Deep Trouble #4: Uncle Rick Nelson
Uncle Rick Nelson is a Jaara Jaara Elder whose homeland is the land of Dja Dja Wurrung people. Uncle Rick’s father is Uncle Brien Nelson, who is a significant figure in the Dja Dja Wurrung community. Uncle Rick is also a direct descendent of Henry ‘Harmony’ Nelson, who is an apical Elder of the Dja Dja Wurrung. Uncle Rick first begins with a Welcome to Country ceremony, or what early settlers called ‘Freedom of Bush’, before discussing his role with the water pipeline that runs from the Grampians through central Western Victoria, where he acts as an advisor in regards to the protection of local Aboriginal sites. Uncle Rick also discusses the nuances of the Dja Dja Wurrung language and the importance of the two moieties, Bunjil the Eagle and Waa the Crow, to the cultural life of the Dja Dja Wurrung, as well as the mythology behind these moieties. He also tells the story of the devastating effects of early colonisation on the people of the Kulin nation as well as the country, with the introduction of 100,000 head of sheep and the same number of cattle, and the arrival of 60,000 white men within four years of European settlement. We then discuss the protectorate system that was set up in Victoria in an attempt to protect the Aboriginal people from the early settlers and how the descendants of Dja Dja Wurrung can trace their ancestry back to the Franklinford protectorate, which at the time was described as ‘a successful failure’.