Self-determination for First Nation Australians?

“ … as first nation peoples, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (TSI) do have a legal right
to exercise sovereignty over their land. The TSI should pose no problem. They seem to be on their way to self-determination in a number of responsibilities, eg customary law and order, education, health, welfare, and dole work for community development. … … they could progress to self-government within the sovereign nation-state of Australia.

As for Aboriginal people, they could live as cohesive collectives in definable geographical areas, even if these areas are not contiguous. Essential requirements would be that tribal and language differences, whilst retained, be merged into an Aboriginal nation, with equal status and rights for all within it. They would occupy and control their own lands, as suggested above for the TSI. Azerbaijan, the USA and Russia come to mind as examples of nations with component parts separated geographically.

Australia would then be a nation-state containing three component self-governing entities. Presumably, those white Australians and representatives of certain NGOs (non-government organisations) who are reportedly working for the separation of coloured Christian enclaves from a multi-religious Indonesia would support the creation of an Aboriginal nation.

How will the Aborigines acquire that land base they need to establish their nation? In recent years, black communities have reportedly acquired parcels of land, often against strident opposition. This opposition included local governments and, in one case, a Territory government. The land holding takes a variety of legal forms. It includes freehold land; as well as leasehold land held in trust; and crown land reserved for Aboriginal people. Much was, and is still being, achieved through land rights laws introduced by some state governments and through federal funding. Against opposition from a local government council, a state government reportedly negotiated relatively recently for the transfer of a parcel of crown land to an Aboriginal community.

Beaches and other public recreation facilities were, however, to be protected for public use. Environmental protection was part of the agreement. Land of cultural significance would revert to the Aboriginal community.

As Aboriginal communities, with increasing confidence, make claims to un-alienated Crown land to which they can establish a traditional link, and as Gaia retaliates against some of the farming practices of the past, more whites might come to understand a little of what it must have been like to lose the land which is integral to one’s existence and culture.”

(These extracts from ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ will no doubt upset many Australians, and for diverse reasons. Some of the opposition will reflect the possible loss of power over some isolated tribal lands. Giving back land to the indigene will upset others. Yet, autonomously-ruled enclaves are not unknown in the world.

Aborigines with little contact with traditional customs and practices may prefer to remain within mainstream Australia; but might lose any opportunity to represent their people.

Since power with authority rules everywhere, even in the main churches, the bunfight arising from any attempt towards self-determination for Australia’s First Nation peoples should be interesting.)

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