Dr Curtis Roman is a Larrakia man born and raised on Larrakia country. He is the first Indigenous man to be awarded a PhD from Charles Darwin University. Curtis has published in academic journals in Australia and overseas on Indigenous topics, and has supervised PhD students doing research on Indigenous topics. He continues to supervise PhD students in his role as an Adjunct Fellow at Charles Darwin University.
Curtis is currently working for NTGPE and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory as a Project Officer. Ahead of NAIDOC Week 2022, Curtis spoke to NTGPE about what it means to him to be a Larrakia man:
Hi Dr Roman, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Firstly, can you please explain the importance of Welcome To Country speeches to you?
For me, there is no guide to doing Welcome To Country speeches. However, they should be an opportunity to provide people with information and educate people.
How are Larrakia people identifying themselves in 2022?
Today, Larrakia people are reclaiming our identity and instead of referring to ourselves as ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’, we are referring to ourselves as Larrakia people.
How has the Darwin saltwater environment shaped Larrakia country?
Just as other Aboriginal people have their cultures shaped by their natural environment, the same applies to our people. Saltwater people such as Larrakia people have spiritual connections to marine life and sites located at coastal areas. These include sacred sites that originally created the landscape and put everything and everyone in their place before forming into rocks for example– these rocks are now considered sacred sites and are still here today, and Larrakia people have an obligation to care for these sacred sites.
How has the natural environment played a part in providing Aboriginal people with their identity?
Larrakia people, for example, identify as saltwater people, and we have songs and dances that relate to marine life such as crocodiles and how we have always used food from the sea as part of a traditional subsistence economy. This knowledge of and use of natural resources is important to ensuring that future generations have a close relationship to land, a strong identity, close connections with other Larrakia people, and continue to use natural resources the way that Larrakia people always have.
Can you explain about knowledge systems for Aboriginal people?
Larrakia people have always had our own knowledge systems, which are important for our connection to country. For example, these include knowing that the presence of certain insects indicate that it is a good time to collect and hunt certain food, such as different species of fish.
NAIDOC Week takes place from 3-10 July 2022 and this year’s theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! For more information, visit www.naidoc.org.au