National event 'a sign of solidarity', say Indigenous leaders

FEET were stomped and as the songs began to ring out, a soft pattering of rain replied.

About 200 people poured into Bicentennial Park in Tamworth, NSW, on Sunday afternoon to take part in one of the biggest coordinated expressions of culture on record.

It was part of the "Nation Dance"; an online movement which prompted Indigenous communities across the continent to simultaneously share live videos of dance and song.

PORT MACQUARIE: Birpai people join nation dance across Australia

PORT MACQUARIE: Birpai people join nation dance across Australia

The Tamworth contribution was led by the Gomeroi community which turned out en masse.

"We came together and recognised the importance of looking after country," Marc Sutherland said.

We call the country Gunima, which is the word for our mother. We know that if we do things right, she will look after us. When we are not doing things right, we need to a take a look at ourselves.

The environmental message tied to the event was clear from the beginning in Tamworth, as elders requested attendees to remove their shoes and connect with the ground.

While there has been much discussion about the effect of the drought and climate on farming and business, it also has profound implications for Indigenous communities.

"We know if we all stand together, we will be able to put the emphasis and focus back on the traditional knowledge culture has in looking after and maintaining country and community," Mr Sutherland said.

"Our stories have given us the blueprint on how country should be looked after."

Nation Dance sends environmental message, shows cultural strength

Nation Dance sends environmental message, shows cultural strength

The huge turn out for the Tamworth event came as a bit of a surprise to some.

But events such as this and other happenings such as NAIDOC week are usually well-attended in Tamworth.

"Gomeroi people are strong and we have always been strong," Mr Sutherland said.

"Days like today and NAIDOC week give us an opportunity to show that strength.

"When people talk about our culture being a thing of the past or it's a chance of being lost, it is wrong. Our culture is strong."

The event was coordinated by Alwyn Doolan.

This year, Mr Doolan walked the length of Australia to take a message stick to the Prime Minister calling for greater engagement on Indigenous issues.

This story Nation Dance sends a message first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.