Monday, July 10, 2017

on recognition of civil war and genocide in Australia

This is a link to a Menadue blog entry by Henry Reynolds, regarding recent releases of more information about wars between European settlers and indigenous people in Australia.

Reynolds concludes:
With the overthrow of Terra-Nullius everything changed. Once there was such a powerful, authoritative recognition of indigenous property rights and by implication Aboriginal and Islander sovereignty, frontier conflict took on a totally different aspect. It was inescapably about the ownership and control of property on a continental scale. It was also about whose law and whose sovereignty would prevail. The battles may have been more like skirmishes but they were essentially political and they were cumulatively about the ownership and control of one of the world’s great land masses. It was therefore a war of global importance. It was war about Australia fought in Australia. It was arguably the most important war in our history.
There is still a deep conservative resistance to recognising these wars in Australia, though ironically the chauvinistic trudge now adds flavour to noble foreign war remembrance by putting Aboriginal solders up front.

As Paul Daley records at that last link, this is not a new thing:
In his 1968 Boyer Lectures, anthropologist WEH Stanner called it the “great Australian silence”. He was referring to the failure of a number of books to substantively address Australian Indigenous history, including frontier violence:
"It is a structural matter, a view from a window which has been carefully placed to exclude a whole quadrant of the landscape. What may well have begun as a simple forgetting of other possible views turned under habit and over time into something like a cult of forgetfulness practised on a national scale."
 The maturity of Australia, our capacity to be taken seriously and act seriously and independently in the world, depends substantially on our capacity to get in touch with our own realities.

Follow the issue of a treaty with indigenous Australia here.

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