Weaving and yarning

Weaving and yarning are key practices that underpinned Sovereign Weaving. The main organisers of the event, Aunty Lorraine and Linda, explained: "The event was planned around the concept of 'yarning' both in the physical sense of collecting, making and working with traditional 'yarns' and metaphorically in the ways of talking together as everyone worked with their hands and minds at the same time" (Tye, Elliott & Clancy, 2017, np). They report how yarning over communal meals were also significant. "It created a sense of community and reinforced the Wiradjuri concept of Yindyamarra, where the key element of listening enabled all ideas and concepts to be debated, questioned and heard . . . The conversations taking place over these meals provided the catalyst for rich discussions, thoughtful unpicking and considered understanding of core ideas and concepts" (Tye, Elliott, & Clancy, 2017). Yindyamarra is a beautiful Wiradjuri word and concept that expresses learned and lived experience. Its approximate translation is "respect, be gentle, polite, honour, go slowly" and the concept means to "look to see, listen to hear, learn to understand, take time and space, take direction" (Tye, Elliott, & Clancy, 2017).

The weaving circle was a powerful enabling agent for sharing. Aunty Lorraine and Linda noticed how this created an environment in which "everyone was perceived as being at the same level regardless of skills and knowledge" (Tye, Elliott, & Clancy, 2017). The confluence and welcoming of many manifests powerfully through weaving for Aunty Lorraine: "weaving is about gathering, connecting and healing, then there's the importance of the string we weave . . . it's about reeds combining, to make something stronger." She continued to say, "those who came brought different knowledges, their way of life. Even if we were mostly Wiradjuri, everyone's life goes a different path, everyone's life has something to contribute, how big or small." We hear in these words how she welcomed all to offer disparate yet important life experiences. Creating a space that welcomed all to share their personal journeys, including memorable and challenging experiences, and to reflect on how these encounters had shaped their cultural identities, was also significant to ensure cultural safety (Tye, Elliott, & Clancy, 2017). In this way, "the whole process was to be about forging and developing a multiplicity of relationships that would support the needs of the community and those in it, regardless of any particular positions they may hold within the society. It was to be about making connections, interconnections and recognizing the ways in which individuals and groups collectively come together to create new futures" (Tye, Elliott, & Clancy, 2017).

From this, we can see how the act of weaving is both an embodied movement, a co-ontological way of always being-with-many, and material manifestation of sovereignty and sovereign relationships. Such acts are imbibed with Aunty Lorraine's mastery of twining, stitching, and gathering materials as a cultural foundation for practicing sovereignty, as we can hear in her quotes. From this, we can learn how cultural renewal is not just learning traditional knowledge and methods of weaving, but also in rediscovering points of connection for a dispersed Nation. The site of gathering near the Murrumbidgee river gave a rhythm and flow to the activities, where drinks and meals were shared outdoors, enveloped by the river breeze and the fragrance of eucalypt. This event emplaced the gathering on Country.

For the non-Indigenous design and media team, their role involved working closely with Aunty Lorraine and Linda to create materials for documenting, communicating, and scaffolding the event. The invitation to participate in weaving and yarning further attuned them to the rhythm and flows of the event, responding to Aunty Lorraine and Linda, as well as the tone and trajectories by those assembled. This resulted in Dabaamalang Waybarra Miya, designed as a fluid, image-led website that evolved as a visual display through continual uploads over the three days. The uploaded images traced people talking, listening, weaving, and walking. These images were juxtaposed alongside gifs that animated movement of bodies, hands, materials, and landscapes, such as the gum trees waving in the breeze or the ripples of flowing water. This digital document interwove these together that brought aliveness to its communication as a collective, ongoing, cultural practice as a way to evoke an embodiment of Wiradjuri sovereignty.