09 May 2017

Young NT men prepare to travel to Israel to honour Indigenous soldiers

 From NITV News 9 MAY 2017, by Elliana Lawford:


 
Ethan Kantawara, 18, Johannes Kantawara, 15, and Stanley Kenny, 16, are travelling to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen that served in WW1. (Elliana Lawford, NITV)

Three young Aboriginal men from a remote community in Central Australia are planning to travel across the world to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen who served in the First World War.

The young Hermannsburg riders recently rode 127 kilometres through the Central Australian desert on wild brumbies to honour Indigenous war veterans in the Alice Springs Anzac Day Parade.

Now they're raising funds to travel to Israel to represent Indigenous soldiers in the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in October.

“I feel really proud, it’s so exciting,” one of the riders, 18-year-old Ethan Kantawara said.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
18-year-old Ethan Kantawara is proud to represent the 'forgotten' Indigenous Light Horsemen.

Ethan is heading to Israel with his 15-year-old brother, Johannes Kantawara, and 16-year-old friend, Stanley Kenny.

The three young Ntaria men were invited to take part in the trip by the Australian Light Horse Association, after displaying excellent leadership in their local community horse riding program.

The riders' trainer, Chris Barr, said the young men are honoured to be representing Aboriginal Light Horsemen.

“They will be leading one of the parades over there that the Indigenous Light Horsemen were involved in and I think it's just a huge honour for these young men,” Chris Barr said.

The students need to raise $30,000 for the trip, with tickets for the ride costing up to $10,930 per person.

They have set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise the money.

"The Indigenous soldiers that went over there weren't really recognised, so ... we really want to get them over there," Mr Barr said.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Stanley Kenny, 16, and Johannes Kantawara, 15, rode 127 kilometres through the desert on wild brumbies to participate in the Alice Springs Anzac Day Parade.

The Battle of Beersheba is considered to be one of the last cavalry charges in military history.

During this year’s 100th anniversary re-enactment, the riders will follow the same route through the desert from Shellal to Beersheba that the Australian Light Horse took back in 1917.

More than 100 riders will be embarking on the ride, and several of them are Indigenous.

The trip’s leader, Barry Rodgers OAM, an Australian Light Horse Association Director, said it’s about “righting a wrong”.

“We didn’t look after our Indigenous diggers well when they came back [from the war]. They served us nobly, particularly in the desert, and when they came home they were just sent back to the bush and weren’t given soldier settlement blocks or recognition,” Barry Rodgers OAM said.

“This is an attempt to try and redress that wrong, and give due recognition that is well overdue,” he said.

“It’s also an opportunity for all Australians to be proud of what these men did.”

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Barry Rodgers OAM and Stanley Kenny lay a wreath together at the Alice Springs Anzac Day Service.

Barry Rodgers said the three young riders from Hermannsburg were especially fitting participants for the Beersheba re-enactment.

“I remember a very special occasion putting a uniform on one of the young lads and he was a very shy and retiring young fella, but when he put the Light Horse uniform on his shoulders went back and a sparkle came into his eyes, it was almost like a spiritual experience, like he was connecting with something in his past that was bigger than himself,” he said.

“It’s a very significant trip that’s gone beyond expectations.”

The Centralian Light Horse Troop leader, Wangkangurru man Raymond Finn, will also be travelling to Israel.

His great-grandfather, Arrernte drover Jack Ludgate, served in the 3rd Light Horse Regiment and fought at Gallipoli.

Raymond has been fighting for the recognition of Aboriginal war veterans for many years.

“I’m very proud to now be going over to Israel represent our forebears,” Raymond Finn told NITV.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Raymond Finn honours Indigenous soldiers at the Alice Springs Anzac Day Service.

The young Hermannsburg riders will be leading a parade at the restored Turkish Railway Station at Semakh, where a strategic battle took place.

Raymond said they are “the leaders of their community”.

“I think these three guys will represent their community well and it’ll make them feel proud as leaders, I'm honoured to be taking them over.”

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Johannes Kantawara, 15, takes his horses for a drink after a long ride through the Central Australian desert.

Follow this link to watch the young Hermannsburg riders on their 127 kilometre journey through the desert on wild brumbies to honour Indigenous war veterans.