Once again, what is commonly known as ‘Australia Day’ is upon us. And, God willing, it is always a good day to attend an Invasion/Survival Day rally to show support to First Nation peoples and their ongoing fight for equality and justice (whilst practicing safety).
There is an abundance of articles that can be read as to why the celebration of Australia day is deeply obtuse and offensive to Indigenous Australians. It’s really not hard to grasp why the day/date is offensive – Australia celebrates the date that marks the genocide and dispossession of Aboriginal Australians.
This year I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and commit to learning more about Indigenous history and culture. I’ve finished reading Dark Emu, an extremely important book by Bruce Pascoe that makes the compelling argument that Indigenous Australians have been inaccurately and unfairly portrayed as ‘hunter gatherer’ groups while there is extensive evidence to show that they had many of the components of (what we call) advanced societies.
This of course comes as no surprise to me. I have no problem believing that the European settlers and their children would willfully ignore the witnesses of early explorers to construct a narrative that would justify the colonial enterprise and thus genocide and dispossession.
However, in reality, I don’t know much about this nation’s history. And, sometimes, reading about genocide and violence, although necessary, can be very triggering. So I found Dark Emu to be a great entry point for me on this journey. It sheds a light on the agricultural practices Indigenous Australians employed and the ingenious methods they used to manage and coexist with the land. It tells a story of a people that understood and loved the land and knew exactly how to take care of it, whether it be via agriculture, aquaculture or intercultural diplomacy.
I highly recommend Dark Emu and I look forward to reading more about Indigenous history and learning about the deeply spiritual, sophisticated and peaceful custodians of this nation. Indigenous history is Australian history.
I’d like to add, on a final note, that this is not enough. It is important to also listen to contemporary Aboriginal communities and Elders and campaign with them on the ground to ensure that their voices are heard, equality is obtained, and justice is served.