ISSUE #1 JANUARY 2015 | WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BLACKNATIONSRISING
ON YOUR DOORSTEP
CONTENTS Blacks Nations Rising (BNR) magazine is published by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) in both print and online. If you would like to contribute &/or subsribe to BNR send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We thank all who have made this publication a reality; the writers, photographers, and artists, along with the organizations assisting with printing and distribution. CO-EDITORS Pekeri Ruska & Callum Clayton-Dixon PRINTING/DISTRUBUTION COORDINATOR Merinda Meredith CARTOONIST Jade Slockee
3 | Introducing Black Nations Rising 4 | Genocidal20 protests biggest since 88 5 | Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance 6-7 | Bread and Circuses BY JARROD HUGHES 8-9 | Why I won’t call you a coconut ... anymore BY DR CHELSEA BOND 10-11 | Words of the Struggle 12-13 | Food is Medicine: Decolonize Your Diet BY ARIKA WAULU 14 | Warrior - Determined, Passionate, Selfless BY RUBY WHARTON 16-17 | Twiggy’s Doublespeak BY AMY MCQUIRE 18-19 | Native Resistance Against Colonial Canada 20-21 | Asserting our Land Rights & Responsibilities BY PEKERI RUSKA 22-23 | Blockades & Band Councils BY CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON 24 | Reflections from our travels accross Native so-called Canada BY MERIKI ONUS and BOGAINE SKUTHORPE-SPEARIM 25 | Rolling out the Red Carpet for Colonization BY PHIL W 26-27 | Climate Justice, Indigenous Rights & Sovereignty BY ADAM SHARAH 28-29 | Solidarity: Trade Unionism & the Aboriginal Struggle BY MERINDA MEREDITH 30-32 | Brisbane’s Aboriginal Embassy Reignites Grassroots Activism BY CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON 33-35 | The Cruelties of Neoliberalism BY DR WOOLOMBI WATERS
Introducing BLACK NATIONS RISING a publication of the movement, by the people, for the future
his is the first edition of Black Nations Rising (BNR) magazine, a new national Aboriginal publication dedicated to informing our people about decolonization and inspiring them to take action in the anticolonial struggle. Published independently, BNR receives no government or corporate funding. We will promote symbols, stories and strategies of resistance and revival. All content published will be consistent with the philosophy of Aboriginal nationalism. For the most part, this won’t be a news based publication. Like its predecessor Brisbane Blacks magazine, BNR will consist primarily of feature and opinion pieces, analysing the big-picture issues our people face and discussing solutions. Indigenous media as an arm of Indigenous nationalism is far from limited to the domestic paradigm. Therefore, we will endeavour to share stories of Indigenous struggles internationally as well. We hope BNR follows in the footsteps of revolutionary print media initiatives like The Black Panther Party’s Intercommunal News Service. This was a weekly paper that emerged from the Black Power movement in the USA (published from 1967-1980), peaking with a distribution of over 200,000 copies. According to the Panther’s Chief of Staff David Hilliard, the paper “became not only the primary resource for information about the Party, recording our ideology, history, and development but also became the voice of the people”. We have also drawn inspiration from Kwakwaka’wakw activist Gord Hill’s Warrior Publications, based in socalled Canada; manuals for Indigenous liberation devoted to “promoting Indigenous warrior culture, fighting spirit and resistance movement”. Then there’s Intercontinental Cry, another grassroots media organization which disseminates “the challenges, struggles, and successes” of Indigenous peoples around the world via comprehensive online coverage as well as their print periodical People Land Truth. ISSUE 1
BNR’s editorial policy is identical to that of 80s Aboriginal land rights broadsheet Black Nation, produced by the late Ross Watson (Gangalu/Birrigubba):
they need to do, and particularly of what they can do for themselves, working by themselves among their own kind in their own communities”.
“We will always try to speak from within the cause and as part of the movement. For these reasons we don’t propose to be objective when discussing Black issues” [August 1982].
BNR is printed by a number of trades unions. This is the kind of ‘no strings attached’ support we value and appreciate from true allies of the Aboriginal movement, as it allows us to maintain editorial independence.
Objectivity is a norm set by Australian society within the context of a dominant culture. This standard is also linked to the notion of the fourth estate, a concept referring to journalists having the task of keeping check of society’s powerful institutions – government, church and corporation. These very institutions are agents of colonialism, responsible for “We knew from the beginning how critical it was to the ongoing oppression and have our own publication, to set forth our agenda dispossession of Aboriginal for freedom, to raise political consciousness people. Instead of simply among our people as to their oppressed state, to functioning in the limited rebut government lies, to tell the truth, to urge capacity of watchdog, there change, to use the pen alongside the sword.” is a need for Black media to challenge the power and DAVID HILLIARD (2006) legitimacy of the colonial Black Panther Party Chief of Staff regime. Many within the dominant culture are quick to preach markedly liberal ideals, Because we believe independent overlooking those subjugated in the Aboriginal media to be an essential service process of Whites reaching their position in terms if pushing for social and political of power and privilege. It is folly to change, there will be no subscription cost expect Black media to mimic mainstream for Aboriginal people. The ‘pay the rent’ media values founded in a world blinded subscription fee for non-Aboriginal people by White normativity. will be $50 per year, or $15 per copy. BNR is staffed by Aboriginal people alone. A core tenet of Aboriginal nationalism is Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs. Without our own people leading the charge, gone will be the days when the Aboriginal movement seeks to challenge the power and legitimacy of the colonial state. Black nationalist freedom fighter Malcolm X claimed that “even the best White members [of Black organizations] will slow the Black man’s discovery of what
In recent times, the vast majority of our media organizations have become trapped within the confines of the Aboriginal affairs industry, tainted by government and corporate money in the form of grants and advertising. A new era of Aboriginal activism dawns, and with it comes the need for strong independent Aboriginal media to echo the calls of Aboriginal nationalism, to bolster the anticolonial agenda. Our movement and media must be one and the same. Black Nations Rising P3
#Genocidal20 protests biggest since 88 Thousands of Aboriginal people converged on Brisbane from November 8-16 last year to protest what was dubbed the #Genocidal20 Summit of world leaders. These were the biggest Aboriginal demonstrations since the 1988 Bicentennial protests in Sydney. The ‘Decolonization before Profits’ program included five marches through the city, various forums, along with song, dance and ceremony. Just like in 1982 with the Stolenwealth Games protests, Musgrave Park became the hub of Black activity – less than 300m away from the Convention Centre where the summit was held. Many of the restrictions set down by the Queensland Government’s draconian G20 Security Bill as well as Brisbane City Council bylaws were ignored and disobeyed by Aboriginal activists – the lighting of fires in declared zones (two fires were maintained in Musgrave Park, along with the fire used to burn six Australian flags at the final rally), banners larger than 1x2m (a banner reading ‘Genocidal 20’ spanning at least 40x4m was used), and camping in ‘public parks’ (hundreds of Aboriginal people turned Musgrave Park into a tent city over the nine days). No arrests were made.
ARRIORS W of the ABORIGINAL RESISTANCE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/WARCOLLECTIVE
arriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), launched at the Young Peoples Forum on November 12 in Brisbane, is a new group devoted to taking up the fight of decolonization. The founding members are Meriki Onus (Gunnai/Gunditjmara), Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera), Jade Slockee (Gumbaynggirr), Bogaine SkuthorpeSpearim (Kooma/Murrawarri/ Gamilaraay) and Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nganyaywana).
society is more relevant than ever before. A warrior’s purpose is not to attack, but to defend and protect.
WAR’s core philosophy is Aboriginal nationalism [see page 8] and our actions are guided by our manifesto. Like this magazine, we are independent of government and corporate funding. WAR has attracted many new members since launching, with chapters in both Brisbane and Melbourne holding weekly organizing meetings.
Without Resistance, the colonizer succeeds in their goal to assimilate us, to get a continent for free. Our primary goal is to encourage and facilitate a culture of resistance, to revive the warrior spirit in our people. Resistance and revival are inextricably linked. As our collective history and experience speaks of disconnection in various forms, the revival of that which underpinned our society prior to colonization is critical in bolstering anticolonial resistance.
So why the name WAR? The colonization of our lands and lives began with English invasion in 1788, an unprovoked and undeclared war, one nation against another nation. This war never ended. Consecutive Australian governments continue their assault on our inherent rights and responsibilities as the indigenous peoples of this land. We’re under constant pressure to assimilate, to accept a colonized way of life, and to endorse the exploitation of our own lands. A warrior is someone who is willing to stand up and fulfil their sacred responsibilities, to put their life and liberty on the line for kin and country. The role of Warriors in Aboriginal ISSUE 1
We view colonization as a human problem, a problem that plagues all of us no matter where we’re from. However, it is imperative to know and understand that decolonization must start with indigenous peoples. Here in so-called Australia, decolonization starts with us as Aboriginal people.
Forging itself from the outset as an assertive militant arm of the Aboriginal liberation movement, WAR played a major role in the success of the #Genocidal20 protests; leading five thousand people through the streets of Brisbane with the chants of “RESIST, REVIVE, DECOLONIZE” and burning six Australian flags in front of the world’s media. Away from the cameras, we also organized and conducted rostered patrols of Musgrave Park day and night to keep check of the heavy police presence. On several occasions, WAR initiates confronted large squads of
police officers (sometimes 20+) refusing them entry at the park gates and insisting only one group of five officers could be present in the park at a time. This group of five was then shadowed and prevented from entering certain sections of the park (e.g. camping areas). As mentioned previously, revival and reconnection is of utmost importance in our struggle to decolonize. Therefore, WAR’s function is also to encourage and facilitate acts of cultural reclamation, the return to country, the relearning of song, dance, story, language, ceremony and law. Initiate members are obliged to learn how to introduce themselves in their own language, to be committed in attending and contributing to decision making at weekly meetings, and volunteering their time to partake in community projects such as the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy’s Food Program. WAR fights to inform our people about the cause and inspire our people to join the cause. One of the ways in which we strive to do so is via the dissemination of Black Nations Rising magazine, along with making public statements like burning Recognise campaign posters in opposition to the push for CONstitutional inclusion of our people. 2015 is set to be a defining time for this growing collective of determined young Aboriginal people, with our first national meeting taking place on the 30th of January. We are the WAR on your doorstep. Black Nations Rising P5
circuses The Roman Empire tried to pacify conquered peoples by giving out cheap food and entertainment (superficial means of appeasement), hence the phrase “bread and circuses”. This tactic was intended to create public approval through diversion and distraction. How is Constitutional reform any different? The Recognise campaign is trying to subvert the Aboriginal sovereignty movement, writes Taungurong man JARROD HUGHES.
hanging Australia’s founding document to include Aboriginal people – this has been high on the political agenda in recent years, a flagship policy in the Indigenous Affairs portfolios of both major political parties. Constitutional reform has broad support from the Australian political mainstream, and its backers include many who have historically opposed the interests of our people. The idea first gained traction with the Howard government’s drafting of a proposed Constitutional preamble put to the Australian public in the failed 1999 referendum. In the lead up to the 2007 election, Prime Minister Howard again threw his weight behind the push for Constitutional reform by promising another referendum. In more recent times, a raft of Australia’s conservative political elite including Joe Hockey, Tony
Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have jumped on the bandwagon “to do the right thing”. The track record of these individuals in terms of the harm they’ve inflicted upon Aboriginal people need not be elaborated on. It is sufficient to say that those of us who support Constitutional reform should question the company they find themselves in. So why is it that Constitutional reform is so warmly welcomed by the conventional enemies of Aboriginal people? In my view, the push for Constitutional reform serves as a means of subverting our demands for meaningful change to the power relationship of colonizer and colonized, diluting these demands to the point of virtual meaninglessness. Aboriginal sovereignty is a sleeping giant, an immense threat to Australia’s political landscape. A treaty
was never signed with our people, and the absence of such an agreement is a profound injustice. Australia remains a colonial state. The founding document of this colonial state blatantly ignores Aboriginal sovereignty, and its legal system outright excludes Aboriginal customary law. Aboriginal people have fiercely campaigned for the recognition of our sovereignty ever since the advent of invasion. This fight is well documented in these pages, encapsulated in the demands of Aboriginal protest since the late 1960s. In the face of mounting calls for recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Australian government to ignore this issue. It is within this context that we find increasing support for Constitutional reform amongst the Australian political mainstream. Black Nations Nations Rising Rising P6 PBlack
“Constitutional reform dismisses the substantive demands of the Aboriginal sovereignty movement, but adopts its form, language and process.” In form, the Aboriginal sovereignty movement seeks to challenge the Australian state’s legitimacy. The Australian Constitution is a cornerstone of Australia as a nation, a document underpinning the legal and political structure of this colonial state, a document founded in the denial of Aboriginal sovereignty. Those campaigning for Constitutional reform claim proposed amendments to this pillar of Australia’s legal and political structure will better accommodate Aboriginal people. But as it currently stands, Constitutional reform won’t address the fundamental power imbalance – the relationship of colonizer and colonized will remain. Aboriginal sovereignty campaigners either demand the Australian Constitution be amended to recognize our right to selfdetermination, or advocate the abolition of this colonial apparatus of domination and dispossession. In comparison, government rhetoric about the “special place” of Aboriginal people in “modern Australia” is nothing more than symbolism. It’s unclear what Aboriginal people would actually gain from a token mention in the Australian Constitution. With respect to language, we demand to be recognized in our capacity as sovereign peoples. The campaign for Constitutional reform adopts the language of recognition, but strips it of all its substance. The agenda revolves around simply recognizing the existence of Aboriginal people. It is argued by supporters of Constitutional reform that Aboriginal people should be recognized to reflect the important place of our people in the contemporary Australian identity. Again, we must ask ourselves what this will actually achieve. Regarding process, Aboriginal sovereignty campaigners are mindful ISSUE 1
of the diverse views within our communities and therefore contemplate that any model of self-government or treaty making will require thorough community consultation. On the other hand, the campaign for Constitutional reform claims to have adopted the process of community consultation. But their multimillion dollar approach to this process lacks depth and fails to gauge the true nature of Aboriginal views regarding our status within or external to the Australian Constitution.
that the ‘no’ campaign has received zero government funding.
In 2010, the Gillard Government appointed an ‘Expert Panel’ to conduct ‘extensive consultations’ with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well as the general Australian public. These consultations were prescribed by the Expert Panel’s terms of reference, which strictly limited conversation to the topic of Constitutional recognition and excluded discussion of treaty and sovereignty. Any support for Constitutional recognition emerging from these consultations should be understood within this limited context.
“Recognise has allowed the Australian government to assert full control over the conversation concerning the Constitutional status of Aboriginal people.”
By adopting the form, language and process of the Aboriginal sovereignty movement, the Australian government is attempting to coopt, dilute and distract yet another grassroots Aboriginal campaign.
“Recognise is the latest government ploy to sell Aboriginal people policy based in symbolism rather than substance.” As Aboriginal people are all too aware, symbolism means nothing if not closely accompanied by substantive and meaningful change. The Recognise campaign is the public face of Constitutional reform, and is in effect a government funded propaganda machine designed to garner widespread public support for the ‘yes’ vote. Over the next few years, the Recognise campaign will draw millions more in government funding to push its agenda. And we shouldn’t be surprised
Recognise has secured the support of a wide range of Aboriginal and nonAboriginal public figures including sportspeople, artists, musicians, academics and politicians. They’ve also secured the support of corporate sponsors including Telstra and Qantas. By acquiring the support of high profile figures and through the execution of a highly sophisticated media campaign,
The Recognise website – which features the familiar ‘R’ logo, an online petition and anecdotes from a range of ‘ambassadors’ – suggests that the ‘yes’ vote is progressive and is “the right thing to do”. Recognise implicitly asserts that the ‘no’ vote is backward and has negative implications for Aboriginal people. Moreover, the Recognise campaign creates the impression that Constitutional reform enjoys universal support. In doing so, they’ve been relatively successful in drowning out divergent Aboriginal voices. By asserting total control over the conversation concerning the Constitutional status of Aboriginal people, the Australian government has managed to divert attention from the issues of treaty and sovereignty. They’ve been talking about a referendum to ‘recognise’ us for over 15 years, and now Abbott is saying it’s unlikely a referendum on this question will take place until 2017. Constitutional reform, whether it happens or not, seems to be nothing more than a distraction that will deliver anything but meaningful change. *JARROD HUGHES (Taungurong) is a recent law graduate and works for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. Black Black Nations Nations Rising Rising P7 P-
Why I won’t call you a
The term ‘coconut’ (black on the outside, white on the inside) is a linguistic weapon of warfare we as Aboriginal people use amongst ourselves. But the only casualties are Black bodies, writes Munanjahli woman Dr CHELSEA BOND.
his word is powerful, and we know it. That’s why we use it, at least that’s why I might’ve used it. We use this word when we are most upset and outraged at the behaviour of one of our own, particularly when they’ve betrayed us, and/or our community. We use that word to distance them from “the mob” when their behaviour does not align with our ways of being, doing, and knowing – be it politically, spiritually, culturally, morally or even economically. I’ve never actually called someone a coconut to their face, but I’ve thought it. And yes, I’ve had it directed at me. I also have many brothers and sisters whom I love and respect who openly use this term – so I write this with caution. In denouncing my use of this term, I’m not denouncing those of us who insist on using it. I’m just stating my own position in regards to the use of this word. So, what’s my problem? Well firstly, growing up as the youngest of four children, I could always rely on an older sibling to remind me of “my place”. At one level, it is simply not my place to
call a brother or sister a coconut. It is not my place to act as the judge and jury on the legitimacy of another’s ancestry, the strength of their bloodlines or their lived sense of their own identity. No one anointed me with the moral, spiritual, cultural or political compass to determine who is at the centre of Aboriginality. I don’t have the right to determine who is in and who is out, who is Black and who is not.
were not quite “fully” Aboriginal. The categories of half-caste, quartercaste, quadroon, octoroon and mixed blood emerged at a time in our history to explain the presence of a growing Aboriginal population that was supposed to have died out. The notion of the “not-really-Aboriginal” brought comfort to the colonisers because our claim to country could be diminished via our diminishing Aboriginalities.
But then again, I’m not sure any of us have that right. Perhaps some people do, or perhaps the task of determining who is “really” Aboriginal is one that we are just a little too familiar with.
“The declaration of Terra Nullius has been superseded by Identity Nullius in denying Aboriginal sovereignty.”
The classification and categorization of Aboriginal identities was a key apparatus of colonial control. Our Aboriginality was measured by the colonisers according to how much Aboriginal blood was apparently in our veins, which was actually determined by how black our skin looked, not by our parental lineage. Through these terms of reference, our bodies and identities were dissected into parts, halves, quarters, percentages, so that many of our people
As Aboriginal people, we are constantly required to articulate our identities according to the presumption that we are “not really” or “not fully” Aboriginal. It is evident in everyday encounters with the taxi driver, the hair dresser, the teacher, the shop keeper or the neighbour with their expressions of amazement, disbelief and cynicism when we articulate an Aboriginal identity. Black Nations Nations Rising Rising P8 PBlack
Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that I cannot debate, dispute or disagree with my mob. But, I will debate you on your ideology, not your identity. I will contest your argument, not your ancestry. I will interrogate your assertions, not your Aboriginality. In the
“ ma For t bea ste he m t h r’s h as im ou ter at se. ’s t Afr u s t his o The ools ica o b wn y w nA rin ga may ill n cti g a me e vis bou , b allow ver d t& t g ut th us ism enu ey to an Wr ine wil tem tle t ite rA cha l ne po he UD nge ver rari RE ...” ena ly LO ble RD
“When I call a brother or sister a coconut, I’m picking up the same weaponry of the coloniser and inflicting those wounds on black bodies.”
I’m not dissecting the merits of their argument, I’m dissecting their Aboriginal body. I’m suggesting to them that only a part of their body is black, while the most important parts of their body – their hearts and minds – are not. When we call someone a coconut, when we engage in that kind of talk, we are mutilating Aboriginal bodies, identities, ancestries, spiritualties and histories. That injury is real and it is even more lethal, precisely because it came from our mouths.
We can’t really still be here! These inquiries and responses to the expression of our identities intrude on our bodies and are illogical and offensive to us. Despite our well-versed clever responses to these remarks, these intrusions are damaging. To ask an Aboriginal person to explain what ‘part’ of us is Aboriginal requires us to dissect our body into bits or sections, wounding Aboriginalities.
act of having my voice heard, I will not advance my own position simply by diminishing how “really” Aboriginal you are. Decolonization for me, means to resist colonial oppressions that are both inflicted upon me as well as by me. The term coconut as a weapon of anticolonial warfare is most useless because the only casualties are Black bodies. And I just cannot bear the stain of Black blood on my hands. That’s why I won’t call you a coconut anymore. *Dr CHELSEA BOND (Munanjahli) is an Aboriginal health worker/researcher, academic at Queensland University of Technology, and has a strong interest in identity and community development.
WORDS OF THE STRUGGLe ISSUE 1
Our sovereignty as indigenous peoples derives from the ancient reciprocal relationship we have with our lands. This relationship finds its roots in our connection to kin and country, manifesting in our song, dance and story, our language, ceremony and law. It is vested within the individual, the family, the clan, the tribe and the nation. Our sovereignty has endured since the first sunrise – it cannot be handed to us or taken from us. Aboriginal sovereignty can only be expressed or suppressed. However, assimilation of the Aboriginal body politic into the colonial Australian state can equate to de facto cession of sovereignty. We ran this country once, and our sovereignty as Aboriginal people is the authority we hold to run our country again.
TRIBE The very fabric of this continent is woven together with the unique cultures and traditions of many tribal nations. These interconnected groups are autonomous, with custodial rights and responsibilities over their respective homelands. Each tribe has its own clan and kinship system.
ABORIGINAL NATION The term Aboriginal nation refers to Aboriginal people collectively as a politically and culturally distinct group indigenous to ‘Australia’. Trade, ceremony and songlines spanning the continent have connected our peoples since time immemorial. Our fight against the onslaught of colonization has only reinforced this bond. This unified identity finds strength in what makes us different and what makes us the same.
RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES Our responsibilities as indigenous peoples are based in nurturing and protecting the two relationships central to our existence – our relationship with each other and our relationship with land. We have the collective obligation to care for kin and country. In a post-invasion context, Aboriginal rights are the entitlements, arising from Aboriginal sovereignty, necessary for us to fulfil our responsibilities. This construct exists primarily as a reactive mechanism to throw off the shackles of colonial oppression. Hence we have the inalienable right to our ancestral homelands, to political independence, to practice and maintain our cultures and traditions. These rights and responsibilities arise from our sovereignty.
SELF-DETERMINATION In the context of Aboriginal nationhood, self-determination is the ability to decide the future of our lands and lives (to the exclusion of colonial interference), the freedom to enjoy our rights and fulfil our responsibilities. We as indigenous peoples must fight for our self-determination.
NATIONALISM Aboriginal nationalism is a philosophy (a basic set of principles and concepts that shapes the way we look at our world). Philosophy is about purpose, driving our core beliefs and attitudes. In turn, our beliefs and attitudes influence our behaviours and actions. The philosophy of Aboriginal nationalism begins with the premise that our only justice will be the justice we take. This does not absolve the colonizer of their crimes, but simply recognizes the historical truth that justice never comes from the oppressor. Aboriginal nationalism, simultaneously reactive and proactive, manifests in two core actions – resistance and revival, which are inextricably linked. The philosophy of Aboriginal nationalism is organic in the way that it stems from Aboriginal sovereignty, and the understanding that decolonization of ‘Australia’ starts with us as indigenous peoples. Separatism is integral to the worldview of Aboriginal nationalism. As Aboriginal nationalists, we identify with our respective tribal groups and the pan-Aboriginal nation. We are separate to ‘Australia’ – a colonial state built upon the theft of Aboriginal land and the genocide of Aboriginal people. BlackNations NationsRising RisingP10 PBlack
WORDS OF THE STRUGGLe
Colonization is a war for territory – the act of invading other lands for the purpose of settlement and/or resource exploitation. When an invading force confronts an indigenous population already occupying a territory, colonization becomes a violent conflict between two opposing ways of life, with one attempting to impose its will on the other. The dynamics of this conflict transform as colonization passes through each phase (reconnaissance, invasion, occupation and assimilation). Colonial ideology is based in greed and racism. The goal of colonization is the accumulation of wealth and power.
ASSIMILATION Assimilation is the strategy of absorbing an indigenous populace into a colonial state (culturally, socially, economically and politically). This strategy involves coercing the indigenous populace into disbanding our original cultures and traditions, and embracing the values, symbols and institutions of the colonial system. The assimilation process disconnects indigenous peoples from our homelands and compels us to identify with our oppressor. Assimilation can be direct in approach (e.g. forced removal of Aboriginal children from their communities and placing them into church/state institutions) and subtle in approach (e.g. indoctrination via mainstream media and Western education).
RACISM Racism is a tool used by the colonizer to legitimize an unequal relationship and to rationalize oppression. It is a combination of prejudice and power – prejudice centred around the belief that one group is superior to another, and the structural power to discriminate against another group. In the Australian context, this prejudice is premised on the notion that Aboriginal people are ‘primitive’ and should embrace so-called ‘civilization’. The Australian nation’s power to discriminate against Aboriginal people comes from state institutions such as the parliament and police force. Racism can be both overt (e.g. NT intervention) and covert (e.g. Australian electoral system).
DECOLONIZATION Decolonization is the ending of colonization and liberation of the colonized. This requires dismantling the colonial state and its entire social system upon which domination and exploitation are based. Decolonization is a revolutionary struggle aimed at restoring the self-determination of indigenous peoples via resistance and revival. The process of decolonization involves several interrelated actions – reconnecting with kin and country, disengaging from the colonial system, fostering resistance culture, identifying the common enemy, and the liberating of mind and spirit.
RESISTANCE Resistance is about fighting the colonization of Aboriginal lands and lives, defying assimilation into the colonial state on all fronts – culturally, socially, economically and politically. This involves challenging the authority and legitimacy of colonial institutions (legislature, courts, police, military, corporations), as well as rejecting colonial ideals (e.g. materialism, capitalism) and symbols (e.g. Australian flag and Constitution). Anticolonial resistance is a combined strategy of raising consciousness and taking action to halt the destructive practices impacting our lands and lives.
REVIVAL Revival is about reconstructing that which underpinned our society prior to colonization (song, dance, story, language, ceremony and law), rekindling our connection with kin and country. This process involves rebuilding tribal governance, revitalizing intertribal relationships (e.g. treaties and trade) along with asserting our collective independence on the pan-Aboriginal level (e.g. Aboriginal passports, international relations, Aboriginal Assembly). Revival is also about how we live our everyday lives (e.g. returning to hunting/gathering traditional foods and medicines). The goal of revival is to provide a viable and natural alternative to assimilation into the colonial state. Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP11 P-
FOOD IS MEDICINE DECOLONIZE YOUR DIET For Gunnai/Gunditjmara woman ARIKA WAULU, decolonization begins with making gradual lifestyle changes. What we eat is a good place to start. Returning to a diet of traditional foods is beneficial for our health and the health of our lands.
pending my childhood in the paradise of Bung Yarnda (means ‘big waters’ in our Gunnai language), I lived on a mission in a mud brick house surrounded by paddocks and beautiful bushland. This place is known to colonial Australia as Lake Tyres in the east of so-called Gippsland Victoria.
eat. But we haven’t gone back to eating kangaroo, wallaby or echidna.
laws have allowed us to live as one with the land and all that it sustains.
“Food is now bought at a supermarket 45 minutes away from the mission.”
We may never get our paradise back one hundred percent, but we can resist mission rules and mentalities, revive our old ways through practice, and reclaim our land. Food from our country is medicine, designed for our genetic makeup.
Living on my grandfather’s country drew me closer to the bush and its native animals. My love for this inheritance grew stronger every time we swam in the lakes, beaches, creeks and rivers. Our family wasn’t big on eating bush meat at home and stuck to eating fresh prawns, flathead tails and bream throughout the year. But I’m unfortunately allergic to seafood, and had longed for bush meat from a young age. My heart was always set on kangaroo, an animal I loved, respected and wanted to eat.
The social stigma and historical trauma attached to our people consuming these animals remain an obstacle for most of us when it comes to hunting, gutting, bleeding, plucking, skinning, cooking and eating them. Social stigma about us eating bush meats often involves inaccurate and hurtful representations of Aboriginal people being inhumane and cruel. This is just another tool of oppression used to dehumanise us, making us objects of fear and ridicule.
“We can eat our way back to physical health and spiritual connection.”
Mission life as a child was fun and full of adventures. I learned much about my surroundings and have so many fond memories of this place. However, the mission still had a White manager, we still had mission rules, and we still farmed colonial animals. Our old people were punished by colonial authorities for hunting and eating our traditional animals. Today, no one tells us what to eat and what not to ISSUE 1
Returning to a diet of bush meats would benefit both our health and the health of our land. Native animals are good for our body, mind and spirit. They produce less methane than disease ridden cattle. And we’re far better off with trees as opposed to paddocks.
For me, decolonization is about making gradual changes to our lifestyles with the aim of living in honor of our old people and continuing the oldest most amazing culture in the world. I believe food is medicine. I also know that our old people ate animals and plants for spiritual reasons. Each animal and plant was deeply respected. These protocols are the basis of my motivation to move away from the careless consumer world that treats our traditional foods with no regard for their life and spirit.
Our native tongue was driven underground, taking with it the deeper knowledge of ceremony, meanings of food and animals. But we know within ourselves that as indigenous people, our
*ARIKA WAULU (Gunnai/Gunditjmara) is a daughter, mother, sister, visual artist, storyteller, knowledge pursuer, culture reviver, a lover of animals, plants and mother earth. BlackNations NationsRising RisingP12 PBlack
NGOOTYOONG BERRA very good wallaby stew
RECIPE 1) Cube carrot, onion, celery and garlic. 2) Saute carrot, onion, celery and garlic in a tablespoon of coconut oil on medium heat. Once sauteed set aside. 3) Seal off berra shanks on high heat with coconut oil. 4) Add a half cup of peeled Italian tomatoes to mix up the berra juices on bottom of pot, add the remainder of peeled tomatoes. 5) Stir in cubed saute mix, sweet potato and zucchini. Bring to boil then simmer on low heat for 3 to 4 hours. 6) Serve with a beetroot salad, add salt and pepper to taste.
INGREDIENTS 6 berra (wallaby) shanks 2.5kg peeled Italian tomatoes 1 zucchini 5 celery stalks 3 carrots 6 garlic cloves 4 onions 2 sweet potatoes coconut oil rock/sea salt and pepper
RUBY WHARTON (Kooma/Gamilaraay) discusses what it means to be a warrior.
ARRIORS are those willing to put their life on the line for the cause â€“ for their people, for their land, and for their culture. I see my father, Wayne Wharton, as a warrior. He is selfless, he is brave, and he does what he needs to do for the better of generations to come. I was thrown onto the frontline of Aboriginal activism by my father. He first handed me a megaphone at a rally when I was eight years old. Seven years later, my younger brother and I burned an Australian flag on the steps of Parliament in Canberra. If children are burning flags, the dominant society needs to question themselves as to why we are doing this. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. We have reason to do this. Colonization gave us reason to be doing this. This is the core of my passion. I see my grandmother and grandfather as having fought the same fight, and my father still fights that fight today. They have shown us that we are the future, and that it is on our shoulders. It is a very big weight to carry, but it is something that I am very passionate about. Understanding our role as young people in the struggle is seeing that we have to step up. Being a warrior is much more than just fighting in the streets. Our roles are not just political. They are cultural. It is about going back to country, protecting your people and reviving your culture. There is confusion amongst our people about what the roles and responsibilities of a warrior are in Aboriginal society. We reject the unfamiliar. Colonization has caused us to become unfamiliar with our roles and responsibilities, to forget what really matters. We are still fighting a war that began 227 years ago. We are still fighting the injustices of colonization. The only thing that has changed is the weapons used and the way that we go about fighting that fight. ISSUE 1
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WAR initiate members Merinda Meredith (Darumbal) and Steven Betts (Gubbi Gubbi) burn Recognise campaign propaganda in protest against the multimillion dollar government sham.
Twiggy’s doublespeak By Amy McQuire
he great African American journalist Ethel Payne once said, “I stick to my firm unshakeable belief that the Black press is an advocacy press, and that I, as a part of that press, can’t afford the luxury of being unbiased when it comes to issues that really affect my people.” It seems these words never reached the set of SBS’s Living Black program, who in 2013 gave mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest almost an hour to sprout his paternalistic solutions on how to fix Black affairs. The program succeeded in regurgitating mining propaganda better than any other public relations firm. Host Karla Grant let Forrest off the hook for thirty minutes, asking him questions about whether he did the housework at home, in some sort of attempt to humanise the man whose wallet is bulging with big profits ripped out of Aboriginal land. Living Black also gave him a platform for several nuggets of ‘wisdom’
including this ridiculous interpretation of land rights: “You never actually own the land, all this native title and freehold and the rest of it… it’s been explained to me by my elders that the land owns you and I really see what they mean. Ownership is very transient, in fact the ownership is the expression you have and the feeling you have of the land having a hold over yourself.” Of course, the concept of land rights, and the spiritual and cultural obligations we have to land that has been cared for by our ancestors for tens of thousands of years, would be beyond a rich White miner who sees it as a means to amass capital. Why else would he still be engaged in a bitter dispute over Yindjibarndi country, asserting his right to rip up billions of dollars’ worth of iron ore whilst handing over peanuts to local traditional owners? Later on in the interview, he even accuses Aboriginal people of viewing land through the prism of wealth, despite communities being starved off funds and the ability to create sustainable futures
on their homelands through two centuries of disempowering government policies. In responding to a question on the long-running dispute with the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) over the Solomon Hub mines in the Pilbara, he said: “I can understand it looking through the lens of cash, if all you are looking for is for the company to pay you a whole heap of money then allow you to do whatever you want with that, then surely you can make those sorts of comparisons. But if you want to look a little deeper and say, ‘Do I really like the fact I have got very high indigenous penal rates, very high Indigenous non-school attendance’. I’ve got a community which is dispirited. Why is that? It’s because of the hand of welfare – mining companies and government has been on top of that community stifling them. People can harp on and say, ‘We want cash and they’re not generous etcetera’. In fact, we’re incredibly generous. It costs us a lot more than the trivial amount that they want to control the cash. We think we go way above and beyond the call of duty BlackNations NationsRising RisingP16 PBlack
– yet if you come to us for a cash handout you are probably better off going to another company because we know from growing up with Aboriginal communities it doesn’t strengthen them at all.” Mining royalties are not a “cash handout”. But Twiggy has said this before on ABC’s Four Corners program, equating the compensation for the destruction of Aboriginal land to a form of mining welfare, as if Aboriginal people are simply incapable of managing their money. Despite this paternalistic view, Twiggy is still held up by mainstream Australia as a supporter of Aboriginal rights, as if his “charitable” pursuits like GenerationOne and the Australian Employment Covenant, which by the way, is still far from achieving concrete job outcomes, are actually achieving anything other than the further
NT intervention. Under these changes, job seekers in the Northern Territory would be working for around $5 cash an hour, because half of their income is still quarantined on Basics Cards, working for the dole in jobs that would be seen as “real jobs” in any other location in Australia. In other words, it’s a return to indentured labour. It’s another way to enslave Aboriginal people, further driving power away from their hands, and pushing them back down several rungs on the ladder. It’s perhaps not surprising that Twiggy’s Creating Parity report could lead to this. Murri writer and academic Nicole Watson dug up a quote from Twiggy in an interview he gave to The Age newspaper in 2008 in which he claimed the introduction of equal wages for Aboriginal workers was more
also forced to live in abject poverty. Those who attempted to escape were captured by police and returned to their employers.” It’s hard to see Forrest’s report, and the Abbott government proposals to change the RJCP to make it harsher on Aboriginal jobseekers as anything but a return to these days. Black workers are again treated differently to White workers, paid less for doing the same work. The difference is there is a greater wall of public relations spin to cover this up and complicit journalism that does not question those in power. Doublespeak is thriving in this country, and the biggest victims of this fundamental dishonesty are Aboriginal people. Which is what brings me back to Ethel Payne’s quote at the beginning of
“Twiggy’s role in heading up the Abbott government’s review into Indigenous employment, which resulted in the ‘Creating Parity’ report, would almost seem like satire if you told an outsider. The report would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.” disempowerment of Aboriginal people, and taking up a great deal of the media spotlight to do so. The first response from the Abbott government to Twiggy’s review into Indigenous employment were changes to the Remote Jobs and Community Program (RJCP), which replaced the Aboriginal controlled Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP). The changes put tougher requirements on welfare recipients in remote areas, who are already working for the dole, and where the scrapping of CDEP has had disastrous consequences, particularly for those who live under the ISSUE 1
destructive than the policies that lead to the Stolen Generations. “Reflecting on his childhood in the Pilbara, Forrest described Aboriginal workers who were ‘very proud, wonderful people’, broken by drink after the introduction of equal wages,” Watson wrote for Tracker Magazine. “Forrest’s accounts of happiness and prosperity before wage equality differ markedly to those of historians. In his book ‘It’s not the Money, it’s the Land’, Bill Bunbury describes the conditions that gave rise to a strike by Aboriginal workers in the Pilbara in 1946. Not only were Black workers routinely denied wages, but they were
this article. The Black press can’t afford to be a propaganda press, a lazy imitation of the mainstream resulting in reportage like Living Black’s soft interview with Twiggy Forrest. It can’t afford to be unbiased. It must be staunch, and it must tell the truth. It is my hope that Black Nations Rising continues the legacy of Ethel Payne, becoming an advocacy press which is aware it has no such luxuries. *AMY MCQUIRE (Darumbal) is a senior reporter with independent media outlet New Matilda, and the former editor of Tracker Magazine.
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resistance against colonial canada
Four young Aboriginal activists (Meriki Onus, Pekeri Ruska, Bogaine Skuthorpe-Spearim and Callum Clayton-Dixon) travelled so-called Canada in 2014. During their month long trip from coast to coast across 10,000km of stolen indigenous land, the delegation met with many Native activists and visited many Native communities. Here’s a brief insight into some of the RESISTANCE we encountered!
UNI’STOT’EN BLOCKADE Asserting their traditional law, the Uni’stot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation continue to successfully prevent the development of pipelines on their territory in so-called British Columbia. This blockade is direct resistance against colonization, with the Uni’stot’en people seeking to fulfil their responsibility to protect their unceded lands and waters from the destructive resource extraction industry.
HAUDENOSAUNEE PASSPORT Like passports issued by the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG), the Haudenosaunee Confederacy passports are an act of Native sovereignty. Since 1977, the Haudenosaunee have used their own travel documents to assert their right to political independence internationally. Despite the Canadian state’s refusal to recognize these passports, Haudenosaunee nationals have used them to travel around the world (e.g. Japan, Bolivia, Switzerland).
KLABONA KEEPERS The Klabona Keepers are an organization of Tahltan elders and families who occupy and protect their traditional lands near Iskut in so-called British Columbia. This area is known as Tl’abane (the Sacred Headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena Rivers). These frontline Indigenous land defenders continue to blockade mining projects on their territory, In late 2014, Tahltan warriors brought a copper mine’s operations to a halt and shut down a drilling project exploring for coal deposits. ISSUE 1
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HIP HOP IS RESISTANCE Straight out of the desert borough, the Hip Hop duo Shining Soul from so-called Arizona show that the element of rap still is a conduit for revolutionary change. Tohono O’odham activist Alex Soto (left) and his Chicano comrade Franco Habre (right) bring to light the social injustices that attack their daily lives, such as the criminalization and militarization of indigenous and immigrant communities, while sharing and maintaining the essence of hip hop culture.
MI’KMAQ WARRIOR SOCIETY In October 2013, the Mi’kmaq people successfully evicted a multinational mining company from their territory in so-called New Brunswick. Hundreds of riot police raided a blockade set up by the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society and arrested 40 people. In response, warriors set six police vehicles on fire. This resistance continued, with tire fire blockades and the sabotage of seismic surveying equipment. The Mi’kmaq continue to guard their traditional lands and waters.
FIGHTING FOR NATIVE WOMEN AND CHILDREN 1,800+ Native women have been murdered or gone missing over the past 30 years. This epidemic has been attributed primarily to police neglect, corruption and misconduct. The Canadian state is also guilty of stealing thousands of Native children, from Residential Schools to overrepresentation in the child welfare system. Grassroots organizations like ‘Families of Sisters in Spirit’ and ‘Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare’ campaign tirelessly for justice.
means stopping destructive and negative practices that impact your people, your community and your territory. We want protest movements to evolve into resistance movements. Protest is good in raising consciousness, but the whole point of doing so is to take action.
GORD HILL, KWAKWAK’WAKW anti-colonial activist
The Unist’ot’en people established a permaculture garden (left) and traditional pit-house (right) on the path of a proposed gas pipeline.
Asserting our land rights & responsibilities Indigenous peoples worldwide have the right to reside on our traditional lands, and the responsibility to protect those lands. The time of relying on and waiting for government recognition is over, says Goenpul/Yuggera woman PEKERI RUSKA.
riving sixteen hours out of Vancouver into the wilds of northern so-called British Columbia, we arrived at a bridge in the early hours of the morning. The bridge, stretching across a deep and fast running river, was blocked off with signs reading ‘no access without consent’ and ‘honk and wait’. Seconds later, headlights flashed on from behind the signs and we could see silhouettes running towards us with torches in hand. A Native man in his mid-20s approached, informing us that we had to remain on this side of the bridge until it could be verified who we were. This bridge is the main access point into the Unist’ot’en clan’s territory. Otherwise, you have to enter via helicopter or hike many miles through the mountains and forests. The river, known to the Wet’suwet’en people as ‘Widzin Kwah’, sustains the local Native community with food and clean water. A blockade encampment, established in 2010, prevents resource companies and associated parties from entering and destroying these sacred lands. Meriki, Bogaine, Callum and I were required to answer several questions ISSUE 1
before being allowed to cross the bridge and enter the camp: 1) Who are you?
2) Why are you here?
3) Do you work for government or the industries trying to destroy our lands?
4) How long do you plan to stay if we let you in?
5) How will your visit benefit the Wet’suwet’en people? The Unist’ot’en clan permits just one logging company to enter their lands. They have agreed to only log trees affected by the pine-beetle, an insect that due to climate change, is surviving the seasons that were previously too cold and killed them off. Otherwise, resource companies are turned away at the bridge, which serves as a chokepoint. Pipeline companies like TransCanada have been chased away when attempting to arrive by air, and told that their aircraft and equipment would be confiscated if they returned. As much as possible, the Wet’suwet’en live off the land. They have an abundant permaculture garden described by our host, Gitxsan man Ambrose Williams, as “the garden that
feeds warriors”. They hunt and eat a variety of traditional animals as well. During our stay at the Unist’ot’en camp, we were invited to eat bear, salmon and grouse (native chicken). We were later shown a traditional pit-house that had been built on the exact coordinates of a proposed pipeline. The pit-house will house local families during the winter months this year. It was also the first of its kind constructed in the area in over 150 years. This was a combined strategy of reviving culture whilst protecting their sacred lands from the threat of industrial development. After having a wash each day in the icy cold Widzin Kwah River, I would use a roll-on deodorant. Without thinking, I decided to check the ingredients list. I wanted to know what product I was actually putting on my body. The item that stood out immediately was silica, the very mineral that is extracted from the sands of Minjerribah (also known as North Stradbroke Island). A product I was using every day included a mineral that my island home is being destroyed to provide. To some this may seem trivial, but to me, I was in some way supporting the very industry that my family and much of our community spent their lives trying to stop. Black Nations Rising PBlack Nations Rising P20
My epiphany occurred on the 22nd of August 2014, the same day the Queensland Supreme Court was to hand down its decision relating to allegations that Belgian mining company, Sibelco were extracting non-mineral sand from the island without permits. Government commissioned reports confirmed that Sibelco was unlawfully taking and selling our sand. This had been occurring for decades, with approximately one million tones going missing. The state government also received royalty payments from the sale of the stolen sands. Independent Senior Legal Counsel opinion, on considering the evidence, concluded that the mining company should be charged with committing serious indictable offences of theft, fraud and
memories of him protesting and setting up a blockade in 1997 to stop sand mining from taking place. More recently, he built a house on the island. But he did not ‘buy’ the land. He took it back. He has done so after 25 years of ‘renting’ our family home in the main township of Dunwich. To understand the importance of my father not buying back land to build on, it is important to first understand the housing situation for the local Aboriginal people of Minjerribah. Historically, the occupation of our lands was enjoyed as a free people – the only cost involved was our respect and acceptance of one another, our customs and law. However, in 1891, our people were forced onto a mission
spite of government promises, rent is still being paid on these properties. The total rent paid by our people to live on their own land is the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the original three thousand pounds procured from stolen Aboriginal wages. Of the 96 allotments identified, in the end, only 12 homes were ever built. More than forty years later, many of the original families continue to reside in these 12 homes – the properties remain under the title of the State Government despite the initial establishment costs having been repaid via ‘rent’ tenfold. As housing needs were not met, some of our people set about financing and building their own dwellings at One Mile.
“We as the indigenous peoples of this country shouldn’t have to lease or purchase land that is rightfully ours. The right to live freely on our traditional lands is a sovereign birthright that the Goenpul, the Wet’suwet’en and tribal groups all around the globe retain. This right doesn’t derive from Native Title determinations or other forms of recognition from colonial states.” misappropriation. In addition, concerned members of the public petitioned both the Labor and LNP governments to take action. Thus far, the state has neglected to address what can only be described as a grand theft and environmental crime. Supposed to cease in 2019, the Queensland government is now considering extending Stradbroke sand mining leases to 2035. British invasion in the 1800s saw our lands stolen and illegally occupied. Similarly, sand mining began on Minjerribah in 1949 without any permission from our people. Despite these colonial incursions, many Aboriginal people still refuse to fall within the realms of an imposed legal system. We, the Goenpul people, never ceded our sovereignty, and maintain that we have the birthright to reside on our traditional lands and the responsibility to protect those lands, as we have done for thousands of years. My father Dale Ruska has always asserted his sovereign rights. I’ve learned much from him about what resistance entails, and have fond ISSUE 1
where they were forbidden to speak language, practice culture or eat their traditional foods. Myora Mission was closed in 1941. But our rights of residency continued to be controlled under legislation such as the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939. Aboriginal people were allowed to move into an isolated area located one mile away from the main township (this place is now known as One Mile). The Act banned us from entering Dunwich. In 1951, the Land Administration Board identified the need for 96 allotments to accommodate the housing needs of Aboriginal people on the island. This would see the Aboriginal people moved back to the mission. The residents of One Mile rejected the proposal. In the late 60s, the Queensland government decided to utilize stolen Aboriginal wages to construct six homes in Dunwich costing three thousand pounds each. Our old people were led to believe by government that they would own these homes. This was an important factor in their willingness to relocate. In
The Quandamooka Native Title determination in 2010 meant very little for us with regards to our rights of residence. Regardless of this, One Mile has grown significantly as our people continue to build and reside there without the permission of colonial authorities. We can take back and live on our traditional lands. We can protect these lands from being ruined by the resource extraction industry and be strategic in the way we do so. We can live off the land, especially in areas where our natural environments still have the capacity to sustain our existence, where traditional foods are abundant, and before these environments are further destroyed. The more we assert our sovereign rights and responsibilities as indigenous peoples, the more settler society will be forced to accept our position, regardless of whether the colonial government of Canada or Australia recognizes it. *PEKERI RUSKA (Goenpul/Yuggera) is a criminal lawyer and Co-editor of Black Nations Rising magazine. Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP21 P-
Blockades & Band Councils Nganyaywana man CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON reflects on the nature of Native politics in so-called Canada.
delegates of the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG), we were welcomed by the Mohawk Nation at Kahnàwa:ke on the 11th of September 2014. This was without a doubt the most humbling occasion during our travels across socalled Canada. The Chiefs and Clan Mothers led us into the Kahnàwa:ke longhouse, a gathering place for the political, social and spiritual functions of the Mohawk Nation. The men and women entered the longhouse separately. Aged wooden benches lined each side of the hall. Sitting opposite to the Mohawk dignitaries, we were in awe as two young men stood and addressed us in their native tongue. They spoke for at least half an hour, with just a few minutes set aside for summing up in English what had been said. In announcing themselves, they acknowledged all that is central to the Mohawk identity – their story of creation, their relationships with the natural world, as well as their responsibility to protect land, water, plant and animal. We were then asked to take the floor. One at a time, Meriki, Pekeri, Bogaine ISSUE 1
and I stood, introducing ourselves briefly in what little of our own languages we knew. But this didn’t satisfy our hosts. “We hear you’re carrying a message on your travels,” they said. “Can you tell us what it is?”
officers refused to stamp our Aboriginal passports on arrival into Vancouver international airport, we were honoured to receive a stamp from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy on entering Kahnàwa:ke Mohawk territory.
Standing again, legs trembling slightly, I set about explaining our philosophy of Aboriginal nationalism, the reasons behind why we as Aboriginal people have our own passport, and our insistence to remain politically independent of the colonial Australian state.
INDIAN ACT & BAND COUNCILS
Their response was something akin to: “Well, I think we’ll get along just fine!” The Mohawks are part of the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois) Confederacy, an ancient alliance of six nations united by the common goal to live in harmony. Like the APG, the Confederacy issue their own passports. These passports have been used by Haudenosaunee nationals to travel around the world (e.g. Bolivia, Japan and Switzerland) since the late 70s, and have recently been upgraded to comply with internationally recognized standards. Although Canadian customs
Existing completely separate to Canada’s Indian Act system, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy rejects that band councils – installed by the colonial government – can legitimately represent their people. This seemed to be a common attitude among grassroots Native activists and traditionalists in so-called Canada. The ‘Indian Act’ is a Canadian law governing the 600 plus federally recognized ‘Indian bands’ and their ‘Indian reserves’. This piece of legislation controls how bands and reserves can operate, along with defining who is and is not a ‘registered Indian’. Being a registered Indian means you can attain band membership, vote in band elections and referendums, share in band assets including treaty benefits, access housing subsidies, access to free Black Nations Rising PBlack Nations Rising P22
education programs (in some cases), and carry around an Indian ‘status card’ entitling you to highly specific tax exemptions on and off reserve. Whatever the benefits might be, Indian status and the limited rights attached are essentially being bred out. For instance, if a Native person with status has a child with someone without status, and their grandchildren have a non-status parent, their grandchildren won’t be considered Indians under Canadian law. It is a rather sinister form of eugenics, somewhat reminiscent of the Aboriginal Protection Act caste system. After contending with generations of economic and political subjugation under consecutive Canadian governments, many band councils have ended up as bureaucracies rife with corruption, signing off on multimillion dollar mining deals left, right and centre while their communities continue to live in abject poverty. The split between those engaged in band council bureaucracies as opposed to traditional forms of Native self-governance was glaringly evident when we visited the Unist’ot’en pipeline blockade in northern British Columbia (BC). While the Moricetown Band Council appeared to support making multimillion dollar partnership agreements with resource giant Chevron in constructing a liquid natural gas pipeline through unceded Wet’suwet’en lands, many of the hereditary chiefs and clan members remain ardently opposed. TRIBAL CAPITALISM There are also Native groups in particular areas, such as the Aseniwuche Winewak in Alberta’s rocky mountain region, who have never had Indian status because they didn’t sign treaties with the Crown to begin with. We were taken on a tour of Aseniwuche Winewak Nation (AWN) headquarters in Grand Cache. Although not an Indian Act band council, AWN is still a corporation making money from the destruction of Native lands. They pride themselves on being a “competitive company” gaining the majority of their income through providing “equipment and labour services to resource industries”. The term ‘tribal capitalism’ is how we saw best to describe this situation. ISSUE 1
ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
Learning firsthand about the notso-great reality of Canada’s treaties with Native peoples was by far the greatest eye opener for me. Prior to spending a month on the ground in various Native communities and meeting with an array of Native activists, my ill-informed view was that the treaty process had been of great benefit to the colonized. The vast majority of treaties served the purpose of coercing Native groups into signing away much of their land and pushing them on to reservations. And contemporary land claims are really not that much different, the equivalent of souped-up Native Title agreements. The Canadian government promotes these ‘modern day treaties’ as a genuine form of self-government, but they are effectively yet another way of domesticating and restricting the selfdetermination of Native peoples.
Then there’s the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), formally established in 1985, which now works closely with the Canadian government in developing its policy on Indigenous affairs. Funded primarily by the federal government, the AFN is widely condemned by Native people as being a toothless advisory body and not representative of the greater Native population. Sound familiar? We have the same exact problem with the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
The Nisga’a Final Agreement was signed between the Nisga’a Nation, the province of BC, and Canada’s federal government in the year 2000. This agreement is said to be best practice when it comes to relations between colonial governments and Indigenous peoples. Yet the Nisga’a Treaty is referred to by many Natives as the “teardrop agreement” because the Nisga’a Lisms Government (NLG) has recognized authority over only ten percent of their traditional territory. On a map, this ten percent is in the shape of a tear drop. The treaty settlement provided funding for a highway to be constructed from the city of Terrace to the Nass Valley’s four Nisga’a villages. But the machine of modern ‘progress’ is undeniably destructive when it comes to Indigenous society, irrespective of whether it’s by choice or not. Locals complained that the completion of Highway 113 helped to speed up the degradation of Nisga’a culture. “Our children don’t want to learn their language anymore,” a Nisga’a fisherman in the coastal village of Gingolx told us. The NLG also signed off on a six million dollar pipeline deal in 2014, sanctioning what will be an immensely destructive industrial development that numerous other Native groups, including the Unist’ot’en, are fighting to stop.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN? There are many parallels to be drawn from the experiences of Native relations with colonial Canada. We don’t have an Indian Act, but we do have a Native Title Act determining which Aboriginal groups have and don’t have a limited set of rights to their traditional homelands. Instead of band councils, we have Native Title corporations and land councils governed by pieces of federal and state legislation. The Native Title process and the accompanying Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs), like Canada’s land claims and modern day treaties, are often responsible for ripping apart our communities and giving legitimacy to mining activities. But the vigor and determination of the Unist’ot’en pipeline blockade, the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society’s fight against fracking in so-called New Brunswick, and the Mohawk Nation’s staunch stance on their right to political independence were of great inspiration. These examples of Native resistance and revival represent a transition in strategy – from dealing with colonial authorities in the hope of gaining recognition of their rights, to simply asserting their inherent rights and responsibilities as Indigenous peoples. This is where we as Aboriginal people need to be looking towards. Our fight to decolonize won’t take place within the confines of Aboriginal organizations and corporations attached to and restricted by colonial legislation. The words of Pakana elder and activist Jimmy Everett’s ring true: “We can’t keep going and looking at White Australia thinking that we will find answers”. Black Nations Rising P23 Black Nations Rising P-
The Mi’kmaq people hunt and eat many of their traditional foods, including Moose.
Meriki Onus (GUNNAI/GUNDITJMARA) We visited the Mi’kmaq people on the east coast. While staying on the Elsipogtog reserve, our hosts went out hunting and caught a moose, hung it up to bleed and then shared it out amongst their family and the community. There was a young Mi’kmaq woman learning how to use the moose skin to make moccasins (traditional shoes) for the winter. She was getting advice from older Mi’kmaq people about how to use salt to draw out all of the moisture from the hide to make it soft and pliable. When Pekeri and I visited the Tahltan people, we were invited to a potluck where we ate rice, pasta, potato salad, bread and apple pie; everything you might find in the cupboard or on the table of an Aboriginal household back home. In this remote Native community, they are eating the same foods as us, introduced by the same colonizer. They also have high rates of diabetes and preventable chronic diseases. But we also witnessed an inspirational act of revival while in Tahltan territory, meeting two young men who had revived and could now speak their traditional language fluently.
Native ‘warrior societies’ take defending their lands from mining very seriously.
Bogaine Skuthorpe-Spearim (KOOMA/MURRAWARRI/GAMILARAAY) After 500 years of colonization, the indigenous people of so-called Canada are still being deprived of their culture, and their land is still being destroyed. In comparison, the colonization of ‘Australia’ is much younger – we’re only 227 years in. Yet, one of the main things we noticed was the resilience of the people we met on our travels and how devoted they are in their resistance against colonization. On arriving in Elsipogtog, a women’s drum group and the Mi’kmaq District War Chief welcomed us. We were taken to the site where the whole community stood together, successfully stopping mining happening in their territory. We were shown where the police cars had been set on fire, where the riot squad used beanbag rounds and pepper spray on Mi’kmaq men, women and children. This made me realize how we must sometimes make sacrifices in our struggle for liberation. It’s all a part of our responsibility within our societies as indigenous peoples. Native sovereignty is being asserted in many ways; blockading of potential mining projects and pipelines, reviving language, hunting and ceremony. There was definitely a big emphasis on cultural revitalization, intertribal solidarity as well as support from non-Native people. ISSUE 1
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ROLLING OUT THE
RED CARPET FOR COLONIZATION W
ith much hype and build-up, the 2014 G20 summit has come and gone. At the same time as government sponsored celebrations were taking place across so-called Brisbane, advocates for a variety of causes prepared for a week of action. It was exciting to see the many different ways that grassroots campaigners from across the continent and the world used the G20 as an opportunity to demonstrate an alternative world vision to the genocidal, ecocidal strategies being discussed in the G20 corridors of power. Whether through art, music, street marches, rallies, or forums, people were taking the opportunity to voice their opposition to what the G20 is doing, particularly to Indigenous peoples here and worldwide. However, reflecting on the week, I was reminded of something I have noticed previously, but seems to become even more evident during major events, such as the G20, or on a more regular basis, NAIDOC Week. That is the willingness of our people to roll out the ceremonial red carpet for the very people set on destroying not only our own, but also our international sisters’ and brothers’, connections to country, ceremony and culture. Take the G20 for example. In addition to the actions of Tony Abbott and preceding Australian governments, almost all other G20 nations continue to suppress the rights of Indigenous peoples worldwide. The reputations of nations like Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom need no introduction. Brazil made global headlines for police repression of Indigenous protests against the 2014 Soccer World Cup. France continues to suppress the rights of Indigenous peoples in its overseas territories; for instance, the Kanaks in New Caledonia. Indonesia continues its brutal genocide against West Papuans. China’s oppression of Indigenous Tibetans
and Uyghurs is well known. I could go on. Given the role of the G20 nations in suppressing Indigenous peoples’ rights here and worldwide, I was astonished to see sacred ceremony, song and dance being carried out to welcome the leaders of all of these regimes to country for the G20 in Brisbane. Are these the type of people we want to welcome to carry out their business on our sacred lands? Or take this year’s NAIDOC celebrations. The presence of mining companies and politicians as sponsors and guests of honour was ubiquitous across the continent. Nigel Scullion has been a Country Liberal Senator for the Northern Territory for over 12 years, a time that has seen an all-out assault on the self-determination and land rights of the Aboriginal peoples he claims to represent, and is Minister for Indigenous Affairs in a government that has ripped hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from Aboriginal programs. Yet, he was welcomed to the national NAIDOC ball to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to NSW Aboriginal parliamentarian, Linda Burney. Companies like Arrow Energy, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Santos and many others sponsored events and awards across the country, and their representatives received ceremonial welcomes to country. The Gamilaraay people are engaged in a long-running battle against Santos and its operations in the Pilliga Forest. Rio Tinto has been in the spotlight for its role in the Bougainville genocide. Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacott has waged a campaign over many years against BHP Billiton and the Olympic Dam uranium project. Yet, these same corporations that are destroying our country for profit received ceremonial welcomes to country at events across Australia. How is it that a few sponsorship dollars pressures our people to carry out our ancient and sacred ceremonies to welcome them to country?
Yet in the midst of the pressure – political as well as financial – put on our people to accept sponsorship dollars or performance fees, we see resistance. This takes many forms. Some are subtle. Some performers used government funding during the G20 as an opportunity to make political statements against the actions of the G20 member states. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre used a NAIDOC flag raising speech to draw attention to the unrecognised wars of resistance against colonization, as well as to Federal Government actions to remove land from the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. Other acts of resistance are more forthright. Gamilaraay elders rejected a donation from Whitehaven for local NAIDOC celebrations, instead raising the money themselves through fundraising, sending the message “It’s our NAIDOC, not yours”. If our sacred ceremonies are to continue to have meaning and significance beyond merely a public performance, it is vital that all Aboriginal people think critically and in an informed way about who we accept sponsorship dollars from and who we carry out ceremony, song and dance for, and whether they are complicit in the ongoing genocide against Indigenous peoples here and worldwide. Whatever form our resistance takes, we must not allow financial and political pressure from the colonial system to turn our ceremonies into a red carpet to be rolled out for the governments, corporations and institutions that continue to engage in genocidal, ecocidal and colonial practices, both here and internationally. *PHILIP W (Ngarabal) is passionate about decolonisation and the revival and survival of language and culture.
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CONNECTING THE DOTS
Climate Justice, Indigenous Rights & Sovereignty By ADAM SHARAH
o justice for world’s indigenous peoples at 2014 UN Climate Change Conference
Last December, the United Nations Climate Conference was held in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Yet again, the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples worldwide were sidelined as colonial governments did what they do best – represented the interests of the corporations they work for. An alternative meeting, the People’s Summit on Climate Change, took place simultaneously. Alfredo Acedo, adviser to the National Union of Autonomous Small Farmers in Mexico, said the People’s Summit “began with a strong indigenous presence with a message to the world: humanity is going through a crisis of civilization, on an exhausted planet where we can no longer tolerate the biological illiteracy of those who do not know how to read life”.
industrialized countries. The impact is global, but mostly affects the poor even though they contribute least to the cause. This inexorable reality seriously harms indigenous communities and peoples worldwide whose productive, social and cultural practices have had a close and harmonious relationship with mother earth. Climate justice begins by recognizing this fact.” To my knowledge, no Aboriginal delegates were invited to attend either the UN Conference or Peoples’ Summit. This omission is strikingly noteworthy, exemplifying the lack of Aboriginal representation in fighting what is emerging as one of the greatest threats to indigenous rights, sovereignty, and cultural survival, as well as the overall future of our species and the planet – man made climate change and global warming. Acedo’s comments highlight the need for Aboriginal sovereignty campaigners to reject and challenge the ‘white washing’ and ‘green washing’ persistently promoted by both of Australia’s major political parties with regards to their positions on Aboriginal affairs and climate change.
olutions proposed by perpetrators of the problem doomed to fail
The notion that“solutions to the climate crisis must fully recognise the rights of indigenous peoples” persisted throughout the conference. “For indigenous peoples at the summit, climate change is caused mainly by the emission of greenhouse gases from ISSUE 1
It is beyond ironic that solutions to the threat posed by climate change are being managed by the very governmental and corporate bodies responsible for causing and exacerbating the climate crisis. There are also clear parallels between how the UN conveniently incorporates indigenous voices at their climate talks, and the Australian government leveraging Aboriginality to promote tokenistic agendas such as the campaign for Constitutional recognition.
The Aboriginal ‘leaders’ installed by state and industry who support the campaign for Constitutional recognition have failed to use the campaign to advocate policy platforms that have the potential to alleviate Aboriginal poverty or improve the social conditions our people endure. Instead, they promote the fossil fuel industry as the ultimate remedy.
ossil fuelled Black leadership
This generation of handpicked Aboriginal advisors, including Noel Pearson, Warren Mundine and Marcia Langton, live in a detached bubble of privilege afforded to most politicians. Their heads are so deeply buried in the drought-ridden sands caused by the policies they support, that they are completely out of step with the urgent need for Australia to reduce its carbon footprint and economic reliance on carbon-heavy exports, divest from fossil fuels, invest in renewable energy solutions that empower Aboriginal communities, and develop policies that have the potential to address climate change. The lack of consideration they show for the communities whose land, sea, mineral and human rights are being smashed by the mining sector, including the militarily-backed resource industry players responsible for the genocide occurring in West Papua, is immoral and unconscionable. Indigenous communities whose survival is threatened by the mining sector and climate change are not deemed worthy of their advocacy or attention and the plight of the world’s indigenous communities threatened by climate change is not on their agenda. If these Aboriginal ‘leaders’ were vehicles, they would be deemed unroadworthy, as obsolete as the system they promote. Black Nations Rising PBlack Nations Rising P26
ustodianship, environmental sovereignty and culture as a political platform The ideological differences between indigenous peoples and self-declared civilized nation states, brought to light in Lima, are important to revisit within an Aboriginal context. Aboriginal custodianship encompasses the principle of ecological sustainability – living in balance and harmony with the earth, respecting all living things and sentient beings, never taking more from country than is needed, sharing and exchanging resources, are just some of the guiding principles of custodianship, principles consistent with the majority of the world’s indigenous cultures. The contextualization of Aboriginal culture within a colonized framework supports historical untruths. Prior to colonization, Aboriginal people managed a vast and sophisticated network of interrelated land and sea management
systems. Historical records that omit this fact subvert the truth about our peoples’ capacity for self-governance and political autonomy. Another inconvenient truth denied by the White ruling elite is that Aboriginal knowledge systems, cultural practices and traditions were, and continue to be, very much about politics; the politics of sustaining our people and sustainably managing the planet. If we are to honor our cultural heritage and continue using it to assert our sovereignty, recognizing the connection between climate change, indigenous rights and the principle of ‘ecological sustainability’ is essential. It is from this point that we can begin to develop a broad range of policies that have the power to reposition us and better define our political aspirations. We belong to the longest living indigenous culture on the planet. Our old people and ancestors have handed down a set of principles that have the power to
inform and shape a new and emerging global paradigm. We are by no means unique in this; every indigenous group on the planet has more than one piece of the puzzle in the solution to systemic change. True custodians operate with the awareness that their purpose is bigger than themselves or their identity. Our role is to guide mankind through the process of systemic change whilst ensuring the continued survival of our cultures and the planet. In order to do this, we must draw from the lessons of the past and the cultural wisdom that is our legacy in order to co-create a new future. Until we fully realize and reclaim the indigenous principle of ecological sustainability, we stand a real chance of repeating the ecocidal and genocidal disaster known as free-market capitalism, a mistake our people, the indigenous peoples of the world, the planet and our species simply can no longer afford. *ADAM SHARAH is an Aboriginal environmental campaigner, antinuclear and peace activist.
“We are 370 million indigenous people in the world representing only 5 percent of the global population. We hold a little more than 10 percent of land on the planet, but we are the stewards, we are guardians of more than 90 percent of global biological diversity.” CARLOS PEREZ, Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador
trade unionism & the Aboriginal struggle Historically, the union movement has stood staunch alongside Aboriginal people in our fight for justice, writes Darumbal woman MERINDA MEREDITH. How can unions become strong allies of the Aboriginal struggle once again?
are to struggle, dare to win. This is a familiar catchcry for members of some of the largest and most politically militant trade unions around the country. The phrase sums up the obligation of the oppressed to stand against the tyranny of the oppressor – if you stand up, if you make yourself heard, then you stand a chance not only to survive, but to overcome oppression. For union workers, the oppression they encounter is that of the bosses who control the means of production and the question of how they can resist that control in order to win better wages, safer workplaces and more favourable working conditions. For Aboriginal people engaged in the struggle against the oppression of colonial authorities which have controlled us for over 200 years – the question is fundamentally the same. How do we overcome the forces that have invaded our lands, murdered our people and destroyed our culture? The answer to both questions is solidarity. When we stand together in unity with one another, our voices are stronger and we are collectively more powerful. For the benefit and lasting success of both the union movement and the Aboriginal struggle, we must return to a time where we stood proudly in solidarity with one another. ISSUE 1
The ‘Stolen Wages Built this State’ slogan hits home with brutal honesty. So-called Australia was built on stolen Aboriginal land and the legalized slavery of Aboriginal workers. These workers not only dealt with the traumas of colonization and genocide, but worked under appalling conditions with little to no pay and without any of the standard working conditions afforded to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. It is these Aboriginal workers who set a precedent for modern day protest and activism. These men and women were not only workers demanding fair pay and conditions, but Aboriginal people demanding recognition off their right to land and self-determination. Australian trade unions played a significant role in the success of this grassroots struggle by not only campaigning for the rights of workers and the Aboriginal working class, but engaging themselves in a wider political struggle for social justice. Trade unions have been at the forefront of solidarity with the Aboriginal struggle for many decades. The landmark Pilbara strike in 1946 saw Aboriginal pastoral workers walk off the job demanding fair wages and working conditions. This became one of the longest industrial strikes in so-called Australia’s history. The Pilbara walkoff was supported by nineteen Western
Australian unions, seven national unions and four trades and labour Councils. In 1972 with the establishment of the Aboriginal Embassy, trade unions immediately showed their support and organised transport for Aboriginal people from all over the continent to join their brothers and sisters in solidarity. Into the 2000s, we have seen the Stolen Wages campaign backed by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU). The QCU have consistently lobbied the Queensland Government to compensate Aboriginal workers who had their wages misappropriated by past administrations. However, nothing is more renowned than the 1966 Gurindji strike. Some 200 Gurindji people, tired of wage inequality, poor working conditions and the abuse of their basic human rights, walked off Wave Hill station in a show of resistance and protest. The Gurindji strike was aided by the involvement of many trade unions. The Pilbara strike era (late 1940s) saw a shift in the union movement’s ideological position – from exclusively serving the interest of the White working class to not only organize and support Aboriginal workers but listening to the Aboriginal community in a broader context that was inclusive of the social and political demands of Aboriginal Black Nations Rising PBlack Nations Rising P28
people at the time. This was due to Aboriginal workers joining unions en masse along with the growth and influence of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) which had a growing base within the trade union movement up until the 1970s. The CPA at the time was a staunch supporter of Aboriginal self-determination and anti-racist socialist movements. More recently, we have seen the formidable force of trade union involvement with Black rights campaigns falter. But solidarity hasn’t disappeared entirely. ‘Social Movement Unionism’ has been a major force historically – not just in relation to Aboriginal rights but also around campaigns for women’s rights, the anti-apartheid boycotts and extending into the early 2000s with the anti-Iraq War movement. When unions have been strong, workers have had fairer working conditions and unions had the ability not just to focus on workplace campaigns but to fight in solidarity with other social movements as well. Unfortunately, some unions have been forced away from these kind of broad social justice campaigns as they have continued to battle conservative governments and the legacy of the notorious Howard Government’s WorkChoices legislation. As a result, unions have had to dedicate their resources to “bread and butter” issues of protecting conditions in workplaces. This has been at the expense of the broader social justice campaigns. In short, since the mid-2000s, the union movement has had little energy, time or resources to dedicate to social justice campaigns. Unions stood proudly with our people at the Wave Hill walk-off and the Pilbara strike. They stood with the Freedom Riders and the Aboriginal Embassy. Their support contributed to these milestones in the Aboriginal struggle in the same way as Aboriginal people joining unions en masse promoted and supported the union movement more broadly. So how can the union movement become a powerful ally of the Aboriginal struggle once again? Unions must return to the grassroots and do what unions do best – organizing and empowering people, fighting oppression ISSUE 1
and standing on the frontline with their Black brothers and sisters. The Pilbara and Gurindji walk-offs became much more than an industrial strike for fair working conditions, with both campaigns eventually becoming a political platform for human rights, cultural rights and land rights. The practical and financial support of unions was important, but it was the organizing skills shared with Aboriginal people that allowed them to influence their respective communities to join the fight. It was the union movement which gave the Gurindji the power to organise in their workplaces. But it was more than that. The tools which the union movement provided those Aboriginal workers were the same tools they needed to organise their communities and to stand up against a whole range of other threats that colonization imposed on Aboriginal society at the time. We can look at recent history [pictured opposite] when the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) in 2012 joined the human barricade against police
get active within them – whether that is by becoming workplace representatives, attending rallies, enquiring about how to get involved with or setting up an Indigenous committee within the union, and most importantly taking on any training and experience your relevant union is willing to offer you. It’s taking that training and experience out into our communities, just like the Gurindji did and building people power that will be most beneficial for our fight. It also means reaching out to the unions and supporting their campaigns; attending rallies and Labour Day celebrations are two small things we can do to show solidarity. Solidarity is a two way street, but if we take the first step then we can open the door for unions to take more meaningful steps in solidarity with our struggles. Yuin man Charles ‘Chicka’ Dixon was a staunch Aboriginal rights activist. He was also a lifelong campaigner on the wharves with the Maritime Union of Australia. His words on the need for solidarity ring just as true for us today as when he said them:
“…they couldn’t ignore me because I was a wharfie of ten years, and involved in the Vietnam War, Greek political prisoners, South African cargo, and women’s electoral lobby. I was involved in everything that I considered involved fighting for people who were oppressed. If you want to fight oppression, we are not the only ones…”
CHARLES ‘CHICKA‘ DIXON (2007) invasion attack on the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park. Several unionists were arrested. This was a striking display of physical solidarity which could not be ignored by the public and media. We need to work on building a renewed solidarity between Aboriginal activists and the union movement – and as a member of both groups I can honestly say that there is genuine intention on both sides to do so. For Aboriginal people in jobs, this means not only joining our unions but also putting our hands up to
If we associate ourselves with the struggles of other people fighting oppression, then they won’t be able to ignore us either. That’s how solidarity is a two way street. *MERINDA MEREDITH (Darumbal) is a Union Official with the Queensland branch of United Voice. Merinda is also the Printing & Distribution Manager for Black Nations Rising magazine.
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BRISBANE’S ABORIGINAL EMBASSY REIGNITES GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM Since it was founded in March 2012, the Embassy has been a bastion of strength, endurance and inspiration for the Aboriginal struggle in occupied Australia, writes Nganyaywana man CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON.
he 1972 Aboriginal Embassy was a landmark in modern Aboriginal political history, a rallying point for Black protest nationwide. It transformed government policy and revealed to the world some truths about the so called lucky country, all from the lawns of Parliament House in Australia’s capital. In January 2012, Aboriginal people from across the continent converged on Canberra to commemorate forty years since the Embassy was founded. At this gathering it was decided that attendees would leave with the mandate to set up embassies in their own communities, hoping to reignite the sovereignty movement on a national scale. Just two months later, the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) was established. On the 23rd of March 2012, Brisbane’s Black community gathered in Musgrave Park for ceremony and the lighting of the sacred fire. Ashes from the Canberra Embassy were used to light this fire. 2012 was a volatile year for BASE, with numerous attacks from the Queensland State Government and Brisbane City Council. QLD Premier Campbell Newman proclaimed the demonstrators to be “squatters”. On the 16th of May, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk ordered the Embassy be evicted. Much of South Brisbane was on lockdown for several hours, with major roads blocked off and a heavy police presence. Smoke billowed into the city skies as the Aboriginal activists and their supporters braced themselves for the confrontation ahead. Aided by over 200 police officers, Council workers set about tearing down the tents and extinguishing the sacred fire. More than 30 people
were arrested for defending the Embassy. Undeterred, the tents were resurrected and the fire relit that afternoon once those arrested were released from the Roma Street watch-house. All charges were dismissed on the 22nd of August 2012. BASE went on to organize a three day gathering in October to commemorate the historic 1982 Commonwealth Games protests in Brisbane. A month later Embassy activists crashed a Native Title meeting held at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, and hosted their own ‘Sovereignty and Land Rights Conference’ at the Queensland State Library. BASE also took up the fight of Aboriginal people in conflict with the child welfare system. With the media behind them, they marched into the main office of DOCS (Department of Child Services) on several occasions demanding children be returned to their families. This tactic turned out to be rather useful. Eight months later, the Embassy was attacked again, this time at midnight with around 80 police officers, 20 council workers, and the fire brigade. Three people were arrested and onerous bail conditions imposed. In the absence of support from the QLD Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS), who refused to represent anyone arrested defending the Embassy, prominent barristers including Andrew Preston took up the challenge pro bono. All charges were dropped once again. Just days after the second police attack, Embassy activists marched into and barricaded themselves inside the foyer of Mayor Quirk’s office in protest
of Brisbane City Council’s attempts to evict BASE from Musgrave Park. Although the tents stayed down, organizing meetings around the sacred fire continued to take place every Wednesday night in the park. Harassment from police and council also continued, with further arrests made and hefty fines handed out. “We’ll maintain the fire, we’ll maintain the Embassy, and we’ll maintain our projects and responsibilities,” declared Kooma man and veteran sovereignty campaigner Wayne Wharton.
“...the further we get away from the fire, the further we get away from who we are...”
WAYNE WHARTON BASE kicked off 2013 leading the charge through police lines into the midst of South Bank Australia Day celebrations. On the 6th of February, they staged a sit-in at former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s electorate office in Morningside. This was in response to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ‘Closing the Gap’ speech in Federal Parliament. “They’re not closing the gap,” Kukuyalanji woman Karen Fusi told ABC News. “The gap is getting bigger. And they’re the ones who formed it.” Going from strength to strength, the Embassy took on the role of delivering essential services to the local community Black Nations Rising P30 Black Nations Rising P-
– a food program, a political publication, and a support network for those fighting the draconian child welfare system. The BASE Community Food Program was established in May 2013 and now delivers food parcels to over 250 families each week via a truck emblazoned with Aboriginal flags on either side. Groceries are sourced from a number of suppliers including OzHarvest, SecondBite, QLD Foodbank and local markets. The program started in Brisbane’s northside suburb of Stafford where Karen Fusi lives and organizes distribution. “When someone’s door is closed you don’t know what they’re going through,” says Ms Fusi. “You don’t know if that person has had something to eat today, and you won’t know until you knock on their door.” Another familiar face of the Embassy Bogaine Skuthorpe-Spearim says there is great need for the service the Community Food Program provides. “If we want to talk about raising our next generation to be strong and staunch, the first thing we have to do is put a plate in front of them and feed them,” says the 25-year-old Gamilaraay man.
‘Stop stealing our kids‘ rally The program also helps in preventing Aboriginal child removals, as one of the first things a DOCS officer does when inspecting a home is to check if there’s enough food in the cupboards. More Aboriginal children are being stolen from their families today than any other time in the history of colonial Australia, and Embassy meetings had become inundated with community members ISSUE 1
seeking help in their battles against DOCS. So, a dedicated support group emerged to assist Aboriginal people in navigating the child welfare system. Gumbaynggirr woman Jade Slockee was heavily involved with the formation and development of this group: “Through sharing their experiences with others in similar situations, many have realized their own fight with DOCS is but one in an epidemic of child removals. We began acquiring information on Aboriginal rights according to Child Safety Law, how to appeal, filling out application forms and applying for legal aid. Rallies and forums were organized, sit-in protests at the DOCS head office were held, and the group even began travelling interstate to share experiences and connect with mob nationwide. Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties, uncles, mothers and fathers are now coming together to form support groups in their communities.” This group, along with various others around the country, is now a part of a larger national network established to form a united front against Aboriginal child removals. The first edition of Brisbane Blacks
Community Food Program magazine was released in August 2013 with the mantra ‘awakening the Black conscience, raising Black awareness, articulating the Black resistance’. Six editions have been published since, over 6,000 copies printed and distributed, and 120 pages of content produced. The magazine explored and analysed big picture issues of the Aboriginal struggle, ranging from sovereignty and decolonization, to Constitutional reform
and environmental destruction. We intended Brisbane Blacks to be an organ of the Aboriginal movement, to get feet on the streets and fists in the air. As well as being handed out at rallies and dispatched to subscribers across the nation, the magazine was circulated through the Community Food Program – nourishment for the body, and for the mind. BASE initiated an annual commemoration of resistance fighter Dundalli who was hanged on the 5th of January 1855 in front of the Brisbane jail for defending the honour and dignity of his people. This is the third year Brisbane’s Black community has gathered at the site of his execution to commemorate the life and efforts of the warrior. The Embassy organized two ‘Treaty Talks’ in 2013 at the Aboriginal & Islander Independent Community School in Accacia Ridge, where many of the nation’s most respected Black activists met over several days to thrash out ideas and strategies for the future. On the 26th of January 2014, approximately 500 Aboriginal people joined in what many deemed to have been the biggest Invasion Day rally and march
Brisbane Blacks magazine for some time. This turnout was largely due to BASE’s growing presence and staunch activism over the previous year and a half. The Embassy made headlines once again in April last year when a small but vocal group with banners reading ‘GIVE BACK WHAT YOU STOLE’ protested the royal couple’s visit to Brisbane. Around 30 Aboriginal people and their supporters BlackNations NationsRising RisingP31 PBlack
Invasion Day march 2014 clashed with police in the South Brisbane precinct as the assembled crowds and media looked on. The sixth and final edition of Brisbane Blacks magazine was published in the run up to the 2014 G20 summit, devoted to inspiring Aboriginal people from all over to take part in what were undoubtedly the most galvanizing Aboriginal protests since the 1988 Bicentennial demonstrations in Sydney. Leaders of the world’s major economies met at the Brisbane Convention Centre on November 15 and 16 to discuss and determine the global economic agenda. BASE coordinated the ‘Decolonization before Profits’ program of ceremony, rallies, marches and forums running from November 8-16. The hub of these activities was Musgrave Park, where hundreds set up camp just like during the 1982 Commonwealth Games protests. Messages about a second stolen generation, environmental destruction, Aboriginal deaths in custody, as well as
police invasion of Musgrave Park MAY 16, 2012 images of Australian flags going up in flames flashed across television screens not only around the nation, but around the globe.
organized demonstrations to highlight the ongoing human rights abuses perpetrated against Black people in the United States of America.
Since its inception, the Embassy has been a bastion of strength, endurance and inspiration for the Aboriginal struggle in occupied Australia. It is a fiery exemplar of Aboriginal selfdetermination, free from government and corporate funding, and free from external interference and influence over decision making. As a result, BASE’s ability to provide essential services to the Aboriginal community was not affected by the Abbott government’s slash and burn approach to Indigenous funding. This is real independence, real autonomy.
The Aboriginal movement had been smouldering since the early 1990s thanks to the emergence of a government installed Black bureaucracy, an industry built around Aboriginal affairs, and the diversionary tactics of consecutive Australian governments. BASE has served as a firm reminder of how effective grassroots action can be, and has given rise to what can only be described as the next generation of Aboriginal activism, injecting new life into the Aboriginal movement.
In many ways, the Embassy’s activities are not dissimilar to those of The Black Panther Party in 60s and 70s with their ‘Service to the People Programs’. The Panthers also had a food program, a newspaper, legal aid, and
*CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON (Nganyaywana) has been involved with the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy since August 2012, and was the Editor of Brisbane Blacks magazine.
The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) holds weekly organizing meetings at 6pm around the sacred fire in Musgrave Park – all are welcome to attend. For more information about the Embassy, including our fight to stop the continued stealing of Aboriginal children, call 0424 610 492 or 0408 064 900. Go to www.facebook.com/brisbaneaboriginal.embassymedia for updates on what BASE is doing and organizing in the community. The BASE Community Food Program relies entirely on volunteers and is completely self-funded. We’re ask supporters to make regular donations.Send a message to email@example.com and we will reply with our account details. Go to www.issuu.com/brisbaneblacks if you would like to read any of the six editions of Brisbane Blacks magazine.
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The cruelties of
The global ascendancy of neoliberal economics and the entrenchment of corporate power in international and national affairs have deepened inequalities between and within nations and largely undermined efforts toward sustainable development. Neoliberalism is based on a belief the market should be the organising principle for social, political and economic decisions, where policy makers promote privatisation of State activities and an increased role for the free market, flexibility in labour markets and trade liberalisation. The benefits of these policies frequently fail to reach the Indigenous peoples of the world, who acutely feel their costs, such as environmental degradation and loss of traditional lands and territories.
United Nations ‘State of the Indigenous Peoples Report’ 2009
Noel Pearson has long been puppeted by the Murdoch media empire in its promotion of neoliberal approaches to Aboriginal affairs.
Western free market economies and neoliberal ideology just don’t work when applied to our values and collective consciousness, writes Kamilaroi man Dr WOOLOMBI WATERS.
hen asked about submitting an article for Black Nations Rising magazine there was no hesitation. This first issue marks a significant moment in Aboriginal media in this country. There is not one paper, media outlet or news broadcaster in this country that can claim the same autonomy and voice this publication can in regards to representing the struggle of our people without some form of non-Aboriginal influence. It is the commitment of the BNR team, their blood sweat and tears and their voices uncensored, loud and proud that you will read issue by issue, article by article.
overcoming Indigenous disadvantage at the end of 2014. The report demonstrated that during the same fifteen year period, Aboriginal imprisonment rates had increased 57 per cent for adults and juvenile detention has increased to 24 times that of non-Aboriginal youth. An Australian Institute of Criminology study found that there has been a spike in the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody in recent years. Evidence also shows that low educational outcomes for Aboriginal children are connected to a lack of social inclusion and intergenerational poverty stemming from an economy that aids the rich, and attacks the poor.
As the title suggests, this article is on the evils of neoliberalism and the devastating effects it has on our people.
“The clash of values between Aboriginality and neoliberalism engenders and maintains a state of alienation and exclusion, having devastating effects at every level of Aboriginal life.”
“Please don’t be sucked in by the hype of Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton and others – neoliberalism is nothing more than a final nail in the coffin of colonial assimilation and should come with an Aboriginal health warning.” To put it bluntly, Western free market economies and neoliberal ideology just don’t mesh well with Aboriginal communities. The problem is that when applied to our values and collective consciousness as Aboriginal people, the principals of self interest and individualism remain too conflicting for Aboriginal communities to survive. Over the past 15 years, the likes of Pearson and Langton have been instrumental in formulating and imposing a neoliberal approach to Aboriginal affairs. The Productivity Commission released a comprehensive report on ISSUE 1
This devastation is also highlighted by the fact that Aboriginal-led suicide prevention bodies such as the Halls Creek Healing Taskforce have been unable to attract funding from government under the hard-line of neoliberalism that has left such programs at risk. Within the federal budget released in early 2014, more than half a billion dollars of Aboriginal funding was slashed over five years with over 150 programs centralised into just five to be run out of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. That’s the Prime Minister’s own department, liaising with handpicked Indigenous representatives, who sit on the same Indigenous Advisory Council with mining and big business. This is neoliberalism in practice as those hit the hardest by the 2014 budget are the unemployed young
people, the sick, the poor, the aged and disabled pensioners, as well as our own mob. There is no doubt that we are seeing the same devastating effects here that we have witnessed around the world when neoliberalism has been pushed onto Indigenous communities. Another disturbing trend is the increase in Indigenous suicide rates within free market economies occurring not only in the US and Canada but also here in Australia, with our people suffering the highest suicide rates in the world. Both Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton are well-educated people, so why the denial of facts about neoliberalism? One can only assume it’s because they both benefit personally from advocating neoliberal approaches to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage.
“Pearson’s Cape York Welfare Reform trials receive more funding from federal and state government agencies than any other trial program per population base in the history of Aboriginal affairs.” A grant of 133 million dollars for the initial four-year period was jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments in servicing only four communities. That’s 133 million dollars over four years for 2961 people. Marcia Langton’s reputation in Aboriginal affairs was left in tatters after a lack of disclosure over her series of Boyer Lectures in 2012. It was revealed that Langton’s research was funded with tens of thousands of dollars from mining giants Rio Tinto, Woodside and Santos. Her lectures praised the resource extraction industry, claiming the mining boom had been of great benefit to Aboriginal communities. Black Nations Rising P34 Black Nations Rising P-
Langton is also the co-author of the Creating Parity report on Indigenous employment and welfare, alongside mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest. The report pushes punitive approaches to education via truancy officers while neglecting to provide basic resources and infrastructure for remote schools, welfare with the expansion of income management cards, and employment through amendments to the work-for-the-dole scheme which will see our people having to work 52 weeks a year for around five dollars cash an hour. Outside of remote Aboriginal communities, work-for-the-dole participants are only required to work 26 weeks of the year. Nowhere does any of this hardline policy acknowledge the importance of Indigenous knowledge production or cultural competencies. It offers no recognition of the value of language diversity and/or the maintenance of cultural identity. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is the government’s own collector of statistics and guardian of high standards and its research outlines clearly the importance of language, identity and cultural maintenance in alleviating Aboriginal disadvantage. Evidence based research shows that what works is bottom-up, culturally appropriate programs in partnership with local communities. What does not work is top-down, centrally governed proposals implemented by financial penalty. As well as financial gain, while their own people suffer in third world poverty, people like Marcia Langton
and Noel Pearson also benefit from the social capital provided by being regular columnists for The Australian newspaper as part of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire. No one publication has done more to push the Pearson position than The Australian, and in particular columnist Tony Koch.
people are granted equality and freedom under the law to seek what personal talents and hard work can get them despite the barriers people face.
This public voice given to ‘Aboriginal leaders’ appointed by nonAboriginal people allows government to dismiss evidence based qualitative research over what can only be described as the opinions of a number of senior White business figures.
Neoliberalism does not consider this. It also fails in addressing corporate greed. It uses privatisation to make up for human disadvantage instead of voluntary charitable service. Therefore, much of the aid given with one hand through philanthropy is taken with the other as we see mining and other corporations utilize disadvantage in appropriating access to the lands of the most vulnerable.
What is clear is that Marcia Langton, Noel Pearson, and others may have the support of Rupert Murdoch, but they have virtually no followers within the general Aboriginal community.
Ask yourself, why is Noel Pearson writing for The Australian, while grassroots Aboriginal activists are meeting in parks armed with loudspeakers?
One of the main problems with neoliberal theory is that it is based on equality, not freedom. Equality is a major component of a free society, but it is not the centre, as those in power define and dictate the terms and reference for freedom. What may be equal to some, such as the right to work, becomes slavery for others.
Because when you have public policy that denies research based evidence in masking failing economies by making the rich better-off by taking from the poor, neoliberalism becomes nothing more than a co-dependent relationship of corruption between the financial sector, government and the media.
Furthermore, the ‘equality’ of neoliberalism seeks equality of outcomes but without considering barriers of class and race. As much as we would like to believe we are, we are not all born equal. And though some individuals are able to overcome obstacles of race, poverty and position, the majority continue to suffer. A free society seeks equality and freedom of opportunity, wherein all
Neoliberalism won’t liberate Aboriginal people, quite the opposite in fact. The same goes for Western democracy and capitalism. These introduced colonial systems and ideologies are failing us, and we need a change. *Dr Woolombi Waters (KAMILAROI) speaks his traditional language, lectures at Griffith University and has also written for the National Indigenous Times and The Conversation.
Intercontinental Cry – comprehensive online coverage and the print magazine ‘People Land Truth‘ detailing the challenges, struggles, and successes of Indigenous peoples around the world. www.intercontinentalcry.org Warrior Publications – manuals for Indigenous liberation and a news aggregator devoted to promoting Indigenous warrior culture, fighting spirit and resistance movement. www.warriorpublications.wordpress.com ISSUE 1
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ISSUE #1 JANUARY 2015 | WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BLACKNATIONSRISING
The first edition of Black Nations Rising (BNR) magazine, a new national Aboriginal publication dedicated to informing our people about deco...
Published on Jan 19, 2015
The first edition of Black Nations Rising (BNR) magazine, a new national Aboriginal publication dedicated to informing our people about deco...