Celebrating Indigenous Australians

This week is NAIDOC Week, an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday. The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It has its roots in the 1938 Day of Mourning, becoming a week-long event in 1975.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous Australian communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces.

Source: Wikipedia

I’ve spent the last few nights updating the galleries, about pages and tidying up a few other background bits and pieces on the Tasview website that will likely go mostly unnoticed.

One thing I’ve considered adding for quite some time is a respectful acknowledgement to the Indigenous population that were living in Australia for around 60,000 years before the arrival of Europeans.

When I go to some of the places I photograph by myself – as shown here, I often feel a sense of presence that is hard to describe. I always acknowledge and respect that presence, often by talking, asking for permission to be there and it may sound weird, but sometimes it’s as if I am guided along by someone who’s familiar with the area.

I was born in Tasmania, however not descended from the early settlers or convicts but more recent European immigrants, so called “one pound Pom’s” who immigrated in the early 1950’s.

I, like all of my generation was taught a version of Australian history from a white perspective at school. Some of us believe blindly what we are taught, some of us question it and seek further views and opinions. That doesn’t mean we believe them but have an open enough mind to consider other possibilities.

I was off work with a broken foot for 12 weeks a few years ago and much of that time I spent researching Indigenous Tasmanians. That in no way makes me an expert and I still remain ignorant to much that is now known. I’m happy to be corrected if any information here is incorrect and mean no offence 🙂

No one alive today really knows what happened 200 odd years ago, we can only guess from written personal accounts and opinion at the time and consider perhaps what motives the writer had for their words.

It is a sad fact there are no full blood Tasmanian Aboriginals left. Along with them has gone much knowledge their language, culture, history and beliefs. As they were generally coastal dwellers, most of their long term history (over about 60,000 years) is now most likely below the present sea level.

From my understanding, of all the known races on the planet at the time, the Tasmanian Aboriginals were apparently the least technically advanced humans on the planet. That is not to say they were any less smart, indeed, they were well in-tune with nature and cared for the land and in return, it cared for them. They were remarkable survivors in what can be a very harsh island environment, including living through the last Ice Age. Aside from many middens, flint-stones, a few stone engravings and many caves where they sheltered, there is generally not a great deal left to mark their passing.

Sadly, Tasmania currently has the worst laws in Australia in relation to the protection and preservation of Aboriginal artefacts, sites and heritage.

TasView acknowledges and pays deep respect to the palawa/pakana (Tasmanian Aboriginal) people of lutruwita (Tasmania) who have cared for this land for more than 2,000 generations and continue to do so. We remember and honour the original inhabitants of lutruwita past, present and future and respect their rich cultural heritage.

17 thoughts on “Celebrating Indigenous Australians

    1. Only the full blood Tasmanian Aboriginals were wiped out, there are still many right across the mainland. There are also many descendants from Tasmanian Aboriginals still here, but yes, it is a sad and brutal history of their plight.

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  1. Thank you for this thoughtful article. I’m very interested in indigenous cultures, worldwide. I was dismayed when I was in Australia at how the the Aboriginals were not only marginalized, but they were also ridiculed. This is not to say this is a general condition in Australia, but it was sadly my experience in some discussions with people.

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    1. Sadly you are right to some degree. I visited Cairns a few years ago, it was great to have some knowledgeable and friendly indigenous guides at many places, but also saddening to see large groups in parks rather intoxicated and pretty intimidating. I guess it’s not much different for anyone that feels marginalised by society though, at some point for many give up on society, because it seems society has given up on them. Clearly what we’re doing (or not doing) now is not working for some and unfortunately too many people just don’t care.

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    1. Thank you, that rock shelter is near Richmond on private property (I got permission). I find it odd that European convict infrastructures in the town, around 200 years old are highly prized, celebrated and heritage protected, yet a shelter like this that has probably protected humans for .. conservatively 20,000 years goes mostly ignored and unnoticed.

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      1. In the ‘80s the government wanted to dam he lower Franklin River. During that time, Kuta kina Cave was found, which had been used by indigenous people for at least 30,000 years. I’ve been there twice now and it feels as if they have just left to go hunting. The government response was that they would put a dome over it to protect it from the water when the area was flooded. A federal election was held and in a rare victory, common sense prevailed. The worlds first “green” political party was formed in Tasmania and while they weren’t elected, the government changed and the dam works were immediately halted. Unfortunately greed and stupidity still prevail and the fight for common sense still goes on.

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  2. Beautiful photos! A wonderful post! Indigenous peoples should be celebrated in every country. I have had the same experience as you describe when visiting spiritual sites. Expressing homage and honour to the ancestors opens insights for a very special visit.

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    1. Thanks for the kind comment and validation that I’m not mad … or perhaps we both are 😉 I think if we are prepared to listen, indigenous cultures around the world would have much to teach us about the world in which we live, the one we all depend upon for survival. The one that has had enough of our greed and is starting to fight back. I think if we’re not careful and don’t listen, it will win, and we will be gone.

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  3. A very thoughtful post. I have been fascinated but Aboriginal culture, history and prehistory for the best part of 45 years. I am far from an expert, but I did study anthropology at Uni a long time ago. My limited understanding and appreciation though has allowed me to deal with some tricky issues over the years when dealing with the impact of heritage issues on local works, services and developments ie respectfully.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, I feel my post is perhaps just a token gesture and falls short, but if it gets a few people thinking and talking, maybe it helps in some way. It sounds like you’ve done much more research than me! I did stumble upon some information that suggested there were three separate migrations into Tasmania across the land bridge when sea levels were lower, each conflicting with and displacing the previous indigenous groups. It seems it’s human nature to not get along with each other 🤔

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      1. The research around the lower sea levels is fascinating, because they know that there was quite a wealth of lush terrain and some awesome archaeological sites, re what is now underwater.

        Yes, it does seem at times, to be the natural order of things re not getting along with each other. However, these days we are supposedly much more civilised (whatever that means) and are better placed to get on with each other. I think some people didn’t see the memo on that one 😉

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    1. Thank you. Things have certainly changed since I went to school and what I was taught in class back then. I have my old social science books still, I have given thought to putting up a post about that, one day 😀

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