Me? Sit down

I am a Gamileraay woman who wants to leave this world better than it was when I arrived but we are going backwards which makes me angry and the result is I have a lot to say and sometime, the truth makes me unpopular.

I am also a suffering optimist, I try to see positivity in things but find that is generally only my family that provides the positivity in an otherwise politically depressing world.

Stick around and nod your head, join the discussion and give me a piece of your mind.

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Friday, 8 January 2016

Why Invasion day?

Consider this; what would we think of Germany if it celebrated a nationalistic celebratory day on the same day each year as the opening of Auschwitz?

Australia - January 26 - the land where we celebrate with nationalistic buffoonery with complete disregard to the Indigenous Australians mourning. Even worse, it is the land where such mourning is not only an inconvenience but is downright offensive to the true blue Aussies who have made this "the lucky country."

It is important for the non-Indigenous readers to note that even under British law, this land was never ceded and therefore, this land was and remains to be stolen in the true sense of the legal definition. The invasion of this land and the events that followed were and are the most devastating in the history of not only the original peoples of this land but the land itself.

There is a tremendous divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians despite 228 years of inhabiting this land together and it is never more obvious than on January 26 annually.

This is the date that the Government has declared Australia Day and it has been a nationalistic date of celebration for all things "Aussie" and if you don't like it, you can "go back to where you come from."

But what if you come from here and your ancestors are of this land and there is nowhere else to go because this land holds your cultural identity?

Then, you are expected to be quiet and not make a fuss because this day is not about you - this day is about STRAYA!!

Look, it is clear this day holds tremendous emotion for Indigenous Australians and I am no exception, but I also prescribe by the rule that you can't unscramble an egg. We cannot manipulate time and change what has come to be but that does not mean that Indigenous people ought to be expected to bite their tongues and sit on their hands.

I don't have the power to effect change, I know this. My words are paltry in comparison to those of my ancestors and elders leading the contemporary fight for Indigenous rights but I will write anyway because, even if I only reach one person, that one person makes it worth it.

I know that there is no other day of the year that would make sense for Australians to hold this day. Anyone who knows my campaign for Treaty knows that I have preached that if we were to sign a Treaty, that was ratified with the approval of all Indigenous nations, the date of signing this Treaty would be a momentous occasion in Australia's national identity and THIS day would be a more appropriate day of national pride. I feel that this will be the iconic moment of change that our ancestors have agitated for and it will be a key moment where the national identity changes and becomes more inclusive and respectful. Moreover, it will be an occasion that has come from something positive not as is the case currently where Indigenous people mourn the loss of land, culture and countrymen to the invasion of the British.

The intent of these posts is to reach, to educate and to - hopefully - have some people empathise and understand why this day is so problematic for Indigenous Australians.

Here is the thing; you don't have to hate your country to be empathetic and an ally to your Indigenous brothers and sisters. You don't have to fester in white guilt (for the record I HATE that emotion, guilt is the most useless emotion - turn that shit off and do something useful to address an injustice or wrong rather than having a pity party). You don't have to hate your white ancestors.

You know what you have to do?

After you turn off the commercial television and eliminate all whitesplaining from your mind, you have to do something really complicated;

You simply have to listen and learn and take our lead.

That is all.

We can speak for ourselves, we are actually quite a mouthy bunch with rad ideas but because we don't run with the Packers and Murdochs - you don't really get access to an easy platform where you get to hear what we have to say, but we do have a lot to say.

First, I want to explain WHY January 26 is a day of mourning.

Put simply, it is the day that life as it was known was destroyed. It represents the end of the Aboriginal harmonious co-existence with the land. It represents the onslaught of disease, massacres, murders, rapes, slavery and attempted genocide of our people.

Throughout my posts in the lead up to January 26, I will highlight some of the events in our history that exemplify why Indigenous Australians do not celebrate as non-Indigenous people do. I will start with the Botany Bay murders.

Botany Bay Murders
In 1790, Governor Arthur Phillip ordered the capture and killing of 6 Aboriginal people who resided at Botany Bay. This is the first documented sanctioned killing of Aboriginal people in Australia, however, one year prior there was an outbreak of smallpox that lead to many deaths following the gifting of blankets (a practice mirrored in America when the British gave smallpox infected blankets to the Native American people with similar results).

It was not simply decimation of the people that had commenced, the delicate balance of the environment that was maintained since time immemorial was being utterly destroyed also. Within 6 months of the First Fleet arriving, they had fished to such an extent that there was a shortage and a major shortage of kangaroos and the water was being polluted by their 'civilised' practices of cutting down and demolishing beautiful flora to make way for concrete and gravel.

From this introduction to relations between our peoples there have been over 70 documented massacres of Indigenous people, there has been disease, there has been slavery, there has been the removal and attempted genocide through assimilation of the Indigenous people and there has been little to no attempt by the Government to acknowledge and redress these reprehensible wrongs.

Indigenous Australia has been gravely hurt by the actions of the numerous preceding governments but that hurt is not history, it is being felt now and is ongoing because the wrongs committed aren't history either, they continue.

In the lead up to Invasion Day / Australia Day, I hope you will open your hearts and minds and truly empathise with what this day represents for Indigenous Australia. I will be sharing snippets of history on my Twitter feed which will collectively speak to the atrocious history we have and why this day is, in fact, a day of mourning.

1 comment:

  1. I really love your idea of a making the day they sign the treaty a day of celebration. There will be no celebrating this day in my household in support.