Uncle Karno’s affect on Australian and First Nations Culture has had a bigger impact than many may realise, most of his achievements related to that impact are listed below.
This page gives a brief description of some of the many achievements of Uncle Karno Walker.
Click the links underneath each description to read more.
Part 1 of 4 – Uncle Karno’s Legal Work
S.A. Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Chairman
Uncle Karno’s work with the legal system began as South Australia’s Chairperson of Black Deaths in Custody Committee. This committee (and other committees like it in other states) were setup as part of the ongoing investigations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Death’s in Custody. This committee wrapped up in 1991 and its finding’s heavily informed ongoing legal challenges in the Aboriginal community.
Aboriginal Provisional Government – S.A. Representative
During the course of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, many in the Aboriginal community, as well as the lawyers and judges tasked with investigating this issue came to the same conclusion, that self-determination was the best solution to this issue.
In the midst of this, in 1990, Tasmanian, Aboriginal Activist and Lawyer Michael Mansell, with the help of others, setup an Aboriginal Provisional Government.
Uncle Karno was the Aboriginal Provisional Government’s South Australian Delegate and one of the few First Nations Australians lucky enough to travel the world on an Aboriginal Provisional Government Passport.
Joint Submission to the United Nations by Karno Walker & Mark McMurtrie on behalf of the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation (O.S.T.F.)
Continuing on with the theme of Aboriginal Self Determination highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Mark McMurtrie and other Tribal Elders from around the country formed the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation.
Uncle Karno also became the South Australian Representative for this organisation and worked closely with Mark. This was the first of three initiatives to fight for First Nations Sovereignty that they worked on together.
On the 16th and the 17th of July 2012, at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights Convention on Indigenous Treaties, Mark McMurtrie and Uncle Karno tabled into the official United Nations Record a document declaring the Sovereignty of the First Nations Tribes that were members of the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation.
More information on this is available below.
Declaration (of Sovereignty) Day
The second of the three initiatives, that Uncle Karno and Uncle Mark McMurtrie worked on was the serving of official papers from the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation to Australian Parliament on a very important session of Parliament.
On Wednesday the 13th of February 2013, Mark McMurtrie. Uncle Karno Walker, Uncle Kevin Boota, with Binnah Pownall present, jointly served the Federal Government in Canberra notice that the Aboriginal People have not relinquished their sovereignty. Uncle Karno was the one chosen to serve the documents by throwing them onto the Parliament floor.
This day was important for another reason, on this day, the 13th of February 2013, the Australian Parliament heard, and passed, The Recognition Act.
The Voice Referendum to be held in 2023 was borne out of The Recognition Act, this act (and The Voice Referendum it bore) recognises Aboriginal People of Australia in the Constitution, but not their Sovereignty.
Native Title & Sovereignty Claim
On the 22nd of November 2010, Uncle Karno spokesperson of the Ramindjeri people, filed a claim for Native Title. This would eventually become the third of three initiative’s Uncle Karno undertook with the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation.
This claim started off in the Native Title Claims Tribunal as a Native Title Claim. Uncle Karno then went on to change his claim from Native Title to sovereignty in Federal Court on the grounds the Australian Government does not have any sovereignty over Ramindjeri land as it was never ceded. Therefore they did not have the Jurisdiction to deny his Native Title Claim.
This was the third and final Sovereignty initiative, Uncle Karno and Mark McMurtrie worked on together, and it was especially personal for Karno.
It is important to note that the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation Kangaroo skin Document signed by Uncle Karno and Aunty Unbulura, was the 2nd time that evidence of Sovereignty was passed into the official court records of the Australian Government.
This case was dismissed on the grounds that the Federal Government did not have the Jurisdiction to be able to make a decision on Ramindjeri Sovereignty.
Part 2 of 4 – Uncle Karno’s Cultural Work
The Centre of Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM)
In the early 1980’s Uncle Karno was walking through the Adelaide CBD Parklands and came across a group of Aboriginal musicians playing Classical Music on the parkland grounds. This is something Uncle Karno had never seen or heard of before, and this intrigued him and he wanted to know more.
He was directed by the artists he was listening to that the person responsible for their program was in the hall behind them, so he then went into the hall. Uncle Karno was surprised to find that the woman he met, the co-founder of this program, was a relative, his Aunt.
He asked his Aunt (Leila Rankine) about her program, and due to Uncle Karno’s desire to learn to play rock music, not classical, his Aunt created the Electric Instrument section of CASM so he, and eventually others could learn their craft.
The Electric Instruments Section of CASM that Uncle Karno inspired the foundation which went on to become one of the most powerful influences on Aboriginal Australian popular music, especially in the 1980’s. Bands such as Coloured Stone, The Kuckles, Us Mob, The Muttaruks (Uncle Karno’s Band) and much more recently, Electric Fields, were all graduates of CASM.
Director & Founder of South Australia’s first Aboriginal Security Firm – Creator of Ramindjeri Martial Arts.
The South Australian Aboriginal Security Team and the Ramindjeri style of Martial Arts Uncle Karno founded were both an Aboriginal first for South Australia, and possibly Australia. Both came about as a result of Uncle Karno’s work as a musician and his love of Martial Arts when he noticed the need for First Nation friendly security at many music venues and festivals he attended.
In the late 80’s Uncle Karno came across a Martial Arts school run by George Pokkias, he joined up to George’s school, and according to George, was the best martial arts student he ever trained.
Once he graduated, Uncle Karno then went onto develop his own Ramindjeri style of street-wise Martial Arts. A style of martial arts so compelling that Uncle Karno taught many students this style. This was also a South Australian, & possibly Australian first, a unique genre of Asian Martial Arts developed by an Aboriginal Elder.
Out of these two passions, music and martial arts, the S.A. Aboriginal Security Team was created. Most of Uncle Karno’s team members were students of his Ramindjeri style of martial arts, including his wife Aunty Christine.
Uncle Karno and Uncle Peter’s Youth Camps
These camps came about as an initiative of the Binnanendi boys youth program. A program aimed at helping at risk youths, to find the confidence to become the men they want to be.
This program was run at a time when there were unique problems with South Australia’s mainstream media that badly affected Aboriginal youth in the state, and which this program helped them overcome.
This Youth Camp was a life changing experience for the graduates of it, many of whom went on to become quite successful in their chosen careers.
Part 3 of 4 – Uncle Karno’s Conservation Work
Bringing back remains from Europe
This second instance of Uncle Karno working with Michael Mansell’s Aboriginal Provisional Government is perhaps Uncle Karno’s most important.
This quote, spokesperson of the Aboriginal Provisional Government, Michael Mansell made regarding this issue sums up the importance of this project.
“The damage to the Aboriginal community of having remains [overseas] is astronomical. The spirits of our dead are disturbed by being separated from their bodies. The remains are as important to us as land rights. It’s a much more volatile issue, closer to the heart than even getting our land back.”
Resurrecting Australia’s “Stonehenge”
In this conservation project Uncle Karno teams up with Uncle Jarmbi je of the Ngeraadkwal Tribe to work with a team of investigators, researchers, and archaelogists (including fellow committee member Steve Strong) to help rebuild Australia’s Stonehenge.
This project was one of the most important Wirritjin (Blackfella Whitefella working together) Projects Uncle Karno ever undertook.
Part 4 of 4 – Uncle Karno’s Work with the Australian Military
Uncle Karno’s connection to the Australian Military was a unique and special one. This page below goes into detail on how Uncle Karno first met Uncle Colin Watego (Warrant Officer Class One) and the friendship he developed while building a working relationship with Uncle Colin, and later, the rest of the Military.
Uncle Karno’s work with the Australian Military was so extensive that we have a whole section dedicated to this on this website called “Warrior Spirit”. Most of those pages are linked to at the bottom of this “Uncle Karno’s connections to the Australian Military” webpage.