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Elder Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner Addresses the Opening Plenary

Elder Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner addressed the Opening Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Good morning everyone. Before we start I’d like to invite my ancestry to be with me but also invite your ancestors to be here with us but also thank their traditional owners of this land for allowing me to speak in their country. My name is Major Sumner, Moogy Sumner. I’m a Ngarrindjeri person from South Australia, one of the oldest living cultures in the world. I come from that area. 

And yet in our land, what the t-shirt says “yes” is a vote going on soon is that we’ve got the right to speak on our behalf in our own country. Human rights, the rights of people to ever say, talk about the land, talk about the animals, the plants that lived with us for thousands and thousands of years. I would like to speak on their behalf. Without the animals or the plants, we can’t live. This world won’t function. We need to live in harmony with the land but also with each other. 

People never learn from the past all the different disagreements with each other. They’re still going on, and yet people never learn. We need to sit down and talk, all of us, so that we start looking after each other, talking to each other, being a part of each other’s lives, looking after the land, looking after this country, the countries that we come from, looking after them so that it looks after us. 

With the Ngari Ngari people, we live along the rivers. We do ceremonies down the rivers, looking after the fish, looking after the people, looking after the water. Because all of us, we need water to live. Our bodies, a lot of percentage of that is water, so we need that. So without having water there to drink, we won’t survive, and yet we use a lot of stuff that will put the water off. So there’s all sorts of things, even looking after the moon. You’ve got people now, they want to be mining on the moon. That’s going to have a big effect on the waters of this world. 

So looking after things like that, we need to really sit down and think about what. And some of the people that are doing this are supposed to be really smart people. But you start interfering with places like the moon, you’re going to interfere with the waters of this world, interfere with the waters that’s in our bodies.

So as a Ngarrindjeri person, we talk about a lot of this stuff all the time amongst ourselves. It’d be good to come here again with a group of other people. So on behalf of my people, I thank you for inviting us here to have our say about the world, how we live, where we live, but also look after each other. Thank you very much.

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