St Mary’s College and St Xavier’s Primary School gathered together to celebrate through stories and prayer, the welcoming of an Aboriginal Message Stick.

The Message Stick is travelling around the Armidale Diocese and will make its way to Tamworth to be present at the 2024 Catholic Schools NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference.

The ceremony began with Tammy Wortley sharing a ‘Welcome To Country’ in Gamilaraay language. It followed with Mr Fletcher Wells and Tiah Smalls explaining to students why we have the message stick in our community.

The schools hosted CEO Red Chief Aboriginal Lands Council, Troy Ruttley, who presented information and images of the history of an Aboriginal message stick.

Mr Ruttley spoke about the way people communicate today being quite different from the way people communicated in the past. Today we use mobile phones, access the internet, send emails and talk to our friends on social media. Aboriginal Message Sticks were one way first nations people communicated between themselves and their tribal groups.

Message Sticks were passed between different clans and language groups to establish information and send messages.They were often used to invite neighbouring groups to corroborees, initiation ceremonies, right of entry to country and an invitation to religious rituals.

Sometimes the stick was used as a teaching stick by drawing tribal boundaries. It was also used in sacred ceremonial places and used to track animals throughout the land in the sand. When Aboriginal culture enriches Catholic Education, the Spirit is alive. This Message Stick tells the story of the Awakening Spirit that is in each and every one of us.

The ceremony concluded with a scripture reading, prayers and a song.

St Mary’s College will display the Message Stick for one week and then it will be given to St Xavier’s Primary School to share with their school community. Afterwards, it will be transported to Quirindi and then eventually end its journey at the conference in October.

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