The First Nation Peoples of Australia

Since Australia has only recently joined the Family of Man (ie. disengaged itself from its deplorable White Australia policy), there is considerable scope for the creation of a nation of integrated people. Although pride in one’s ethnic heritage is embedded in one’s mind (at least in one’s current Earthly life), those of us who have outgrown our ancestral religio-cultural traditions in favour of a fast-evolving national culture (perhaps with a shared spiritual bent), could contribute to the evolution of such a nation.

Where then would our First Nation Peoples (Aborigines and Torres Straits Islanders) fit in? Would they want to remain separate but integrated? Do they not have a right to do so? The following extracts from my ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ are relevant.

“ … developments in the international arena might augur a new era. There has been a slow shift in emphasis from the rights of individuals to those of tribes. The UN seems to be on its tortoise-like way to codifying the rights of the world’s indigenes. The USA, Canada, and the Scandinavian nations have recognised as ‘first nations’ the ‘domestic dependant’ (Red) Indians of the USA; the Indians, Inuit and Metis of Canada; and the Inuit, Sami Greenlanders and Faroe Islanders of the nations of Scandinavia. That is, these people are accepted as having been there first, and that they were governed by their own laws.

These tribes thereby retained rights of possession over certain lands, and sovereignty rights to
conduct their own affairs on these lands. More recently, recognising 4500 years of occupation and sovereignty, the Canadian government returned a substantial parcel of land in the Arctic Circle to the Nunavut people, together with a cash settlement. It will be interesting to see if white people end up owning significant sectors of the land, or come to dominate the Nunavut administration.

Australia’s Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders are also first nation peoples. Hopefully, Australian governments will accept a fiduciary duty of care in the way the governments of the USA and Canada have. However, the Australian indigenes’ desire for self-determination (the precursor of a separate nation?), and the need for local communities in the outback to sort out their specific social problems in situation-specific ways, might encourage recalcitrant governments to continue to drag their corporate feet. There is also a grave risk, at all levels, that the normal competitive urge for power by ambitious indigenous leaders will result in the people being divided (an example is evident in Afghanistan), and progress derailed.”