WHEN Shirley Salam passes through Miriam Vale she can feel a pull.
Her dad was born on a station in the township. "You can feel a connection, a strong connection."
It gives Shirley goosebumps. "Oh yeah, it does."
The straight talking nan was born in Barney Point. Her father's people are Goreng Goreng, the local clan.
Her family history is rich. And Shirley has passed that story from generation to generation.
Shirley's husband was a Thursday Islander. When he died in 1980, the young widow also wanted her kids to understand his culture.
"I had my five children that I brought up. I taught them my culture, but also Islander culture that he'd taught me."
Daughter Kelli grew up in Sun Valley. She smiles as she recalls an adventurous childhood.
Her family would wade through mangroves at Turkey Beach and hunt for crabs at Wild Cattle Creek. "Dad used to drag the net. We had the best time."
These stories are being passed down to Kelli's daughter Iona, 17.
On the family's many camping trips, her uncles tell tales of the dream time. And yarns from when they were just boys.
The greatest lesson Shirley has taught her family: respect.
"What I've taught my kids is to respect their elders first and foremost. And then have respect for everybody."
A word from local indigenous leader Cedric Williams:
"NAIDOC is important as a time for the world to think back and recognise the struggle of Indigenous Australians to re-establish their place in this country since occupation by western societies. In a country now largely westernised, we struggle to maintain recognition and full acceptance in what was always Aboriginal land.
We do not want to assimilate. We deserve recognition as the first peoples of this country. Our right to live our culture as it continues, needs to be respected, not crushed and manipulated, and in some cases , abused.
NAIDOC week is also the time for Indigenous people to hold out the hand of friendship, and this we do each year at this time.
The knowledge of aboriginal culture is a privilege, not a right. A privilege that must be earned by behaving in the respectful ways that the culture demands, and should be passed on within those guidelines.
Have a great NAIDOC week and let us all move forward with respect and courage."