along the bumpy

the car and sitting in a wheelchair.

and her new mum Sister Juniper and they

corrugated tracks of the desert fringes.

all pile into the Landy. Sister Juniper chatters

Grandad tells his passengers that the hills

“Hey can we push? “can I have a ride?’

away non-stop telling Grandad all about

that they just passed were very important and

all the chitter chat of sounds, words Jeanika

the activities that Jeanika is involved in.

that only trusted guardians could go near

never heard before but faintly, familiar

Along the way silence creeps into the car

it or trouble would follow.

at the same time. It was like inside her chest and belly she knew but her mind didn’t.

as Jeanika and Sister Juniper gaze out the window taking in the wondrous sights

The Landy roars into the community, Grandad

of the Pilbara, the green spinifex sometimes

crunches its gears in excitement of being

looking like golden fibres, artistically

home. Kids come running out laughing and

placed and dotted into the vibrant red pindan

shouting with excitement to see Grandad and

sand. Huge anthills rise out of the ground,

Nana Trudy. They know there are goodies from

made in all shapes and sizes.

town. Fresh milk, bread and lots of food and

She felt sad for a brief moment.

lollies too. Bags of flours to make delicious Jolting along in the car, shoulders rubbing

dampers, yum yum!

as they sway in their seats, they look out at the grey, blue and purple mountains

But, wait! They look inside and see two more

dappled with sunlight in the distance.

people, and they jump in surprise.

There is something magical about the country as you wistfully gaze out, the spirits of the

Nana Trudy laughs and says; “This one here

land call and beckon for peace and respect.

is big sister Jeanika and her other mum, nurse one Sister Juniper. They come to camp and learn from us proper ways of our ngurra”.

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Later on, she asked mum Juniper about the different language she heard. Mum Juniper told her that it was her language and she should learn to speak it again when she can. This made Jeanika happy, deep down inside her feelings she knew that the words were lodged in her inner self waiting for a release and that one day it would bubble out like a stream from a river spring. In her mind she made a poem, a new song and hummed along a melody. She thought of all the faces that were in her memories and ached to know who they were and to see them again. She felt hopeful that one day she would. Jeanika’s courage and hunger for knowledge was like an unquenchable fire that consumed her being and she was determined to know all about her Marlba family and her Marlba ways once again.

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The wheelchair silently glides across the hard

“wow I get it. It’s a food chain ecosystem

“The anthills are home to lots of reptiles like

desert sand; the pindan rises up to smooth

happening right here!!”

the snakes and lizards and geckoes. The kingfisher and other birds make their homes

the rubber wheels. Along the bumpy tracks Nana Trudy helps guide the wheelchair, in and

‘Yes bub, they are like huge cities, like

out of the little ridges, over the fallen twigs

fortresses, like huge castles. They are millions

that have fallen from the big white gum trees.

of years old’

in the outer walls of the sand ant castles”. “oh wow! Nana Trudy!! Are there any other insects or creepy crawlies that live in the anthills?” asked Jeanika

The land is not afraid, it welcomes the

“the ants build their fortresses in circular

softness and beauty of Jeanika and calls her

patterns, their tunnels weave in and out

by name. the land calls her and gives her a

in a maze, orderly and balanced. The sun

“yes! there are spiders and lots of teeny

new name, the Pindan Dream Princess. She

decides the shape as the ants all have

tiny creatures that live in the anthills” said

hears the whispers, “always was always will

a role to play. There are kings and queens

Nana Trudy.

be” and wonders about it.

and soldiers and workers in the anthill; working away in an orderly manner avoiding

“Marsupials like the spinifex field mouse and

Gliding in her wheelchair between the

the sun so the sun is not directly on the

other rodents come to the anthills looking for

enormous and powerful anthills, Jeanika

anthill and they are in the shade keeping

food” said Nana Trudy”. “even the spinifex

feels the heart of the country and sees nature

cool as they work. They work non-stop.

is needed, it traps water and stops the

at work. The anthills are alive, Nana Trudy

They work all day and all night. Chewing the

sand blowing away. The spinifex is special,

tells her they are like the shopping centre for

spinifex and sand to make a special home.”

it is food, it can be used to make fibres for anything and a special glue can be made to

Aboriginal people. “very clever them ants”

special country, it ‘always was always will be’.

Jeanika looks surprised and giggles. “what do you mean nana?”

hold things together for a long time. This is a

“Following the sun so they are always working in the shade. That’s why they have

“oh [granny] the anthills have so much life,

so many different shapes – tall and

and are filled with ants and wildlife and

monstrous, short and wide, fat and bendy’

surrounded by animals who come to meet and greet each other and eventually eat each other” 23


Nana Trudy wheels Jeanika back to the

Grandad helped some of the kids grab a fire

campfire that Grandad has lit. Jeanika looks

stick from the fire with the red glow of embers

back behind her shoulders and as the sun

and they wave them in circles in the air, the

sets over the land she sees the silhouettes

darkness of the night a black canvas to the

of the anthills. They look like giant people.

‘red fire flies’ dancing and spinning whilst

They seem to be the ancestors, lots of stories

Grandad continued to yarn some more, stories

and dreams are etched into the tunnels

of life out bush, in the old ways with the old

of the anthills. She feels at home.

people and the new ways with the strangers.

The campfire is on Country. A billycan of

Night time falls and Jeanika drifts off

water is on the fire, and as it bubbles Nana

sleepily into a deep sleep where she dreams

takes it off the fire and puts tea leaves

of her ancestors. Their soft voices tell her

in to make a strong brew of black tea.

that everything is going to be okay and

Once the flames die down the food is slowly

that she needs to follow her calling. She is

placed in the coals. The fire place is alive

given a new name: Pindan Dream Princess,

with the embers radiating a warm glow,

a rain maker and peace keeper.

and the fine smoke drifts across bringing an aroma of yumminess. Grandad shares his stories of his childhood, how he grew up on the station and learned to ride a horse when he was four years old and went mustering when he was six because the ‘old people’ trusted him and taught him excellence. Yarning into the dusk light sharing his adventures to all the children gathered around the fireplace.

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Sunrise appears in a soft golden glow, the

Rain quenches the thirst for healing as people

sunrays peep though the trees and the bush

drink it in. Laughing and crying same time.

Always was always will be our home our Aboriginal place You see this water and look at this tree;

from behind the majestic clouds bobbing in the distant; and Jeanika awakens and speaks

All of a sudden, the songs created inside

… softly with courage. The wind catches her

Jeanika’s mind come rushing out in a

words. The words are alive and dance off her

language she only dreamed about.

the birds and the goanna, all the creatures Listen now chirping and screeches And silence, a golden silence Our way with the Land

lips, they speak peace and love and respect for ngurra. She tells her family she must dance

“My Country my Ngurra

A special place

and the rain will come. Jeanika lifts herself up

I went for a walk, well actually I went

A place to heal

in my wheelchair. On some days I can wheel

And feel the air breeze on our face

myself but on bumpy roads I need help.

Pindan in our toes

Slowly, slowly the animals gather and sit in

I’m as tough as anyone else

Water on our skin

harmonic balance of the Songline carried as

but sometimes I need help.

It’s a real special place

The dusty tracks of the spinifex

Feel the heartbeat

Wheels don’t stop me

Of this place

Worlds collide they slide and I ride

Feel safe,

Into two worlds, footprints and wheels,

Feel alive

bush and town

Our ngurra, our world

Little girl laughs and chatters

These are my eyes. I see many wonders.

storytelling her feels.

I see love. I feel joy. I see sadness.

into her wheelchair and positions herself.

the melody rises to the beat of the rain dance. The Pindan Dream Princess Jeanika dances, her arms flow in unison with her body, her hands are gracefully reaching for the sky and the unseen stars; for the wind as it rustles the leaves, swish swish swish

I see what I see and I feel what I feel.

whoosh whoosh whoosh and a whirl of leaves, Going on country

We can all go together, one people,

Rain dance

one land, but secret rules and secret access

Saves the day, she calls the rain,

to protect you and your home and family.

to gather all across the horizon and make

the anthills are happy.

Respect. Listen!

their way to Jeanika. Rain pours from the dark

The spinifex is happy.

Country is calling you.

clouds upon the campsite. Nobody runs for

Her people are happy.

You will find your place.

shelter. They dance and sing and laugh and sit

Always was always will be our place,

It is heart shaped”.

and soak up the rain. Rain drenches the skin.

our home, our land and our spirit

they float and swim through the air. During the day the dark clouds have started

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Thank you to the

Page 17

Elders and Youth and Children

student artists who helped

Ella Carlsen

– Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

illustrate this book.

East Wanneroo Primary School

Board and Staff and Community Members

Front Cover & Page 09

Page 18

of Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language

Claire Hewson

Aleisha Mizen

and Culture Centre for your invaluable

Hocking Primary School

East Wanneroo Primary School

Page 05

Page 21

To the many individuals whom

Ruby Crisafulli

Lynley Farmer

have mentored me:

Hocking Primary School

East Wanneroo Primary School

Trudy Hayes

Page 06

Page 22

Tabareena Waddaman

Chloe Marx

Briannan Wild

Joan Foley

Hocking Primary School

Banksia Grove Primary School

Ann Sibosado

Page 10

Page 25

Janet Stewart

Analise Harder

Nicole Arazas

Lyn Cheedy

Spring Hill Primary School

Banksia Grove Primary School

Page 13

Page 26

Tyliah Hope

Sofia Sinclair

Spring Hill Primary School

Banksia Grove Primary School

guidance and contribution to my learning.

Bruce Thomas

Page 14 Fatehbir Hundal Spring Hill Primary School 28


We would like to acknowledge the Whadjuk Noongar People, as the traditional owners and custodians of the land in which we operate. This stor y was writ ten by a member of the Ngarluma, Karriyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru people, illustrated by students who live, learn and grow on Whadjuk Noongar Land.

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A CO M M U N I T Y P R O J E C T, P R O D U C E D BY WA N N E R O O C E N T R A L A N D C H A R T E R H A L L .

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