Sacred Fire Burns At Lake Cowal

November 19, 2002

On Saturday, November 16, 2002, an offspring of the sacred fire from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra was brought by Wiradjuri Elders to bring peace and justice to Lake Cowal in Central New South Wales. Canadian company, Barrick Gold is continuing to damage Aboriginal artefacts and to desecrate marked trees and sacred lands as part of its intensive exploration drilling program at the Lake which is under long term threat by Barrick's proposed cyanide leach gold mine project.

"We're conducting a sacred ceremony here." said Wiradjuri Elder Neville "Chappy" Williams when questioned by local Authorities. "This fire is created by the Great Creator Spirit and we are calling on the Creator Spirit for the strength to stop the willful destruction being inflicted on this land. It's our responsibility to protect this sacred land, the heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation, at all costs."

Despite concern by local Authorities, Mr. Williams defended his right to keep the sacred fire burning to perform religious ceremonies. Mr. Williams stated that under Section 116 of the Australian Constitution, Freedom of Religion, this right is protected.

"I assured the official from the Rural Fire Service that the precedent has already been set at the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecution in ACT which defended the right of Aboriginal people at Tent Embassy in Canberra to maintain a fire, through total fire ban, for ceremonial and traditional purposes."

For more information contact:

Neville Williams
Chairman, Mooka Traditional Owners within the Wiradjuri Nation
Mob: 0416 316 774