ISSUE #2 JUNE 2015 | WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BLACKNATIONSRISING
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 subscribe 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. To read BNR online, go to www.issuu.com/blacknationsrising CO-EDITORS Pekeri Ruska & Callum Clayton-Dixon PRINTING/DISTRIBUTION COORDINATOR Merinda Meredith LAYOUT/DESIGN Anima Dorante & Samantha Paxton CARTOONIST Jade Slockee
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3 | We Are BY ARIKA WAULU 4-5 | Remembering the Frontier Wars BY JIDAH CLARK 6-7 | Invasion Day 2015 Blackout BY PEKERI RUSKA 8-9 | True allies don’t claim Aboriginal land BY HAMISH CHITTS 10-11 | Chiapas and the Zapatistas BY JARROD HUGHES 12-13 | Warrior: the time for talk is over, stand up and be fearless ROBERT THORPE & MERIKI KALINYA 14 | Words of the Struggle: Neocolonialism HOWARD ADAMS & GORD HILL 15 | Defending Language & Land BY ISHKĀDI 16-17 | Our Land Our Government 18-19 | Aboriginal OR Australian? BY CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON 20 | Survival is a meagre existence BY JACK SHEPPARD 21 | Declaration of Aboriginal Nationality BY DALE RUSKA 22-23 | Coal mining, big banks and climate change BY MILLIE TELFORD 24-25 | Food is Medicine: Decolonize Your Diet BY EVA COGHILL 26 | Conscious Sounds: Provocalz BY BOGAINE SKUTHORPE-SPEARIM 27 | Pressure Point BY SAM COOK
They came here to conquer To hunt down and slaughter They came here with intentions Intentions to wrought us Intentions to rid us Intentions to hurt us Law we are Land we are Totems we are They lie, they greed, they will not succeed Genocide only seen by some, they ignorant they dumb Suicide we are Deaths in custody we are Invisible we are So we rally the streets, and the main media won’t air Forced removal we are Stolen children we are Invisible we are They ain’t shame, they reclaim They don’t care because they in vain So we light a fire and burn their flag Now all death threats and keyboard warriors Where are they now?
REMEMBERING THE FRONTIER WARS by Jidah Clark GUNDITJMARA
Direct Action AD: Memefest
Lest we forget Although not evident at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, war was waged on these shores, on this soil. Commonly referred to as the ‘frontier wars’, armed conflict between colonial forces and Aboriginal tribes lasted the first 140 years of European invasion of this country. This war began in the southeast, and spread slowly but surely across the rest of the continent. Conflict was protracted and anguishing, but our warriors’ resistance was widespread and persistent.
Forgetfulness The frontier wars were ultimately fought over the possession of land and the exercise of sovereignty. One of the main reasons that Australians find it difficult to acknowledge this war is because it goes to the very heart of the foundations of Australian sovereignty and ownership of this great land. Conveniently, in an effort to avoid those fundamental questions, the conventional historical narrative has played down the scale and extent of frontier warfare, at times denying that it took place altogether. Australia’s culture of forgetfulness has its roots in the early 1900s, when those writing about Australian history began arguing that this country was peacefully settled without the experience of war within its own borders. However, overwhelming evidence shows that the conditions under which this country was ‘settled’ were far from peaceful. Frontier conflict was widespread and severe, being one of the most prominent and persistent features of life in colonial Australia during the nineteenth century. And the colonists truly believed they were at war with our people. A compelling example of this comes from a letter published in the Launceston Advertiser in 1831: “We are at war with them: they look upon as enemies – as invaders – as their oppressors and persecutors – they resist our invasion. They have never been subdued, therefore they are not rebellious subjects, but an injured nation, defending in their own way, their rightful possessions, which have been torn from them by force.” 1 ISSUE 2
As historian Henry Reynolds puts it, “If there was no war then thousands of Aborigines were murdered in a centurylong, continent wide crime wave tolerated by government.”
How the wars played out As colonists encroached on our country, they disobeyed local laws, treating the land as their own. The colonial aggressors often fought unfairly and brutally. A policy of extermination was carried out by settlers. Talk of “extermination” was widespread and often spoken about publicly. Even early Governors believed it necessary to “infuse a universal terror” amongst our people. As the borders of the frontier gradually spread across the country, it was not an uncommon tactic to indiscriminately shoot our people on sight. An uglier and unnerving feature of the war was that colonial governments funded and administered wholesale murder through the Native Police. The Native Police were Aboriginal troopers ‘recruited’ by colonial authorities to hunt down, murder and massacre other Aboriginal people. But we may be reassured by the fact that our resistance fighters created severe fear and anxiety amongst the settler population. One example, of which there are many more, comes from settlers on the McIntyre River who lived anxiously for years during which time: “Not one of them could stir from his hut unarmed; when one milked or went for a bucket of water, another fully armed stood over him.” Putting aside the loss of lives on both sides (numbering in the tens if not hundreds of thousands), the destruction of the invaders’ property was significant. However, what was at stake for our people was infinitely greater. It was the control of our ancient homelands. What the invaders sought out to achieve was one of the greatest appropriations of land in world history. Eventually, our resistance fighters were subdued. Afterwards, our people were often treated worse than captured
combatants, being subject to routine brutality with bashings, floggings, rape and indentured labour. Then the reserve system was implemented, becoming an institution akin to open-air prisons for a defeated enemy. Nevertheless, a powerful theme is that our people did not acquiesce to the invasion, and never accepted the idea that the land ceased to be ours. Our fighters mounted attacks on homesteads, dispersed and killed livestock, used fire to push back intruders, and forced many pastoralists off their stations. Deep knowledge of the terrain was often utilized to our advantage in defending territory. Our warriors often addressed the invaders stating that the land belonged to us, accompanied with demands that they leave our country. These types of complaints and demands continued through the reserve days, and, in various forms, continue through to this very day.
Time to remember The tendency to forget the frontier wars stands in direct contradiction with the culture of remembrance for Australia’s military history. Our warriors do not receive anywhere near the same respect accorded to service people who die in overseas wars. We are all, to some extent, aware of how the frontier wars affected our various communities. But I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage Aboriginal readers to uncover further and pay homage to the sacrifices made by your own people on the frontier. The local stories of every community, every tribe, are worthy of recognition. Our people fought with valour and bravery in the face of an insurmountable enemy. The way we recognise and remember our heroes, and those lost in battle, deserves reconsideration. Our resistance fighters were staunch patriots, willing to die for kin and country. How will you remember them? *JIDAH CLARK (Djabwurrung) comes from Framlingham, an Aboriginal community in the west of so-called Victoria. He is a lawyer and activist.
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Thousands crashed Melbourne’s Australia Day parade to protest the celebration of invasion and genocide, writes PEKERI RUSKA (Goenpul/Yuggera).
very year I question why anyone in this country would want to celebrate the 26th of January as ‘Australia Day’. This day in 1788 marked the beginning of an all-out assault on Aboriginal lands, lives and liberties. The overwhelming majority of settler society blindly celebrates Australia’s colonial beginnings. Unfortunately, some of our own people also partake in Australia Day festivities, inevitably giving legitimacy to a nation built upon 227 years (and counting) of dispossession and genocide. We must learn the brutal history of colonization and understand the truth of exactly what ‘Australia Day’ is. In a nutshell, Australia Day is an annual splurge of shallow government-endorsed patriotism designed to suppress the undeniable fact that Australia is a nation with a sinister and deceitful history. It’s an unashamed continuation of the White Australia policy. ‘Invasion Day’ is a far more appropriate name for what should be a time of mourning, but also a time for action, Aboriginal action. 1 ISSUE 2
Invasion Day in Melbourne this year was different. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before at any protest. Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) was determined for it to be the event that would kick off a year of actions against the colonial system. It was exactly that, and more. We put out the call for people to gather at the steps of Victoria’s State Parliament House on the morning of January 26. Social media was abuzz with excitement, and flyers were plastered on lampposts and noticeboards throughout the streets of Melbourne. With thousands having clicked ‘attending’ on our official Facebook event, Parliament House’s security team contacted WAR with a list of ‘conditions’ for the protest. One of these conditions was that “all activity shall be confined to the first six steps of Parliament House and should not encroach above the lower six steps”. We didn’t abide by these ‘conditions’, and there was no retaliation from security or police. Over 2000 people turned up to the rally. The colours red, black and
yellow spilled out onto the main road in a sea of flags, banners and raised fists. As the chants grew louder and the people poured in, we knew Melbourne’s Aboriginal community was going to make its mark on Invasion Day 2015. PLANNING & PREPARATION For our demonstration in Melbourne on the 13th of March against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, we rallied again outside Parliament House. This time there were police on horseback blocking us from moving up past than the sixth step – they came in force, and they came prepared. In 2013, Brisbane’s Invasion Day march pushed through police lines into the South Bank Australia Day celebrations. In 2014, the police were better prepared and managed to prevent the same from happening; a two metre high fence and a line of police blocked 400 Aboriginal people from entering South Bank. This year, WAR led a group of 15 into South Bank via another entrance and flanked the unsuspecting police. But the march was once again prevented from entering South Bank, and WAR’s attempt at a tactical approach highlighted the need for serious preparation and planning for any such demonstration.
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Keeping to the principle of ‘culture first’, the rally began with a smoking ceremony. Flowers were then laid on the steps of Parliament House as a symbol of remembrance for all those we’ve lost at the hands of colonization over the last 227 years. According to WAR organizer and Gunnai/Gunditjmara woman Meriki Kalinya, the Victoria Police took a keen interest in the protest during the leadup: “They asked how many people were attending and the route we would be marching. We didn’t provide them with the information they wanted, and they definitely weren’t ready for what we were about to do.” As we marched down Bourke Street, we could see a crowd at the bottom of the hill on Swanston Street. Unbeknown to us, Melbourne’s Australia Day parade was in full swing. Spurred on by a swelling sense of excitement, our pace quickened and the march gained momentum. A single police car sped ahead to join a flustered group of officers on foot and on bicycles. They’d realized what we were about to do and were getting ready for a desperate and futile attempt to stop us. As he and his colleagues rushed to regroup, one police officer was caught on video exclaiming, “Stop here, we can try, we can try!” They tried, they failed. We pushed past the police line without hesitation. It quickly dawned on us that we were about to hit the Australia Day parade and didn’t have a plan in place.
But we weren’t about to stop and turn around. We knew that we had a task to fulfil, to disrupt and bring a halt to the Australia Day parade. The next obstacle we reached was the fence separating onlookers from the parade. Gunditjmara man Chris Saunders saw an opening and set about breaking apart the fence. Flooding onto Swanston Street, we found ourselves right in the middle of the parade. This was when Melbourne’s Aboriginal community truly took their stand on Invasion Day 2015 and gave meaning to the slogan ‘we’re still here’. “There’s no way one little steel barrier was stop us or contain our voices,” Saunders told BNR magazine. “If we got arrested, so be it.” Preventing the Australia Day parade from progressing as planned, we stopped several times at major intersections where our people broke out into song and dance. The streets reverberated with the sound of clapsticks and the didgeridoo. The parade commentator took to the loudspeaker over and over again telling us to “move on”. We knew that we had to stay, because we had a right to stay. “We reminded them of the history they wanted to forget. I think many people in this country suffer from cognitive dissonance when it comes to the reality of Invasion Day. The commentator telling us to move on is no exception,” Kalinya said. Mainstream media labelled our Invasion Day protest as being ‘uninvited’ as tourists lined the streets waving mini Australian flags. How ironic that we’re
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not welcome on own land. Yet the whole purpose behind our protest was to show the ‘uninvited’ colonizer that Aboriginal people are still here and that this country remains a crime scene. It’s days like this that our voices need to be heard, our presence not only seen but felt. In doing so, we make clear our opposition to the colonial state’s attempt to whitewash 227 years of dispossession and genocide. We were asked what exactly it was we wanted. We’re not just talking about changing a date. Our ultimate goal is to end the colonial control of our lands and lives, to restore our tribal sovereignty. We will fight for freedom and independence, to rid our people and our communities of the interfering and oppressive hands of the colonial Australian state. It’s crucial that we as Aboriginal people never lose the will and determination to protest, to take a stand against injustice. We have a responsibility to our ancestors, ourselves, and our future generations to never assimilate. We won’t back down, we won’t go away, we won’t celebrate Invasion Day. *PEKERI RUSKA (Goenpul/Yuggera) is Co-editor of Black Nations Rising and an organizer with Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance in Melbourne.
TRUE ALLIES DON’T CLAIM ABORIGINAL LAND By Hamish Chitts, Scottish (MacGregor & Fraser clans)
any allies of the struggle for Aboriginal sovereignty still proudly identify as being Australian. While many understand some of the history of genocide and theft on this continent, they fail to understand how their Australian identity perpetuates that genocide and theft. We also need to learn and understand that the notion of being Australian and the country of Australia was not founded on feelings of independence, but founded on ideas of White supremacy.
WHITE AUSTRALIA In the years leading up to federation, and in the years after, this country was regarded as a place for the ‘White race’. The push for the six colonies to unite and form the ‘Commonwealth of Australia’ didn’t come from a burning passion to be free from Britain. The founders of the Australian nation merely disagreed with the cosmopolitan nature of the British Empire and decided to make a partial break from Britain to ensure that Australia remained ‘racially pure’. The Bulletin, a magazine with the masthead slogan ‘Australia for the White Man’, made clear their hatred of the British Empire’s coloured subjects who would “destroy the decency and livelihood of the working man by opening the country to leprous Mongols and every unwashed tribe of the British dominions” (23rd of April 1887). These ideas were widespread across the political spectrum. Trade unions marched under the banner ‘For a White Australia’. One of the main platforms of the newly formed Australian Labor Party in 1905 was “the cultivation of an Australian sentiment based on the maintenance 1 ISSUE 2
of racial purity”. Soon after Australia was federated, the parliament passed the Immigration Restriction Act 1901. This legislation formed the basis of the White Australia policy which sought to exclude all non-Europeans from Australia. James McGowen, the first Labor Premier of NSW (1910 to 1913), told parliament, “While Britain is behind us, and while her naval power is supreme, Australia will be what Australians want it – white, pure and industrially good.” During the Second World War, Prime Minister John Curtin reinforced the policy: “This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race.” Due to the economic needs of business for population increases, the White Australia policy was progressively dismantled between 1949 and 1973, but by then the policy was already a resounding success. Most northwestern Europeans (especially those from countries in the British Isles – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) living in ‘Australia’ now see themselves as the people of this country.
They are the ‘Australians’ of Australia who allow foreigners to join them as long as they are willing to assimilate and recognise northwestern Europeans as the people of this land. Chinese people whose family have lived on this continent for five or more generations are still seen as ‘foreign’ and
described as ‘Chinese Australians’, while English people who came to this continent as children are simply called ‘Australian’.
DECONSTRUCTING WHITENESS By identifying as Australian, you are buying into the project for the South Seas outpost of the British race, and at the same time claiming Aboriginal land. To this day, the Australian identity claims this continent as the land base of a White nation – a nation only for Whites and those willing to act White. The term ‘Australia’ is a direct contradiction and denial of the hundreds of tribal countries that exist on this continent whose sovereignty over that land has never been ceded. It is hypocritical to chant, “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land!” while at the same time claiming to be Australian; the very notion of Australia claims Aboriginal land for itself. Brutal and broken from inception, Australianness cannot be reformed. When Aboriginal people meet someone for the first time they often ask, “Where are you from?” They are not asking you “Where do you live?” or “Where were you born?” They are asking who your people are, what your heritage is. When someone replies ‘Australia’, they’re effectively saying “I am lost, I have no culture, I have no land and I’m claiming yours”. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Everyone is from somewhere, every culture has its own unique perspective and contribution to the world. Instead of claiming to be Australian, a pseudo culture and identity which denies the existence of Aboriginal sovereignty, investigate, accept and be proud of your immigrant heritage and culture, and walk this Aboriginal land with respect. Black Nations Nations Rising Rising P8 PBlack
As well as respecting the people of this land, you are helping to weaken the White Australian gang which dominates this continent. Northwestern Europeans living on this continent come from a variety of cultures. The description of groups of people as Black or White only came about in the early North American slave trade. Initially, all the slaves were Irish, Scottish and English criminals and rebels sentenced to transportation and slavery for a limited number of years. When kidnapped Africans started to arrive as slaves, they started organizing with the Irish, Scottish and English slaves and ex-slaves to fight
the slavery system. To derail this unity, British colonial authorities created laws that differentiated between Black and White slaves. White slaves had their sentences reduced and Black slaves were made slaves for life. By 1788, White superiority over Blacks was an entrenched idea used to justify the subjugation of peoples around the world by European colonial powers. How many allies of the Aboriginal struggle, born on this continent, actually know the name of the tribe whose country they were born on, or the country on which they live? Learn these things,
and along with your new non-Australian cultural identity, you will gain a new perspective on the Aboriginal fight for liberation. With this new perspective, we can actually start building a better society in partnership with the true peoples of this land, rather than trying to patch up or make nice the White supremacist occupation that is Australia. *HAMISH CHITTS (Scottish) has been a staunch & committed ally of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy since it was founded in 2012.
All white men who come to these shores with a clean record, and who leave behind them the memory of class distinctions and the religious differences of the old world, are Australian. In this regard all men who leave the tyrant-ridden land of Europe for freedom of speech and right of personal liberty are Australians before they set foot on the ship which brings them hither. No nigger, no Chinaman, no lascar, no kanaka, no purveyor of cheap coloured labour is an Australian...
‘Australian’ identity according to THE BULLETIN magazine, 1887
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Chiapas Zapatistas and the
Taungurong man JARROD HUGHES recounts his experiences visiting Chiapas State in Mexico, the birthplace of the revolutionary Zapatista uprising.
arrive in the city of San Cristobal, Mexico at around 6am after an overnight bus trip that wound its way through the mountains and valleys of the Chiapas State. Walking the streets at this early hour I notice quickly that San Cristobal is not like the other Mexican cities I’d visited. What distinguishes San Cristobal from the rest of Mexico is its mountainous setting, which seems to influence all areas of life. The architecture, for instance, looks more like something you’d expect to see in the highlands of Nepal than in Mexico. The cooler climate affects local dress, which is most noticeable in the elaborate garments of the local Indigenous women. The mountains, which surround San Cristobal and are visible from any point in the city, are also 1 ISSUE 2
home to the people who make San Cristobal famous: the Zapatistas. After a few hours, the streets of San Cristobal start to populate. Three groups of people interact and avoid each other at various points in the city. First, the Indigenous women who are prominent and spread throughout the markets and main streets sell their crafts and attend to children. Secondly, the Mexicans go about their daily duties and jobs. Thirdly, the tourists hang about cafés and wander the streets taking photos. Walking through the streets of San Cristobal, certain buildings become recognizable. I notice City Hall, which was occupied by the Zapatistas, along with the rest of San Cristobal, on the 1st of January 1994 after the North American Free Trade
Agreement came into effect. On this date, famous images were broadcast around the world of the staunch, armed and balaclava-clad Zapatistas destroying City Hall documents. I also notice the San Cristobal Cathedral, which was the location of early negotiations between the Zapatistas and the Mexican Government. I spent the rest of the day wandering the city, all the while mindful of the mountains and the people living in them. The next day I meet with Cesair, a guide who takes outsiders to visit certain Indigenous communities in the mountains surrounding San Cristobal. We are planned to visit two communities: Zinacantán and Chamula. Both communities are made up entirely of Indigenous people who speak the Mayan language of Tzotzil. Cesair’s family is from the community BlackNations NationsRising RisingP10 PBlack
of Zinacantán, but he was raised in San Cristobal. He is a quiet and reserved man but his passion for respecting and protecting these communities is clear from the outset. When I ask Cesair whether he feels stronger in his identity as Mexican or Indigenous he quickly suggests the latter. The distance between the communities of Zinacantán and Chamula is only 8km but in many respects they are worlds apart as they maintain highly distinct cultural practices. In one community, clothing is made from cotton and in the other wool. In one community, polygamy is accepted and in the other it isn’t tolerated. These differences are replicated throughout the hundreds of communities in the Chiapas State, making it an incredibly culturally rich, diverse and unique part of the world. We visit Zinacantán first. As soon as we enter the community, its cultural depth and distinctness becomes apparent. The men, women and children all wear clothing of the same purple colour and similar design. Cesair informs us that the ubiquity of the clothing represents the values of equality, community and anti-individualism familiar to Indigenous societies worldwide. As we walk through the town, we are informed that there is a ceremony taking place in the church. Like many of the Indigenous communities in Chiapas, the Zinacantán locals practice a mixture of Catholic and Indigenous religion. From outside, the local church appears to be of typical Latin-American style but on the inside things are very different. Rather than having a single priest deliver a sermon, a group of about 15 men lead the ceremony, which consists of music and dance. These men wear elaborate traditional clothing and their shoes are identical to those worn by Mayan spiritual men prior to colonization, the style of which can be seen in engravings on ruins in the area. After the church, we visit a family home. There is no electricity, gas or hot water and the floors are simply dirt. But there is no sickness here. In the main living room a family elder sits by the fire making fresh tortillas. She is 95 years old. Running around the house and the streets are the local children. They are all healthy. In Mexico, a quarter of all men ISSUE 2 1
and a third of all women are obese. Here the people are healthy. As we start our drive out of Zinacantán, the conversation turns to land rights. Cesair informs us that the community shares communal ownership over the land. Recognition of Indigenous land rights by the Mexican Government is limited. The 1994 Free Trade Agreement granted a number of US and Canadian mining companies access to Indigenous land in Chiapas and weakened the few legal protections over Indigenous land rights. These developments were a catalyst for the emergence of the Zapatista movement.
What we’re going to do is shake this country up from below, pick it up and turn it on its head... SUBCOMANDANTE MARCOS Spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation While the Zapatistas provide an effective resistance to the incursions of the Mexican state into Chiapas Indigenous communities, they do not enjoy universal support from those communities. The reasons are familiar to any follower of Aboriginal politics in back home. Chiapas Indigenous communities are coerced into participating in the Mexican democratic system and elect a local representative. This assimilationist process often delivers highly conservative ‘leaders’ who push out the radical Zapatistas. Many of the communities that reject the Zapatistas are also given appeasements from the Mexican Government such as roads, hospitals and schools. The most militant Zapatista communities receive nothing. We arrive in Chamula. On our walk to the center of town, we bypass the local prison. The prison is in proximity to shops and walkways and the cells are in open view of the public. All the cells are empty. In Chamula, justice is administered by the community rather than the state. The Mexican police do not come here As we continue on our walk, the uniqueness of Chamula becomes
increasingly apparent. The clothing worn by the locals is made of thick black fur. Again, everyone is wearing the same black style of clothing. We arrive at the church, and here too there is a ceremony taking place. Huddled in the corner of the church yard is a small group of men and women surrounding a religious icon, all of them in deep and intense concentration. As we enter the church I am overwhelmed by what I see. The Chamula Church separated from the Roman Bureaucracy in 1969 and is like no other church in the world. The floor is completely covered in pine needles which create a thick haze in the air. The floor and the walls are dotted with thousands of small candles which add to the surreal atmosphere. As I walk through the church, I notice a number of shamans crouched on the floor, many with chickens, some alive and some recently sacrificed. Cesair later informs us that the chickens are sacrificed for traditional medicine purposes. The shamans feel for the pulse of the sick and are believed to cure many illnesses through traditional Indigenous practices. Cesair informs us that one of the greatest threats to the culture of the Indigenous communities of Chiapas is foreign missionaries, often Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Pentecostal evangelicals from the United States of America. They are often seen in the communities ostensibly providing charity, such as prescriptive eyewear, accompanied by religious texts. The communities respond by exiling converts, who end up living in dire conditions in population centers like San Cristobal, disconnected from their culture and forced to raise their children without the assistance of their family and community. On the drive back to San Cristobal Cesair and I compare the situation for Indigenous people in Mexico and back home. He talks about American mining companies and their plan to build a highway through countless Indigenous communities in Chiapas. I tell him about the stolen generations and Black incarceration. We speculate on the whereabouts of Subcomandante Marcos. In no time we are back in San Cristobal. Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP11 P-
WARRIOR THE TIME FOR TALK IS OVER
ROBERT THORPE at the 2014 #Genocidal20 protests
LACK NATIONS RISING magazine talked to veteran Aboriginal activist Robert Thorpe (Gunnai/ Djabwurrung/Gunditjmara) about his involvement in the struggle for liberation. How did you get involved in the Aboriginal struggle? I think that if you’re Aboriginal, you are born into the struggle. I come from a strong, proud and determined Aboriginal family. Standing up for our rights was all that we knew. I was bought up in very political communities like Redfern and Fitzroy. Back in the day, there was no recognition of Aboriginal people, no organisations, there was nothing. We were totally written off, particularly here in Victoria. But I was fortunate enough to be around some very wise, strong Aboriginal people, elders, who I learnt a lot from. What has your involvement been with Aboriginal resistance in this country? I’ve been involved in activism, that’s been my contribution. I’ve been educating myself about what hell has happened to our people in the last 200 plus years. I’ve been trying to educate other people, non-Aboriginal people as well. I have been getting involved with like-minded people all around this country for a long time and working towards liberating ourselves from our situation. We really have not got much choice but to fight for our most basic and fundamental human rights. We need to stand up against racism and the destruction of our culture. I see this as important, not just for myself, but for all of our people. Look at how beautiful we are and what a beautiful culture we have – that’s why I am involved. What is the importance of bringing Aboriginal issues to light at international events? We are always looking for the 1 ISSUE 2
next international spotlight. This country is a crime scene, so we need to expose them at an international level. We have used things like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games as opportunities to expose this country for what it really is. That has been the strategy. But now we need something more than that. There has been enough talk, now it is time for action. What do you see as the issues facing Aboriginal people today? There has always been the issues around genocide, the premeditated criminal act committed by the British crown. There is a lack of recognition of our sovereignty, our humanity, the law of this land and the fact that there is no treaty. We’ve coined the phrase ‘Black GST’ – genocide, sovereignty, treaty. Everything we talk about today is underpinned by these three issues. If people don’t understand the issues of genocide and sovereignty, then maybe they do not want to know. They haven’t got a treaty, they haven’t got consent and they haven’t got jurisdiction. The time for talk is over. What is your advice for young Aboriginal people today? Young people, know where you stand with your land and your law, that’s what really makes you strong and powerful as an individual. Know who you are, where you come from, and know your mobs’ history – it’s empowering. To understand where you come from is important, to understand where you are going is also important. Knowledge is crucial. You will never stop learning in this life. It is never too late to start learning. Believe in yourself and believe in who you are. Believe in your Aboriginal rights. Be proud of who you are. We are a beautiful people. Try and envision what the future will be in 20-30 years. Is there going to be a violent revolution, or will there be a treaty? BlackNations NationsRising RisingP12 PBlack
WARRIOR STAND UP AND BE FEARLESS
MERIKI KALINYA on the frontline of demonstrations that shut down Melbourne’s CBD
ERIKI KALINYA is a founding member of Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and one of the core organizers of WAR’s Melbourne chapter. For Meriki, being a ‘warrior’ is an obligation: In today’s context, an Aboriginal warrior is somebody who is actively involved in the process of decolonization. They revive their own culture and implement cultural practices and protocols into acts of resistance. They live and breathe the messages and ideas they fight for. A warrior is someone on the front line of Aboriginal resistance, someone who speaks out and stands up for what they believe is right, regardless of the consequences. But it is not just about protests. It is educating yourself and educating your peers on the importance of resisting and reviving. My family have always been involved in the resistance for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I would listen to family members having philosophical discussions about the Aboriginal struggle – their passion was contagious. I had no idea the impact this would have on my adult life. As I got older, I started connecting the dots. I began educating myself on what was really happening to my people. I learned of the massacres and the ongoing oppression of my people. I saw and felt the injustices. You really don’t have any choice once you open that door of Black consciousness. You cannot sit and watch colonization and genocide happen to the people you grow up with, the people you love – it’s our responsibility to resist and revive. You do it for your ancestors, the future generations, the community and the people you care about. In the last 12 months, I have taken a lot of chances. I weigh up what I could possibly lose and what the consequences 1 ISSUE 2
could be, but it’s all worth it in the end. I travelled to so-called Canada and was detained because I presented an Aboriginal passport at Vancouver international airport. I’ve burned the Australian flag, twice. We launched Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance and Black Nations Rising magazine. I’ve been a part of all this because I am not Australian. My purpose as a Gunnai and Gunditjmara is to resist colonial oppression while educating my own people. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It is hard, and I cop criticism regularly. My former Black Panther mother keeps me in check. I am blessed to have a big family with siblings, cousins, uncles and aunties to keep me grounded and support me. We need warriors who will stand up and be fearless. We need to carry on the fight of our ancestors and understand the struggles they endured. We cannot afford to live a life of individualism, because that’s not a part of who we are. We need to take care of our culture and all that it means to be an Aboriginal person – that includes looking out for each other. We need to actively resist what compromises our Aboriginal nationhood and rebuild what was destroyed. Language is an indicator of assimilation. The extreme ethnic cleansing we experienced here in so-called Victoria and the rest of this continent is nothing short of genocide; particularly in the missionary days where the Gunnai tongue wasn’t allowed to speak the Gunnai language, law, songline and story. Reclaiming my ancestors’ words, my birthright, is my way of liberating myself from colonisation. Although this is only one component, it’s a start to a very long road to learning about the civilisation that underpinned society before European colonization. BlackNations NationsRising RisingP13 PBlack
WORDS OF THE STRUGGLe 1 ISSUE 2
eocolonialism means a ‘new colonialism’. It involves the use of state-funded Native services, businesses and organizations to indirectly control Native people (also known as ‘the Aboriginal industry’). In general, it means giving some of the benefits of the dominant society to a small, privileged minority, in return for their help in making sure the majority don’t cause trouble… the image of Natives in government helps create the myth that all Native people have a place in the dominant society. The change from colonialism to neocolonialism is a change only in how the state controls the colonized people. Colonialism is a system in which the colonized people have no control over their lives economically, socially, politically, or culturally. The power to make decisions in these important areas of daily life are almost totally in the hands of others, either the state or corporations. The state is willing to share some of the wealth of a racist system with a few Natives in return for a more effective method of controlling the majority.
The most threatening and effective form of neocolonialism devised by the state has been its efforts to intervene and control popular Native organizations which had been previously independent. They began with core grants to help the associations organize; then the elected leaders of the organizations got larger and larger salaries, making them dependent on the state just as the Native bureaucrats in government were. As the years went by more money was provided to organizations, money for housing, economic development and service programs etc. The most important effect of government funding, or state intervention, is that the state, by manipulating grants, can determine to a large extent what strategy the organizations will use. It is no coincidence that when organizations were independent of government money in the early 70s, they followed a militant strategy which confronted government. Now, after several decades of government funding, they are following a strategy that requires subservience to the state. *adapted from ‘Tortured People: The Politics of Colonization’ by HOWARD ADAMS (1995), cartoon from ‘Colonization and Decolonization: A Manual for Indigenous Liberation in the 21st Century’ by GORD HILL (2006)
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
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DEFENDING LANGUAGE & LAND By Ishkādi, Tałsetān
y name is Ishkādi. I am Ch’iyōne (wolf) clan from Tl’abānot’īn (Klabona) territory of the Tałs̱ etān (Tahltan), an indigenous people of so called Canada. My grandparents were the last of our family to live the traditional ways on the land; they also grew up at a time where everyone spoke our traditional language. They tell a story of being on a hunting party and hearing loud noises in the distance. These noises turned out to be, to their surprise, the construction of a road, something completely foreign to them. They had no idea what was to come or how to deal with it, so they let it be. I grew up speaking a language (English), believing in a god, and went by a name that came from a land I had no connection to, England. I later learned that the indigenous peoples of so-called Canada were prohibited from speaking their languages, practicing their culture, singing their songs. They banned us from being ‘Indian’ in an attempt to ‘civilize’ and assimilate us through residential schools (to kill the Indian in the child) and reservations (to separate the Indians from their land). When I was 21 years of age, I began to take interest in learning our traditional language as a way of resisting colonialism. I didn’t do so expecting to find my identity, nor or the ‘nativeness’ my grandparents grew up with that is now on the verge of being completely ISSUE 2 1
forgotten. On this journey, I also learnt that there was no distinction between land, body, mind, and spirit. Through learning our language, I learnt there was a balance between the land and the people. It was then I realized how smart the colonizers were when they outlawed the speaking of Native languages; to separate the indigenous from their connection to the land and themselves. However, I persevered and have since found my roots by learning my traditional language. It has given me the courage, connection and sense of responsibility to defend the land of my ancestors, the same land they have protected for thousands of years for me to enjoy and live on. The land my ancestors protected is under constant threat from industrial development. For over a decade, my people have made continuous efforts to defend the territory we reside on. We protect our lands via blockades and machinery take-overs. I have seen elders get arrested at these blockades. I have seen the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) handcuff and detain my grandparents before carting them away in their vehicles. I have seen sons and daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in tears as their families were taken away – all for standing staunch and protecting their lands. There is an area in Tl’abānot’īn territory known as the Sacred
Headwaters, named for the three salmon bearing river drainages, the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass. This is one of the areas under threat. In the summer of 2013, mining company Fortune Minerals proposed to develop on the Sacred Headwaters. The company had two active drills searching for coal without proper consent from our people. A blockade was set up on the main site of operation where the Klabona Keepers, the Tahltan Elders, presented the mining company with an eviction notice. However, the company did not comply and continued to drill on our land. The people became frustrated and decided to take action. In September 2013, the Klabona Keepers shut down a drill site by occupying a drill rig, impeding mining activity (pictured above). One drill was down but another was still active. A few days later the location of the second drill was identified and it was taken over also. Fortune Minerals would not abandon their post, so after a few weeks the next course of action had to be taken. The Klabona Keepers then banded together to occupy Fortune Minerals’ main camp in late in September. Ultimately, the mining company were forced to pull out. I am on the frontline as a Tałs̱ etān man, an indigenous person, struggling to decolonize by defending my culture, language, land, air and water, all of which we depend on for the survival of our identity. Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP15 P-
OUR LAND OUR GOVERNMENT On the 19th of July 1990, the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) was formed. Established on the principle that Aborigines are and always have been a sovereign people, the APG campaigns for Aboriginal self-determination and self-government. Our vision is for Aboriginal people to take our place among the nations and peoples of the world, not beneath them.
How did the APG come about?
The policy of ‘acting sovereignty’
The Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) emerged from the Federation of Land Councils, a powerful national body dedicated to fighting for Aboriginal land justice. A number of Federation delegates identified the need for a dedicated political arm of the Aboriginal movement.
From its inception, the APG adopted the policy of ‘acting sovereignty’. As part of this policy, the APG began issuing Aboriginal passports and Aboriginal birth certificates. The Aboriginal passport is issued on the basis that the Aboriginal nation is separate to the Australian nation, and that Aboriginal people have distinct rights, including having a separate passport. Nations having accepted APG issued travel documents include Libya (1987 & 1988), Norway and Switzerland (1990), the Mohawk nation (2014), and the Solomon Islands (2015). Although the Australian government refuses to recognize the Aboriginal passport, many Aborigines have successfully re-entered their country through Australian customs providing only the Aboriginal passport. Aboriginal birth certificates are issued so that Aboriginal children can be registered as citizens of the Aboriginal nation. This is an alternative to our people being forced to register their children at birth with the colonial Australian state.
What purpose was the APG to serve? Despite the presence of countless Aboriginal organisations across our country, Aboriginal people still are not able to fully accept responsibility for determining their long term future. Devoted to service delivery, Aboriginal community organizations are inundated with all the day to day crises of a people suffering the effects of over two hundred years of dispossession and oppression. They have been so busy trying to keep their communities alive that they have had little opportunity to sit down, design and implement policies aimed at giving effective control of Aboriginal communities back to the communities themselves. The APG was established with the aim of helping to fill this void. The APG does not claim to be representative of all Aborigines and was not set up to govern Aboriginal people, hence the word ‘provisional’ in our name. Rather, the APG’s role is to be a political vehicle with the aim of bringing Aboriginal aspirations for self-determination and selfgovernment to fruition. ISSUE 2 1
Sending diplomatic delegations overseas, the APG has sought recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty from the international community. This follows a legacy set down by the Aboriginal Embassy in the early 1970s with their trips to Chairman Mao’s China, as well as Aboriginal delegations to Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya in the late 1980s. In 1994, founding APG Chairperson Bob Weatherall and Secretary Michael Mansell travelled to Vanuatu seeking standing at
the South Pacific Forum. “We need to get status throughout the world,” Mansell proclaimed. The APG was refused entry to the meeting after Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke used Australia’s financial muscle to pressure the South Pacific nations. In 2014, a delegation met with representatives of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in Mohawk territory [Quebec, Canada]. National Conference - Hobart, 1992 In August 1992, the APG held its first national meeting in Lutruwita [Tasmania]. Over 150 Aboriginal men, women and children noisily welcomed delegates at the Hobart airport. Local and national media filmed the event. Delegates were driven to the city in a convoy of cars flying Aboriginal flags from the bonnets. These people were ambassadors of the Aboriginal communities they represented. On its way to the city, the convoy passed under a bridge where children from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Child Care Centre held up a huge banner they had made proclaiming “Welcome APG”. “The APG is the product of the many generations of Aboriginal people who have fought despairingly for Aboriginal justice. It represents the reality that only we, as Aboriginal people, can forge a proper place for ourselves and those generations of Aborigines to come.” Bob Weatherall (Gamilaraay) Founding APG Chairperson
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New APG Executive Council elected On the 30th of January 2015, members of the Aboriginal Provisional Government elected a new Executive Council. A spill of all positions saw an injection of new blood into the organization, including lawyer Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera), unionist Merinda Meredith (Darumbal), journalist Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nyaywana), activist Ruby Wharton (Kooma/Gamilaraay), and longtime sovereign rights campaigner Dale Ruska (Goenpul). Lawyer and cofounder of the APG Michael Mansell (Pakana) was re-elected. The Council is responsible for spearheading the organization’s activities and agenda for change, but does not claim to be a representative body. Positions can be filled by popular elections or by co-opting appropriate people.
our passports for political reasons as opposed to security reasons. As part of the design phase, the APG put out a call for Aboriginal artists to contribute their work for the revamped Aboriginal passport. We have also been in talks with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (an alliance of six Native tribes in North America) who issue their own passports as well. After identifying that their passports had “become a casualty of a tighter world security environment”, the Haudenosaunee Documentation Committee (HDC) set about rectifying this. In December 2014, Mohawk diplomat Kenneth Deer travelled to Geneva, Switzerland using the updated Haudenosaunee Confederacy passport. Seeking to learn from their experience, we consulted the HDC about the issues surrounding Indigenous passports.
Hounded and harassed by Australian customs officials
Aboriginal Passport revamp Earlier this year, the Aboriginal Provisional Government opened dialogue with an international supplier of ‘secure documentation’ to begin work on revamping the Aboriginal passport. The updated Aboriginal passport, slated for rollout in early 2016, will comply with security standards set down by the United Nations. This follows a decision by the APG on the need to adopt international standards for our passports if we truly believe the Aboriginal nation is part of the international community. The APG will then work to gain official recognition of the Aboriginal passport from other countries. They will have no choice by to reject
On the 17th of April, APG Chairperson Callum ClaytonDixon was hassled for over 40 minutes by Australian customs officials at Brisbane international airport before re-entering Aboriginal land using his Aboriginal passport alone. On the 12th of May, customs officials threatened to body search APG Treasurer Pekeri Ruska after she insisted on presenting only her Aboriginal passport at Brisbane international airport. Ms Ruska’s passport had been stamped by Solomon Islands customs on entry into and exit from Honiara, where she had spent four days developing relations with key members of the West Papuan independence movement. *In September 2014, an Aboriginal delegation used only their Aboriginal passports to re-enter the country via Brisbane and Melbourne after a month long tour of Native communities in so-called Canada. Less than two weeks later, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison issued a ministerial directive declaring the Aboriginal passport invalid for use at Australian customs.
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We must address the question of national identity if we’re serious about forging a real future for ourselves and generations to come, writes CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON (Nyaywana).
ony Abbott’s call for “full [Aboriginal] participation in Australian society”, like former Prime Minister John Howard’s talk of “a reconciled, indivisible nation”, was a clear indication that Australia’s assimilation era never ended. The colonizer’s current Indigenous Assimilation Strategy is all encompassing, and virtually identical to 1950s policy: “All Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected eventually to attain the same manner of living as other Australians and to live as members of a single Australian community, enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and influences by the same beliefs, hopes and loyalties as other Australians.” The Australian government’s focus on getting “kids to school, adults to work and the ordinary law of the land observed” isn’t about empowering our ISSUE 2 1
people. It’s about us conforming to colonial social norms, and falling into line with the colonial capitalist economy; the end result being that we become another cog in Australia’s nation building exploits. They want us to be completely attached to, dependent on, and controlled by the institutions of settler society. Their goal is assimilation, to turn the Aborigine into the Australian. Why would we want to identify with those who’ve taken so much from us? Because we’re conditioned on a daily basis to be like them: to identify with their history, their warmongering traditions, their national symbols, and their xenophobic attitudes towards ethnic minorities. We call it the ‘dominant’ culture for a reason. From the mainstream media to the education system, settler society uses their cultural hegemony to pressure us into assimilation. We see it every time we watch the television, every time we listen to the radio, and every
time we open a newspaper or magazine. We’re constantly bombarded with assimilationist propaganda lulling us into a false sense of security and belonging. In Australian schools, our children are expected to stand for and sing Australia’s national anthem. We see Australian flags everywhere we go, from car bonnets and boardshorts to universities and fast food restaurants. And each year on the 26th of January, they bribe Aboriginal people with money and awards to prop up and participate in their debauched Australia Day celebrations. The result is a classic case of what’s commonly referred to as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, whereby the captive (the colonized) begins to bond and identify with their captor (the colonized). This psychological condition is prevalent among colonized peoples globally, a condition induced and reinforced by the colonial powers that be. The government advances its agenda even further by ridiculing or just Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP18 P-
simply ignoring the Aboriginal push for self-determination. Federal Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton labelled the Aboriginal passport a “nonsense passport”; Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt equated it to “apartheid”; and 4BC radio host John Scott insisted “we’re all Australians”. Apparently the right of Aboriginal people to decide the future of our own lands and lives is too farfetched. Howard rejected the “absurd notion of a nation trying to make a treaty with some of its own citizens”, implying that Aborigines are in fact Australians. This is despite the United Nations endorsement of the right of Indigenous peoples to freely determine our own political status. As identified by Gamilaraay man and founding Chairman of the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) Bob Weatherall, we as Aboriginal people have the inherent right to decide if we want to be part of the Australian nation or not: “Governments presume we are citizens of the Australian nation, and our rights are accordingly limited. But we have never been given the opportunity to say if we agree.” – APG Papers (Volume Five, January 2002) This is the question we must revisit. Are we (A) members of the Australian nation with basically the same rights and responsibilities as other Australians; or (B) members of a separate Aboriginal nation, and our respective tribal groups, with distinct rights and responsibilities? This is the same question colonized peoples around the world continue to grapple with. Staunch supporters of the Scots’ campaign for independence proudly brandish t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Scottish NOT British”. The Mohawks reject Canadian nationality outright, maintaining their own separate system of self-government and have been issuing their own indigenous passport since 1977. These are just two examples of colonized peoples expressing and asserting their right to self-determination. Others in the mix include the West Papuans and Palestinians. For them, the question of national identity is core to their struggle for justice. If we as Aboriginal people are serious about forging a real future for ourselves and generations to come, this is the question we must answer. ISSUE 2 1
When it comes to our status as a people, there is really no in-between. By identifying as ‘Aboriginal Australians’, we’re still attaching ourselves to the Australian nation. Unfortunately, this validates the colonizer’s license to dictate and define our entitlements as if we’re just another subgroup of Australian society. But that’s quite alright, as long as we’re content with crumbs from the colonizer’s table, whether it be a Reconciliation Action Plan, a mention in Australia’s Constitution, or a Native Title determination. Can we really convince ourselves that the Native Title process is real land justice, when twenty year claims culminate in the courts granting us less rights over our traditional lands than farmers and miners? They’ll only ever make concessions as long as the concessions don’t interfere with their national interests. It’s true that we as Aboriginal people have the right to identify as Australians, to embrace Australian citizenship and Australia’s capitalist so-called ‘democracy’. But this choice has inevitable consequences. This choice can only lead to one future, a future veteran Gumbaynggirr activist Gary Foley describes bluntly: “The process of assimilation is well on track, we’ll all be wiped out within fifty years, the genocide project will be over and there will be no Aborigines, simple.” This ties into the fact that our fundamental rights and responsibilities as Indigenous Peoples have never been compatible with Australia’s national interests. The most blatant example is land use. Both the Australian government and the private sector see land as a commodity to be bought, sold and exploited for monetary gain and ‘economic development’. Whereas, it is the steadfast obligation of indigenous peoples to care for and protect our traditional lands. If then the answer is (B), what does this mean? Do we persist with slogans alone? Prior to 1788, we ran this country, a sovereign nation in our own right; comprising many hundreds of tribes, our own cultures, languages and customary laws. If we truly believe our sovereignty remains intact, we must act as a sovereign, self-governing and self-determining people. So where do we go from here? We must organize. To organize effectively, we must first
have a platform from which to do so. The initial step is to identify and assert who we are. Once we have a clear and unwavering national identity, one of our biggest problems is solved. A people must know and understand their national interest. The task of Australian colonialism is to convince us that our national interest is within the confines of Australian colonialism. The colonizer labels us ‘Aboriginal Australians’ and ‘First Australians’ because such terms keep us exactly where we are, holding onto a system that forces us to become something we’re not. We’re Aboriginal, simple. It’s true that ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘Aborigine’ are foreign terms, finding their roots in ancient Italy (in the Latin language, ab means “from” and origine translates to “earliest beginning or lineage”). ‘Indigenous’ and ‘First Nations’ are also foreign terms. Unlike the Māori of Aotearoa, we do not have a traditional word for our people collectively. For simplicity’s sake, and for practical purposes, the APG uses the term ‘Aboriginal nation’ when referring to our people collectively as a politically and culturally distinct group native to this country. Identifying in this way is not to diminish our diverse tribal identities, far from it. The whole is nothing without the parts, hence why I’m Nyaywana first and foremost. Nyaywana is the core of my identity as an Aboriginal person – my family, my history, my language, and my connection to country. But there is substance behind the saying “strength in unity”. Trade, ceremony and songlines have connected our tribes since time immemorial. From the frontier wars to the lands rights movement, our fight against colonization has only reinforced this bond. Looking forward, a united Aboriginal front will be vital. Let’s not get waylaid with semantics. Like the Palestinians, Aborigines are an occupied people. Like Israel, Australia is an illegal settler state occupying another people’s land by force. Once we realize such truths, our whole outlook changes – ‘Australia’ is no longer our point of reference in any shape or form. *CALLUM CLAYTON-DIXON (Nyaywana) is Chairperson of the Aboriginal Provisional Government. Black BlackNations NationsRising RisingP19 P-
Survival is a meagre existence
By Jack Sheppard (Kunjen)
years of colonization, genocide, and dispossession. This devastation is an assault on our proud history, but a reality we now must live and cope with. Its impact of shock and heartbreak is still just as menacing and present as it was in the advent of invasion. For Australian society, cruelty and exploitation are the norm when it comes to the treatment of our people, something the colonizers don’t seem to be ashamed of. They parade and celebrate the theft of our lands and the killing of our people, preying on gullible ears and eyes, the mainstream media complicit. The Australian government has endeavoured to strip as much as possible away from us – our land, our children and our dignity.
“We have been left with little choice but to get by with what little rights now have provided to us.” Let’s hand it to them. They’ve become so practiced and efficient in their methods used to subdue and dismantle our communities, not dissimilar to South Africa’s apartheid regime – but far more subtle and sinister. The colonizers have managed to manufacture a system where government and corporation collaborate in attempting to exploit us and bring about our demise. 1 ISSUE 2
We squabble over that which has been largely responsible for our cultural Blackslide, from the government crumbs and mining blood money ripping apart our families and communities, to the alcohol and drugs poisoning and pacifying our people.
“They nurture and thrive on division.” We face many uphill battles – the fight for our health, the fight for the return of our children, the fight to protect our lands from mining, the fight to revive and maintain and revive our cultures. At the most basic level, we struggle to survive in what has become a harsh, cruel world. Consumed by the demanding realities of everyday life in ‘modern’ society, many of us have lost sight of the big picture – the fight to regain our rightful place in this country, to reclaim our pride and dignity, to become a selfdetermining people once again. In order for this dream to become reality, we must first address the elephant in the room. We must mend the destructive divides within our own communities. We have to stop hurting each other and begin lifting each other up. Once we have each other’s back, we will be at our strongest. To stamp out jealousy, lateral violence, self-loathing and unhealthy competitiveness is to stamp out weakness. Only together can we defeat these evils.
The blood of warriors runs in our veins. Our ancestors were staunch yet humble. These traits were entrenched in our law and tradition, forbidding weakness while obliging care and respect for ourselves, each other, and the land. This is why our society not only survived, but thrived. Only colonization caused us to falter. If we draw on such traits, we can truly rebuild a strong, dignified and meaningful future for our people. The battle that lays ahead is far from confined to marches and blockades. It is strengthening our families and communities that will give us the foundations we need to push onwards.
“We can fight for justice all we want, but justice will never come unless we are united and have the capacity ourselves to endure.” Our lives are worth more than the media portrays. Our lives are worth more than what we are pigeon-holed to be: another Black statistic, another lost cause. It’s time for change, and not tomorrow, but right now. We can and we will do this. It is our obligation and birthright as the indigenous peoples of this land. Freedom, strength and wisdom to us all! Black Nations Rising PBlack Nations Rising P20
Declaration of Aboriginal Nationality Over the past few months, the Aboriginal movement has been injected with new vigour and energy. We have once again demonstrated our ability to mobilize the masses on a national scale in protest against injustices perpetrated by the colonial Australian government. The question remains, how do we turn this momentum into practical and permanent solutions for our people and our land? For colonized peoples around the globe, from the Scottish to the Mohawks, the question of national identity is fundamental. It provides them with a strong and principled platform from which to rebuild. This question is also key to our struggle for justice. As part of the effort to reinvigorate the push for selfdetermination and independence, the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) has drafted the ‘Declaration of Aboriginal Nationality’. We encourage all Aboriginal people and communities to become signatories to the Declaration as a symbolic demonstration of our determination to forge a real future for ourselves and generations to come. Yours in the cause, Dale Ruska (Goenpul) DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON Aboriginal Provisional Government email@example.com
If you are Aboriginal and wish to become a signatory to the ‘Declaration of Aboriginal Nationality’, go to: www.apg.org/declaration
We make this declaration to re-initiate our own independent process as Aboriginal people in developing an organized and united position in the ongoing fight to take our place among the nations and peoples of the world, not beneath them. We, the Aboriginal people, are the original owners of the lands now known as Australia. Our ownership over these lands is inherited through our ancestral bloodline connection to country, and our ancient system of customary law. Our customary law binds us together through common principles and values of national identity. Our national identity entitles us to all of the rights afforded to any nation. Being a nation entitles us to continue administering our ancient customary law, to decide and control the future of our lands and lives. Our system of customary law bestows upon us our own unique national identity, totally separate to and not recognized by the colonial Australian state. We, the Aboriginal nation, do not accept colonial Australian law and its claims to authority and control over our people and our lands. We, the original owners of Australia, commit to developing a treaty between and establishing a unified assembly of our many tribal nations, uniting us under the shared principle of Aboriginal nationality and ancient law.
Coal mining, big banks and climate change By Millie Telford, Bundjalung I remember the first time I saw a coal mine. It was just last year when I was travelling throughout regional so-called New South Wales. From every window of the bus it was all you could see: a huge, dark, bottomless pit. There were trucks filled with coal, trains filled with coal and if you looked hard enough you could probably see ships on the horizon filled with coal. Right now, the land that we survive on is being dug up, grinded down, tossed around and burnt. With it goes our culture, our families, our communities and our future. If it’s not already being dug up, then there’s probably a proposal for a new mine on the table or plans to expand, grow and go places beyond our imagination. Coal, uranium, coal seam gas, the list goes on. The fossil fuel industry is prepared to do whatever it takes to mine our country to pieces. As I write this, our brothers and sisters along the coastlines of Queensland and the ISSUE 2 1
Northern Territory are picking up the pieces left by Cyclone Marcia and Cyclone Lam. Other parts of the country are facing heat waves, bush fires, floods, poor water quality, coastal erosion and rising sea levels. But the injustices go beyond the climate impacts; the fossil fuel industry has been putting stress on our land, our communities and our culture for generations. With every fossil fuel development and every extreme weather event, it’s our people who face the impacts first and worst. Right now, there’s currently a proposal to build the world’s biggest coal port on the Great Barrier Reef at Abbot Point. If built, it would unlock the Galilee basin – one of the largest reserves of coal in the world. In order to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change and protect this sacred land, it’s crucial that all new fossil fuels stay in the ground. This means ensuring the proposed Abbot Point port expansion, subsequent railway line and coal mines never go ahead. The coal company, Adani, needs billions of dollars in bank loans to get this project off the ground. Nine international banks have already announced they won’t be involved. Now it’s up to us to put pressure on the big four Australian banks, Commonwealth, NAB, Westpac and ANZ, to rule out funding reef destruction. The good thing is that everyone can play a role in making sure that this project doesn’t go ahead. As customers of these banks, we need to put our money where our mouth is and speak in the language that they understand: money. We wouldn’t fund this project, so Black Nations Rising P22 Black Nations Rising P-
why should our banks. Already thousands of people all across the globe have moved their money. We’re sending clear messages to the banks that if they invest in reef and climate destruction, then we’re dumping them. Australia is one of the of sunniest and windiest countries in the world, we have the capacity to play a huge role in leading the transition to safe, clean renewable energy – if we chose to. That’s why we must all make a choice, to decide what we’re going to do about it.
Right now, the land that we survive on is being dug up, grinded down, tossed around and burnt. With it goes our culture, our families, our communities and our future.
around the world have already moved their money. If the fossil fuel industry is prepared to do whatever it takes, then we need to be able to match them at their own game. What gives me hope is that today we’re making history. In spite of the bottomless pit of coal that I saw from the bus that day last year, I’m constantly inspired by Indigenous people all across the globe who are coming together in the fight for climate justice. Our frontline communities are at the forefront of change. There’s nothing more powerful than a movement led by strong Indigenous people with a vision that they’re prepared to fight for. We can’t afford for climate change to be an issue that divides us, we need to stand up and make sure that climate change is the issue that unites us! Join the fight for climate justice with Seed at aycc. org.au/seed or take action to stop the Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef at dumpmybank.org.au *MILLIE TELFORD (Bundjalung) is the National Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network.
While the Australian government is taking us backwards, we need a grassroots movement of people who are prepared to do what it takes. We need to show them what true leadership looks like – and leave them with no choice but to follow. Indigenous people, farmers, students, teachers and doctors – from all walks of life, and from across the country, we’re taking a stand. Thousands of people ISSUE 2 1
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FOOD IS MEDICINE DECOLONIZE YOUR DIET For Goenpul woman EVA COGHILL, decolonization includes sustainable hunting/fishing practices. Respecting animals by following cultural protocol will ensure we can continue to enjoy the traditional foods that keep us healthy.
or many thousands of years, my people have relied on Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) and the ocean surrounding Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island – my paternal grandfather’s country) to sustain us. Historically, our diet consisted of mostly seafood. We ate and continue to eat many types of djauwan (fish), crustaceans and shellfish. My people worked closely with the bubangan (dolphins) who would assist us in rounding up the djauwan and driving them toward the shore where we would be waiting with spears to catch them. Once we had caught enough to feed our family, we would always provide the dolphins with the best djauwan of the catch to thank them for their help. This way of hunting continued for many thousands of years. However, due to the invasion of Minjerribah, we were forced to stop this practice and sadly lost that special connection with the bubangan. Whilst the seafood supply surrounding Minjerribah was once abundant, it is now diminishing due to increased commercial and recreational fishing in the surrounding bay and ocean. This has meant the quantity we can ‘legally’ take has been reduced. ISSUE 2 1
However, we continue to assert our sovereign right to our traditional foods and as we were taught, only take as much food as we need to feed our family and elders. We have also been taught to only take certain species of animals when they are in season. For example, we only catch ngandagal (sea mullet) during the winter and we only take the male wiinyam (mud crabs) to allow the females to continue the breeding cycle.
“To this day, we continue to follow this protocol – never taking more then we need, never hunting or fishing out of season.” We continue to gather shellfish such as quampies (pearl shell), mussels, clams and ghinn-yingarra (oysters) from the tidal flats surrounding the island. We also eat a shellfish from the coastal side of the island called eugaries (more commonly known as pipis). Historically, once we would finishing eating the shellfish (among other kinds of seafood), we would put the shells in a pile. These piles grew over time to create what we now know as ‘middens’. The jercruca (middens) on Minjerribah date back at least 25,000 years and identified our places of living
and gathering. Today, we continue to add to the middens every time we eat seafood.
“It is important that I incorporate as much seafood as possible into my diet. It is the food that my body is immune to.” Foreign, introduced foods make me feel ill. Eugaries assist with digestion and the juice is good for our immune systems. My father taught me all I know about catching seafood around Minjerribah. I also learned much by observing other family members partake in traditional hunting practices. My parents and Elders taught me how to prepare and cook seafood. I ensure that these practices are handed down to my son, younger siblings and cousins. *EVA COGHILL (Goenpul/Mununjali) is a mother, daughter and sister. She proudly spends her time gathering native foods from Minjerribah.
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EUGARI CURRY r e c i p e h a nd e d down from my mother
RECIPE 1) Bake the eugaries in the oven at 180 degrees until they turn a golden colour and the shells open (keep the juices to be used later). 2) Remove the eugaries from their shells and set aside. 3) Dice all vegetables into 1cm cubes. 4) Fry diced vegetables in the coconut oil in a large pot, with the curry powder. 5) Add the eugari juices. 6) Once the vegetables are tender, mash the vegetables together.
INGREDIENTS 1 kilogram of eugaries 1 capsicum 1 onion 1 medium sized taro 2 celery stalks 3 carrots 1 cup of peas 2 tablespoons of curry powder 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
7) Pull the gills off of the eugaries, slice them up and then add to the vegetable mix. 8) Stir the eugaries through and serve.
How to catch eugaries When standing on the eastern shores of Minjerribah, you face the ocean. Eugaries only live in the ocean - you cannot find them on the bay side of the island. The triangle shaped shellfish can be found at low tide by looking for bumps in the sand. If you dig about fifteen centimeters under these bumps, you will find the eugari. However, if the tide is high, stand about ankle deep in the waves and wiggle your feet into the sand. After a wave surges back into the ocean, the eugaries will try to escape with it, this is when you catch them. Otherwise you feel them with your feet before they come to the surface. ISSUE 2 1
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Conscious Sounds H
iphop emerged in the early 70s as a form of music to express the frustrations and hardship of Black ghetto youth in the United States of America. Parallels can be drawn with elements of Aboriginal culture through the reverberating beats and our didgeridoos, clap sticks and boomerangs. It can also invoke a need to express through dance; whether it is breakdance or traditional dance, both awaken the warrior spirit. This style is about rapping, storytelling and documenting our past, present and futures. It’s about using lyrics to motivate the masses. There is no surprise that Aboriginal people have embraced hiphop as a way to express their struggle in today’s society while also adding elements of culture to their tracks. Provocalz is a young Aboriginal political hiphop artist who has dedicated his music to the issues faced by his people. Black Nations Rising magazine had a yarn with Provocalz on the topic of hiphop and political consciousness: Is there a space for political issues within hiphop? It has always been a voice for the voiceless and disempowered. I like to provide empowerment with my music for my people, a people born into disadvantage. I speak about what I see and live, about politics, about our struggle. We will never sit down and just take it. If you’ve got nothing to die for, you will die for nothing. Our people’s future is a very important thing, for our children and our families. ISSUE 2 1
Why do you write political hiphop? I write about my own experiences. I grew up listening to my elders and reading books on Che Guevara, the Black Panthers, guerrilla warfare and many other struggles worldwide. I’ve felt a connection to these stories, these experiences. My obligation is to provide something productive with my music – the time for fun and games is over. This world is getting worse by the minute. If I didn’t have something important to say, I wouldn’t bother trying to be heard. Unfortunately, a lot of MCs do not feel that way and continue to push their garbage onto our youth. Why is it important for you to have a conscious message within your music? It is important because it is the truth. Being genuine and real is the most important thing I can give people. I do it through my music and even more so since I became a father two years ago. How do I teach my son to be a man and stand for what he believes in if I don’t do the same? I feel a need to cut through the fakes to try and reach my people, especially our youth, before they get lost in an image of hiphop. It is not the reality of life. What kind of messages or topics does your music talk about? My topics and messages change a lot depending on how I am feeling or thinking. From straight raw hiphop, to flex skills, to power music. I do it for people to gain some pride and empowerment. I address issues within society or even within the music industry. Just recently we did a track addressing
the continuing stolen generations. It is a very powerful track, which I hope not only gives some insight to outsiders, but also gives strength to the victims of this policy. I try to delve into a wide range of issues faced by my people, be it Black murders in custody or protests like the Redfern Tent Embassy’s fight against the gentrification and removal of our people from The Block. What kind of impact did music you listened to growing up have on you? The music I listened to had a great impact on me growing up in the Southwest of Sydney. I was exposed to a lot of crime, violence and drugs at a young age. But listening to groups like Public Enemy, WuTang, Dead Prez and Immortal Technique helped me understand why things are the way they are. It gave me a craving for knowledge. It made me start to value my family, my community and myself. Some final words... I think the real props must go to our mob on the front lines of our protests, fighting for all of us daily. I don’t like to get credit for making the music I do because I feel it is my duty and the least I can do to help our people in the struggle. When I make a dope track, I get an adrenaline rush because I can’t wait to show my mob and for them to gain something from it – not because I want to become famous or anything like that. *Interviewed by BOGAINE SKUTHORPE– SPEARIM (Gamilaraay/Kooma/Murrawarri). Find out more about Provocalz: www.facebook.com/provocalz Black Nations Rising P26 Black Nations Rising P-
rowing frustrations in the Aboriginal community reached a pressure point. Our people issued a vote of no confidence in Australiaâ€™s state and federal governments. But the plan goes far beyond calls to action, beyond street marches and sit-ins. At the heart of this movement is a humanitarian effort we are aiming to drive alongside the communities under threat. It is our plan to defy the rhetoric around so-called â€˜viabilityâ€™ by making our communities sustainable through alternative power, water and waste solutions, replacing neglected and flailing infrastructure.
We remain firm in our resolve and strong in our commitment to continue for as long as it takes to remove this oppressive regime from the backs of our people. We will stand against the great land grab for our mineral rich country that sits behind the agendas and policies of government in their attempts to remove Aboriginal people from their traditional homelands. Sam Cook, NYIKINA Organiser in campaign against forced closure of Aboriginal communities
ISSUE #2 JUNE 2015 | WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BLACKNATIONSRISING
The second edition of Black Nations Rising (BNR) magazine, a new national Aboriginal publication dedicated to informing our people about dec...
Published on Jun 19, 2015
The second edition of Black Nations Rising (BNR) magazine, a new national Aboriginal publication dedicated to informing our people about dec...