Excerpts from DREAMINGS : The Art OF ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA- Editor Peter Sutton
I feel with my body. Feeling all these trees, all this country. When this blow you can feel it. Same for country... you feel it, you can look, but feeling... that make you.- Big Bill Neidjie, Gagudju Elder,Kakadu
Indigenous people have occupied Australia for at least 60 000 years and have evolved with the land - changing it and changing with it. The land was not just soil or rocks or minerals, but a whole environment that sustains and is sustained by people and culture. For Indigenous Australians the land is the core of all spirituality and this relationship has been deeply misunderstood over the past 200 years or so. This relationship is central to all issues that are important to Indigenous people today.
When European colonizers first arrived in Australia they encountered an unfamiliar land occupied by people they didn't understand.
Because they didn't understand the peoples' society and their land 'ownership' system, Australia was deemed to be 'terra nullius' and the land was claimed by the British.
But Indigenous people fought, and are still fighting, for their land and their lives.
The history of these battles is not often told but they involved hundreds of incidents and thousands of people. These stories form a part of the untold history of Australia.
t is my father's land, my grandfather's land, my grandmother's land. I am related to it, it give me my identity. If I don't fight for it, then I will be moved out of it and [it] will be the loss of my identity.Father Dave Passi, Plaintiff, 'Mabo' Case in 'Land bilong Islander' 1990
These struggles too were often resolved through violence as Indigenous people were progressively dispossessed of their land.The struggle for land rights continues today through the legal and political systems. Some important legal milestones have been reached which show that arrangements based on cultural sensitivity and respect can be successful for all Australians.
On 3 June 1992 the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in Mabo vs The State of Queensland, ruling that the treatment of Indigenous property rights based on the principle of terra nullius was wrong and racist.Island people have their own portions of land which are handed down through generations and with my dad's claim, he was denied access to his land through the government and he said "Why? We all have our right to our own lands. I can show you where my boundaries are".
In the beginning was…the map.
"There has probably always been a mapping impulse in human consciousness," geographer J.B. Harley once wrote, "and the mapping experience, involving cognitive mapping of space, undoubtedly existed long before the physical artifacts we now call maps".
ABORIGINES- The word comes from the Latin words—ab and origine—which means "from the beginning."
Before the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700s, the Aborigines were successful hunters and gatherers. They lived off the land by understanding plants, animals, and natural resources. Aborigines continue to feel that they have a special relationship with the land.