First peoples January-April 2016

Closing the Gap is hard but we can do better by working developmentally (21 April 2016)

Mark Moran in The Conversation looks at some options.

Taking a development approach, you begin with context: understanding the history, the strengths, the many problems. Every place is different. You need the skills of arriving at a place and working it out …

Success involves place-based factors like cultural fit, connection to country, gendered leadership, stability, technical expertise, longevity of relationships, and stability of core funding. When these conditions are described, capable leaders and workers in other places can then interpret and adapt them to their context and work through their own unique solutions.

Stan Grant to head Referendum Council on Indigenous recognition in the Constitution (16 April 2016)

Appointment announced by PM and Opposition Leader. Grant replaces Senator-designate Pat Dodson.

25 years since Deaths in Custody Royal Commission report; land rights reform (15 April 2016)

We did a collection of links on the 25th anniversary with many of them making the point that things had not changed or were worse. As well, Michael Dillon in Inside Story reviews a (very expensive) new book by Leon Terrill on the reform of land rights

Utopia; Goodes; Recognition or Treaty; star maps (11 April 2016)

John Pilger in New Matilda on hardship and lack of food at Utopia and the broader implications of this. Brooke Boney (Huffington Post) and Greig Johnston (New Daily) on the legacy of Adam Goodes. Gamileraay woman Natalie Cromb writes in Independent Australia that support is growing for a treaty rather than constitutional recognition. Robert S. Fuller in The Conversation looks at the history of Indigenous star maps as a way of navigating across country.

Lachlan Macquarie and the Appin massacre; Stan Grant links family history to Recognition (5 April 2016)

Two articles from Guardian Australia. Paul Daley on Governor Macquarie’s harsh policy towards Indigenous unrest, as seen in the Appin massacre, 200 years ago this month. Stan Grant visits the former Cootamundra Girls Home, where his great-aunt Eunice was No. 658, a member of the Stolen Generations. ‘The lives of girls like Eunice Grant hover over discussions around constitutional recognition.’ A sign on a wall of the home is recalled: ‘act white, think white, be white’. Meanwhile, some observers feel the movement towards Recognition has stalled; some Wiradjuri would prefer a treaty.

Invasion, massacre and the Queen’s uniform (4 April 2016)

Miscellany following up on the item about diversity guides (30 March below) but touching also on  massacres of Indigenous Australians and the issues surrounding Indigenous service in and out of uniform. Plus a link to a piece on collaboration between Indigenous culture and museums.

Why Indigenous languages should be spoken in our Parliaments (2 April 2016)

Noel Pearson in The Monthly on the loss of Indigenous language and the broader issues that loss links to.

We remain the Invisible People. We remain the Forgotten People, left out of the original settlement and still denied a rightful place in our own country … Australians consistently tell us that there is no space for us, our heritage or our people in Australia’s national life. But this is our country, too.

Treating the land as ‘terra nullius’ and its inhabitants as savages ‘meant that ownership and sovereignty were up for grabs. Also on the language issue, Goldsworthy, Wiradjuri language course, and Barnwell.

Argument over diversity guides at UNSW and QUT (30 March 2016)

The Daily Telegraph employed selective outrage about a diversity guide at UNSW and there was similar discussion around a guide at QUT. Paul Daley wrote it up in Guardian Australia and the usual shock jocks spluttered. The guides suggested appropriate language for use in referring to settler-Indigenous history.

Youth sexual abuse in Indigenous communities in North Queensland; threat to Indigenous heritage areas in Tasmania; The Secret River on stage (29 March 2016)

Amy McQuire writes in New Matilda about a previously suppressed report on the incidence of sexual abuse among young people in predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Cairns area. McQuire argues that responses to the report have tried to place the blame solely on Indigenous people.

What was denied is the cause of those problems, largely because it involves confronting the sordid history of the racism that Queensland is built upon and refuses to own up to. It involves confronting how trauma was transferred and compounded, expressed in differing displays of devastation in each generation. The young offending population of Aurukun is a testament to this generational inheritance and the solutions can only be found within the community, not outside of it.

Also in New Matilda, Thom Mitchell writes about a court battle over four-wheel drive access to areas of Tasmania’s west coast, including Indigenous heritage areas. Finally, Ashley Barnwell in The Conversation considers issues surrounding the stage adaptation of Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, particularly how it tries to show both setter devastation of Indigenous communities and survival of Indigenous culture.

Indigenous relics going back to the home of Empire after stay in Australia (22 March 2016)

Paul Daley in Guardian Australia follows up his earlier stories (see below 11 February and 27 November) on the British Museum exhibition temporarily located in the country where the items were first stolen.

The last word should belong to Henrietta Fourmile Marrie who closed her speech with a quote from the late Kevin Gilbert, the Wiradjuri activist, writer and artist. “I believe that our cultural heritage is ours to share on our terms – our gift to humanity and not for others to take under the circumstances that we have endured and the analogy of rape as it is applied to what has happened to our cultural heritage is not far-fetched,” she said.

Indigenous suicide rates brought into sharp focus by suicide of 10-year-old girl; Indigenous lineage not easy to establish (9 March 2016)

Stan Grant and Nakkiah Lui write about Indigenous youth suicide. Bronwyn Carlson writes in Inside Story about the difficulties of tracking Indigenous lineage. ‘I wanted to know why so many of us were suspended in the land of not belonging.’

Australia must acknowledge a violent past; community-based innovation; the case for a treaty (7 March 2016 and updated)

In The Conversation Joanna Mendelssohn reviews an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, which encourages us to break the silence about massacres of Indigenous Australians, while Mark Moran looks at innovation efforts growing from cooperation between Indigenous communities and trusted outsiders. Liam McLoughlin in New Matilda makes an extended case for a treaty between Indigenous and settler Australians. And does it again.

We wouldn’t be mourning lost languages if we embraced multilingualism (1 March 2016)

Rachel Nordlinger in The Conversation on the loss of Indigenous languages, the article triggered by the prime minister’s tears when telling a story of loss of Indigenous culture. This is a world-wide issue. It recalls Anna Goldsworthy on an attempt to preserve Australian Indigenous languages.

Why Stan Grant diplomacy won’t be enough for our people (26 February 2016)

Amy McQuire in New Matilda on why Stan Grant is relatively comfortable for whitefellas to take.

Choices for First Australians (25 February 2016)

A miscellany, riffing off remarks by Dennis Jensen MP about taxpayers not having to subsidising ‘lifestyle choices’ of Indigenous Australians in remote communities. Among other things, the post includes links to the National Library’s Mura Gadi database with many resources on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Linking 40 000 Australian years, from Mungo Man to Stan Grant (23 February 2016)

A miscellany: Stan Grant launches his book at the National Press Club; Jim Bowler calls for Mungo Man to be returned to country; David Bowman advocates revival of Indigenous ‘patch burning’ methods, involving Indigenous people.

Another Honest History miscellany related to Closing the Gap (18 February 2016)

The ‘Gap’ is rooted in our history. This small collection adds evidence to the current debate.

Another development in the long-running saga of Indigenous Australian relics in the British Museum (11 February 2016)

Paul Daley writes in Guardian Australia about negotiations with the British Museum to have relics of Victoria’s Dja Dja Wurrung people returned to Australia.

Getting right and Closing the Gap: Honest History miscellany (10 February 2016)

An Honest History collection containing links to the prime minister’s Closing the Gap report, commentary on it and a collection of relevant articles by Indigenous writers and others, plus a link to the full text of a 1989 book on Yolngu culture.

What is the significance of the endorsement of ‘On every Anzac Day’, John Schumann’s song, by the then Chief of Army, now Australian of the Year, and the Australian War Memorial? (2 February 2016)

The song has been used to boost recruitment of Indigenous Australians to the Australian Defence Force and is the soundtrack of a promotional video for the War Memorial. It refers to Indigenous servicemen fighting in the King’s uniform alongside non-Indigenous servicemen but also to the invasion of Australia by white settlers. Our article tries to work out how important the use of the song is, given past official attitudes.

Stan Grant reworks ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and ‘My country’ for Australia Day; John Pilger on Australia Day (24 January 2016 updated)

Indigenous journalist Stan Grant, of Wiradjuri heritage, makes a powerful speech supporting the proposition that racism has destroyed the Australian dream. There were one million views on Facebook to late 25 January and 32 000 shares. John Pilger’s piece in New Matilda covers similar issues though he gets one fact wrong.

Governor Macquarie’s war on Indigenous Australians (22 January 2016)

Michael K. Organ looks at events of 1816 and makes comparisons between the recognition of uniformed Anzac warriors and Indigenous Australian warriors.

Senator Neville Bonner (6 January 2016)

Paul Daley writes in Guardian Australia about Senator Bonner, first Indigenous person elected to Federal Parliament, marking the arrival in the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House of a painting depicting Bonner’s life.

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