Rodney Carter is a descendant of Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta People and resides on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Bendigo, Central Victoria. He currently works for his people, the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd.
After years of petitioning, two Victorian councils voted this week to replace the name, which is known widely as a reference to former racial segregation laws in the United States. Jim Crow Creek in central Victoria will now be known as 'Larni Barramal Yaluk' following a vote by two local councils this week. Meaning 'creek that's home of the emu', the change occurred after almost two decades of staunch petitioning by Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners and supporters. "(The creek area) is the habitat, the home of the Emu and to the Dja Dja Wurrung it is a totemic species. So that Country is a place for us to use it's plumage, it's feathers for adornments and to revere the animal using symbols, song and dance," said Dja Dja Wurrung Group CEO Rodney Carter.
The creek originally formed the boundary of the Franklin Ford Aboriginal mission station when it was in use up to 1867 and at the time was known as 'Black Protectorates Creek'. The current name of Jim Crow was given to the site in 1890. Known widely as a racist and derogatory term, Jim Crow refers to racial segregation laws that were active in the United States. Both Hepburn Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Councils voted unanimously for the change, but there were several objections submitted.
"It's interesting that some people that objected to the name change tried to use a position that this is a North American problem, whereas I think what the word Jim Crow can stand for, It's also a problem here," said Mr Carter. "As Australians when we travel the world and hear other languages, we're interested to try and be courteous and respectful and learn those other languages. "The same could be said for us, trying to reclaim the many hundreds, if not thousands of (Aboriginal) languages and dialects here in Australia."
The votes mean the name change can formerly be actioned by Geographical Names Victoria. "When you say the words, you can actually speak to Country, and to be out at the creek, and to say its name gives reverence to that creek and the importance of Country," said Rodney Carter. "So that's quite beautiful and quite moving if people can open their heart and mind to that." Hepburn Shire Council Mayor Tim Drylie spoke positively of the outcome.
"The name Larni Barramal Yaluk reconnects our landscape with the Dja Dja Wurrung culture and language. Council strongly believes it is important to learn, acknowledge and move forward together,” he said. A defining moment in Rodney’s career has been negotiating the Dja Dja Wurrung People’s Native Title settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Rodney strongly believes that Dja Dja Wurrung people are best placed to manage our own history, places, and materials for the benefit of all Victorians. “We manage our Culture and our Heritage, not just for the benefit of our own mob but for all People that come to our Country.”
Our Recognition and Settlement Agreement is an important milestone for Dja Dja Wurrung People and the Victorian Government, as they now recognise us as the Traditional Owners of this Country and acknowledge the history of dispersement and dispossession that has affected our People. Our Agreement allows for continued recognition, through protocols, acknowledgements and Welcomes to Country, and signage on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
It also provides us with some legal rights to practice Culture, access, and use our land and resources, and to have a say in what happens on our Country. The Agreement gives us Aboriginal title of some of our traditional lands, including the right to actively manage Country. The Agreement is an important starting point for the self-determination of Dja Dja Wurrung, and we now continue to build up the structures and processes that will enable us to make the most of these rights. Parts of this story are by Emily Nicol.