BrisbaneBlacks ISSUE 3 - Invasion Day, 2014
awakening the Black CONSCIENCE | raising Black AWARENESS | articulating the Black RESISTANCE
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What’s in this edition of Brisbane Blacks? NEWS Abbott announces Coalition’s handpicked advisory body (P3) INSIGHT It is not my place, By Steven Oliver (P3) EDITORIAL Left at the margins of public debate, By Callum Clayton-Dixon (P4–5)
COMMUNITY BASE Food Program (P10)
INSIGHT Behind Museum Glass, By Lorna Munro (P17)
INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE Native American sovereignty & treaties, By Shaawano Uran (P11)
LET’S TALK Constitutional reform (P18)
NEWS Gamilaraay delegation confronts mining multinational (P12)
FEATURE Indigenous peoples lead fight against ecocide internationally (P6)
INSIGHT Obligation, By Peter Skuthorpe (P13)
INSIGHT A Black female prime minister? By Michael Mansell (P7) FEATURE With Congress on the chopping block, opportunity beckons, By Boe Spearim (P8–9)
FEATURE Constitutional recognition is not to be trusted (P14–15) CREATIVE RESISTANCE Tiddas Take Back London (P16)
INSIGHT Resetting the relationship, By Mary Graham (P19) INSIGHT A Black perspective on the Australian nuclear industry, by Adam Sharah (P20) HISTORY Freedom Fighter Dundalli (P21) PROBLACKTIVITY Language Revival, By Callum ClaytonDixon (P22)
The whole world is watching - G20 Summit BRISBANE, November 2014 Leaders of the world’s most powerful nations, from Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin, will converge on Brisbane this year for the annual G20 Summit. This presents an opportunity for First Nations people to once again raise our issues on the global stage. The summit will take place from November 15-16 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Bank, just 200 meters down the road from Musgrave Park.
“It’s our turn to get back out there like our forefathers did in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Our old people weren’t just willing to get locked up, to get beaten. They lost their lives so we can be here today. Our old people would be the first ones to say don’t thank us, just get out there and do your part for your people...” Boe Spearim, Gamilaraay activist
Abbott announces Coalition’s handpicked advisory body You've got half a million indigenous people in Australia. There's only about a couple of hundred thousand of them who need support and help, and we're spending $25 billion on it on an annual basis. That just doesn't make sense to me. I'm a businessman and if I ran a business like that I'd probably go bankrupt very quickly... WARRREN MUNDINE Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced in late November 2013 the membership of the Coalition’s Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC). The Council, headed by former Labor Party President Warren Mundine, consists of 11 other handpicked people who will “inform the policy implementation of the Coalition Government”.
According to Abbott, the IAC will “focus on practical changes to improve the lives of Aboriginal people”. “While many Aboriginal people are fully participating in Australian society, too many are not. Preserving indigenous culture and building reconciliation means doing more to ensure that children go to school, adults go to work and the ordinary rule of law operates in indigenous communities.”
It is not my place
The handpicked advisory body is primarily made up of representatives from the mining industry, banking and business sectors, Noel Pearson’s Cape York Welfare reform trials and government bureaucracy. Abbott’s IAC somewhat mirrors the role of John Howard’s National Indigenous Council which supported the internationally condemned Northern Territory Intervention.
Steven Oliver - Kuku Yalanji, Waanyi, Gangalidda, Woppaburra & Bundjalung
Since colonization, this country has brought about a unification of First Nations peoples. While unification is usually deemed as a good thing, it can also bring about the myth that because we are seen to be one race, all we need is one solution. Any First Nations person knows that this continent was multicultural long before any European set foot here. We had and continue to have different cultural practices, languages and dreamings. We are as Asia or Europe – a myriad of countries and cultures presented under one banner that binds us together. This is why I cannot understand why Australian governments think a select group of people can speak for all of us. How can someone from a Black community in Queensland know what is best for a Black community in Western Australia? Surely those on the ground in WA know what is in their best interest. Would Japan tell China how to fix something? It also worries me that Warren Mundine says he comes from a businessman’s perspective. I understand the scrutiny of expenditure, but if you say you are a businessman when dealing with your people, does that mean you now view your people as a business? I have to wonder at that mentality, because business is about making money. How can positive change occur within Black communities when profit takes precedence over people? Making money the focus of First Nations’ issues will fix nothing. Empowering people to fix themselves will fix some things, but having a handpicked group of 12 people deem what is best for the other several hundred thousand First Nations people across the continent just seems ludicrous to me. Do I have the answers? Of course not! I just know that as a First Nations man, I could never dictate to another group of First Nations people about their community and their issues. It is not my place... ISSUE #3
We are as Asia or Europe, a myriad of countries and cultures presented under one banner that binds us together.
Left at the margins of public debate
For more than two centuries, First Nations have been subject to large scale dispossession, genocide and systematic discrimination. The push for sovereignty is an ongoing attempt to reverse the effects of this devastating process and establish a revived dignity for First Nations people and our communities. By Callum Clayton-Dixon Nganyaywana From the 1966 Gurindji Strike in the Northern Territory to the unparalleled Bicentennial protests in ‘88, an invigorated sense of Black Nationalism reverberated across the continent. When the Black Power movement emerged from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in the late 60s, thousands of Aboriginal people took to the streets demanding national uniform Land Rights legislation and recognition of our right to self-determination. The establishment of the Aboriginal Embassy in 1972 further galvanized this groundswell of Black activism. Thousands of Aboriginal people converged on Brisbane to protest the ‘82 Commonwealth Games, and then came the call for a Treaty. There had also been several attempts to establish a national coalition to spearhead the push for Black autonomy; prominent examples included the National Tribal Council (early 70s), the National Federation of Land Councils and Aboriginal Provisional Government (early 90s). Consistent with the trend of keeping Australian governments on their back foot, Aboriginal activists ISSUE #3
also hit the international arena. Two diplomatic delegations from the Embassy travelled to China in the 70s as VIP guests of Chairman Mao’s newly founded People’s Republic. Then in 1987, a Black delegation entered Gadhafi’s Libya using the Aboriginal Passport. When taking into account the history of the Black Power and Land Rights movements, token and paternalistic amendments to White Australia’s founding document can only be described as a step backwards. How can anyone be fooled into thinking the multimillion dollar Recognise campaign initiated by John Howard and Noel Pearson is in any way progressive? First Nations’ sovereignty is anything but some farfetched ambition dreamt up by a minority of ‘radical’ Black separatists. Why is it that talk of autonomy, political independence and control over our own lands is so alien to the mainstream Australian public, government and media? Other indigenous peoples around the globe have varying degrees autonomy when it comes to recognition by colonial society and governments. Given the progress in countries like Aotearoa editorial
(New Zealand), Norway and Scotland, it is fair to say the right of autonomy for First Nations peoples has become an established international norm. For the Māori, everything comes back to the Treaty – land title, cultural awareness programs in the workplace, protection of culture, language revival, control of natural resources and even political representation. If it wasn’t for the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, Māoridom would be nowhere near where it is today. In early 2013, I spent a week with a Māori family in Wellington. My Tūhoe hosts, who are heavily involved in the politics of their own iwi (tribe), claimed the Waitangi Tribunal followed by the Māori Council and political representation were among the most effective catalysts of change for Māori in Aotearoa. Established in 1975, the Waitangi Tribunal is responsible for dealing with Māori claims relating to breaches of the Treaty by the Crown. The Tribunal has been instrumental in launching and growing iwi (tribal) radio, Māori Television, establishing Te Reo as one of New Zealand’s official languages alongside English, the handing back of tribal lands, financial redress and providing for Māori self-governance structures. P4
The Māori Council has been the national representative body for Māori since 1962, but holds far more sway compared to both ATSIC and now the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. This organization actively advocates Māori autonomy and incorporates a system of tribal based representation. What’s more, 22 out of 120 Members of Parliament in Aotearoa are Māori, of which seven are dedicated Māori seats. Four party leaders are Māori and close to one in five MPs are Māori – that’s not too shabby considering they make up only around 15% of NZ’s population. To top it off, the Minister of Māori affairs is actually Māori, astonishing considering the first Māori MP was elected in 1869, the same year Victoria enacted the oppressive Aboriginal Protection Act. Standing outside the Beehive (New Zealand’s Parliament), I noted there was no sign of the Tino Rangatiratanga (Māori sovereignty) flag. Apparently it’s a rare sight excluding Waitangi Day and at Māori institutions. On the other hand you have the “historic” moment on January 26 this year when the red, black and yellow flew alongside the Australian flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Before moving on from the topic of tokenism, it was brought to my attention during my stay in Aotearoa that there is currently a review of the nation’s Constitution which happens to include both the Treaty and a Bill of Rights – documents noticeably absent in Australia legal system. Two of the central focusses of the ‘Constitutional Conversation’, instigated by the Māori Party, are the role of the Treaty and Māori representation in parliament. This ‘partnership’ between Māori and the Crown is put on a pedestal within public life in New Zealand, and it has certainly rattled the cages of the nation’s right-wing factions. I came across a
petition scaremongering about the Treaty and couldn’t help but laugh at what it put forward [see image below]. If this is the kind of drivel that is being circulated by right-wing lobby groups, it’s clear that the Treaty of Waitangi has become of major benefit to Māori. But at the end of the day, a Treaty will mean nothing if we are unwilling to stand up and ensure that such an agreement is honoured. The Commonwealth is notorious for tendency to violate treaties. Just take a look at the First Nations people of Canada and their struggle against a belligerent conservative government intent on giving absolute precedence to the interests of mining multinationals. Tūhoe never signed the Treaty, but they are still able to access the same benefits as tribes that did sign. September last year saw Tūhoe reach an agreement with the Crown which will include a $170 million settlement as redress for past breaches of the Treaty and the return of stolen lands. Now begins a forty-year plan to establish strong self-governance, sustainable tribal infrastructure, education, health, media and social services programs – the Tūhoe people will eventually finance all of these services themselves as reliance on the NZ government is phased out. Tūhoe may be a ‘rural’ iwi, but that doesn’t mean the same kind of tribal autonomy can’t be implemented in urban areas. For instance, when I visited Atiawa Toa 96.9fm in the nation’s capital, I was taken on a tour of what I can only describe as a tribal hub – radio, health clinics, football fields, housing, gyms, education institutions, a marae (meeting hall) and central administration, all owned and operated by the local iwi. Looking at international examples of how other indigenous peoples are attaining self-determination is simply a method of identifying potential pragmatic steps towards our own autonomy.
60 year old Arrentre man Dennis Braun from Katherine in the Northern Territory recently embarked on a research trip to the Navajo Nation, the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States of America. Braun worked five years for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and is currently studying law at Bond University: “Everything on the Navajo reservation is run, managed and owned by Navajo people – shops, laundromats, bus services, medical and legal aid, universities, schools, youth detention centres and domestic violence services. This all comes from the money they get from their Treaty. Our youth today are missing out on a lot. They’d feel pretty proud if we had Aboriginal universities run by Aboriginal people. At the Navajo university, they are taught the histories, the massacres, everything. We are very far behind. We’re still holding the White man’s hand, picking up the sit-down money and being treated like babies. And with the Intervention, we don’t own anything now. We don’t have a say in anything. Navajo have their own police department which seems to have a good relationship with Navajo citizens.”
Navajo have their own government where they make their own policies to suit and look after Navajo people Dennis Braun, Arrentre
Comparatively, the push for Constitutional recognition along with bipartisan support for Noel Pearson’s punitive Empowered Communities scheme shows how conservative the Australian dialogue truly is. Perhaps it appears far more convenient for mainstream Australia to facilitate the assimilation of First Nations people as it fits with the Western ideals of modern progress, rather than dealing with the perceived threat of Black empowerment and being tipped into the sea by the local tribe. Our birth rights must not be left straggling at the margins of public debate.
BELOW: petition scaremongering about the Treaty of Waitangi, circulated by right-wing group opposed to Māori autonomy
Indigenous peoples lead fight against ecocide internationally Ecocide refers to the neglectful or deliberate degradation of the environment. First Nations peoples across the globe are taking a stand against the growing threat of multinational corporations exploiting their lands and waters. In many cases colonial governments have backed corporate interests and are attempting to enforce their imposed laws with riot shields and guns. On the 17th of October 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attacked a blockade set up by Mi’kmaq people and their supporters who are trying to prevent a Texas-based corporation from fracking. The raid carried out with dogs and automatic weapons escalated when more and more residents of the Elsipogtog First Nation joined the standoff. RCMP officers pepper sprayed elders, six police vehicles were set ablaze and more than 40 people were arrested. This is just one instance in a flourishing uprising led by the First Nations peoples of Turtle Island (North America) to protect the land they say they have never ceded and water they consider sacred.
we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children On the 23rd of November 2013, over 1000 people turned up at Piha beach near Auckland to protest against deep sea oil drilling in Aotearoa’s waters. Maori are asserting their right over customary fishing waters as multinational Anadarko has started drilling off the west coast. There
is now a growing accord throughout the NZ public that emanates solidarity with Maori and the sustainable guardianship of the environment. The fervour of tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) is just warming up. Whether it’s through haka (war dance), songs, flotillas, hikoi (mass land march) or through the legal system, Maori have no intention of backing down.
as man disappears from sight, the land remains On the 15th of November 2013, Buddhist monks from Phnom Penh marched 25 kilometres through dense jungle into western Cambodia in protest against the environmental destruction of one of the country’s few remaining pristine rainforests. They hope to encourage locals of the valley under threat to stand up to the Cambodian government and foreign corporations. Rampant development had affected forests and waterways across Southeast Asia, and the monks have decided to push back.
the earth is our mother Australia has the worst polluting power station in the world. Victoria’s Hazelwood, established in the 60s, is a brown-coal fuelled power station which will continue operating until 2031. Mining operations are expanding across the country, from coal and gold to uranium and iron. Industry is carving channels through the Great Barrier Reef with mass
Cambodian monks protest dam development
dredging, ravaging the Kimberly, thieving tonnes of sand from North Stradbroke Island and planning big to exploit South Australia’s recently discovered oil stockpile – all in the name of profit and economic development. To top it all off, they’ve unlocked the gates of hell with coal seam gas mining. Alongside the USA and Canada, Australia is also the world’s biggest polluter per capita. Since the advent of colonization, Australia’s government and industries have provided ground-breaking progress towards wholesale environmental catastrophe – the destruction of our sacred lands and waters. Politicians, along with handpicked ‘Aboriginal leaders’, continue to discharge rhetoric about how important mining and industry is for economic development in First Nations communities. Economic ‘development’ implies exploitation and the need for so-called progress. On the other hand, economic independence involves self-determination on OUR TERMS. Editor of 80s newspaper Black Nation Ross Watson talked about Land Rights being “a spiritual and economic base” but “not in a profit and loss way”. He said it was “the opportunity to once again become a self-determining people”.
it is our right to refuse mining on any part of our land Ross Watson, Kungulu/Birrigubba
Māori oppose oil drilling off coast of Aotearoa
Elsipogtog blockade against shale gas mining
A Black female prime minister? No doubt there would be widespread celebrations, but let’s concentrate on the immediate tasks that deserve attention. Fairer representation would be a start. Aotearoa (New Zealand) has had dedicated Māori parliamentary seats since 1868 By Michael Mansell, pakana
The statement by prime minister Tony Abbott about an Aboriginal woman one day becoming prime minister is welcome, because it shows that Australia can no longer turn a blind eye to the lack of Aboriginal representation – a point taken by opposition leader Bill Shorten, who suggested quotas might be the answer. Given any Indigenous PM would be primarily indebted to the political party and the electorate that put them into the parliament in the first place, what could an Aboriginal prime minister do anyway? They might speak out for Aboriginal people, even use their influence from time to time – just as existing Aboriginal parliamentary members Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris do now. But despite their most sincere efforts, neither could genuinely claim to be Aboriginal representatives. They are trapped by the machinery that put them there. There is a big difference between electing Aboriginal people to parliament and electing them to represent their own people. As the political party with the greatest number of seats in the House of Representatives elects the prime minister, it is numerically impossible for Aboriginal people, numbering only 500,000 out of 21m and scattered throughout the country, to control the outcome. Somebody other than them would have to put an Aboriginal prime ISSUE #3
minister in place and tit-for-tat loyalty would be to that group. Australia prides itself as a representative democracy. Yet, no genuine efforts have been made to give Aboriginal people a real voice in the parliament. As the first people – treated shockingly, subjected to policies of dispossession and genocide which dominated for over 200 years – they have a legitimate stake in their own future. They need advocates free to openly promote land rights, self determination, Aboriginal government and better ways to improve the disturbing social and health statistics from within and outside the parliament. Aboriginals elected through political parties to the federal parliament (Ken Wyatt, Nova Peris, Aden Ridgeway) have not be free to represent the interests of Aboriginal people over the demands of their parties. Queensland Aboriginal and Liberal senator Neville Bonner held office from 1972-1983, during Queensland Premier Jo BjelkePeterson’s reign of terror against Aboriginal people. Often criticised by his own people for not speaking out, when he did he clashed with conservative sections of his party. He was dis-endorsed and failed to get reelected in 1983. While Aboriginal representation has been ignored for far too long, all this talk of female Aboriginal prime ministers and constitutional recognition is a diversion, a side issue. insight
The two highest political leaders in the country should be talking about how to empower Aboriginal people instead of dominating them; how to protect Aboriginal languages and culture instead of watching them diminish, and about when the NT Intervention laws will be repealed. If an Aboriginal woman became head of Australia in the next 50 years, no doubt there would be widespread celebrations. But let’s concentrate on the immediate tasks that deserve attention but are ignored because debate focuses on token gestures. Prime minister Abbott should take up Shorten’s suggestion of indigenous quotas but, because quotas cannot deliver Aboriginal representation, look at designated seats along the lines of New Zealand with its Māori. Designated seats, long promoted by Reconciliation Australia, and considered by the 1998 NSW and 2003 Queensland Parliamentary Enquiries into under-representation of Aboriginal people in Australian democracy, could ideally put eight Aboriginal representative out of 158 to the federal parliament. If designated seats is too controversial, then a new Aboriginal Assembly should be established. This does not require constitutional amendment. It simply requires federal legislation that could be passed within 12 months. Then we might be able to elect our own female leader to speak openly on our behalf. P7
With Congress on the chopping block, opportunity beckons By Boe Spearim, GAMILARAAY
Over the past few decades there have been a number of attempts by consecutive Australian governments to establish a national representative body for First Nations peoples. Established three years ago following the abolition of ATSIC in 2005, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples now has around 7,500 members eligible to vote in its biannual elections. This represents less than 1.1% of the entire First Nations population (approximately 700,000). Only 809 members actually voted in the most recent election, held in June and July of 2013. Therefore, just over 0.1% of First Nations people decided the leadership of Congress. The co-chairs for the next two years are Les Malezer (received 313
first preference votes) and Kirstie Parker (received 260 first preference votes). In 1999, almost fifty thousand people voted in the ATSIC elections. Can Congress really call itself “a national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”? The Coalition Government’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion indicated in December last year that it was likely Congress would no longer be funded by the Commonwealth. The National Aboriginal Conference (established 1977), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (established 1990) and Congress (established 2010) all have several aspects in common – set up by government, no real power or influence and not established on the
basis of pre-colonial structures and systems of governing. Over the years, there has been a number of grassroots attempts to create organizations to spearhead the push for self-determination, including the National Tribal Council (70s) and Aboriginal Provisional Government (90s). With Congress on the chopping block, does opportunity beckon? Will this be a chance for First Nations peoples to establish an independent system of representation and governance? Here’s some insight into the prospect of the proverbial Black Parliament from veteran Land Rights activist Jenny Munro, lawyer Michael Mansell, philosopher Mary Graham, sovereignty campaigner Dale Ruska and academic Dr Irene Watson.
We should be setting up our own sovereign governance based on our own nationhood, started from the communities, working up to regions, and then work towards having our own federal representative parliament. What is really important for us as First Nations peoples to consider is that we won’t be able to establish that structure under the current existing corporate/government structures and processes. It would have to be something completely independent. I think we have to put a lot of emphasis on pre-colonial structures that we had here prior to interference and colonial influence. We need to look at how we model it on that basis to ensure that representation of our people is thorough and complete. It must be on behalf of our people and what their aspirations and desires are for justice as the original peoples of this land. When you look at our term of occupation prior to colonial imposed control, it existed for many millennia. We are still quite capable of being able to enjoy that autonomy if we’re given adequate opportunity. 200 years of colonial development on our lands is something that can’t be reversed. We know that we can no longer enjoy full and perfect sovereignty – it has to be sovereignty in consideration of all that has happened. But we should still be entitled to the enjoyment of many aspects of our First Nationhood (e.g. resource control). We can parallel this assembly to the Australian Federal Parliament. What is really important is that we need to ensure that it remains fully independent.
DALE RUSKA Goenpul
We need to work out ways of being able to set up a structure of parliament from our communities up, which can’t be manipulated, controlled and regulated through things like the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976. We need to be able to address our needs from a basis of free opinion and free consideration. At present, with the way the community corporate structures are, we aren’t able to do that. We already have an ancient model that pre-exists colonization of our lands and our lives. We don’t really need to look anywhere else but at ourselves and to simply re-emerge as First Nations peoples. It’s a process off decolonization in many respects, decolonizing the way we think about who were are today, 200 years after the colonial project began.
Dr IRENE WATSON Tanganekald/Meintank
Models that we’ve had in the past have largely been imposed, being either statutory or corporate bodies, completely within the assimilationist and colonialist paradigm of what meets government expectations. We’re largely dealt with as one homogeneous group that is being harvested into the colonial project. It’s not going to work if we continue along that line, because it very much goes against who we are as First Nations peoples. If we play the same kinds of power games that we have become oppressed by in terms of colonial violence, then we’ll get caught up in that. We’ve got to step outside of that and in some way find a way to sit down on country and let the proper voices for country speak again.
JENNY MUNRO Wiradjuri
We had a system that was maintained for thousands of years. This system has undergone some of the severest attempts to completely disrupt and dismantle our law and governance. Our people still maintain our right to live by our law. There must be a body where Aboriginal people are represented at the local level – a process by which speakers for country are identified, those who have the respect and the authority from their communities. Those people would meet and constitute that body, and that body would then articulate our peoples’ laws and systems of governance. We have to be very careful of the White models of governance (e.g. democracy). Such a body must be true to our roots and our system of law for it to truly represent Aboriginal people. Historically, we’ve been likened to pure communism. Our system of law is one that really defies description, but it is a system that is known and familiar to us, and that’s the one we should be using. Before we contemplate the road of how a two-parliamentary system would work, there needs to be a process of recognizing the two laws via a Treaty. White people should never be arrogant enough to think that they can keep telling us who and what we are, what our laws are. There could be an overlapping system with two houses of parliament representing the same area of land with Black and White citizenships – we elect our representatives and they elect theirs, and they get together to debate issues equally and fairly.
MICHAEL MANSELL Pakana
If we continue to operate as we have for the last two hundred years and allow the parliaments to make decisions about our future, then what we are really saying is that White people have the right to decide what is in our best interests. We need to have political authority – an Aboriginal Assembly. The Aboriginal Assembly would have its own constitution spelling out what its ultimate purpose is, what its core values are, how we are to be represented, and how we can ensure there is accountability and no corruption. The NAC, ATSIC and Congress were established to be advisory and lobby groups to the government, not decision making bodies. By virtue of its activities and support within Aboriginal communities, the National Aboriginal Assembly would seek to take away the authority of Australian governments to make decisions on behalf of Aboriginal people. The Assembly must become the decision maker. We don’t need the permission of Australian governments to setup such a body. There’s no reason why in 2014, we can’t have this Aboriginal Assembly up and running in its infant state. Aboriginal organizations (e.g. Land Councils, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Legal/Medical Services) could pay the costs of Aboriginal delegates attending the National Aboriginal Assembly and representing their people. We have been thinking about this for years, but it’s a matter of articulating it, putting it down on paper and getting it out to communities and forums of Aboriginal people so that they can consider it.
MARY GRAHAM Kombumerri/WakaWaka
Democracy was like an experiment that the government put in place (e.g. ATSIC). This is a Western habit, trying to force, persuade or influence non-European peoples, especially indigenous, to embrace democracy. Most people know that democracy is not our proper decision making system – our system is consensus. With the kind of system we’re talking about, parliament or assembly, the actual structure of selecting people would have to be done very differently. We would have to work out how all the different localities across the continent would be included. Maybe we could have a system of regional representation instead of one based on every individual clan. Our system, our multi-polar world, could be seen in the same way as we see the whole spread of local government – it fits like a glove. We need to have some type of fit between the Aboriginal model and the White model, because then we’re staying true to our own cultural and territorial integrity, and to the White political structure. It would fit both cultures if it started on the local level – treaties on the ground and then going up to larger treaties. We could have some kind of treaty commission that develops and overseas all of the hundreds of treaties across the continent. A charter of principles regarding all of these treaties would be a legal constitutional protection for all of this. We could also have a standard treaty – several things that are in all of the treaties. What is integral to this are the local areas, as every environment is different, the people are different. It has to take into account the real identity of a place. If we had a treaty system like that, Aboriginal people would own the process on the ground. The real issue for the next few decades is how we’re going to run our country.
nations with culture . nations with land . nations with language . nations with law . nations with spirit
nations with hope for independence & liberation #FirstNationsRising
Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy FOOD PROGRAM
The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) Community Food Program was established in May last year and is now active in providing food parcels to Black communities across Brisbane. This grassroots initiative has grown to a point where it is now aiding almost 100 families each week. The program began in the north Brisbane suburb of Stafford, where Kuku Yalanji woman Karen Fusi organises distribution.
Karen fusi Kuku Yalanji
“At the end of the day you feel good because you’re helping. When someone’s door is closed, you don’t know what they’re going through, you don’t know if that person has had something to eat today, you don’t know until you knock on the door. In my younger days, I remember being in the community standing beside my mum holding her dress and we were given handouts. We were given a little bit of tea, a little bit of meat, a little bit of flour. We don’t want to live like that anymore. We want to change that.”
BASE member Boe Spearim explains how the program arose: “The community approached us and said, ‘you are supposed to be doing something for our people’, so we took on the role of a lot of community organisations that are failing our people. We need to provide our people and our children with food. If we want to talk about raising our next generation to be very strong and staunch and to assert their sovereign rights, the first thing we have to do is put a plate in front of them and feed them. It’s a job that has to be done and we’ve taken that responsibility as First Nations people. Pre-colonization we always had that responsibility to stand up for our brothers and sisters. In 2014 we still hold that responsibility in our communities to provide for our people. I don’t think we need a ‘thank you’. In Gamilaraay, we don’t have a word for ‘thank you’. If you had a job to do, when you were given a task, you just had to do it.”
BOE SPEARIM Gamilaraay
The BASE Community Food Program relies entirely on volunteers and there is much more work to be done in 2014 to continue expanding service delivery. If you want to be part of this initiative, there are many ways you can support – from organising distribution in your area to making a financial contribution to help the program grow. ISSUE #3
Native American SOVEREIGNTY & TREATIES Anishinaabe academic Shaawano Uran explains the fundamentals of how sovereignty applies to Native American tribal nations and the significance of treaties. Dr Uran is a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. Sovereignty is one of those terms we toss around without much thought. It is an important word within contemporary American Indian discussions. The term itself draws from legal, cultural, political, and historical traditions, and these traditions are connected to both European as well as Indigenous philosophies in complicated ways. Sovereignty is a type of political power, and it is exercised through some form of government. For the sake of simplicity, I will focus on the United States and its treaty federalism. In the US, there are basically three types of sovereigns: a) the US Federal Government b) each of the 50 State governments c) tribal governments The US Federal government is sometimes called the supreme sovereign of the United States. Its powers are defined and limited by the US Constitution. It represents the largest focus of political, economic, and legal power, and has some (but not absolute) power over other sovereigns within the US. As a constitutional democracy, its power is supposed to come from the people—its citizens. The State governments derive much of their sovereign power from the US Federal government. The US Constitution explicitly grants States residual powers – those powers that are not explicitly given to the Federal government. Tribes have sovereignty that is obviously older than the US ISSUE #3
Constitution. Tribes had their own form of government, and many had legal codes written into their own documents, their own stories, their own practices, and their own memories. Tribal sovereignty is derived from the people, the land, and their relationships; tribal sovereignty was not a gift from any external government. Tribal sovereignty is recognized in the US Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2):
“…all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land…” This clause is why American Indian treaties are so important to understanding sovereignty. Treaties are agreements made between sovereign entities – usually called nations. The US has signed several hundred treaties with Indigenous nations and other nations around the world. International relations occur through, and are often defined by, international treaties. Therefore, by signing a treaty, both sides are showing that they recognize the sovereignty of the other, and the treaty spells out how each nation will relate to the other as nations. The relationship between many tribes and the US Federal government is based on treaties. The US Federal government did not have treaties with the individual States. The Constitution recognizes that tribal nations and other international laws are just as powerful as the US Constitution itself. This also means that the sovereignty of tribal nations is different – and in many ways higher – than the sovereignty enjoyed by individual States. international perspective
The fact that other nations lack power, or may be dependent upon other nations, does not detract from their status as sovereigns. The US Supreme Court once defined tribes as “domestic dependent nations”, but this does not prevent the use of the term ‘sovereign’ to describe tribes. The treaties between tribes and the US Federal government are recognized as being equal to the US Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Absolute independence is also not necessary for sovereignty to exist. After all, how ‘independent’ is the US? Does the US have energy independence, trade independence, manufacturing independence, technological independence, military independence, resource independence, agricultural independence and economic independence? In many respects the US is dependent upon other nations for these things, but I rarely hear anyone doubt the sovereignty of the US. So what is the defining aspect of sovereignty? It’s not independence. It’s not absolute power. The defining aspects of sovereignty are the international relationships carried out as sovereign nations. Treaties are the most obvious evidence that one nation recognizes or acknowledges the sovereignty of another nation. So next time someone says that tribal nations are “only domestic dependent nations”, kindly teach them about law, history, and philosophy. And if that someone is a State Governor, tell them they’re just jealous of the inherent superiority of tribes over states. P11
Gamilaraay delegation confronts mining multinational
DEC 11, 2013: Paul Spearim delivered his delegation’s warning to a Santos rep in Gamilaraay langauge. Police stood guard as traditionally painted warriors entered the foyer of Santos’ Brisbane headquaters.
A delegation of traditionally painted Gamilaraay warriors along with their supporters converged on the Brisbane office of a major oil and gas exploration company in December last year to “tell Santos to stop drilling for coal seam gas in the Pilliga Forest”. Spokesman for the Gamilaraay delegation Paul Spearim said it was crucial that the mining multinational ceased operations immediately “before they do irreparable damage to this environmentally and spiritually sensitive place”. The Pilliga Forest is located in the heart of Gamilaraay territory near the town of Narrabri in north-central New South Wales. This region is profoundly sacred to the Gamilaraay ISSUE #3
and is connected to some of their most important creation stories. The forest is also rich in biodiversity having become a refuge for over 20 endangered bird and mammal species (e.g. Pilliga Mouse). In 2011, 10 000 litres of contaminated water from Santos’ treatment plant spilled into the Pilliga Forest after an electronic switch connected to the pipeline failed. The water, containing excessive salt levels, killed more than 70% of the trees in the affected area. “Santos did not get a welcome to our country or permission to enter our sacred places,” said Mr Spearim. “They need to leave. We have stories about this place that have come down to us from generation to generation news
for tens of thousands of years. Those stories say step lightly here, it’s a special place. If you disturb this place it will have devastating consequences, not just for Gamilaraay but for our neighbors, their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors.” Santos now plans to drill 850 wells across the Pilliga Forest region. Coal seam gas mining, otherwise known as fracking, is known the world over for its potential to contaminate ecosystems and waterways. Fresh water aquifers running beneath the Pilliga Forest feed into the Murray Darling River system that goes all the way to Victoria and South Australia as well as feeding into rivers that run east to the coast of NSW. It has been identified as an important recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin. P12
ngiyaningu maran yaliwunga ngarra-li balu-gi ngiyaningu buwarr Gamilaraay dhawun walaay our ancestors are always watching, get out of our sacred lands
Peter Skuthorpe, GAMILARAAY
There are 29 active mines in Gamilaraay. We gave Santos an official warning in traditional Gamilaraay tongue about the repercussions if they go ahead with mining on Gamilaraay country, sending them the message that Gamilaraay will no longer accept these poisons, this destruction. For too long we have engaged in their poison tongue. Sometimes we have to use those ancient words for what is an ancient battle. In order to truly embrace the battle and honour it for what it really is, we had to honour it with tongue, ancient tongue. Basically, it takes it out of the office, the four walls, out of this capitalist system. It brings it back to a cultural perspective, a First Nations’ interpretation – the true way. We were taking it out of the boardrooms, taking the suits and ties away from it, getting rid of the yes men and the money led jackies. We’re honouring our obligations and connections to country that we’ve had for a very long time, and we’re reasserting those obligations and connections. The only thing that the Native Title process has done is reinforce White dominance, White mind-set, White mentality. What it has does done is create divisions. From my understanding, Native Title was designed by White people for White people. What’s next? That’s a question that needs to echo in the hearts and minds of all Gamilaraay people. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to uphold my obligations to Gamilaraay.
Constitutional recognition is not to be trusted Recognising First Nations peoples in the Australian Constitution, it’s the right thing to do – a simple message sold with a fancy website, TV commercials and the backing of $10 million from the Federal Government. On the surface, Constitutional recognition seems like a step in the right direction. Here we throw aside the glossy public relations campaign to take a look at the ideological and political origins of Recognise. Constitutional recognition first became the proverbial political football at the 2007 election, with then Prime Minister John Howard announcing his support for acknowledging First Nations people in a new preamble to the nation’s founding document. This is the man who played a major role in decimating the Native Title Act, refusing to apologise to the Stolen Generations, abolishing ATSIC in favour of a handpicked advisory council, launching a military INTERVENTION into the Northern Territory and opposing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Labor offered bipartisan support regardless of the outcome of the election. Contrary to popular belief, the ALP’s track record on First Nations affairs is not much better. In 2008, Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations, and five years on from his apology, the number of First Nations children in State Care (QLD) had climbed by almost 35%. The ALP also reaffirmed its support for the Northern Territory National Emergency Response despite heavy criticism from international human rights bodies like Amnesty International. By 2010, talk started to shift to amending the body of the Constitution. Labor handpicked an ‘expert panel’ to make recommendations in regards to what these amendments would entail. This panel was led by Mark Leibler and Patrick Dodson. Leibler was president of the Zionist Federation of Australia for ten years. ZIONISM is ISSUE #3
the belief in a Jewish nation state and is the basis of apartheid in Israel. The State of Israel continues to oppress and impoverish Palestinians under the guise of Zionism.
also has backing from the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, a government funded advisory body labelled as a toothless tiger and slammed for being far from representative.
Zionism is a form of racism
Constitutional recognition has its roots in rather questionable ideology and a history of blatant political hypocrisy.
UN General Assembly, 1975
Patrick Dodson was Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and has a track record of supporting tokenism and being content to advise governments, thereby accepting the right of the settler society to decide what is best for First Nations peoples. He has been criticized time and time again for his “open capitulation” and once said there was little difference between the viewpoint of John Howard and the viewpoint of First Nations peoples.
Tony Abbott welcomed the Expert Panel’s report and vowed to release a draft bill of amendments within 12 months of becoming Prime Minister. On the next page, we dissect the five Constitutional amendments unanimously endorsed by the panel.
I am shocked by Pat Dodson’s open capitulation Michael Mansell, Pakana
Other prominent members of the panel included Cape York lawyer Noel Pearson and academic Marcia Langton who both have a history of being advocates of PATERNALISTIC government policies like the NT Intervention. Just a few months after the panel handed over its final report to government in January 2012, Julia Gillard extended the Intervention for another 10 years. To top it off, both major political parties recently offered bipartisan support for Noel Pearson’s punitive ‘Empowered Communities’ scheme. The Recognise campaign feature
I will start the conversation about a constitutional referendum to recognise the first Australians Tony Abbott, January 2014
repeal Section 25 Section 25 currently allows State governments to disqualify people of a particular race from voting at State elections. this power has never been used & Commonwealth law would overrule it repeal Section 51 xxvi Section 51 xxvi is often referred to as the ‘race power’. This provision allows the Commonwealth government to pass laws that discriminate against citizens purely on the basis of race. they want to remove the race power and put it back in a new section specifically for First Nations people introduce Section 51a This new section will: a. recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original occupants of ‘Australia’ why call us original ‘occupants‘ rather than ‘owners‘? b. acknowledge the continuing relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their traditional lands and waters provides First Nations peoples no additional legal rights c. respect the continuing cultures, languages and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples doesn’t guarantee protection of cultures, languages & heritage d. bestow upon the Parliament power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Commonwealth with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the new race power would allow for the NT Intervention introduce Section 116a This new section will: a. prohibit Commonwealth, State and Territory governments from passing laws on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin b. not apply to the making of laws or measures for the purpose of overcoming disadvantage, ameliorating the effects of past discrimination, or protecting the cultures, languages or heritage of any group does not ban racially discriminatory laws if parliament and courts decide a law will be for the ‘benefit‘ of First Nations peoples introduce Section 127a This new section will: a. confirm English as Australia’s official national language b. recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as part of our national heritage White Supremacy & throwing our languages into a museum
OUR NATIONS ARE rising RECLAIM
reclaim our cultural, historical, political and ceremonial practices that have been severed and impacted by colonization, reclaim dispossessed lands in our territories and reclaim our sacred roles and relationships with the land, water, and all living beings
place names offer a direct connection to our languages, sacred histories and dreaming stories, and the reclamation of these names is vital for the continuation and revitalization of our unique cultures
reoccupy our tribal territories and homelands, reoccupy contentious sites facing urbanization, resource extraction and economic exploitation and reoccupy our traditional hunting, fishing and ceremonial grounds
Tiddas Take Back London
for photos, videos & blogs about the journey of these 5 First Nations women, go to tiddastakeback.com
What happens when five young First Nations women, with their unique skills and experiences combined are invited to travel to London, England, the ancestral homeland of the colonizers? Tiddas Take Back London, that’s what! One street at a time, land mass, by land mass. Tidda is a colloquial term commonly used to describe a young Aboriginal woman. This word has many negative historical connotations in the land illegally occupied under duress, now known as ‘Australia’. The First Nations peoples of ‘Australia’ are currently the most socioeconomically
disadvantaged group on the continent, and yet our inalienable rights continue to be threatened with further abuse.
Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization conference, and the Ecocentrix Art Exhibition.
Due to the current political climate of assimilationist propaganda within their own respective communities, these five tiddas reclaimed, reappropriated and reengaged at every opportunity with a nation not known historically for its polite ‘discourse with the natives’.
This journey was about reclamation. This journey was about selfdevelopment and self-discovery. This journey was about ownership. This journey was about the recognition of the strong young Black women we are, the legacy we have inherited and the obligation we carry to honour the path laid by our ancestors. They called on our old people and spirit of our mother, the land, to protect them and walk with them as they carried our flag proudly across foreign shores.
The five young women, working across various fields of the arts, travelled to London in October 2013 to attend the Origins Festival of First Nations, the In the
Behind museum glass Lorna Munro - Wiradjuri & Gamilaraay
When Captain James Cook first attempted to land and invade our territories in 1770, he was met by two warriors. These warriors responded to the English landing party, treating their actions as a declaration of war with the throwing of their spears. The English fired upon and “wounded” one of the warriors who “dropped” a bark shield. The shield was collected and taken on board the Endeavour. This was recorded in Cook’s journals, but was also a yarn that has been told and retold and told again by generations of First Nations people. 243 years later, in the land where the invasion originated, we are standing in the British Museum looking at that bark shield behind glass – a relic of the untold story of Australia’s true history exhibited and held as a part of the ‘colonial story’. We watched as a group of school children pushed past, looking for items on their activity sheets. They stopped, were pointing and agreeing that this was what they were looking for. This relic of war was now a part of a scavenger hunt used to entertain the many school groups that would pass through the museum halls, to make education seem fun. None of this was fun for us. I was familiar with the story of the two warriors, as it is the story that we relay whenever the term ‘peaceful settlement’ is heard. We know this story because of what it represents. The young people today who uphold the fight for Land Rights consider it to be the first record of resistance against invasion. We recall this story during many heated debates and conversations with non-First Nations people who like to romanticize the frontier wars and tell us to “get over it”. I walked out of the museum feeling like I had a hole in my head. It literally felt like cold air was hitting a nerve it wasn’t supposed to. The only way I could describe it is feeling like you just chipped a tooth. I could not help but think about the many warriors’ bones and heads that have also been ‘acquired’ and stored away. What warrior would drop or lay down his spear or shield? Then it hit me – only a dead warrior would lay down their shield. ISSUE #3
Let’s Talk CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
On December 3, the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA) broadcast a panel debate on the issue of Constitutional reform. Tiga Bayles (centre) facilitated the debate. The panellists included (left-right) Secretary of the Aboriginal Provisional Government and lawyer Michael Mansell, Editor of NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s Tracker Magazine Amy McQuire, Melbourne Law School academic Mark McMillan & Co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Les Malezer. Australia’s mainstream media has effectively decided to back the Recognise campaign either through lazy reporting or editorial policy. As a result, those opposed to the $10 million government campaign haven’t been given a voice. Brisbane Blacks does not claim to be objective because we write from within the movement. We #FlipTheScript below: I actually find it really funny when I hear Recognise referred to as a grassroots movement. Recognise is almost going to be like the new Reconciliation – it doesn’t reflect the agendas within our own communities and doesn’t reflect the diversity of Aboriginal views on the ground. There are a lot of people who are wary of this ‘movement’ and they have reason to be weary. History has made us weary and we have evolved to be a lot more politically astute. I don’t think they have considered a lot of those viewpoints, and this is shown by the fact that we don’t see Recognise out there engaging with people who do not think this is the right way forward.
AMY MCQUIRE Darumbal
The way it is portrayed in the media, Constitutional reform is depicted as something that Aboriginal people want and that Aboriginal people are driving it. It really is a government agenda and that’s reflected in who is leading the campaign. I don’t believe it’s driven by First Nations people themselves. The head of Recognise is Tim Gartrell [former Secretary of the Australian Labor Party] who is head of GenerationOne. It’s all PR and spin. We need to mobilise and start talking about true Aboriginal aspirations of Treaty and Sovereignty. That must come first.
If government wants to avoid scrutiny about what they are not doing for Aboriginal people, they shove off to the side some peripheral issue. They let all the elitist Blacks chase it, give them money and let them talk to middleclass Australia about it. In the meantime, government doesn’t have to do anything. Constitutional reform is a distraction. There’s no reason why people can’t use the process of recognition as a means of educating White Australia about the rights that Aboriginal people are entitled to instead of saying “we have been given this very narrow focus by our masters in Canberra and we must follow it without challenge at all”. You don’t have to have Constitutional reform to setup an Aboriginal assembly. The Federal Government setup ATSIC with legislation. There’s no reason why that power couldn’t be extended to give Aboriginal people more authority. There’s no reason why Canberra can’t come up with a law that establishes a simple process to give all the traditional lands that were taken from Aboriginal people back to us. We don’t need to be side-tracked by Constitutional reform if we want to deliver something practical to Aboriginal people. ISSUE #3
michael mansell Pakana P18
Resetting the relationship PART ONE
adaptation of Application of the Oslo Model for Relations between States and Indigenous Peoples BY MARY GRAHAM (Kombumerri & Waka Waka)
This article calls for an accord which provides a regime for working through issues of a treaty, resolution of social problems, Land Rights, economic and community development and possibly problems of racism. The Oslo Peace Accord and the Guatemala Peace Accord are the models for this proposal. To accept this proposal is to acknowledge that peace does not exist in this country and the current status of Indigenous people reflects this. Violations include 200 years of racist violence and social neglect, decades of administrative policies which actively work against Indigenous interests, constant surveillance under the guise of accountability, and the refusal of a treaty. Many of us have maintained that relations between Indigenous people and Australian governments strongly resemble a country at war. The relationship between Indigenous peoples and states is not a peaceful one and never has been. It is a myth perpetuated for years that says, because Indigenous people in developed industrial countries are not being directly shot at, that therefore there are no violations of peace. Indigenous people live in fear in these suspended hostilities and are kept in a perpetual state of struggle – to keep safe from racist violence, to run our own affairs, to get affordable housing even just shelter, to get a job, to get an education, to reach middle ISSUE #3
age, to practice our own culture and speak our own languages. In a rich country like ‘Australia’ these things should not be insurmountable problems and yet they are. The institutional frameworks legal, government and administrative – do not recognise that Indigenous people have rights and all the current indications signal that this situation is not going to change in the near future.
A sovereign people do not plead their cause. They affirm it and live by it.
As it is now, Indigenous peoples are reduced to negotiating on a very unequal basis to see what concessions can be wrung from a process, the terms of which have usually been predetermined by governments and vested interests. We as First Nations peoples must have an international arbitrator otherwise we will remain in the untenable tragic position of having to continually plead for a better deal from unsympathetic governments. Consider resetting relations with a revised model of having a peace accord struck between First Nations peoples and the nation state. Here in Australia we have never had an accord or treaty, we have always been treated as a client of the welfare state. Incremental change was allowed just barely, but real structural change was insight
and is not allowed. A new political framework is needed within which Indigenous peoples and states can have a stronger, more mature and equal relationship. Governments have gone some way with the recognition of Native Title rights, the other part of the equation is the installation of governance structures which would return a very large measure of independence for the first time to First Nations peoples and communities. In some regions people are trying to institute new ways of running their communities through economic models. But economic models on their own do not work. Structural changes have to be in place in order to have a truly effective system. Changes in the structure of governance are practical and the effects can be seen and experienced immediately, whereas Native Title is surrounded by the conflict of negotiating agreements, of going through complex Federal court procedures, producing and completing research into connections to land and a whole raft of activities and positions that all too often lead Indigenous people into yet more conflict with each other and with mainstream society and its institutions. A great deal of work is constantly being done in many different spheres to remove barriers to the validation of our political and civil rights, but everywhere, everyday our rights are being whittled away through courts, tribunals, governments and legislatures in Australia. P19
A Black perspective on the Australian nuclear industry Aboriginal environmental activist Adam Sharah sheds light on the truth about Australia’s nuclear industry. He is a member of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org The promotion of uranium mining as an essential part of the strategy to liberate Indigenous peoples from poverty is a lie permeated by the nuclear industry. Along with Indigenous peoples internationally, Aboriginal people who reside on land mined for uranium, or where nuclear tests occurred, do not live in communities that are shining examples of economic emancipation, improved living standards and higher life expectancies. The truth is that Aboriginal people who reside in these communities live in a state of abject poverty ignored by their own government, often in third world conditions, without access to basic health care, education, housing or essential infrastructure, alongside a toxic legacy. Uranium mining and nuclear testing has exposed generations of Indigenous people to a myriad of health, social, environmental and economic problems. The nuclear industry poisons our lands, contaminates our oceans, aquifers and waterways, causes cancer and is responsible for birth deformities in children, all the while fuelling the global war machine and ensuring that fly-in fly-out workers, mining CEOs and shareholders get rich. The claim that nuclear energy is a necessary, cost effective, ‘clean green’ energy source during the transition to a carbon neutral economy is propaganda created by the nuclear industry. Uranium mining and nuclear power creates radioactive waste in the ISSUE #3
form or ‘spent nuclear fuel rods’ and radioactive ‘tailings dams’. Tailings dams are vast pits of radioactive waste material that are often uncapped, so radioactive waste is left exposed to the environment. Radioactive waste remains toxic for hundreds of years. Once radiation infiltrates living organisms, it becomes bioaccumulative; it is accumulated at a greater rate than at which it is absorbed. Radioactive particles invade living organisms and the human body at a cellular level and mutate the structure of cells. Radioactivity also accumulates as it moves up the food chain. Direct exposure to radiation and radioactive waste can cause skin burns, epilation, organ failure, can affect the central nervous and gastrointestinal systems and has been linked to cancer clusters, lymphomas, thyroid conditions and birth deformities in children and animals. Aboriginal people who promote mining as a remedy for Aboriginal poverty cannot be trusted to inform Aboriginal people about the issues surrounding uranium mining. Several Aboriginal ‘leaders’ have strong alliances to the mining industry. Professor Marcia Langton’s alliances to the mining industry were exposed when it was revealed that her research for the 2012 ABC Boyer Lectures was funded with almost half a million dollars from mining giants including Santos, Woodside and Rio Tinto. Warren Mundine’s nuclear industry alliances are well insight
documented; he is a Director of the Australian Uranium Association, coconvener of the Australian Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group and a member of the Uranium Implementation Committee. Noel Pearson’s allegiance to the Murdoch media, Abbott’s Coalition and the mining industry is common knowledge and a continuing source of division for north Queensland’s Aboriginal communities. The Aboriginal ‘leaders’ who currently occupy the political space, who were not elected by us, yet speak on our behalf without a mandate, have selectively chosen to ignore the mining industry’s racist history and the active role the industry plays in the dispossession of First Nations peoples. The dark cloud of shame cast upon these individuals due to their willingness to ignore the devastating impact of mining on their own people is self-inflicted, and unless rectified, will remain a damning part of their legacy. At the 2013 Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) Annual Conference, I witnessed the effects of uranium mining on our people as I listened to stories told by traditional owners from around the continent. Fighting the effects of uranium mining and proposed nuclear waste dumps is time consuming, stressful and drains community resources that are needed elsewhere. The testimonies of Aboriginal people who live with uranium mining should serve as warning to all First Nations. P20
The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) is a core platform for organizing Black political/protest action and engaging with Brisbane’s First Nations community. BASE holds meetings around the sacred fire in Musgrave Park every Wednesday @ 6pm and runs a program which provides food parcels to over 100 families across Brisbane every week. For more information on BASE or to assist/ donate to the Community Food Program, call 0424 610 492 or 0408 064 900
Tune in at 9AM every weekday for Let’s Talk with Tiga Bayles on Brisbane’s 989fm. Let’s Talk is a one hour First Nations current affairs show and offers listeners in both the Black and broader community a conscious alternative to the sensationalism of mainstream media. The program is repeated each day from 6-7pm and live streamed. Tiga Bayles (Birrigubba) is a pioneer of Black radio, having co-founded Radio Redfern in the 80s, and a veteran campaigner for the rights of First Nations peoples. The BlackCard Course is the path to acquiring a licence that demonstrates the expertise of the holder in working with Aboriginal people. The underlying themes of the BlackCard Course are based on Aboriginal Terms of Reference that provide direction to the age-old Aboriginal civilizational culture, values and worldview. The BlackCard Course is based on the tertiary level subjects, Aboriginal Perspectives and Aboriginal Approaches to Knowledge, developed by Lilla Watson and Mary Graham. To find out more, call 0415 973 243 or email email@example.com
Brisbane’s BLACK HISTORY They invade my country, they call themselves civilized. I defend my country, they call me a terrorist, they call me a criminal…
Wayne Wharton, KOOMA
freedom fighter Dundalli
Dundalli was a freedom fighter, a warrior, who played a major role in the resistance to the British invasion of the region now known as ‘Brisbane’. After years of fighting on the frontier, defending the honour and dignity of his people, Dundalli was captured by colonial authorities and hanged on the 5th of January 1855 in front of the Brisbane jail. A crowd gathered to witness the execution and local police surrounded the gallows to prevent any attempt at escape or rescue. There was a large group of Aboriginal people gathered on a hill overlooking the scene. As Dundalli mounted the scaffold, he called out to them, to avenge his death. They let out a loud cry when his body dropped. But the executioner sent up from Sydney had made the rope too long. Dundalli’s feet fell upon his coffin, so the executioner bent his legs and dragged down on them until the man died. This was the last official public execution in Queensland.
On the 159th anniversary of Dundalli’s execution, Brisbane’s Black community gathered in Post Office Square to commemorate the life and efforts of the freedom fighter.
They can take our lives, they can take our bodies, but they will never take our sovereignty. Cecil Briggs gumbaynggir
proBLACKtivity - language revival Prior to 1788, this continent was home to hundreds of autonomous tribal nations with unique cultures, laws and territories. Each nation had its own language within which there were also a number of distinct dialects specific to each clan group. Due to the destructive and ongoing process of colonization, the majority of our languages are no longer spoken or on the verge of extinction according to Western linguists. But they are not dead or extinct - they are asleep and waiting to be revived.
By Callum Clayton-Dixon Nganyaywana
Language has often been described as the soul of a nation. For us as indigenous peoples, our languages are an integral part of what connects us to our respective ancestral lands and waters. Yaka tanya Yimpirunga Nganyaywana, tika kwanga Malarinti rata – I am a man of the Himberrong clan of the Anewan nation, we are children of the Macdonald River and its waters. The Nganyaywana language, the tongue of my ancestors, has supposedly been extinct for several generations. Unfortunately, much
that should not have been forgotten has been lost. But as history clearly demonstrates, we are highly adaptive and ever evolving people. Last year we managed to unearth several hundred Nganyaywana words in the University of New England library archives along with an audio file from AIATSIS recorded on 22nd of March 1963. Listening to words “as they were spoken by tribesmen coming into Armidale from Inglebah” sent shivers down my spine – a window into a not so distant past, and a window into a not so distant future. Coupled with the invaluable work of renowned linguist Terry Crowley, we are set to breathe life into a language that has been dormant for far too long. There are many ways in which we
as First Nations peoples can reclaim and revitalize our languages. Place names provide a direct connection to our sacred lands and waters to which creation stories are attached, and the reclamation of these names is vital for the continuation and revitalization of our unique cultures. The future of our lands, lives, languages and liberation are inexorably intertwined. The extreme neglect on the part of consecutive Australian governments with regards to the protection and revival of First Nations’ languages is a given. In light of this, we all must play a role in the process of reconstruction – it is not only our right to maintain our languages against assimilation, it is our responsibility, our obligation.
Brisbane Blacks is an independent non-profit First Nations publication with the sole purpose of awakening the Black CONSCIENCE, raising Black AWARENESS and articulating the Black RESISTANCE. We thank all interviewees, contributors, distributors, the National Tertiary Education Union & Australian Manufacturing Workers Union [printing] for helping to make Brisbane Blacks a reality. if you would like to subscribe, have any questions about Brisbane Blacks or would like to contribute content, call 0428 152 777 and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
BrisbaneBlacks ISSUE 3 - Invasion Day, 2014
awakening the Black CONSCIENCE | raising Black AWARENESS | articulating the Black RESISTANCE