Sacred is the water of the earth. Kevin Buzzacott, custodian of Arabunna tribal law, has doggedly sought to uphold this ancient Aboriginal truth, a spiritual idea that has withstood the cultural ravages of colonialism for more than two centuries. We would call Buzzacott's quest to cleanse his people's traditional living space from the deadly devastation of uranium mining a demonstration of civil courage; for Buzzacott, on behalf of his people and on behalf of the earth, it is simply his duty.
The Arabunna are the traditional keepers of a segment of land in South Australia that includes Lake Eyre. South of Lake Eyre, Western Mining Corporation (WMC) operates two of Australia's major uranium mines, Roxby Downes and Olympic Dam. Alone, Roxby Downs is licensed to use up to 42 million litres of Lake Eyre water per day – water that is sacred to Kevin and the Arabunna. Over the past years, the local water table has receded and many world heritage springs have ebbed, one even ceasing to flow. The radioactive tailings and gasses that attend uranium mining have sickened the people and animals who live in the surrounding countryside. In 1999, in order to publicise WMC's nuclear neo-colonialism, as well as to say NO! to a proposed waste disposal site at nearby Billa Kalina, Kevin Buzzacott set up The Arabunna Going Home Camp – a rallying point for anti-nuclear Aborigines and non-Aborigines alike.
"It is an internationally recognised peace camp and a living cultural site of the Arabunna nation," Kevin explains. "Who has given the permission for our home to be destroyed? WMC are criminals and the inheritors of the genocidal practices of their forebears. When will we (the Arabunna people) be allowed to live in our own country, without being hassled, assaulted and moved on, yet again. We are the rightful owners of this whole country. The residents of the camp are people from all over the world who have the full permission of the Arabunna nation to live in our country, unlike WMC who are the masters of oppression, the corporation of theft and the kings of genocide. Is there any justice out there? When do we have access to basic human rights and the right to peacefully live in our own land. When can we go home?"
WMC security personnel have hassled the campers on a daily basis and twice bulldozed the camp, but Kevin, who has been fined and incarcerated for his courageous campaign – one which also carries the message of peace and reconciliation between Australia's indigenous and non-indigenous peoples – has re-lit the camp's sacred peace fire each time. On 10 June 2000, Kevin, carrying a torch lit from the sacred fire, began a peace march to the Sydney Olympics to draw attention to his peoples' radioactive plight. Joined underway by people from 'all walks of life,' the trek, following a course determined by ancient Aborigine songlines, covered some 3060 kilometres and lasted 85 days. Kevin remarked underway: "This historic walk is a journey for peace, freedom and healing the land and its peoples." He continued: "If the SA government refuses to act in closing down WMC at Roxby Downs and prevent the establishment of a uranium waste dump at Billa Kallina than the looming reality of the genocide of Arabunna people will become realised."
The Awards Ceremony marks the first time Kevin Buzzacott has left his home continent. He will gain many environmental allies in Europe. Kevin's struggle to save Lake Eyre is likewise a struggle to teach us an ancient Aboriginal truth: sacred is the water of the earth.
is presented by the
Franz Moll Foundation
for the Coming Generations
for seeking to defend
the sacred water of his clan
from the radioactive greed
of Western Mining Corporation