Fremantle Council signed off on the project Arthur Head-A Class Reserve pub (J Shed), against the wishes of the Swan River-Nyoongar people. Elder Richard Wilkes addressed the council with great Statesman’s like class.
The mayor voted for it as well as one of the Greens’ leader Andrew Sullivan.
Below is his letter which he gave to mayor.
To: Whom it may concern, particularly to the Fremantle City Council
From Richard Wilkes, Albert Corunna, Bella Bropho, Greg Garlett, and Victor Warrell, Land Claimants of the Swan River and Swan Coastal Plain. We are very concerned that the Fremantle City Council are saying that they may be going ahead to build a Tavern in close proximity near the Nyungar Heritage around the Round House Gaol and Arthur Head.
We are the Swan River People. We are traditional Owners of the Swan River and Swan Valley and Swan Coastal Plains. Our Traditional Land includes the area of the Round House and Arthur Head.
Our Swan River People Native Title Claim is still in the Federal Court.
We were part of a hearing of the Federal Court for our Native Title Claim at Arthur Head in 2003, where evidence was given to Justice Beaumont concerning the creation of the Land and the area of the Round House and Arthur Head. This was following the first day of evidence to Justice Beaumont at Wajemup – Rottnest Island.
We have not been contacted or consulted by Fremantle Council or the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council or any other official body or any organisation concerning a tavern at Manjaree/Arthur Head.
The area is very important to us. In the early days, our people were killed there. The cliffs area was dug out who were by Aboriginal People in Gaol. The Nyungah Heritage in the Area needs to be properly documented to show its importance, and protected.
Fremantle Council have not consulted with us before they made plans for the Area of Arthur Head. They can consult with other people but they must consult with us the Nyungar Traditional Owners, we the Swan River People. The Council have done wrong by not contacting us. We are demanding the Fremantle Council meet with us urgently to discuss this proposal of development.
We want to remind the Fremantle Council that we know all the Nyungar Names of Fremantle, the name of the Sea between Fremantle and Rottnest Island. We know that our People were brought down here from all over the State to be gaoled either in Fremantle Gaol , then walked over and under ground to the Round House Gaol, then they were sent to the infamous Rottnest Island Gaol. We want to remind you that hundreds of our People died in and under these conditions of confinement.
Our Nyungar People lived in harmony on this Land of Walyalup as the Owners, and we consider ourselves still to be the Owners. This statement enhances our heritage values which gives us the right to say: “We the Swan River People oppose this proposal for a tavern at Arthur Head until a properly negotiated solution is found that suits everyone”. By thinking this way, nobody may be left out
Yours faithfully for Swan River People
Swan Valley Nyungah Community