'Treaty: A Personal Perspective From Uncle Talgium

January 5, 2019

 by Charles Pakana, Treaty Engagement Correspondent

One of the Stolen Generations. Radio show host. Jurisdiction activist. Merchant seaman. They’re just a few of the tags Uncle Talgium “Chocco” Edwards wears or has worn over his 70 years.

A Taungurung Man and with ancestry also including Palawa, Yorta Yorta, Boon Wurrung and Mutti Mutti, Uncle Talgium is, despite seven decades of hardship, well known around Melbourne for his ready smile and caring nature.

Just days before his 70th birthday, Uncle Talgium invited me into his home to talk about his personal perspective on Treaty.

“No Jurisdiction”

Over the years, Uncle Talgium has fronted a judge on no less than 100 occasions, and for the past five years has given voice to his frustration about a system that he regards as being without authority.

“For the last five years I’ve been contesting the court’s jurisdiction,” he said. “Show me the papers where you get jurisdiction. Without Treaty, without consent, you got no jurisdiction; and I’m a sovereign man!”

When asked if Treaty would mean something to him on a personal level, Uncle Talgium acknowledged that it indeed would. It seemed to me, though, that a lot of that meaning would be in acknowledgement of year after year of insitutionalism.

“I weren’t [sic] classed as a human being when I was born.

“Growing up in the institutions and the prison system, assimilating me, and all I’m learning is the whitefella way, y’know. When I was in the boys home it was like going to grade school. And then going to Turana it’s like goign to TAFE. Then you go to Pentridge, the college of knowledge.”

Come forward with the truth

“Treaty means for me that the Government has to apologise for all the wrongs they’ve done,” Uncle Talgium continued. “And their intent when they came here to get rid of us. The Government has come forward with the truth.

“When I travel to country and see the suburbs spreading out, I think that’s all blackfella land. Where’s our share of all this?”

Beneath his gruff exterior is a man who, in my opinion, has an almost inexhaustable amount of love and empathy for others. When I asked him if he had any words for the Treaty Advancement Commissioner, Jill Gallagher, he smiled and said simply:

“I hope that Bunjil will bless you and make you strong for all this Treaty stuff.”