The television screening of this documentary – which had only a short cinema run due to COVID-19 – could not have come at a better time, given the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Australia highlighting discrimination against First Nations people.
Directed by Maya Newell – whose feature Gayby Baby gave voice to four children of same-sex families during the marriage equality debate – it was filmed in collaboration with the Arrernte and Garrwa families and communities featured. It shows the world through the eyes of Dujuan, who last year became the youngest person ever to address the Human Rights Council and the United Nations.
Young Dujuan clearly feels most comfortable in his own community on the fringes of Alice Springs, learning about bush medicine and hearing stories of the past in the natural environment.
As well as being a child healer, he’s a good hunter and speaks three languages, yet in a non-Indigenous society that continues with assimilationist policies, Dujuan is labelled as a failure if he doesn’t fit into mainstream schooling. He also faces scrutiny by police and welfare authorities.
In My Blood It Runs does not pretend there are easy answers, but it highlights the importance of language and culture if a society is to survive and thrive.
It shows there is much we could learn about the Australian environment and how to create a fairer society if we were prepared to listen to and respect Aboriginal people. It also illustrates the important role that grandmothers and aunties play in maintaining culture; it’s heartwarming to see how close these women are to Dujuan and their concern for him and his future.
Dujuan may be a child but he speaks with great wisdom when he says: “If you go out to bush every week you learn how to control your anger and learn how to control your life.”
If we believe in the Black Lives Matter cause, we should be asking how we can improve his situation. There is a dire need for more Indigenous teachers, not just as teacher aides, but as teachers, and children should be able to learn in a bilingual school.
Dujuan wraps up the film by saying: “What I want is just a normal life … by being me … and what I mean by that is being an Aboriginal.” He could be expressing the wish of all Indigenous peoples to be given a fair go, and to be consulted about what is best for their communities.
In My Blood It Runs gives us insights into the dreams and aspirations of Aboriginal families and the ways that colonisation continues to disrupt their hopes of happiness.
In My Blood It Runs will air this Sunday, July 5, at 9.30pm on ABC and ABC iView. More information about the documentary – including details of an associated campaign for change – can be found here.