This is blackfella business that WBT posts here on request from Goorempul Goorie, Dale Ruska. – Ed.
Possible theme for January 26th 2020 . Which track to treaty will we as the First Nations people’s follow? The one that state governments develop for us, or the one that leads us to proper justice? Black Conscience Alert. Are we obligated to States imposed processes legally balanced on colonial superiority and power privilege ? Or may a process of our own be more appropriate and effective? A National aboriginal approach to this questions address is needed now. Voice Treaty Truth or Treaty of United First Nations People’s of Australia. United Voice. United Truth?
This paper was written to provoke the conscience, thought and consideration of Australia’s Aboriginal people.
As the Aboriginal people of Australia we face the beginning of a new era within colonial history. This era is one that will have such an enormous influence – politically, legally and culturally – for many generations to come. It is an era we must progress towards cautiously. We must ensure that our meaning as Aboriginal people is clearly understood by ourselves, a meaning that is truthfully and rightfully represented.
I would like to refer to the National NAIDOC theme of Voice, Treaty, Truth. If we think about the words used in this theme and the order of their position, is it reflective of a fair and just process? On a number of occasions through paper publications and public forums I have raised the issue of the extent of Aboriginal efforts displayed in relation to our objections to issues of injustice that we commonly face, and how we gather in mass to demonstrate our dissatisfaction. But on many occasions we have not been able to organise ourselves fully, and the meaning for our actions has become misrepresented by the media. An example being Invasion Day rallies being characterised as only being about changing the date. In many cases we turn to Australia governments and rely on their colonial common law as our means of achieving justice, only having to accept the solutions governments organize for us and the level of justice that they are willing to recognize as appropriate for us.
If we look at what’s happening in Australian states such as Victoria and Queensland, we see governments commencing the process of establishing policy and processes for moving towards treaty/ies with Aboriginal people. This is the beginning of a new path, one that we as a people cannot afford to get wrong, because if we do there may never be another opportunity to get it right. Due to many generations of our people being subjected to the forced imposition of genocidal oppressive colonial policy and administration, we have been persuaded into accepting our state of being as part of the colonial establishment of Australia. This oppressive foreign moral influence has caused us conflict and division in relation to our Aboriginal meaning and being. Because of this influence of conflict and division, we are now in a conscience tug of war over the fence of moral being. As a result of this tug of war, we have ourselves become morally divided over the meaning of our being as Aboriginal people.
We need to consider ourselves now, and how and where we fit into the nation of Australia. We need to consider all that’s been occurring over the last few decades legally and politically in relation to ourselves, leading up to the treaty processes commencement and NAIDOC theme. We have seen as a result of our cries for justice many solutions politically and legally organized for us. Some being land rights, native title, Stolen Generations apologies, reconciliation, stolen wages compensation, numerous inquiries, the Recognise campaign, constitutional reform, representative advisory bodies to parliament and now eventually arriving at the beginning of treaty policies.
The attitude of many of us would see this era as a magnificent opportunity, one that we need to get as much as we can from politically and legally. As I have heard some Aboriginal people put it in relation to state and federal government proposals, when a window of opportunity opens jump through and accept what we can get before they close it. This typifies the attitude of many of our people, who may feel that justice means what government and its laws are willing to give us. Does this state of being truly represent the value of our meaning and being? Or is it the common reaction from our oppressed state of colonised moral conscience.
With the theme of NAIDOC and the order of the words leading into the era of political legal treaty consideration, voice, treaty, truth, with ‘voice’ being first, what Aboriginal voice does Australia choose to hear and which one do they not (one we will get to)? How will treaty develop politically and legally, will it be similar to policy and legislation solutions organised for us such as the ones mentioned earlier? Will it be modelled in a similar fashion to the ones of the past, ensuring that federal and state governments powers and controls are retained as a result of their common law privileges? Then after this voice is heard and treaties have been developed, then we finally have truth. So within this process of now before we get to the other, will the voices that they hear come from within the Aboriginal structures that have been modelled for us such as Native Title Prescribed Body Corporate, administered by bodies such as the office of the Registrar of Aboriginal corporations through rules that have been developed for us? And if this becomes the case will we willingly accept this as being fair and just and acceptable to our conscience, being accepted as final justice for Aboriginal people? And will we just fall within the realm of conscience compliance?
Due to the influence through imposition of foreign moral values, have we allowed ourselves to become the byproducts of the colonial assimilation policy?
Are the NAIDOC theme and treaty announcements another attempt to manipulate us and our colonised conscience morals, into a foreign process accepting the solutions organised for us as just, or does the other have important relevance to now and does it influence us as the original First Nations people and how we move into this new era beginning starting with the NAIDOC theme and order of words? Maybe for the process to be correct the theme and order should be, Truth, Voice, Treaty or Truth, Treaty, Voice.
And if it is possible for us as First Nations people, can we allow ourselves to be removed from the colonial state of being, to a decolonised state, so that our value and meaning is representative of a free moral conscience as the first peoples of this country? Can we allow ourselves to address the conscience tug of war over the fence of black morality? Can we allow ourselves to address the opinions of some of ourselves that state, things along the lines of, if you shake your sovereignty tree what is going to fall out for you? Some of our people have a sovereignty fixation, that sovereignty can never be real or we’re never going to see a treaty that properly protects the interests of Aboriginals in this country.
The window of opportunity provides many social and economic advantages and benefits for the Aboriginal individuals who are willing to jump through and take what they can get. But are they truly the voice of our people? Do they represent all of our interests, hopes and aspirations?
Many of us have very strong opinions of moral position, yet we choose to not get involved or be identified, and we move through the holes of the moral fence from one side to the other, or we just be content with remaining in the middle, sitting on the fence.
So in considering truth and the value of its correctness and completeness, many of us, little lone Australians, do not understand or know it fully, or the value of its worth or our worth. The original value and meaning that existed for tens of millennium prior to colonial arrival, the value of the price paid by our ancestors for the sake of the colony’s establishment and development, this ancient inherent value and meaning was regarded of little worth to the colonists. Our ancestors paid a price that cannot be valued only with monetary and economic indices, the price paid by our ancestors from colonial policies should be measured by assessment of the social effect of dispersal, displacement, extermination, dispossession and genocidal imposition and administration.
Do we now forget the worth of our ancestors’ value and meaning, do we just leave that part of the truth behind us and accept that the price that has been paid by our ancestors was one that was necessary for the sake of the British colony’s establishment? Will we just know this era of our ancestors as one that could not be avoided and their price was just worthless collateral damage?
This is just a small piece of the truth, the value of its rightful worth needs to encompass a great deal more from our own history. After truth we have to decide what comes next, treaty or voice. If it is treaty, does this mean we race through the windows of colonial governments treaty opportunities to get what they are willing to let us have? Or do we consider the value of our ancient First Nations treaties structures, that allowed existence of many nations to occur in harmony over millenniums? An ancient model that was consciously accepted morally because of our respect and value for our law and customs.
If we believe that the worth of our ancient model is valuable to our meaning, then we must consider whether our efforts should be focused through commitment to reinstating ancient treaties again amongst ourselves, First Nations people to First Nations people. Re-establishing First Nations’ acceptance to our meaning and reason and the true value of our worth. We then come to voice. Do we want voice to follow truth or come after treaty? If voice follows truth then we will just have to accept that the voice may have to be the one that colonial governments want to hear, Maybe a voice of self-nominated individuals who may be a part of Australian Government modelled Aboriginal Advisory Committee, or maybe from the voices of the Australian governments constituted administrative corporate agencies, possibly from Native Title PBC’s or even legal representative bodies or some other.
Some of us, as State and Federal registered agencies/ corporations, have become colonial administrators of the law. Laws that have been designed as a means of suppression of original First Nations people, aiming to ensure validation of colonial legal authority. This process of imposition of administration of law, using ourselves to do it against ourselves, ensures the legitimacy of colonial law validity.
If this does become the voice then why does there need to be a treaty? It would have no more meaning then an internal colonial law, legislating into government policies or the Constitution the legal grounds of their acceptance of Aboriginal meaning and worth.
Now if we consider the historically significant case of Mabo that was addressed through colonial common laws highest administrative jurisdiction, the High Court of Australia. The High Court recognised that Aboriginal people were here at the time of Cook’s supposed discovery, going on to recognise that the basis of his claim (also the foundation of colonial common law) being Terra Nullius, was incorrect. What did this High Court decision mean in relation to the claim on colonial sovereignty and common law validity, because if the foundation has been declared incorrect, what does that mean for all that came after up until now? Solutions for how we fit as Aboriginal people into Australia were organised for us in the form of Native Title, another window that we have jumped through only to find out over time, that what we wanted as justice was not necessarily on the other side.
If we decide as the original First Nations people that our reinstatement of our ancient models of treaties through law and custom, should come after truth then we may present ourselves with the opportunity, to determine for ourselves. We may be able to have a voice that is accepted by all our First Nations or original sovereign people, that we are the rightful owners of this country Australia, that we are entitled to international legal recognition and are eligible through reparation to seek recovery of full colonial sovereign debt, taken from our people without any approvals. So in considering all that we are faced with, can we give any priority to allowing ourselves to address and cease the black conscience tug of war over the fence of morality? Can we dismantle this foreign fence that has been morally constructed for us to keep us divided as a people? If we can allow ourselves to tear down this fence of colonised, decolonised moral conscience, will we allow ourselves to become morally free once again? A people united by conscience agreement to meaning and reason as the original First Nations people, beginning a much needed process of conscience, morality, healing and reconciliation.
So Voice, Treaty, Truth or Truth, Treaty, Voice or Truth, Voice Treaty, we must get this right for ourselves, so we take the next steps into this new era correctly. As original First Nations people we are entitled to be in control of our own destiny, if we allow ourselves to become one nation of many nations, then we can decide on the meaning and value of what we consider to be proper justice. Maybe this cannot be achieved within colonial common law structures because of the advantages of control of privileges and power. Maybe our solutions can be found internationally, through international courts of justice recognising us as equal and entitled to the same as other international nations, as the original First Nations people of Australia.
Yours in the struggle
Dale A Ruska