#021 Waking Up The Snake

New economy, country & consciousness, with Indigenous leader Anne Poelina


This week we present a very special podcast celebrating this year's NAIDOC Week in Australia. 

Dr Anne Poelina is a Nyikina Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River, in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. And if anywhere epitomizes the critical time we’re in, it’s in the spectacular cultural and natural landscapes of her homeland. Almost incredibly, there are 40,000+ fracking wells slated for this area, along with the damming of the Fitzroy River, and more ‘old-model’ industrial agriculture. Yet the new economy is also in tow here, and this is where Anne is currently focusing her extraordinary breadth of cross-cultural knowledge and experience. 

Anthony James and Dr Anne Poelina in Broome. Pic: Olivia Cheng.

Anthony James and Dr Anne Poelina in Broome. Pic: Olivia Cheng.

What some of the old people say is ‘how do you wake up the snake?’ How do you wake up the snake means how do you wake up the consciousness of the people to show that Aboriginal people having been living and creating an amazing knowledge system that can take us into a new millennium of a new economy based on that collective wisdom and the sharing between non-indigenous and indigenous people.
— Dr Anne Poelina

Anne is an international award winner, Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated, Councillor at the Australian Conservation Foundation, a qualified nurse, traditional midwife, has multiple postgraduate degrees, and over 30 years’ experience in Indigenous health, education, language and community development. Anthony James caught up with her at her home in Broome recently, to talk about what the shape the new economy might take in the Kimberley and beyond, how we can make it happen, and the enormous opportunity in treaty, recognition and connection with Australia’s First Nations.

Dr Anne Poelina. Pic: Magali McDuffie.

Dr Anne Poelina. Pic: Magali McDuffie.

Get more:


NAIDOC Week 8-15 July, celebrating Indigenous women.

Environs Kimberley.

Gwen Knox & Big Mama productions.

The film clip of the Song for the Mardoowarra on YouTube (they will be touring this month in the Kimberley, and are available for bookings from early 2019).

Richard Flanagan at the National Press Club.

Welcome to Country, a new travel guide to Indigenous Australia.

An extract of this podcast was published by the good folk at Matters Journal.



Song for the Mardoowarra, by Gwen Knox with Anne Poelina, played by Mick Stevens, and sung by the Broome Primary School Choir.

Riverman, by the Pigram Brothers.

Thanks to all our supporters & partners for making this podcast possible!