Category Archives: reconciliation

Book Launch – “The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police”

by Jonathan Richards

 “The Secret War” will be launched by Henry Reynolds at the Avid Reader bookshop, Boundary St. West End (Bris) on Wednesday 19th March 2008 at 6.00 pm.

 From the publisher, University of Queensland Press….……

  Henry Reynolds describes Jonathan Richards’ controversial book, The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police, as ‘a major contribution to Queensland and Australian historiography, and to the history of relations between colonists and indigenous people on a global scale’.

The health, housing and employment crisis facing Indigenous people today are a direct result of our white settlement history.

How did Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from all over Queensland, end up being violently forced to leave their homelands and live in these communities?

Why were Indigenous people so terrified of the police, they allowed themselves to be herded into ‘prisons without walls’?

The release of The Secret War is timely given the new Labor Government’s official apology to the Aboriginal people.

The Secret War tells the story of organised racial violence and lawful mass murder on the Queensland frontier.

For many Indigenous people, white colonisation arrived with the armed men of the Native Police: a brutal force that operated on the 19th-century frontier, killing large numbers of Indigenous men, women and children.

Historian Jonathan Richards has spent ten years researching this contentious subject, picking his way through secrecy, misinformation and supposed ‘lost files’ to uncover and publish the truth.

In this first full-length comprehensive study of the Native Police in Queensland, he argues that they were a key part of a ‘divide and rule’ colonising tactic and that the force’s actions were given the implicit approval of the government and public servants, and that their killings were covered up.

The Queensland government, which so far has avoided blame due to an absence of direct orders to kill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stands responsible for the force’s deployment, techniques and ultimately for its genocidal activities.

The Secret War is an authoritative and groundbreaking contribution to our country’s white settlement history.

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Intervention hysteria, truckie prostitution and a defence of Noel Pearson

The ABC Lateline program has exposed child prostitution in some Aboriginal communities catering to passing truckies. The federal opposition leader, Brendan Nelson has called for an extension of the Northern Territory intervention into these communities.

“The Intervention” has come to mean nothing. John Howard and Mal Brough’s plan is being dismantled, although much slower that N.T. Aboriginal people would like.

“The Intervention” has come to mean an ideological, non-specific plan for urgent action. It seems the Howard/Brough plan was never much more than this, but now that a new regime is redesigning policy and programs, “the Intervention” is just an illusion of recent history, not a real policy framework.

Brendan Nelson has called for “the Intervention” in W.A. and Qld. as well as communities on trucking routes.

There is still a strong backlash, including protests, to the N.T. intervention, which has no doubt strengthened people in N.T. communities in their negotiations with the new government. However there has also been opposition to extending “the intervention” into W.A. and Qld.

I don’t know anything of the W.A. situation but I have been following Cape York politics. Brendan Nelson has called for a Cape York Intervention. Protestors have protested against the Cape York Intervention. But the trial of welfare Quarantining in Cape York has nothing to do with “the intervention”. The Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, in particular Noel Pearson has been lobbying for a range of reforms including welfare reform for a decade, a long time before Mal Brough dreamed up the N.T. Intervention.

The Cape York trial is an Aboriginal initiative, which has been developed over a decade. It does not impose a blanket welfare quarantine as the N.T. intervention did; it is only for people who are referred to a “Family responsibilities commission” by community agencies for such things as child neglect. The communities have volunteered to be part of the trial.

The trial is certainly not unanimously embraced in the Cape, but a particular leadership, including traditional elders, has done the black business over the last ten years and now managed to get some government support for their program.

Most importantly, unlike the N.T, intervention, welfare quarantining and the Family Responsibilities commission in Cape York is part of a broader program of housing, education and economic development.

Just as John Howard, Mal Brough and now Brendan Nelson see “the intervention” as a one size fits all program for all Aboriginal communities, there has been a one size fits all opposition to “the intervention” including opposition to local Aboriginal initiatives such as the Cape York welfare quarantine trial.

Brendon Nelson’s call for “the intervention” to deal with child prostitution on trucking routes is a clear example of blaming the victim. The child prostitutes have broken no law; it is the truckies who have committed the crime, yet Nelson sees Aboriginal communities as the focus for action.

Noel Pearson and others from the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership have also been accused of blaming the victim in calling for such things as welfare quarantining. However I believe such accusations do not take into account the desperation in communities such as those in the trial and the willingness to take drastic action, anything to change the way things are. In the news today elders from Aurukun are calling for their children to be taken off the community to go to boarding school because they are not safe in the community.

There is a big difference between blaming the victim and people, especially the victims of history, deciding there is something that they must do, a change that they must make happen on their own, by any means necessary.

Pearson is not blaming the victim. He, like the radical black power movement, proclaims that the white man will give you fuck-all, its no use appealing to them for salvation. This is not blaming the victim.

Even if there is a police intervention into the trucking industry to stop child prostitution, the communities on the trucking routes still must deal with questions of drugs, women’s business, poverty etc. as a community response to child/truckie prostitution, this includes changing the consciousness and behaviour of the victims. This is not blaming the victim, only a recognition that the forces of oppression still exist and the only people who can really do anything about it are the oppressed victims themselves, not the vigilance of the police or the repentance of the truckies for both will never occur.

I disagree with Noel Pearson’s plan but I am not a traditional owner of cape York. I believe there is indeed a one size fits all policy for indigenous issues – self-determination.

Self-determination relies on the capacity of local leaderships to lead. It is the process of growing leadership that is the priority for Aboriginal Australia and that will take on many different and conflicting forms in different communities. The essential issue is the social cohesion and functionality of a particular community or family to govern itself. Questions of the ideological correctness of this or that particular government policy are irrelevant.

Policy illusions of the white government such as “the intervention” or the new one “close the gap” have nothing to do with hope in Aboriginal communities. Only the re-emergence of a cohesive social order and leadership can provide hope.

Malcolm X’s notion of “by any means necessary” should be considered in weighing up the ideological correctness of such things as welfare quarantining Cape York style.

The success of failure of the Cape York trial will depend on who is in charge. What is the entrenched authority of the process? The Devil is always in the detail.

If Cape York elders, men and women are empowered, including by the power of the local police, school and hospital to enact their will in their community, then the trial will succeed. If bureaucrats and police are in charge, by way of “consultation” the whole process will fail.

Keeping control of the process, keeping it out of the control of the government, will be the test of the leadership for Noel Pearson and his associates in Cape York.

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Guest post – International Womens Day 2008 by Fiona Noble

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MARCH 8, 2008

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn…
There Is A Time For Peace, Turn, Turn, Turn.

My name is Fiona Noble. I do Treaty under the Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo of the Tribe, Nunuccal, I am a mother of four children, two of which have non-Indigenous fathers and two of which have an Indigenous father.

Oodgeroo advocated “Don’t hate, educate”, and she maintained that the only healing that could come about in this country was through Treaty. Her family continue to do her law in the face of ongoing genocidal practices.

I would like to begin here with a poem Oodgeroo Nunuccal (Kath Walker) wrote for her son Denis, and which I would like to read for all my children, but especially to my son, Djindu, whom I hope will grow to be a fine warrior for peace, as are and have been his fathers.

Son of Mine (To Denis)
oodgeroo_noonuccal-bandw.jpg Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Custodian of the land Minjerriba. 

My son, your troubled eyes search mine,
Puzzled and hurt by colour line.
Your black skin soft as velvet shine;
What can I tell you, son of mine?
I could tell you of heartbreak, hatred blind,
I could tell of crimes that shame mankind,
Of brutal wrong and deeds malign,
Of rape and murder, son of mine;
But I’ll tell instead of brave and fine
When lives of black and white entwine,
And men in brotherhood combine –
This would I tell you, son of mine.

I am writing this letter because I am deeply disturbed with where women are at in this country, not only with the continuing difficulties all women world wide experience but more importantly with the role of the western mind set white women especially continue to uphold, continue to be in denial about, and which is essentially the root of the problems western women would consider to be universal to all women.

The society we see around us, the matrix in which we exist and often feel oppressed by, that which stems back to the Roman Empire, is based on a culture of man-made law as opposed to natural /God’s law, greed, self engrandisment, false idols, violence, and a lack of respect and understanding for spirit and country.

I am writing today to urge non-Indigenous women in this country to get real about who they are in this country, to be responsible for what has happened and what is continuing to happen. I urge all non-indigenous women who want to stop the Northern Territory Intervention, who want to see the social and economic conditions of Indigenous people improve, I urge you, to stop seeing your selves as saviours – you aren’t.

You are in fact the ones who need saving. Non-Indigenous people in this country are ‘rubbish people’ – no law, no dreaming. The only way this can be rectified is to acknowledge Aboriginal sovereignty, and to do Treaty, and I mean ‘do’ Treaty, not wait for it to come and get dropped in your lap. “Faith without action is blasphemy”!

I would like to express to you briefly my own experiences. I grew up on military bases around Australia and when I became an adult, I chose to put all my energy into ‘fighting for peace’ but as yet I have been unsuccessful in tearing down the military industrial complex. Then through my peace activities I became involved with women’s rights and issues. I worked in women’s refuges for many years, did anti-military actions with Women for Survival, helped set up Women Behind Bars ( Bris.) etc, etc .

The problem was, unfortunately I mistook feminism for women’s business which I have only in recent years come to fully appreciate. Through my activities with the peace and women’s movements I also became acutely aware of the prison industry. My reason for being then became to ‘raze the prisons’ to the ground – another unsuccessful mission I set for myself.

After many years of feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall, where nothing seemed to have changed and in fact, where things had even gotten worse – in my ego state – I became disillusioned. There didn’t seem to be any sisterhood in the sisterhood, the anarchists, with whom I ran with, either went turn- cote or became manic depressives, etc. etc. The point is – what I had been doing, was exactly that – hitting my head against a brick wall and then wondering why it hurt. We can all have ‘issues’ dear to us, things we want to change, but they will remain just that -‘ issues’- until we address the root problem, and that is our lack of spirit and connectedness to country.

Once you do acknowledge who’s land you are on, once you acknowledge you know nothing about this country, once you bow down, chuck away everything you think you know and realise that most of what you think you know is utter crap, then you can begin to learn.

I have heard comments from white fella’s who say they know about spirit and country because they can ‘intuit’ it, they can go into someone else’s country sit under a tree or whatever and ‘intuit’ Baiame and the rainbow serpent moving – just like that! We are all spirit and we all seek spirit but it doesn’t mean we know it, own it, control it. One woman said to me about such individuals – People like that are like leaves blowing in the wind, blowing around and around, eventually blowing right away. She said she’d rather be connected to the tree.

In 1998 through my prison activities, I met the father of my two youngest children. He was stolen from his Pitjanjatjara family in S.A. when he was three and grew up in institutions. I was on a huge learning curve. He used to say to me “Chuck away my political ism-schisms” or, similarly, as my other husband says “You have to come to this like a child”. And so I am passing on to you what I see is essential for non-indigenous people to do before they can effect any real change – whether it be for the environment, the military, domestic violence, whatever. We need to get the proper authorities and disciplines right firstly, with the restoration of elders in council – blood lines back to territory. We truly need to seek truth and spiritual oneness.

Australia has the highest youth suicide rate in the world, and that’s white fella’s. “Why is this so?” you might ask.The lack of spirit, respect, the ongoing lies and thievery, and the belief in white superiority, which everybody seems to want to deny, is taking its effect. You can’t commit genocide, and expect no consequences.

My family is currently in a state of total chaos at the moment because of the factors I have just mentioned. The two fathers of my non- Indigenous children, in their arrogance and ignorance, are committing genocide on my family as we speak.

Knowing full well the failure of the white police and judicial systems to address anything, knowing full well that police kill blackfellas in jail – they have decided to use the police and the state and my two daughters to ‘divide and conquer’ once again. They may say they are against the invasion of the Northern Territory but fail to see that their own actions give testimony to such genocidal practices. What they are doing is as the rest of white Australia is doing – pointing the finger at blackfella’s to divert attention away from their own insidious behaviour. They like the rest of white Australia don’t seem to want peace.

They do not seek healing but ego gratification. They as white, wealthy, academics see them selves as superior to me and my family because they are white and they think they are men, and they think they know better. Like the Government is doing – they say sorry, and kick you in the guts again. And it’s not good enough.

The military invasion of the N.T. is in no ones interest except white Autsralia. I didn’t see activists running to the N.T. to stop the invasion. I saw people run to Shoalwater Bay for the military exercises – everywhere but the N.T.

. I was in Canberra for the convergence to ‘stop the N.T. Intervention . People from the N.T. weren’t there to hear “sorry, now off you go back home”. They want it stopped. This intervention is extending into other states. Whitefellas are now starting to experience some of the tactics of the oppressive regime. As James Baldwin said “if they come for me at night, they’ll be coming for you in the morning”.

So finally, I would just like to reiterate the need for non-Indigenous women to stop focusing on how right they are, to stop blaming everyone else for their problems, to stop being so self righteous and judgemental.

Put your right to be an individual aside for five minutes, and start listening to the Indigenous women and men in the communities.

There are those who do things for mammon and ego and there are those who do things for spirit. Who are you? There are those who will judge others and accuse others. Ask yourself, what are their motivations and what are your own?

Please prioritise in your lives redressing the ongoing genocide. Support the move for Sovereignty; support a Treaty process; support international condemnation of this Australian govt. and the culture of genocide.

If you are interested in doing Treaty and supporting the move toward Sovereignty, you can obtain further information by contacting me on 0402541548

email – moongalba1@yahoo.com.au.

Or you can support the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, which is desperately seeking support to drive Sovereignty, Treaty, and “Stop the Intervention”.

Peace, prosperity and healing,

Fiona Noble (Sacred Treaty Circles of Oodgeroo, Custodian of the Land Minjerribah)

Useful Readings….

Oodgeroo’s works

Germaine Greer – White Fella Jump Up,

Henry Reynolds – Law of the Land

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Kevin Rudd’s Sorry statement has to say why the government is sorry – press release from Michael Anderson

Press release:  Michael Anderson, Goodooga, NSW, 29 January 2008

In a statement from Goodooga in NW NSW, Michael Anderson said today:

“In our family’s experience, my grandmother taken from Angledool, NW NSW in 1914 and had to find her own way home. She always wanted recognition of the government’s cruel judgement to breed out the colour and culture of Aboriginal people.”

“For an apology to be meaningful, there is a lot of history that PM Kevin Rudd has to admit to. He has to say why the Prime Minister and government is sorry and the public has to accept that the sorry statement is necessary for Australia to move forward.”

“In 1937, State and Federal governments convened aconference in Canberra to decide on a policy of what to do with ‘the Aborigines’ – the resulting policy objective was for the complete annihilation of a race of Peoples. The principle method to achieve this was to remove Aboriginal children from their parents and from the influence of customs, traditions and Law/Lore. The primary objectives were to de-Aboriginalise these children and to expunge their colour, because Australia was working towards an Aryan race.”

“It is important to remember that, in 1901, the first Federal Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, argued for a continent that could be free of ‘contamination’ by foreign and unwanted racial impurities. When he led the debate in the House of Representatives on the Immigration Restriction Bill 7 August 1901, he quoted Professor Pearson a noted social commentator of the time by saying: ‘The fear of Chinese immigration which the Australian democracy cherishes … is in fact, the instinct of self-preservation, quickened by experience … We are guarding the last part of the world in which the higher races can live and increase freely for the higher civilisation .… The day will come …when the European observers will look around the globe girdled with a continuous zone of the yellow and black races. It is idle to say that if all this should come to pass our pride and place will not be humiliated. We are struggling among ourselves for supremacy in a world which we thought of as destined to belong to the Aryan race; and to the Christian faith; to the letters and arts and charms which we have inherited from the best of times.”

“Many in mainstream cannot plead ignorance as it was a common agreement between State and Federal governments with the policy finalised in 1937 in Canberra. There are many Australians still alive today, who voted and trusted the governments to do right thing, but never questioned what was going on. The policy was genocidal in intent and practice – to create a white Australia without colour.”

“In almost every other country in the world, where colonisation has taken place, reparations in various forms have enabled survivors of gross violations of human rights to locate their niche in society. Reparation funds have made it possible for those indigenous groups to maintain identity, restore dignity, develop strategies and an economic base.”

“Reparation programs have to ensure there is not a white bureaucracy having control over us. We have to get away from mission managers. We do not want to be treated as children. We have never been given opportunity to manage our own affairs without a white bureaucratic ceiling of control and an expectation of assimilation.”

“Aboriginal Peoples can do without the welfare handouts. Our nations have to restore their territorial integrity and Australians have no reason to fear this.”“We must set our own objectives. We have a right to do this. The recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms our rights and responsibilities. In Australia, Greeks, Italians, Macedonians have own clubs, churches, languages,schools while integrating into Australian society. Why is it different for us as Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in our own land?”

“If Rudd and his labour government are serious, the detail of a sorry statement must include the true horror of the genocide that was planned against Aboriginal Peoples and what was carried out.”

“To alleviate the Australian governments’ fears of separate development through reparation, they only have to look at US and Canadian models, where the sovereign identity of individual nations is maintained. In the Mabo case, the High Court alluded to the fact that sovereignty can continue to exist among Aboriginal Peoples and we assert that it does. We only ask that this be respected and that we can have co- existing sovereignties.”

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N.T. Aboriginal Intervention extended to Qld’s Cape York

“The Federal Government has thrown its support behind a plan to quarantine the
welfare payments of families in some Queensland Indigenous communities.”  
From ABC news Govt backs Indigenous welfare quarantine

PRESS RELEASE
from Queensland Aboriginal leaders Les Malezer, Terry O’Shane, Bob Weatherall, Jacqui Katona, Victor Hart

ABORIGINALS TO FIGHT QUEENSLAND INVASION
21 December 2007

We will join with other Aboriginal leaders in Queensland to fight the
introduction of forced income control over Aboriginal families in
Queenland. This is no less than an extension of the Northern Territory
invasion into Queensland, as designed by Noel Pearson in conjunction
with Mal Brough of the former national government. We will fight for
the human rights of our people in Queensland, especially in Aurukun,
Hopevale, Coen and Mossman Gorge.

The Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and
federal Minister, Jenny Macklin, have imposed their first big deception
on the Aboriginal people of Australia by disguising their support for
the Noel Pearson welfare plan and secretly planning its implementation
without due regard for human rights.

This racist action will be subject to legal challenge in the Queensland
and Australian courts and, if the government defies our rights by
suspending the Racial Discrimination Act, we will take it to the United
Nations. Our opposition will not be armchair opposition because we
will protest on the streets to oppose the spread of racism by the Labor
Party of Australia.

This is clearly a case of where one law should apply in Australia. If
welfare payments are going to be withheld by a Families
Responsibilities Commission from the most needy families then let it
apply under federal law to everyone in Australia without discrimination
on the basis of race. There should not be a race divide in Queensland
on the promotion and exercise of universal and fundamental human
rights. We know that will never happen because unions and political
parties will not let innocent people be punished for the guilt of
others. Somehow Aboriginal people, according to governments, are
judged to be guilty by race alone.

Any and all problems with substance abuse and anti-social behaviour in
Aboriginal communities is not our fault but the problem associated with
continued alien domination in our lands, sustained poverty and failure
to remedy injustices. Increased control by alien government and
bureaucrats will only exacerbate the situation.

We are very disappointed with Premier Bligh because of the deceptive
way in which this announcement has been masked and kept from community
discussion, especially after clear indication the Alcohol Management
Plans (AMPs) in communities have failed.

The Aboriginal people in this State virtually guaranteed the Labor
Party a victory in the federal elections in a clear vote against the
Brough racism. In the voting for the federal elections they rallied
against the Pearson plan for control of incomes. Now Bligh and Rudd
betray the trust of these people. It seems that governments change but
Australia’s racism against Aboriginal people does not.

The federal government can overnight commit the nation to climate
change reforms, can overnight commit to gay reforms but cannot bring
itself to face to face honesty with Aboriginals.

We demand the Queensland Government publicly disclose its secret
negotiations with Noel Pearson and the government’s AMP outcomes and
achievements in Aboriginal communities. We also call upon Noel Pearson
to present himself face to face with the Aboriginal communities to
explain why he should be cutting payments to needy families while he is
on a government payroll of $200,000 per year.

(Contact:Les Malezer: 0419 710720; )

SIGNED: Les Malezer, Terry O’Shane, Bob Weatherall, Jacqui Katona,
Victor Hart,

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It is still O.K. for Australian police to kill Aborigines

The 2004 Palm Island death in custody, where an Aboriginal man was unlawfully arrested and died of massive internal injuries inflicted while in police custody, remains unresolved. The arresting officer and the person who delivered the fatal blow was aquitted on charges of manslaughter but the deceased’s family is still pursuing civil charges and compensation for the death.

The charges against the police officer were not laid by the Queensland Director of Public prosecutions as a result of the coroners inquest into the death, which put responsibility for the death with the police officer. The charges were only laid after a huge public outcry for justice.

However, it is not just Queensland’s criminal (in)justice system that tolerates the killing of Aborigines by police.

In the Northern Territory  

“Policeman who shot Wadeye teen won’t face charges”
N.I.T. Tuesday, 4 December 2007

“Constable Robert Whittington was “in a blind panic” when he “made a fatal error of judgment” and killed Robert Jongmin on October 23, 2002, Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh said yesterday.”

“Senior Const Whittington was originally charged with committing a dangerous act, but the charge was dismissed last year because the prosecution had not been brought within the required two-month period for police.”

In Western Australia

“Coroner clears police of death in custody”  West Australia 28th November 2007  (cultural caution! This article contains a photo of the deceased)

In this case a man died of a heart attack while being arrested. The police claim they did not assault him

Dead prisoner ‘bruised all over’ West Australian 18th October 2007

“An autopsy on the body of Carl Woods, who died minutes after being arrested, showed that he had bruises and abrasions all over his body, from head to toe.

And some linear bruises detected on the small of Mr Woods’ back and on the back of his legs were consistent with blows from a police baton or torch, forensic pathologist Gerard Cadden told a Coroner’s Court inquest yesterday.”

“But evidence has been given by all four of the officers who took several minutes to overpower and handcuff 35-year-old Mr Woods inside a house in Parmelia in April last year that no one used a baton or torch during the struggle. Two police torches were found in the house after the arrest.”

“Dr Cadden then went through a detailed report on the injuries he found on Mr Woods’ body.

He had lacerations to his lips, two lower front teeth — with jaw bone still attached — had been knocked out and a third tooth was also missing. An upper tooth had been jammed into his upper jaw and three other teeth were fractured. Dr Cadden said he understood Mr Woods had been kneed in the face, adding: “It would take considerable force to bring about that degree of dental damage.”

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Aborigines and Conservationism. Land Rights and Green Activism Not Necessarily Aligned

The following article is written by Tyson Yunkaporta.  (his profile here)

 In it he covers issues that I have raised in previous articles such as “Terra Nullius and Ecology”  and “The Environment movement and Aboriginal Australia”.
 
I have included this article partly because it backs up controversial things that I have said in my own articles, but also because it is an Aboriginal perspective which I hope will be taken more seriously than my own non-indigenous reflections on the relationship between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal notions of the natural environment.

More articles by Tyson Yunkaporta – here 

Aborigines and Conservationism
Land Rights and Green Activism Not Necessarily Aligned
By Tyson Yunkaporta

Aborigines and Greens both have a strong environmental focus in activism. But are conservationists in reality serving a colonial agenda when it comes to land rights?
Often conservationists will integrate Indigenous groups and issues into their causes. However, while well intended, this often carries racist agendas that actually support the colonial paradigm. This undercurrent becomes viciously clear in situations like the Makah whale hunting controversy in Washington, which saw greens chanting anti-Indian slogans alongside neo-Nazis, and sporting bumper stickers like, “Save a whale – kill a Makah!”

The Wilderness Myth
The most damaging aspect of conservationist ideology is the wilderness myth, which is basically a green version of Terra Nullius. The concept of “untouched” or “unspoiled” Edens that need to be protected from people always seems to leave Native Title out of the picture. The romantic natural paradise ideal effectively removes Aboriginal people from the landscape. Our land management techniques are silenced at best, or at worst criticised as being primitive and unscientific. In green circles, you will often hear Aboriginal land management cited as a reason for species extinction. Traditional practices are only valid when they are limited to cultural exotica, and when they serve to categorise us as part of the fauna. Hunting is problematic in green politics.

Conservation As Colonisation
When “wilderness” conservation became law, this resulted in countless Aboriginal people being jailed for hunting in “protected” areas on their traditional lands. Many of these people died (and are still dying) in prison. “No camping” rules have resulted in further dispossession, as traditional owners have found themselves driven off the land by a new form of pastoralism called wilderness preservation. And when Indigenous groups or individuals have scraped together enough money to buy back their own land, the government has been able to block the purchase by declaring the areas National Parks. Thus conservationism has become yet another weapon against Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal Portrayal In Green Texts and Research
Reductionism is also a problem in green circles. Because of the monocultural use of western scientific or psuedo-scientific inquiry in conservation, many well-meaning activists fail to develop the holistic knowledge base necessary for understanding traditional land management. This prevents them from seeing the importance of an Indigenous hand in the maintenance of ecosystems. As a result traditional owners are framed as relics of the past. This can be seen in conservationist texts, which generally use the past tense when describing Indigenous knowledge or practices.

Often Indigenous “wisdom” will be used to give a bit of weight and poignancy to green texts. Other times land knowledge is stripped from Indigenous communities by green messiahs and charming researchers who come to save the land and the people (often with a patent in the back pocket for local plant knowledge). If we’re lucky, we get to be their assistants, or consultants.

Apologies to the many conservationists out there who are the exception to this rule.

This article is copyright. Thanx to Tyson  for permission to publish it.

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