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GEBIE GANG Spear Making Workshop

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Group of young men stand around a fire placing long sticks over the fire from which smoke arises. In the background are trees, a fence and a light pole.
Straightening spears at the GEBIE GANG workshop
15 Nov 2019

When the Groote Eylandt Bickerton Island Enterprises (GEBIE) Groote Archipelago Next Generation (GANG) discussed what workshops they could hold in the nearby mining town of Alyangula during Reconciliation Week, they decided on spear making.

The GEBIE GANG was originally established to work with disengaged youth. It has since evolved into an intensive mentoring program focused on early intervention strategies to help young men and women from Angurugu Community make positive life choices.

The workshop was supported by Groote Eylandt mining company, GEMCO South 32.

The spear making workshops were held over two days and included afternoon and night sessions.  

During the workshop, 10 GEBIE GANG participants taught over 50 non-Indigenous boys and their families how to make traditional fishing spears.

GEBIE GANG mentor, Vieren Lalara, said “the boys were very nervous and shy at the start, but over time they became more confident and happy to share knowledge about their culture.”

Prior to the workshop the GEBIE GANG and mentors went out on country to source spear making materials, which involved cutting long pieces of hibiscus to use for the body of the spear.  

Unaware of how many spears would be required, the boys decided 30 would be enough. However, due to the popularity of the workshops a total of 80 spears were made, which meant a quick on-country trip at the beginning of day to collect more materials.

Each workshop went for 2.5 hours. The boys had to strip and sand each spear individually and straighten their spears over a fire.

 Eleven year-old, Ryan Martin said he attended the workshop because he wanted to learn about the local culture and meet more guys from Angurugu.

‘I enjoyed learning from the guys and how to put the prongs into the spear. I would like to learn how to hunt and how to choose the wood for spears,’ Ryan said.

The GANG demonstrated how to make the spear but would also assist Alyangula community members if help was needed to create their own.

The GANG received fantastic feedback from families in Alyangula on how well the GEBIE GANG went in holding the event. The youth constantly talked about the workshop for days, if not weeks.

Workshops like these are not usually held in the township of Alyangula and some mining families have very little contact with the local Indigenous culture.

‘By holding more cultural workshops, we are assisting in closing the gap, by giving all community members and visitors a better understanding and acknowledgment of the Warnindilyakwa culture,’ Vieren said.

Following the workshop, the GANG discussed the event. All said it made them and their families feel very proud.

The GEBIE GANG indicated they would like to do more workshops and engage with the wider community.

GEMCO South 32 provided the GEBIE GANG Youth Space with a new TV as a token of appreciation for the successful workshop and working together within the community.

Find out more

The GEBIE GANG was created from special purpose Youth Engagement Funding from the Community Development Programme (CDP) and was initially a Work for the Dole (WfD) activity focused on music and media.

The program is currently aimed at 15 – 21 year olds who are called the “ghost generation”- young people who are not engaged in employment, education, or other training and who are at significant risk of making decisions that may have lifelong ramifications.

For more information, see Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Enterprises and GEMCO South32.

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