NAIDOC Week is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
With this year’s theme being VOICE, TREATY, TRUTH, there is no better time to let our voices be heard, learn, accept and speak the truth about our true history, and work toward a treaty that is well overdue!
I don’t have an Aboriginal background, but being of African-American/Australian decent and growing up in this beautiful country I call home, I’ve experienced racism, bigotry and intolerance first hand. I can’t compare what I’ve experienced in my life with that of the Indigenous peoples, but I can relate, and so this comes from a place of understanding, and the need to stand up for what is right for the people of this land and the next generation to inhabit it.
I’m very fortunate to have grown up in the lifestyle my parents provided for me, but I didn’t have the opportunity to grow up around the African culture that makes up part of my ancestry, and despite my parents best efforts to instil a sense of culture, heritage and history, there is something to be said for belong to, and being a part of a community that celebrates the culture and history that make up ones heritage.
As you grow you learn to surround yourself with like minded people and create your own community and sense of belonging, but as a child the feeling of not belonging can be scary, and have damaging, long-lasting effects.
Imagine living in your own country – a country that you and your ancestors have belonged to for 65,000+ years - and not even being acknowledged. Having to be a part of a community and schooling system that continues to ignore the truth of this land’s history and continues to make your culture the minority.
It’s not my story to tell, but I want to be a part of the story that helps to repair the damage done. I want to be part of a story of growth and change. A story of Makarrata*.
“How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country. “
"In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future." – exerts from Uluru Statement from the Heart
We are moving forward and towards change, but there is still so far to go to reconcile with, and recognise our first nations people.
In a land that is so abundant in resources, beauty, and culture, we need to embrace the unique and ancient stories of our first nations people, and c
elebrate the people, beauty and culture that make up this wonderful land.
White Australia will always have a Black history, and it’s time that we speak and acknowledge this truth.
Written by Safa Iote
To read the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full – https://www.1voiceuluru.org/the-statement
For more information on NAIDOC Week - https://www.naidoc.org.au/about/naidoc-week -
*Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past. It is about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right