Local man Vincent Ryder is currently in the process of starting his own business in the Northam Shire.
He is planning on starting an accommodation business on the river at the old Northam Aboriginal Reserve site.
The 62-year-old man said the land is a special place for Aboriginal people in the area.
“Our old people used to live here years ago and looked after us,” he said.
“Plus a lot of people died here like my mother, brothers and sisters.”
At two-years-old, Vincent moved from the prickly flats on the river to the reserve with his parents.
He said there were “big mobs and camps everywhere” in the 1950’s.
Shortly after he arrived, Vincent was taken from the reserve, along with his three sisters, and placed in the New Norcia Mission.
It is a special place for us and I am being watched over by my ancestors
Vincent said he remembers his days on the mission vividly.
“They were very hard,” he said.
“There were a lot of things that happened – I could write a book about it.”
“The abuse – sexual, physical – I saw a lot of bad things. “I have a lot on my shoulders now.”
Vincent was physically abused himself and made to work for over 12 years till he returned home to the reserve. He said many well known local families lived on the reserve when it was operating.
He pointed to where they were camped – “the Higgins used to be there, the Stacks, Ryders, Moodys, Pontons – everyone.”
“It is a special place for us and I am being watched over by my ancestors,” he said. “I feel safe here.”
Vincent said he wants to teach the younger generation of his and his ancestors past and culture, so it is not lost.
‘The Aboriginal kids and white kids – whoever wants to come out here and enjoy it,” he said. “Teach them about bush tucker, medicine, everything.”
He said when completed, there will be huts to sleep in, an office and communal eating area.
Vincent recently became an incorporated business licensee which is one step further in becoming a caretaker of the land. His next step will be to secure funding for the project.
Dezmond Ryder, Vincent’s son is helping his dad with the project.
“We want to get it up and running – some activites for the young kids,” he said. “Tie it in with the Aboriginal and Environmental Centre.”