Meet Luther Cora
Luther Cora is an Indigenous cultural performer. He and his family have been performing at National Trust Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for over 20 years, sharing indigenous culture and welcoming visitors from around the world. In a conversation with Luther you quickly understand and have admiration for the respect he has for his culture and the importance of having a strong sense of identity and purpose. Luther is the Story teller and a leader for his culture.
Today is like every other day for Luther. He is having his photo taken with guests after presenting the daily Aboriginal Culture Show at National Trust Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Each day he can share his culture with visitors to the sanctuary and offers a warm welcome to everyone.
Luther is a proud Indigenous man from the Yugambeh Language Group on the Gold Coast. He is a dancer, a respected leader for culture and an artist that invites people to understand a little bit more about the world’s oldest living culture.
In his work as an artist he has designed football code jerseys and boots for the Indigenous rounds and his photographic and digital art is often on display. His artwork explains the stories of the totems and the link to the land. He has proudly won NAIDOC art awards and most recently designed a stunning new gift range that is now available at the Sanctuary. It’s just another way to get the public involved and interested in indigenous culture.
Luther was raised around saltwater and the river. He was always crabbing and fishing, a tradition he has lovingly passed on to his children, as he had also been taught as a child. He recalls the storytelling from his family - uncles, parents and grandparents talking about the Tweed Heads and Gold Coast region. As he grew up, his father moved north, and it was there that he learnt the magic of dance and song to explain culture. Luther recognises this time as the start of the journey for him that changed his life. Learning dance as a youngster offered discipline and respect – attributes that he holds dear.
He lived in Emerald and worked in schools for about nine years. Working so closely with the community highlighted the issues that often result from the lack of identity. He explains that people without a sense of place are lost and it is important to work with kids and let them devlop a strong sense of who they are. Luther highlights the many social issues that face communities today - mental illness, and drug and alcohol abuse, and believes it stems from a lack of identity. Education is the key.
Luther explains that there was a time not too long ago when indigenous people were not allowed to practise song and dance. A time when they were not allowed to speak their native language and so language was lost. When the things that make you unique are stripped away, you ultimately lose your identity. On the Gold Coast sadly there are no older people that speak fluent Yugambeh language anymore. He goes on to explain that ironically, people now have to relearn the Yugambeh language from the documents of early settlers from the Gold Coast area.
In a powerful statement Luther says, “We are all Australians — no matter what colour you are and we need to come together. There is a lot of hurt and frustration between groups and I feel that a lot of the issue stems from the true history not being taught in schools. The Indigenous culture of Australia is the oldest continuing living culture in the world. People travel overseas to find exotic cultures, when the truth is that we have the most beautiful, rich culture right here in our backyard. The Aboriginal culture, the histories, the stories: they belong to this land and if you are Australian they belong to you too.”
“I want to instil in my children to be proud of who they are, they are strong Indigenous people with a connection to this land and a rich, beautiful culture to be respectful people in the community. They can achieve anything that anyone else can achieve. I want them to know that the colour of their skin, their heritage and culture is not going to stop them from achieving anything; it is, in fact, an advantage. Aim high, be the best that you can be, know who you are and respect yourself and others.”
Recently, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary acquired a stunning sculpture by awarded artist Ivan Lovatt. Titled Totem, this is a respectful tribute to Luther and his family and their commitment to sharing culture. It was displayed at the Swell Festival in 2019 and will find its new home in 2020 at National Trust Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to welcome our guests – Jingeri
Luther Cora and his family perform the Aboriginal Culture and Dance Show daily at 3.30pm at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.