Into the Indigenous Future

Indigenous Peoples, as defined by The World Bank, are distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced. Australia’s Indigenous heritage originates from two distinct groups, the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander peoples, but from these two spring hundreds of communities with their own unique language, history and cultural traditions. This diversity is a gold mine of knowledge, beliefs and traditions, music and arts. Let’s delve into a couple that pervade the Indigenous cultures and their ways of life. Dreamtime or Dreaming is the Aboriginal belief on how the world is created, how life and nature came into being, and the interrelation of all things. This is preserved through stories, art, ceremony and songs handed down from generation to generation. Dreaming is the way of life for the Aboriginals, to make sense of one’s place in society and nature. It connects the spiritual world of the past with the present and the future. Coming of the Light celebrates the Torres Strait Islander peoples’ adoption of Christianity. Due to their geographical location, the sea holds a profound influence on the lives of the island communities. They look to the sea for sustenance and from the sea came the Christian missionaries which marked an impact on many aspects of their life. They co-existed peacefully, fostered a relationship of openness and reciprocity. More than a holiday celebration, Coming of the Light is a hopeful testament to humanity’s capacity to embrace what unites us instead of  fighting over our differences. Indigenous peoples have deep spiritual connection with the land and strong kinship with nature.  Guarding and protecting it is at the core of their existence. There is much the world can learn from them about sustainable use and conservation of our land and water resources. By diminishing their heritage we are weakening the customary vanguards of nature and the world we live in. The United Nations asserts, “Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world.” It marked August 9 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to direct global focus on the issue. This remains a challenging terrain to traverse but the end goal of ensuring a conducive environment for all indigenous peoples to thrive and grow would have been worth all the labor, brick by brick, to build up a strong Indigenous future. Sounding off John Donne’s poem below, each time a heritage ceases, a part of humanity dies – a bell tolls for thee. For Whom the Bell Tolls By John Donne No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee. INSPIREFLIX is launching our Indigenous Films Campaign to feature various stories told by Indigenous individuals. We will lend our platform in support, healing and protection of the Indigenous people, their families, communities and their heritage. Leave us a message or feel free to reach out to us for updates and more. REFERENCES: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/about-us.html https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples.html https://www.aboriginal-art-australia.com/aboriginal-art-library/understanding-aboriginal-dreaming-and-the-dreamtime/ https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/indigenous-australians-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Explore/Find+out+about/Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+Cultures/Gatherings/Coming+of+the+Light+Torres+Strait+Islands

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Invasion Day

I know a lot of people have strong opinions on Australia Day, what it means, if we should continue to have a national holiday, and some aren’t too concerned as long as a public holiday remains. I definitely hold the view that Aboriginal culture and history should be respected, in particular when thinking about our national holiday. My mind goes in circles when thinking and writing about Australia Day and its history. I know that some people don’t delve too much into the thinking about Australia Day’s date and the significance of it. For some people it’s just nice to have the day off and relax. I know I did some classic Aussie things on Australia Day this year 2022. I went to Bunnings and had a sausage sizzle BBQ. It wasn’t so much to celebrate but it was more the fact that I had a day off and my sister and I wanted to do some gardening. Then two seconds later we smelt the BBQ and it just happened to be Australia Day whilst we were doing all of that. I saw a documentary where an interviewer was asking people on Australia Day why they celebrate it and informed some that the day is actually when the country was invaded; the beginning of the loss of Aboriginal land, rights, freedoms, culture, language and history. Sometimes people were quite surprised by this information and just hadn’t been informed, or thought much about Australia Day and Aboriginal people in conjunction. Other responses were disturbing where they would ignore and dismiss what the interviewer just said as if he were lying. I understand that sometimes it can be difficult to deconstruct thinking, beliefs and values which people have had for a long time or since birth, but the alternative of turning a blind eye to injustice and genocide is devasting. I did a little research to understand what exactly people are celebrating. Many celebrate Australia broadly with no reference to its colonisation history. Others celebrate the welcoming of new citizens, whilst some celebrate having a day off to day drink and stick Australian flag merchandise all over the place. I don’t think that many people are saying not to celebrate Australia or Australian culture. A lot of the controversy appears to be around the specific date of Australia Day. Many countries have national holidays which aren’t in union with colonisation periods. I believe we can still be patriots and proud of Australia whilst making a significant effort to achieving reconciliation. Perhaps a place to continue reconciliation efforts would be with changing the date? I read a beautiful poem in an article on ‘Creative Spirits’ website, under ‘Australia Day – Invasion Day’, by Sandra Gaal Hayman: I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right I am now here Not been before My ancestors Are here no more I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right Their spirit lives in every way Always will unto this day They are so proud and love their land Traditional custodians will stand I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right We have so much to offer all Generations past still call This great land of ours abounds Where harmony and peace are found I am not black I am not white I am not wrong I am not right Proud and true is who we are Some from here and some from far Help each other the best we can That makes us ALL Australian. Source: Jens Korff, 2021. Australia Day – Invasion Day. [online] Creative Spirits. Available at: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day [Accessed 30 January 2022].

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