Major Lancelot Sumner
Major Lancelot Sumner AM (Uncle Moogy) senior elder of the Ngarrindjeri people of the Coorong in South Australia is a living icon. His compassion and devotion to helping others seems boundless.
He is one of Australia's most respected elders and has been working to develop local, national and international communities for over 30 years. He was appointed a Merit of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his significant service to Indigenous communities in South Australia. He is a member of the World Archaeological Congress and has been a member of the South Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council since 2011. He is also a member of the World Council of Elders. Uncle Moogy is the proud patron of Wayapa Wurrk Aboriginal Wellness Foundation; a Director of Talkingjeri Aboriginal Corporation and sits on the International Indigenous Repatriation Committee. He is the driving force behind Ringbalin, an annual ceremony since 2010 that dances the spirit back into the Murray River.
Major Sumner wants to show to the Australian people that Aboriginal culture is about sharing and working together for the benefit of the whole community. He made sure, to the best of his abilities that his contributions to public life in the areas of Aboriginal health, social welfare, youth and cultural heritage is benefiting everyone.
Uncle Moogy invited me to a corroboree on the coorong - The Dupang Festival, and I heard many people tell of how his work in dance through the Tal-kin-jeri dance group has deeply affected and changed their lives. So many people from many cultures described how they found confidence, community and a stronger connection to self through indigenous dance. There were cues of people waiting to speak to him, film him work with him and he had patience and calm for everyone. It was a deeply moving experience.
The Sumner family lived in Canada for a while to learn more about incorporating Indigenous justice and law into modern law systems. Bringing old and new systems together is the best way to build stronger futures. Like others I have met through this project he understands that change comes about through action on many fronts.
In the Sumner home, Uncle Moogy's four and five year old grandchildren Leanna and Major mark out my arms and legs counting out how they would paint me in ochre. When I ask them if the 'shake a leg' dance means just making up a dance or is it something specific? They have me up straight away -"Now stand beside me so you can learn the movements." I do as I'm bid and learn to fly and then run like an emu, "Now I wont say start I'll just stamp my foot and you start, so watch me and you'll learn". My instructors are encouraging, dynamic, filled with enthusiasm and energy and I treasure the memory. They have been taught by a Master.
NB: Thursday May 2018 saw Major Sumner nominate for preselection for the Federal seat of Mayo in South Australia. Mayo covers the Adelaide hills down to Goolwa and is thus the traditional land of which he is Elder. We wish you every success. Ngarrindjeri is Here!
Uncle Moogy is singing 'Ngarrindjeri is Here'.
If you are in Adelaide you can join in the Tal-kin-jeri dance rehearsals on Friday nights.