Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science, The Conversation, Ray Norris, 21 April 14 Just one generation ago Australian schoolkids were taught that Aboriginal people couldn’t count beyond five, wandered the desert scavenging for food, had no civilisation, couldn’t navigate and peacefully acquiesced when Western Civilisation rescued them in 1788.
How did we get it so wrong?
Australian historian Bill Gammage and others have shown that for many years land was carefully managed by Aboriginal people to maximise productivity. This resulted in fantastically fertile soils, now exploited and almost destroyed by intensive agriculture.
They mounted fierce resistance to the British invaders, and sometimes won significant military victories such as the raids by Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy. Only now are we starting to understand Aboriginal intellectual and scientific achievements.
Some Aboriginal people had figured out how eclipses work, and knew how the planets moved differently from the stars. They used this knowledge to regulate the cycles of travel from one place to another, maximising the availability of seasonal foods.
Why are we only finding this out now?………..
Still to learn
In recent years, it has become clear that traditional Aboriginal people knew a great deal about the sky, knew the cycles of movements of the stars and the complex motions of the sun, moon and planets………
kids studying science today could also learn much from the way that pre-contact Aboriginal people used observation to build a picture of the world around them.
This “ethno-science” is similar to modern science in many ways, but is couched in appropriate cultural terms, without expensive telescopes and particle accelerators.
So if you want to learn about the essence of how science works, how people learn to solve practical problems, the answer may be clearer in an Aboriginal community than in a high-tech laboratory. http://theconversation.com/aboriginal-people-how-to-misunderstand-their-science-23835
http://www.mirarr.net/media_releases/held-to-ransom-rio-tinto-s-radioactive-legacy-at-kakadu The Mirarr Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park have accused mining giant Rio Tinto of
holding the World Heritage area to ransom by revealing it will not guarantee the rehabilitation
of the controversial Ranger uranium mine unless the company’s plans to expand operations at
the site are approved.
ERA, 68% majority owned by Rio, has revealed in its annual report that funding for
rehabilitation, despite being legally required, is now likely contingent on securing approval for
the proposed ‘Ranger 3 Deeps’ underground expansion of the mine.
…if the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful
development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the
rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area. (ERA Annual Report p.17)
At its London AGM this week Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh attempted to distance the parent
company from Ranger’s rehabilitation, saying it was an issue for ERA. However, Mirarr
Traditional Owners said the company has failed in its obligations despite profiting massively
from mining the area for the past 30 years.
“The attitude of Rio and ERA demonstrates little has changed in the more than three decades
since Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as ‘like negotiating with a gun
to my head’,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said.
“The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and
are now holding the Word Heritage listed area to ransom.”
This comes just months after the spill of 1.4 million litres of toxic slurry, while the mine is shut
down and under investigation and while ERA develops its proposal for further mining at Ranger.
“Rio Tinto is a tenant on Mirarr land. They come and they go. If a tenant told you they weren’t
prepared to fix the damage they caused to your house unless you agreed to give them a longer
term lease, you’d laugh them out of the building – what does this type of announcement say
about these tenants?” asked Mr O’Brien.
“It is inconceivably thoughtless and arrogant of any mining company to manage its corporate
social responsibilities in this way and regrettably brings to mind the comment made by Mirarr
Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 2003: ‘The promises never last, but the problems
For further information or comment: Justin O’Brien on 08 8979 2200 or 0427 008 765
For our power now lies outside of Labor or Liberal. The big parties have lost the true path. The north cannot be developed without our advancement, too. What is required now for remote Aboriginal people is a strategy beyond the election cycle. There are numerous complexities in coaxing participation out of welfare-dependent communities or productivity out of government-funded community programs. Part of the solution is developing an environment where private businesses can grow, in order to foster private wealth. That requires a strategic and efficient program of infrastructure development, including the local Aboriginal workforce.
Instead of driving remote economic development, the Labor and Liberal parties continue to treat remote Aboriginal people as a uniquely unresolvable problem. Australia’s Northern Territory has become a new colony — a moral crisis zone. By now it should be obvious there will be no change in remote Aboriginal communities unless the residents are willing. The arrogance of the major political parties will never inspire willingness.
The only path to advancement is via the bush bloc http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/the-only-path-to-advancement-is-via-the-bush-bloc/story-e6frgd0x-1226881272887# 12 April 14, Alison Anderson MLA for Namatjira.
POWERFUL factions in the major political parties have failed Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. That failure can be attributed almost wholly to a poor understanding of the aspirations of remote Aboriginal people. It’s simple — the people in power do not want to take the time to sit in the dirt and communicate with the most disadvantaged people, even if those same people gave them their power at the ballot box. Rather, they treat us as useful idiots. Continue reading
Bush Aborigines are fed up AMOS AIKMAN THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 04, 2014
TENSION between Aborigines who have remained poor while Darwin has been transformed from a disaster zone after Cyclone Tracy to a “Gateway to Asia” city now has finally burst through the seams, ripping apart the Northern Territory government.
The imminent departure from the ruling Country Liberal Party of three traditional, culturally respected indigenous members not only plunges the government into crisis but could create a watershed for indigenous representation in Australia. Aboriginal votes that enabled the CLP to win power failed to deliver a government in which a majority of Aboriginal members could influence policymaking, resources allocation and the public service to anywhere near their — or, it appears, their constituents’ — satisfaction……….
Since the start of self-government in 1978, the Territory has been a mendicant state administering large amounts of federal funds for the notional benefit of Aborigines. However, a parade of reports has revealed that much of the money is skimmed off before it reaches the ground and, despite the substantial spending, living standards and health outcomes have barely improved in 30 years.
Some indicators, particularly those for children, are going backwards.
Successive governments have tried to contain the competing interests of remote and urban voting constituencies. The division is a socioeconomic one that falls uncomfortably along racial lines. In effect, these two constituencies are hankering for the same government resources rather than, as might be the case elsewhere, partnering in the economy……
Chief Minister Adam Giles was installed in March last year with the help of so-called “bush members”, who hoped the change would bring stability………
Anderson, in particular, objected to Giles axing the indigenous advancement department she had been in charge of, and scrapping a committee established by Mills to bring feedback from the bush directly to the cabinet table.
Giles sacked her from his ministry in September, in a move some now view as counterproductive. Gradually it became clear that, by ousting Mills, Giles and his allies had sundered the CLP in much the same way Julia Gillard did Labor when she replaced Kevin Rudd……….
Giles has focused his attention, at times forcefully, on laying the groundwork for major private-sector investment. While this may be an admirable long-term goal, it has distracted from the small-scale change and consultative policymaking bush residents voted for.
The result has been a chorus of questions about whether Aboriginal people will be drivers or passengers in development of their own land — the sort of concerns that fostered the Aboriginal land rights movement. This has clearly been a problem for Kurrupuwu, Anderson and Lee.
“Our concerns for a long period of time has been that we haven’t delivered for the bush,” Anderson told the ABC recently………
The risk for the federal government is self-evident. While the nation debates controversial racial discrimination legislation, and edges towards a referendum on constitutional recognition of indigenous people, politicians exchange racial epithets and ugly allegations in the Territory……… http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/bush-aborigines-are-fed-up/story-e6frg6z6-1226873925714#
Connections to and caring for land have been central to the lives of Indigenous peoples in Australia for thousands of years. The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) has released a Draft Bill to focus attention on a key land issue for the future. The Draft Bill seeks to strengthen and protect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account and mark an important stage in the journey towards greater recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within our nation.
The Land Account and the Indigenous Land Corporation were legislated together, some 20 years ago, as part of the national settlement following the High Court’s recognition of native title in the Mabo judgment. The Land Account provides partial compensation for the vast majority of Indigenous Australians who are unlikely to benefit from the Native Title Act because they have been dispossessed of their land.
Revenue from the Land Account, which currently has a fixed capital base, provides guaranteed funding for the ILC to buy and manage land for Indigenous Australians for a range of social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits.
As Australia moves towards another landmark—the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution—we must preserve and build on the achievements of the past. The provisions in the ILC’s Draft Bill, if legislated by the Australian Parliament, would place the Land Account above and beyond politics. Its unique and historic status would be recognised. Indigenous involvement in the management of the ILC and the Land Account would be strengthened. The current ILC Board’s commitment to accountability would be locked in for the future. And the Land Account would be able to grow over time. A stronger ILC and a larger Land Account would ensure greater land-related benefits for current and future generations of Indigenous Australians.
Above all, the Draft Bill would prevent the Land Account from being used for anything other than its original legislated purpose: to buy and manage land for Indigenous Australians………..
………..The Land Account and the ILC were part of the ‘grand bargain’ of the mid-1990s. This was a high point in Indigenous peoples’ struggle for recognition in this nation. After the Mabo judgment, Indigenous leaders sat down with the executive level of government to negotiate. For the first time in Australia’s history, they were at the table as equals in a national matter of profound significance to them. We need to be at the table again. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16176
Wiluna Martu peoples against uranium mining, The Stringer, by Gerry Georgatos March 29th, 2014 Elders have condemned a move by Toro Energy to expand their yet unrealised Wiluna mine plan into a much larger uranium precinct spanning 100km and which will destroy ecologically sensitive lake systems. Local Wiluna Elder Glen Cooke said everything must be done to prevent this mine which is intended as Western Australia’s first uranium mine – the first of many.
“The lives of not only our people today are at stake but the future of our people into time immemorial. This uranium mining if it goes ahead will spell the end of us as custodians of the land. It will make toxic the land, preventing us from caring for the land, it will poison the rivers that we swim in, drink and fish from,” said Mr Cooke.
First Peoples anti-nuclear groups have coalesced to stand in the way of uranium mining in Western Australia
But the mine is destined to be operational next year.
WA’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) released details of the Toro Energy expansion plan. But Wongi anti-nuclear campaigner, Kylie Fitzwater said that Toro had a long way to go in gaining new approvals in expanding from their single-mine approved project. “The company needs to complete additional environmental management, mine closure, tailings management and transport plans for assessment before any mining can commence at the Wiluna site.”
“But we need to stop this mining proposal altogether which will only risk people and communities from toxic radiation,” said Ms Fitzwater.
“It is not just about the cumulative impacts of a regional uranium precinct covering 100km and two lake systems but about the lives lost, the communities destroyed, and the door opening in WA for a rush of nuclear mad investors.”
“Toro plans to double its water consumption and store radioactive mine waste from several mine sites in a Lake bed.”………..
The Central Desert Native Title Service released a statement on the uranium mining proposal. “The Wiluna Martu People’s previous experience with uranium exploration in the Wiluna region has left them with serious and genuine concerns about the health effects of radiation. It also raised questions about the Government’s capacity to properly regulate uranium exploration and mining on their Traditional Lands.”
“The issue of uranium mining is not something that Martu have invited. Rather under the current policy and State regulatory environment it is something they are forced to confront in order to ensure that their Traditional Lands and their people are sufficiently recognised and protected.”http://thestringer.com.au/wiluna-martu-peoples-against-uranium-mining/
Wiluna Martu peoples against uranium mining, The Stringer, by Gerry Georgatos March 29th, 2014 “……. “The Senior Lawmen acknowledge that there are divergent views about uranium mining within the wider Martu community and these divergent views have to be accommodated in this negotiation.”
Late last year and earlier this year Mr Cooke walked into Toro Energy AGMs and expressed his concerns at the prospective impacts on Martu Country were the uranium mines to proceed. He is also concerned that signatories to the mining proposal from within his people have been “misled”.
“The signatories have been persuaded to believe the uranium operation will have low environmental impacts.”
“These people are targeted and influenced by deals to sign over the rights of the land. These people Toro talked to are now driving around in Toyotas they didn’t have before. About eleven Toyotas just appeared,” said Mr Cooke.
“We must care for our land and children and not put our future at risk. These corporations only want to make money, they are full of broken promises.”
Ms Fitzwater accompanied Mr Cooke into the Toro Energy AGM. “When Elder Glen Cooke asked a question he was treated abruptly by Toro and with complete disrespect. He was not permitted to reiterate any questions. It is clear the company tolerates no opposition and has been unfair and biased during their submission period no matter what their convictions.”
“The EPA should seriously reconsider this approval basis and commit to protecting our ecosystem. Our State cannot afford this mistake, we will pay the consequences for an incomprehensible amount of time. This concerns all Australians,” said Ms Fitzwater.
Mr Cooke said he has a complete understanding of the effects of radiation. He was eight years old when the Maralinga atomic tests took place.
Former radiation worker, Bill Macham said that Governments must amend legislation from measures of understanding radiation effects in terms of “half lives and instead to baseline measures of what are biologically safe levels”. With anti-nuclear activists relocating to Alice Springs and the Arnhem to support communities and Elders against uranium expansion, the call for the closure of Jabiluka and for Muckaty to not be used as a radiation waste dump, it appears the next generation’s tensions will highlight the proliferation of uranium mining and the rapacious rise of nuclear reactors.
“For those who care about the earth and people, this is our duty, if those who don’t care about the earth and people win their war to make piles of money, then there will come the day that this earth and its people will pay very high, at what cost to the earth and to people, well we’ve seen Fukishima and Chernobyl,” said Mr Cooke. http://thestringer.com.au/wiluna-martu-peoples-against-uranium-mining/
Locked in a war of words to define free speech, SMH, March 29, 2014 Gay Alcorn “………-At the centre of debate is section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to do an act publicly that is likely to ”offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of race or ethnic origin. You can do all those things but still be protected if your action was done reasonably and in good faith, and if it’s an artistic, academic or scientific work, or part of a debate in the public interest. It’s a civil, not a criminal, provision – there are no convictions for breaching the act, and remedies are often apologies or small payments.
Australian atomic massacre still ignored By David T. Rowlands from Green Left Weekly issue 971 June 29, 2013
Nearly 60 years have passed since Totem 1, a British nuclear test in the Australian desert, was recklessly conducted in unfavourable meteorological conditions.
Nuclear testing of any sort, even in the most “controlled” of circumstances, is inherently abusive, a crime against the environment and humanity for countless generations to come. Yet the effects of Totem 1 were particularly bad, even by the warped standards of the era.
The mushroom cloud did not behave in the way it was supposed to. Instead of rising uniformly, part of it spread laterally, causing fallout to roll menacingly at ground level over a remote yet still populated corner of South Australia, sowing injury, illness and death in its wake.
In addition to those who died, many others were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. The long-term health effects on these individuals have never been charted — but anecdotal reports of high cancer rates and horrendous birth defects in isolated “downwinder” communities have circulated.
At the time of the tests, it was well known by authorities that communities of Aboriginal people were close by. Yet the official attitude was that the concerns of a “handful of natives” could not be allowed to interfere with the “interests” of the British Commonwealth.
Terrified, with all your senses in recoil from these unnatural developments, you wonder if an event of apocalyptic proportions is taking place. And your troubles are only just beginning.
This is what happened to 22-year-old Yankunytjatjara woman Lallie Lennon and her three young children at Mintabie on October 15, 1953. A 10-kiloton device (roughly two-thirds the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) was detonated 180 kilometres away at Emu Field, near Maralinga.
The levels of beta radiation contained in this toxic plume were so great that it felt like being “rolled in a fire”. The “kids were [ing] … it was terrible … We was glad we was alive but we got sick. We were sicker and sicker.”
About a year later, both Lallie and her son Bruce developed a debilitating skin condition that involves the periodic eruption of oozing, agonising sores all over the body.
Lallie said: “It went away and then came back and the sores were getting bigger and bigger every time … I was in a mess after the sores.” Her two daughters, who were in a tent at the time the mist swept through, were spared the beta burns, but developed other symptoms consistent with radiological contamination.
Lallie’s story first achieved public recognition when she spoke about her experiences for a 1981 documentary, “Backs to the Blast”.
Brandis Backs Down on Bigotry, ProBono Australia, March 27, 2014 Federal Attorney General George Brandis has watered down his controversial changes to the racial discrimination laws, however community organisations remain steadfast that no changes should be made to the current law.
Previously the Coalition Government’s proposed changes, as part of an election commitment, were to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) , which prohibit public conduct that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or groups because of their skin colour or national or ethnic origin.
However, the Government has announced that while continuing to repealing some sections of the Act a new section will be inserted which Senator Brandis claims will preserve the existing protection against intimidation and create a new protection from racial vilification……….
Co-Chairs of Reconciliation Australia, Dr Tom Calma and Melinda Cilento released a joint statement saying they are opposed to any changes to the RDA which weaken the protections against racial discrimination.
“The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) currently ensures all Australians are protected from discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, descent or ethnic origin,” Dr Calma and Cilento said.
“Any changes to the RDA that weaken protections from racial vilification would pave the way to a less reconciled, just and equitable Australia. We therefore strongly oppose the current proposed changes to the RDA which repeal Section 18C.”
The Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs said the use of defamation laws by politicians from both sides of politics was well known and exemplifies the balance between free speech and the need for citizens to be protected from scurrilous and false verbal attacks.
“We note that Section 18D of the current Racial Discrimination Act contains exemptions for ‘anything said or done reasonably and in good faith’ and, in the case of publishing, anything that constitutes ‘a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest’.
“We note that in the key case against which the alleged free speech restrictions of the RDA are being measured – the Andrew Bolt case – the judge, J Bromberg, found that Mr Bolt contravened section 18C because the articles were not written in good faith and contained factual errors, and therefore not made exempt by Section 18D of the RDA.
“In his judgment J Bromberg found the Section 18D exemptions did not apply because of ‘….the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language’.
“Section 18D does provide free speech protection for comments that may be considered offensive to many Australians as long as these comments are delivered in a reasonable and honest way.”
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has also condemned the moves to amend the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act………http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2014/03/brandis-backs-down-bigotry#
Leaders issue $2bn challenge for Abbott PATRICIA KARVELAS
THE AUSTRALIAN MARCH 25, 2014 INDIGENOUS Land Corporation chairwoman Dawn Casey has enlisted the support of the most powerful Aboriginal leaders to seek an emergency meeting with Tony Abbott to protect the $2 billion indigenous “land account”.
In an escalation of tensions between the government and ILC, the taxpayer-funded body has taken the unprecedented step of drafting its own bill that if passed into law would protect its funding from political tampering………
The land account and corporation were established after the High Court’s recognition of native title.
“More than 20 years on from the High Court’s Mabo decision and the passage of the Native Title Act, we want to remind Australians — particularly young people — that the land account was established as part of a national settlement that provided land-title certainty for all Australians,” Dr Casey said.
“The issues at stake are not just administrative arrangements, to be changed at the whim of a minister regardless of what political party.
“They go to the heart of the sort of nation we wish to be.” http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/leaders-issue-2bn-challenge-for-abbott/story-fn9hm1pm-1226863684812#
Invasion, Theft, Rape, Murder: The Aboriginal Holocaust in Tasmania Atlanta Black Star, March 19, 2014 by Runoko Rashid DEDICATED TO TRUGANINI “……..The first people of Tasmania, known as Palawa, were marked by tightly curled hair, with skin complexions ranging from black to reddish-brown. They had broad noses, wide mouths, and deep-set brown eyes. They were relatively short in stature with little body fat. They were the indigenous people of Tasmania and their arrival there began at least 35,000 years ago. With the passage of time, the gradual rising of the sea level submerged the Australian-Tasmanian land bridge and the Black aborigines of Tasmania experienced more than 10,000 years of solitude and physical isolation from the rest of the world……..
As early as 1804 the British began to slaughter, kidnap and enslave the Black people of Tasmania. Continue reading
AUDIO: Dark Emu argues against ‘Hunter Gatherer’ history of Indigenous Australians ww.abc.net.au/local/audio/2014/03/17/3965103.htm By Hilary Smale and Vanessa Mills
A fresh perspective of Indigenous history showing evidence of village populations, crop harvesting, and irrigation, is all explored Bruce Pascoe’s new book Dark Emu. The common perception of Indigenous Australians leading a ‘hunter-gatherer’ lifestyle before European settlement is ignoring strong evidence of sophisticated farming and agriculture practices, argues Mr Pascoe.
“There certainly was a lot of movement… but there was also a lot more sedentary living than we were led to believe.”……….Mr Pascoe would like to see the book change how history is now taught.
“I never learnt it when I was at school; my son never learnt it, my daughter never learnt it.
Why are we not telling Australian children of the success and the achievements of Aboriginal Australia?”
Dark Emu is published through Magabala Books.
Bruce Pascoe spoke about Dark Emu with Vanessa Mills for Kimberley Mornings.
The massive destruction whites have inflicted on the landscape is unforgiveable. Now we have no excuse. Gammage has told us how it was done. Let’s hope it is not too late. As Gammage says, one day we might be able to call ourselves Australian.
Australia: How the Aboriginal people managed ‘the biggest estate on Earth Review by Coral Wynter
The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage
Links, March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.
Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.
The Aborigines judiciously used fire to create parklands, with huge, stately trees and grass underneath on rich black soil to feed, then harvest kangaroos and wallabies, as well as to grow yams and spinach. They used cool fires to preserve and maintain the biodiversity of Australia’s orchids, ferns, fruit trees and edible plants. They used “templates” to judiciously burn areas with plants sensitive to fire.
Australia in 1788 was a paradise, which was much more than just sustainable, but instead yielded an abundance of food, which could feed a huge population, some estimates say as many as 8 million people. Continue reading
Indigenous community hails High Court native title ruling http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/12/indigenous-community-hails-high-court-native-title-rulingThe High Court in Canberra has unanimously held that native title rights held by the Ngarla people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are not extinguished by the grant of two mineral leases. SBS News, By Myles Morgan Source NITV News 12 Mar 14,
In a one page statement, The High Court of Canberra found the native title rights of the Ngarla people in Western Australia could exist alongside mining leases in the area.
“We’re very satisfied and very happy and jubilant on behalf of the Ngarla people who have obviously fought very hard to get this outcome,” said CEO of the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, Simon Hawkins.
The dispute was concerned with land situated at the former iron-ore mine at Mount Goldsworthy, located over 1000 kilometres north of Perth in the state’s Pilbara region. The Ngarla people first went to court to claim native title over an area of 11,000 square kilometres in 1998.
Since then, it’s been a constant battle between the West Australian government, mining company BHP Billiton and the Ngarla people.
“Well this ends the matter so there’s nothing that they can do. So effectively, this is the law now and we were successful in challenging the state and others and now this is what everyone has to operate in,” said Mr Hawkins