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Sarra, Chris: We Indigenous people are stronger than we believe, and smarter than we know

Sarra, Chris

We Indigenous people are stronger than we believe, and smarter than we know‘, Guardian Australia, 10 July 2016

Address after Dr Sarra received NAIDOC 2016 Person of the Year award. In the course of it, he supports negotiation towards a treaty.

For tens of thousands of years, our sovereign nations shared borders, trade and travel. Our laws were strong. Our faith was deep. And our songs enchanted. Culture enlightened our souls, and dreamings lit the way. The past 200 years, by contrast, were everything the past 50,000 years were not. In the blink of an historical eye, we were banished to the edges of the worlds we’d governed for eons.

There was a disruption to our excellence. Our parents and theirs were stripped of all they loved – their kids, homes, land and culture. Our people weren’t called slaves, but laboured as such – shackled, starved, never paid wages. Black diggers fought and died for a nation that denied them the right to vote. The damage and privations continue for many today …

We are more than victims and mere survivors. The scars we carry aren’t who we are. They aren’t signs of guilt or capability. They are the not the truth about our potential or capacity. They are a part of ourselves that still need healing. And healing cannot happen while ever we believe the lies that we are a weak, desperate people, devoid of humanity and incapable of helping ourselves.