Northern Peninsula Area Arts Centre

Sisters Vicki Kenndy, Agnes Mark and Susan Kennedy are Mpakwithi women, (Atambaya on their father's side) from New Mapoon, a small Aboriginal Community located in the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) on Cape York Peninsula.

As long as they can remember, they have fought to have the rights of their people recognised.

"As children we spent a lot of time with our grandfather who taught to us about our ancestors and culture of Old Mapoon," says Susan.

Using the knowledge passed on from their grandfather, the sisters sought the help of an anthropologist to provide proof of the existence of the Mpakwithi people, to support their claims upon their traditional land.

After successfully winning the fight to have the Mpakwithi people recognised as Traditional Owners, they were then included in the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement (WCCCA) and Rio Tinto Eli agreements as the Traditional Owners of the land.

"We cannot stop there," says Agnes," we must make sure the story of our people is remembered, so we can learn from the past."

They have been involved in numerous community activities, including the production of artworks and murals around the five communities of the NPA, which include Bamaga, Injinoo, New Mapoon, Seisia and Umagico.

"We do activities that include people learning bush tucker and bush medicine, and we teach some language," the ladies say.

"A highlight for me was when I gave a talk at the 2010 Yumpla Festival about the journey from Old Mapoon to New Mapoon," says Agnes.

In 2012 both Susan and Agnes had artworks exhibited in Thursday Island's Gab Titui Cultural Centre and were part of an exhibition held at UMI Art Gallery in Cairns, showcasing the work of NPA Artists.

Through their art, Agnes and Susan hope to tell the stories of their people, to keep their culture strong, and the history of their people remembered.

"It is important that this story is not forgotten and I always make an effort to keep the integrity of this story known," she says.

"I like to make sure that the young kids show respect for our Elders".

"We hope the respect for Elders continues, and that the young people learn from their wisdom," Agnes says.

DESCRIPTION: Photo: L-R is Vikki Kennedy, Agnes Mark and Susan Kennedy Photo by Jess Saxton