the Federated states and territories of Australia
is annually held on the 26th of January, and is celebrated as Australia's "National Day"
commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet of the ships that left Great Britain carrying convicts and settlers to this land, arriving at the port which is now Sydney.
So begins the national day of this country, commemorating Anglo settlement and colonisation.
Also known as Invasion Day and Survival Day.
This Invasion Day event on Facebook explains it best:
"The 26th January commonly known as "Australia day" is sold as a day to celebrate the 'lucky country' the date chosen to commemorate the arrival of the First Fleet, the 'discovery' of the Great Southern Land. The raising of the Union Jack symbolised British occupation of the eastern half of the continent claimed by Captain James Cook.
This date is more appropriately known to most First Nations people as Survival or Invasion day. It is also a day of mourning, we mourn the loss of land, culture, languages, we mourn the loss of freedom and abundance, and we mourn for the people who have, and continue to suffer under this disconnected, insatiable, violent and destructive imposed Capitalist system. Australia remains without Treaty, consent or compensation, the Stolen generation, stolen wages, dispossession, racism, assimilation, land theft continue."
Nearing this day,
I want to reflect, but briefly, on the issue of custodianship of the land.
the many Aboriginal language groups and nations of Australia
It seems to me that a major part of my cultural cringe in this country (a cultural cringe that I share, incidentally, with many other Australians as well) has to do in part with the way that we, as a country, not only relate in an ill-way to our country's Aboriginal inhabitants, but also to the land.
In Australia, settler peoples (this includes recent immigrants like myself) tend to hug the urbanised coastlines of Australia (e.g. Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin), existing quite literally at this country's periphery, while claiming cultural hegemony and urban "centrality". Most the country's centre is desert, which is typically seen as more dangerous and uninhabitable, which of course reflects a certain... Euro-climate-normative idea of inhabitability...
Of course, Aboriginal people from diverse linguistic groups and nations have, for 40,000 years, wandered and lived across all of Australia's land, and, despite 3 centuries of displacement and genocide, necessarily retain a unique cultural custodianship over the land that we inhabit.
Here, I must necessarily set aside any rationalist biases, and come to embrace something quite a bit more "simple", in the encounter with Aboriginal custodianship as a political aspiration, as well as a lived cultural reality for many Aboriginal people (separate from the concept of land ownership)...
There is magic in this land that I am not, have not been, and perhaps cannot ever be privvy to... both as someone who is not ancestrally linked to this land, and as long as we, as a nation, do not reconcile ourselves with the ongoing ghettoisation of our Indigenous peoples...
Prior to 1967, Aboriginal people were not even allowed to vote
and indeed, were not even legally recognised as Humans.
Aboriginal people were classified under the Flora and Fauna Act.
I hold a lot of grief around this... Grief, so much grief for this land, and its desert "heart", and the heart of a government that deserted, no, til recently did not even recognise our Aboriginal people as people.
Through this grief, I also come to a place of quiet joy and gratitude, a place of wonder and awe, a place of hope.
A lovely poem,
Hate He Said
by Aboriginal Australian "malafella" on youtube
exploring grief around Australia Day...
... and for me?
to "belong" here...? What is my prerogative in this?
Me, global nomad, indigenous to nowhere for many generations.
I carry with me the spirit of wandering and chance upon this country as a clearing through global forest, and this is what I see.
I want to learn more...