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Category Archives: Reconciliation
Last night The First Australians dealt with Mabo. I will confine myself to a positive note, having already blogged this very significant contribution to understanding the past of all of us in Australia. I thought I knew this episode’s material rather well, having read much about it at the time, but there is always something to learn. Last night I learned a great deal more about the particular culture Mabo belonged to, and I learned a great deal more about the man. All honour too to those elements of the Catholic Church that played such a vital role at that time, and continue to do so.
Nice to see that crowd of Indigenous Australians in Sydney in 1988 when many thousands from all over Australia descended on the city for the Bicentennial. I was in that crowd.
a memory of 1988
An ideal companion to The First Australians is the recently published Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter, with a preface by novelist Nicholas Jose. Check the link, as the site offers many extras.
A groundbreaking collection of work from some of the great Australian Aboriginal writers, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature offers a rich panorama of over 200 years of Aboriginal culture, history and life.
‘This volume is extremely significant from an Indigenous cultural perspective, containing many works that afford the reader a treasured insight into the Indigenous cultural world of Australia.’ From the foreword by Mick Dodson
The cover picture is by Michael Riley, whose art I celebrated in August: Michael Riley: sights unseen.
In the preface Nicholas Jose writes:
This transformative survey of Aboriginal writing presents the stories and patterns of Australian culture and societies in new ways, foregrounding and celebrating Indigenous experience and expression. It introduces powerful and creative individual voices as it also reveals a history of struggle, suffering and strength. No doubt there are gaps and limitations. There are always more voices to be heard and other stories to be told. Yet in their gathering of literature the editors show that Aboriginal authors have created some of the best, most distinctive and most significant writing to come from this country.
That may seem hyperbolic, but to read this anthology is to be convinced of the truth of that, and to be encouraged that there is more to come.
I was taken with a final statement from the late Eddie Mabo, as reported in last night’s First Australians: the momentous events of the Mabo era not only set free Indigenous Australia, but also non-Indigenous Australia, because after that none of us ever again would be living a lie about who we are. That, I suspect, is the true spirit of reconciliation. Despite all the ups and downs of the last twenty years, despite all the problems that remain, that is, I believe, where we find ourselves and where we may find solutions for all of us.
… they could have no doubts or reservations left after seeing tonight’s episode of The First Australians. I have mentioned this wonderful show twice before: here and here. Tonight we had stories from people still living who went through the trauma of forced separation, including Sue Gordon, who, you may recall, was close to the Howard government.
Tonight we were also told that a book of the series is to be published on the 1 November, and that the DVD will be available from Marcom very soon.
I could well relate to the feelings Canadians must have experienced as they witnesses the Apology to their Native Peoples, video posted in the VodPod on the right. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports: ‘We are sorry’.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had yet to utter a single word of Canada’s apology to former Indian residential schools students when the cheering began. Native drumming and shouts turned into loud, simultaneous clapping. Raw emotion bursting for an apology decades overdue. There were many smiles.
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1. Barbara Blackman on Compass last Sunday:
Tell me about friendship. What — because it rolls off the tongue easily, but I think it’s more than that for you?
Well I think friendship is the sharing of fun and profundities. And there’s a time when you meet someone, you meet them here and there and you have snippets of conversation and I will say to that person, “Please come out and have dinner with me, have a whole conversation,” I ask them, I give them your sort of interview, “Where do you come from? What do you believe?… And um, that’s a making of friendship. Or you might say, “Well, we haven’t got enough ground for friendship.” But I think once there’s that one-to-one depth of intimacy, then the friendship builds up on that.
Who are you likely not to be friends with? Who don’t you enjoy being friends with?
People who want me to join in their bitterness and anger, and I won’t have a bar of it. Or at my age, a lot of people I’ve known when you say to them, I haven’t seen you, how are you getting on? They tell you all about all their grandchildren. I love my grandchildren but ah, you know I find they’re not letting you into their life, they’re giving you the mirror or the outside of their life.
Galarrwuy Yunupingu is an Indigenous leader of great stature. I have referred to him several times before. In today’s Sydney Morning Herald he argues that not all was bad, comparatively, in the days the Christian Missions were more involved in Aboriginal communities. Some will find that challenging, but he may well be right.
I think it is very important not to rule certain things in or out on purely ideological grounds, a position that you will have noticed I have been developing here over the past year — especially since the Northern Territory Intervention. I do believe that Intervention was tainted by the previous government’s excessive reactivity to so-called political correctness, and also by excessive paternalism and unwillingness really to consult. Nonetheless, the Howard government was, after shameful neglect for a decade, confronting some real issues and not everything they did in response was bad.
That is what the Rudd government has clearly been considering, not pleasing everyone in so doing. On Australia Talks (ABC Radio National) last Monday was a very interesting discussion of some of these matters. At the moment you may also listen to the program or download it as a podcast.