Recognising Australian Aborigines as First Nation peoples

“The attitude of Australian whites to their indigene is
bifurcated. There are, firstly, the lamp lighters and flag
bearers. These are the humanitarians. Colonial values do
not cloud their perceptions. They look forward, not to the
past. They support reconciliation (a more accurate word
might be conciliation) and efforts to have the viability of,
and the respect shown to, the Aboriginal people raised to
that of the rest of the Australian people.

These include the honest people who recognise the ‘first nation’ status
of the indigene. They seek to have fellow non-indigenous
Australians become more aware of the history, cultural
values and traditions, art, environmental wisdom, and
spirituality of the Aborigines.

Then, there is that majority (a large number of whom
have told me about their feelings), with their soul-destroying
perceptions of the indigene. This is a grab-bag filled
with an interesting assortment of human failings. First,
there are the greedy and the rapacious, who may be the
cultural descendants of some of the founding fathers,
and their protectors in government.

Then there are the intellectually-deprived, with their retinal after-image of
the white coloniser’s cultural and racial superiority. These
are followed by the emotionally damaged fear-filled, lacking
the confidence to relate to those not like themselves.
Those afflicted with subconscious guilt about the terrible
things done to the inoffensive indigene by their predecessors,
not all of whom were linked to them genetically, are also found in this grab-bag. One can sympathise with these.

Those who deny the invasion and conquest of terra
Australis, by choosing to believe in the terra nullius myth of
their forefathers, are the most intriguing.”

(These extracts are from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ Chapter 3 ‘To have a dream’ published in 2004. It may be slightly out-of-date through increasing numbers of non-Aboriginal Australians (especially the younger generation) sympathising with the aspirations of the indigene.

A referendum to include in the Constitution a reference to the Australian Aborigines as First Nation Peoples of Australia (a matter surely of incontestable fact) is being discussed – but not too objectively. Were they really the first occupants of this continent, ask some, when the issue is whether they were in occupation when the invasion by the British occurred.)