First Nations activist / warrior Joseph Rowe named environmentalist of the year

This land, and the life it supports, was created at the beginning of time by those of the spirit. This is the Law, Bugarigarre. We, the Aboriginal Law-men, have held this knowledge unbroken since the first people inhabited this earth.
Paddy Rowe - Grandfather of Joseph Rowe

The late Joseph Rowe at the Walmadan (James Price Point) blockade, North of Broome, Western Australia in 2011

Andrew Darby 1 September 2014

Joesph Rowe - Lawman Goolarabooloo
Law Keeper and Custodian, The late Joseph Rowe

"The law and song cycles of Walmadan (James Price Point) are not ancient dreamtime history. This law has been kept alive through my grandfather Paddy Roe and now through me. If the threatened development goes ahead our Country is gone for good. Our Country holds our heritage including burial sites, and most importantly the Song Cycle that runs through this country from the north of the Dampier Peninsula from Burringbarr (Swan Point) to Wabbina (Bidyadanga)."

Joseph Rowe
Goolarabooloo Law Keeper and Custodian

A Goolarabooloo Aboriginal man who led opposition to a multi-billion dollar gas hub has been posthumously named environmentalist of the year by the Bob Brown Foundation.

Joseph Roe, a Broome community worker, defied money, arrests, threats and compulsory acquisition of his people's land to maintain integrity of Aboriginal culture and the environment, Dr Brown said on Monday.

"Remove law boss Joe Roe ... from history, and the massive gas factory planned by Woodside Petroleum for north of Broome would by now be wrecking the Kimberley coastline," he said.

A campaign was mounted against the gas factory at James Price Point, which has the world's largest humpback whale nursery, the world's largest dinosaur footprint and traditional burial and ceremonial sites.

Woodside dropped the plans for the $45 billion project in April 2013 for what it said were commercial reasons.

Mr Roe, who was 47, had worked for decades to protect his country.

"I was struck by this man's integrity and defiance of the odds to save the country he loved," Dr Brown said.

"He died within months of gaining victory for his country but his fighting spirit remains to inspire everyone else faced with the destruction of country or neighbourhood."

Mr Roe's $4000 prize will go to his wife, Margaret Cox, and daughters Rekeesha and Kerstin Roe.

The Sea Shepherd ship's captain, Peter Hammarstedt, 30, was named the young environmentalist of the year for maturity and courage under extreme duress.

The Deni Greene award was given to Alan Pears, of Brighton, Victoria, for an outstanding contribution by an environmentalist in their professional field of work.

The late Jospeh Rowe with Bob Brown at Walmadan (James Price Point) North of Broome, Western Australia
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Sovereign Union Archives ...

In an early morning ceremony Joseph Roe lit the fire with ash sent from the fire of the Canberra Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where the fire has been burning for 40 years.

Walmadan Sovereign Embassy 2011

"We must hold this land we must hold this for all of us"

Joseph Rowe
Goolarabooloo Law Keeper and Custodian

In a statement read by Dr Anne Poelina, Ghillar Michael Anderson, the last remaining founder of the original Aboriginal Embassy wrote 'It is an absolute joy to know that the people of the Kimberley are now making your statement loud and clear'.

'It is imperative that in your stand that you have chosen to take that the commitment of the people must be enduring, no matter how hard or trying it may become'.

Goolarabooloo Senior Law Boss Joseph Roe echoed the words of his grandfather, Paddy Roe "We must hold this land we must hold this for all of us".

'The Tent Embassy has become necessary because the State and Federal governments are only listening to people with corporate connections and ignoring the wishes real of Aboriginal people on the ground,' Ghillar stated.

The Embassy launch marked 100 days of a community blockade, where Broome and regional residents fought for saving the pristine site that is under threat of being replaced by the world's largest toxic gas hub.

Since the campaign began there has been over 40 arrests, and many more protesters have recieved various legal notices and traffic infringements for supporting the protest against the WA governemnt, who is supporting a consortium headed by the mining company, 'Woodside'.