First Peoples May-August 2016

New edition of Australian National Dictionary includes many more Indigenous words (23 August 2016)

The new edition is launched today and editor Bruce Moore, writing in The Conversation, describes the influx of Indigenous words, now up to more than 500 words from 100 languages.

Linda Burney recalls the Wave Hill walk-off 50 years ago (17 August 2016); Felicity Meakins tells Gurindji stories (19 August 2016)

Australia’s first female Indigenous MP in the House of Representatives talks to Michelle Grattan about this historic moment in the fight for land rights. More from Felicity Meakins, with stories back to 1911. The concluding paragraphs make the links between then and now.

But for the Gurindji, the walk-off wasn’t just an industrial or land dispute with their cattle masters. It was a pivotal moment where they chose to wrest back control of their lives after the culmination of 80 years of fear and brutality.

Wurlurturr-warla pani ngumpit ngaliwuny-ma ngumpit-ma Gurindji-ma. Nyawa-ma-lu yuwani marru-nganyju-warla. Nyawa-ma-rla ngurra karrinya ngumpit-ku-rni. Kula wapurr pani kaya-ngku-ma lawara. Nyanuny maramara-rni ngunyunu. Ngumpit-tu-rni nyangani-ma murlany-mawu-ma kayirrak kurlarrakkarra. Yumi-ma-rla karrinyani.

Whitefellas massacred our Gurindji ancestors. Then they put up their station houses, yards and stock camps. But this land is Aboriginal land and whitefellas haven’t succeeded in getting rid of us. Aboriginal people still recognise each other as the traditional owners all ‘round this area. The law has always been here. – Pincher Nyurrmiari, interviewed in 1978.

When (and if) to have a recognition referendum – and does it matter? (14 August 2016)

Paul Kildea in The Conversation discusses the implications of the decision by the Referendum Council to extend the period for consultations into next year. It will need until mid-2017 to deliver its report. This probably means no vote before 2018.

Amy McQuire in New Matilda says labouring the issue of when to hold a referendum is missing the point. The point instead is to understand what Indigenous Australians want.

Treaty and recognition or treaty instead of recognition? (8 August 2016)

George Williams and Peter Brent on the above question, following a conference of First Australians representatives in Melbourne.

Indigenous exclusion in the North: from water; from wages (3 August 2016)

Liz Macpherson and others in The Conversation document the long history of water allocation in Northern Australia, which has often been to the detriment of Indigenous Australians living there on country.

Indigenous people deserve commercial water rights too, especially given that they have been sidelined from agricultural expansion for so long. Righting that historical wrong will mean giving Aboriginal people the same water rights that have been given to non-Indigenous users ever since colonisation.

Cath McLeish on New Matilda reviews a new documentary, Servant or Slave, in which five Aboriginal grandmothers describe

their own childhoods without knowing family. Stolen as small children by Australian governments, they were raised by institutions, deprived of the love of parents and siblings.

They did farm labour and trained as domestic servants for white families. They suffered harsh discipline and all variants of child abuse. The women’s stories are told with the perspective of survivors: hurt but also wisdom; pain but also pride.

They were not paid or paid very little: hence ‘stolen wages’.

Why are we shocked at revelations of Northern Territory abuse of detained teenagers? (26 July 2016 updated)

Note: this post is not just the Chris Graham article but links to more than 30 other resources (as at 5 August). HH

Chris Graham writes in New Matilda after the Four Corners program. ‘Yet another Royal Commission will not achieve justice for Aboriginal people, but it will shine a light on the behaviour of people in power. And it will vindicate Aboriginal people, who’ve been saying this for decades.’ The article leads in to a collection of links relating to this issue.

Indigenous DNA testing; NSW curriculum changes (22 July 2016)

Waanyi and Jaru geneticist, Gregory Phillips, writes about the complexities of proving Aboriginal descent. ‘Aboriginal peoples must use Aboriginal knowledges balanced with science for the benefit of all, rather than white people using science to categorise and control us and our lands.’

Proposed changes to the HSC History syllabus in NSW will see students learning about Pemulwuy, Faith Bandler, Eddie Mabo and Charlie Perkins, as part of a broadening of subject matter.

Illicit love and the secret of a nation (19 July 2016)

Ann McGrath writes in Inside Story about her recent book on aspects of love across barriers.

By the 1960s, when I was growing up there, Queensland had become skilled at burying the Aboriginal past, and Queenslanders spoke about its traces in hushed tones. As a child, I wondered why. I recall a particular day when my grandfather Joe whispered that some of his neighbours had a “touch of the tarbrush.” “What does that mean?” I had no clue.

Calls for Royal Commission into Indigenous suicide (14 July 2016)

ABC report of petition signed by 21 000 Australians seeking Royal Commission. Spokesman Gerry Georgatos reckons ten per cent of Indigenous deaths are suicides (twice the official figure) and remote communities in Western Australia are suffering from ‘funeral fatigue’.

[Wes Morris], coordinator of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC)] said a major part of why current efforts were not working was the focus on treating Indigenous suicide prevention as a mental health issue, rather than an issue that should be addressed culturally.

“We can’t change the 200 years of Australian society, and in the next 50 years we will make some changes in improving the outcomes for Aboriginal people,” he said.

“But whilst we’re doing all of that, what we need to ensure is that we’re working on the protective resilience factors that make young people strong.

“The number one resilience factor is culture — if people understand where they fit into the world and their place in the world and are proud of their identity, then that is the number one protective factor.”

We Indigenous people are stronger than we believe, and smarter than we know (11 July 2016)

Speech by Dr Chris Sarra on winning the NAIDOC Person of the Year award. He links Indigenous Australians’ position today with thousands of years of history. ‘[H]ealing cannot happen while ever we believe the lies that we are a weak, desperate people, devoid of humanity and incapable of helping ourselves.’

Songlines in NAIDOC Week (7 July 2016)

Paul Daley in Guardian Australia writes about songlines, a key part of Indigenous Australian culture and the theme of NAIDOC Week 2016.

Indigenous MPs, unregistered births, domestic violence (5 July 2016)

Amy McQuire in New Matilda notes the election of the first Indigenous woman to the House of Representatives but calls for a strong and independent First Nations representative bodies. Meanwhile, one-fifth of Indigenous births in Western Australia are not recorded and rates of domestic violence against Indigenous women are many times higher than the average.

Indigenous voting, retreat since 1967 (30 June 2016)

Paul Daley in Guardian Australia discusses why only 58 per cent of Indigenous Australians are enrolled to vote. Patrick Sullivan in Inside Story finds that Indigenous progress has retreated since the 1967 Referendum.

Important material on election eve (27 June 2016)

Links to articles in The Conversation and The Monthly on Indigenous suicide, attitudes to violence against Indigenous women, Treaty and recognition, Arrernte songs and Galarrwuy Yunupingu.

Land rights, Treaty, not hearing and family violence (22 June 2016 updated)

Ten days before the election, five articles on a long-running land claim, family violence, how Indigenous Australians are cut out of Indigenous policy – and Treaty. Plus another article (Paul Kildea) on how discussion on Treaty could strengthen recognition moves.

Invasion (15 June 2016)

Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Shorten have used the word ‘invasion’ to describe what happened in Australia in 1788. (They still differ over reconciling, recognising, and whether or not to have a treaty.)

Aboriginal customary law; framing of Indigenous policy; Myall Creek (12 June 2016)

The Conversation had four articles on Indigenous issues: AJ Wood on Australia’s non-recognition of Indigenous customary law; Lee Godden on customary law and the Mabo decision; Harry Blagg on other aspects of customary law; Fogarty and Wilson on how governments negatively frame policies aimed at Indigenous Australians.

Extending the conversation beyond The Conversation, SBS had an explainer about the Myall Creek Massacre, which occurred about now 178 years ago. Honest History has some resources on the same event.

Research on who were Australia’s first inhabitants; lessons in reconciliation come from Myall Creek (8 June 2016)

News reports recent work published in a scientific journal ‘that demonstrates Aboriginal people were indeed the first to inhabit the continent, disputing an earlier landmark study that claimed to recover DNA sequences from the oldest known Australian, Mungo Man’. More in The Conversation from the authors of the study.

Julie Collins writes in The Conversation about the lessons the Myall Creek Massacre offers for reconciliation. More on Myall Creek from Tim Bottoms and in our Online Gems series.

Ways of improving Indigenous employment prospects; Indigenous medicine; heart deaths (6 June 2016)

Nicholas Biddle and others in The Conversation look at eight ways of improving Indigenous employment, including training of both employees and employers. Shane Ingrey tells NITV about his research on Indigenous medicine. Garry Jennings in The Conversation starts a series on causes of death in Australia, noting that Indigenous Australian deaths from heart disease are 40 per cent higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

25 years of reconciliation (3 June 2016)

Paul Daley in Guardian Australia believes nothing much has changed in those 25 years.

Five articles for Sorry Day (26 May 2016)

Paul Daley in Guardian Australia reckons Indigenous Australians need a treaty. Recognition is optional. Dave Donovan in Independent Australia says saying ‘sorry’ is not enough and recognition and a treaty must come. ‘We must embrace the spirituality and culture of the land, as practiced by the true custodians and make it a vital part of a genuine Australian culture — not some European import, clumsily grafted onto this ancient land.’

Marcia Langton in Guardian Australia calls for investment in Indigenous businesses. Jade Jones-Cubillo in Guardian Australia tells what it was like to properly discover her Indigenous identity as a teenager. Amy McQuire in New Matilda considers the issues raised in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu and how they impact on calls for recognition and treaty.

Reconciliation a platform for all of us (20 May 2016)

Another article (see 12 May below) in The Conversation‘s series on reconciliation, this one from Melissa Castan and Kerry Arabena, who conclude that reconciliation ‘provides a legacy platform for our continued growth and prosperity as a nation’. Yet Stanner’s ‘great Australian silence’ about Indigenous history persists and most of the indicators are stagnant.

Dark Emu confronts the ‘disappearing’ of Indigenous culture; Indigenous food; Stan Grant talks to Anne Manne (17 May 2016)

Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu wins a major prize; the book looks at Indigenous farming practices, the history of which Pascoe suggests has been ‘disappeared’. John Newton and Paul Ashton in The Conversation ask whether we can be Australian without eating Indigenous food. Anne Manne talks at length in The Monthly to Stan Grant, particularly about the themes in Grant’s book, Talking to My Country. (Scroll down for more on Grant.)

The trials of reconciliation; world’s oldest stone axe discovered (12 May 2016)

A series begins in The Conversation about issues surrounding reconciliation between Indigenous and settler Australians. The discovery is announced of what is believed to be the world’s oldest stone axe; the implications of that discovery for attitudes towards Indigenous culture are noted.

A new view of Indigenous womens’ art (10 May 2016)

Sandra Phillips in The Conversation reviews an exhibition of the art of Boneta-Marie Mabo, which tries to resist the received definition of Indigenous women.

With secrecy and dispatch: a review of an exhibition about massacres of Indigenous people (9 May 2016)

Ian McLean in Artlink reviews an exhibition in Campbelltown about massacres, particularly the one at Appin two centuries ago. The exhibition raises important questions about the differential commemoration of the invasion at Gallipoli in 1915 and the one that began in 1788 and continues.

Linda Burney’s final speech in the NSW Parliament (5 May 2016)

Linda Burney, Labor MP for Canterbury, gave a valedictory speech on 4 May before resigning to stand for federal Parliament. There was a report in Guardian Australia but the Hansard is better:

My time in this place has been shaped, though not defined, by my Aboriginality. I am proud of this fact … I have been heartened to help create some change for our State’s First Peoples. I was enormously proud to have been a part of the Government in this State that recognised First Peoples in the New South Wales State Constitution. It is a symbol, such as the flag hanging in this Chamber and that we start the day not only with the prayer but an acknowledgement of country. I said at the time this bill was introduced that it was a necessary part of our State’s coming of age—that as a State we needed to acknowledge, understand and embrace our history …

I am also proud to have overseen the legislation of the Aboriginal Placement Principle for children removed from their homes. Aboriginal children deserve to know their culture and we cannot perpetuate the sins of the past. In my inaugural speech I told the House that the core issue for Aboriginal Affairs was to work in partnership with Aboriginal communities, and that the imperative was education. The current state of Aboriginal Affairs has been particularly distressing. Paternalism seems increasingly to be today’s approach. Breaking the cycle of poverty that pervades disadvantaged communities remains the fundamental task of this institution and everyone in it …

Of truth telling I offer a few reflections: as a nation we have recently come together to observe Anzac Day. It is an important day commemorating the sacrifice made by many Australians in the great conflicts of our age. It is time that we speak also of the wars fought on Australian soil. There are dear friends and family in the Chamber whose families served this country. The two Wiradjuri wars, and the many others, have stained the dirt across this great continent with the blood of First Peoples. The Wiradjuri, led by the mighty leader, Windradyne, saw two-thirds of our people wiped out in just a few months through martial law in the Bathurst area. Today the Minister and shadow Minister both spoke of the Appin Massacre. There were countless others. The history of these conflicts is not well kept—if not deliberately to avoid discussion of a difficult topic, then perhaps through a kind of wilful blindness.

What we do know is that at least 20,000 Aboriginal men, women and children died in these wars of resistance. No member in this place represents an electorate that was not the site of some fierce battle or massacre. One day I want to see these conflicts remembered in our national war memorial in Canberra along with the other conflicts our nation has been involved in on foreign soils. This, my dear friends, would really be truth telling.