First Peoples October-December 2015

First graduates of Wiradjuri language course at Charles Sturt University (23 December 2015)

Seventeen students this week became the first graduates of a Wiradjuri language course at CSU Wagga. Revitalisation of Wiradjuri language and culture is expected to follow. (Links to other NITV items on Indigenous language.)

New Media and Indigenous reporting; Djalu Gurruwiwi of the Yolngu (21 December 2015)

A panel of five at the Wheeler Centre in October discuss how changes in the media landscape have affected reporting on Indigenous issues. Paul Daley in Guardian Australia writes about Djalu Gurruwiwi, Yolngu elder, spiritual keeper and cultural ambassador.

Help needed to compile a list of Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) victims of UK nuclear testing (17 December 2015)

Judith Crispin is working on a project to pursue compensation for victims of these tests 1952-73 and after. A nasty piece of our history that should not be allowed to go away.

Sovereignty cession and identity politics (14 December 2015)

Anaywan man Callum Clayton-Dixon in Guardian Australia says Indigenous Australians ‘could push for Aboriginal statehood; our own parliament, our own education and health system, our own constitution, our own laws protecting culture and customary law, a share of the GST, guaranteed Senate representation, and the most secure form of land rights possible’. There were 235 comments.

Wiradjuri journalist Stan Grant in Guardian Australia says Indigenous Australians are trapped in the imaginations of White Australians. They

are seeking to find [their] place in the world, just like Chinese or Koreans or Russians or Greeks or Muslims … We are living in your world now [he says to White Australians], perhaps you can seek to understand ours; to imagine what it is to be a man from the desert living in the city, still calling himself an Arrernte man.

There were 235 comments and counting including this one from ‘The Loaded Dog’: ‘Yet in all Australia’s wonderful and largely successful efforts to become multicultural, the one culture we have failed utterly to include or come to grips with is the one that is indigenous to our country’.

Encounters exhibition of British Museum artefacts of Indigenous Australia: does that sound odd? (27 November 2015)

Paul Daley writes about the just-opened exhibition at the National Museum of Australia.

It is an important and deliberately provocative exhibition. It has caused tensions in some Indigenous communities over whether precious objects – some stolen from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the colonial frontier in circumstances of extreme violence – should be permanently repatriated or displayed in a museum show at all …

But the British Museum is not prone to returning precious cultural property (witness Greece’s long effort to have the Parthenon marbles repatriated) lest its collection erode the way of the empire. And it’s unlikely to create a precedent with any of the objects in Encounters.

Daley has written about this issue previously, for example, here.

Australia is a nation of white privilege (18 November 2015)

Marcus Woolombi Waters writes about international perceptions of Australia. Internationally, he says, ‘Australia is known exclusively as a country of white people’. Indigenous Australians are clear that Australia is a nation of white privilege.

Choices at the Australian War Memorial: why Reg Saunders rather than Alf Hearps? (17 November 2015)

Honest History president, Peter Stanley, asks in the Canberra Times (scroll down) why the Australian War Memorial is honouring Reg Saunders as the first Indigenous Australian officer in the Australian Army when there were others before him with Lieutenant Alfred John Hearps (this is a link to the Memorial’s own web page) of Tasmania in 1916 perhaps the first. (The credit for the picture of Lieutenant Hearps on our home page is ABC/ Oakley.)

Cecil Ramalli, Asian-Indigenous rugby pioneer; Indigenous journalist writes to PM about dread of Australia Day (10 November 2015)

Patrick Skene in Guardian Australia writes about the precocious rise of an Asian-Indigenous Wallaby just before World War II. Cecil Ramalli went on to serve in World War II and survive the bombing of Nagasaki.

Indigenous NITV journalist Danny Teece-Johnson writes to the prime minister about how Indigenous Australians do not feel part of Australia Day.

Our mob weeps and takes to the streets in protest, while the bulk of Australia gets blind rotten drunk on terra nullius, year after year.

It’s like knowing that on the same day every year, every dog in your neighbourhood is going to gather, wolf pack style, and do their morning number twos all over your front lawn. The thing is you have to clean it up all by yourself, you don’t have any gloves or a shovel, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You have to clean up a big, dirty stinking mess that’s not yours.

Welcome to the world of Australia Day for many Aboriginal people.

Mungo Man still not home; Indigenous people with disabilities are overpoliced (6 November 2015)

Two pieces from The Conversation on widely divergent subjects: 40 000-year-old remains from Lake Mungo in western New South Wales are leaving ANU but only going to the National Museum not back to where they came from, writes Jim Bowler; the way police approach Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disabilities needs to change, according to Ruth McCausland, Eileen Baldry and Elizabeth McEntyre.

Adam Goodes and white attitudes to black bodies; Indigenous youth incarceration in the Territory (22 October 2015)

Liz Conor writes in New Matilda about the reaction to former footballer Adam Goodes becoming an ‘ambassador’ for David Jones stores. She looks back at white attitudes to the physique and movement of black males from Arthur Phillip to now. There has been a preference for the unclothed form.

Helen Davidson in Guardian Australia takes a close look at Indigeneous youth incarceration in the Northern Territory. A graph shows a massive increase in incarceration rates since 2002 compared with population increase. See also below 13 October about Indigenous youth suicide in NT.

Stan Grant on not belonging in your own country (21 October 2015)

Wiradjuri journalist Stan Grant writes:

I am not an Australian or more precisely I don’t feel Australian. I am not alone among my people in feeling this way. There is nothing in Australia’s myths that includes us. Our stories don’t form this country’s folklore. Clancy of the Overflow wasn’t black. The jolly swagman wasn’t black. Bush poet Ted Egan got it right: we were “poor bugger me, Gurindji”.

The sweeping plains and rugged mountain ranges of Dorothea Mackellar’s imagination were also places of death for our people. We were stricken by disease on those plains. We were herded over those mountains. After the coming of the settlers, this was the “wide brown land” for us. For most of this country’s history we were not citizens. Some of our people – my grandfather included – enlisted to fight in Australia’s wars but returned to a segregated country where they could not enter a pub to share a drink with the diggers they fought alongside.

New words for Advance Australia Fair to reflect new reality (20 October 2015)

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, academic and singer says why she turned down the chance to sing the National Anthem at the AFL Grand Final because she objected to the words ‘we are young and free’. She presents new words written in 2009 by Judith Durham and asks important questions.

Setting aside for a moment 70,000 years of Indigenous cultures, 114 years on from Federation and 227 years into colonisation, at the very least, those words don’t reflect who we are. As Australians, can we aspire to be young forever? If we are ever to mature we simply cannot cling to this desperate premise.

How much better would it be if were to finally acknowledge the nuanced and sophisticated society discovered by those who arrived 230 years ago was deliberately and systematically overlooked? What if the next person to sing the anthem at the AFL Grand Final were to reach beyond the Western imperial history and harness the power of 70,000 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge?

Goodes on healing wounds in country (14 October 2015)

Adam Goodes interviewed on how returning to country helped him deal with racist abuse. Plus Tim Winton on country for all of us.

Indigenous suicide rates; Keeping Place or French boondoggle? (13 October 2015)

The Conversation (Geetha Ranmuthugala and Melissa Stoneham) looks at the evidence about Indigenous suicide rates in Northern Australia while Paul Daley in Guardian Australia argues that the $100 million earmarked for the Monash interpretive centre in France be devoted instead to building a Keeping Place for stolen Indigenous remains.

Frontier Wars book wins prize; Stan Grant at Poisoned Waterhole Creek (12 October 2015)

Libby Connors’ book Warrior: A Legendary Leader’s Dramatic Life and Violent Death on the Colonial Frontier has won the Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance. Marion Diamond writes about the book and about the politics of literary awards in the Sunshine State. Praising the book, author John Birmingham said: ‘Connors lays down the hard truth. Not all our warriors were Anzacs. Not all our wars were just‘.

Meanwhile, Indigenous journalist, Stan Grant, visits the site of an attack on Indigenous Australians.

Islands and creeks with such sinister names [Poisoned Waterhole and Murdering creeks]. Yet today we can be so oblivious. They are almost casual references to long-forgotten atrocities of our past …

We can wear our history so lightly in this country. Many people tell me still how they just don’t know what happened here among blacks and whites. But to us it is a living thing. It frames our identity, these stories of survival and our heroes who resisted and died.

We all need these stories. We all need our sacred places. That is why Gallipoli matters. That is why we stop on 25 April each year. Lest we forget.

That is why I have visited the resting place of Windradyne, marked with a headstone on a property near Bathurst. His grave is tended by the sons and daughters of the original settlers who came to Wiradjuri land.

Minister Wyatt; after Goodes (1 October 2015)

Ken Wyatt is interviewed after being appointed the first federal Indigenous minister. Sean Gorman writes about the legacy of Adam Goodes and the landscape he leaves.