Respecting Our First People and Acknowledging Their Achievements

If the history of Australia had been condensed into 24 hours, non-Aboriginal people would have only been here for five minutes. I read about this newfound information on Thursday, and found it to be very fascinating. When I turned to the comments however, I was shocked to see hundreds of racist comments. This week’s post is a response to the perceptions that many people surprisingly hold.
A link to the original article I read, whose comments led me to writing this post, can be found at the bottom of my post.

Aboriginals are the oldest known civilization in the entire world. If Australia was 24 hours old, Non-Aboriginal people would have only been here for 5 minutes and 4 seconds. In those 5 minutes and 4 seconds, thousands of Aboriginals were killed and their lives were changed forever. They were brutally murdered, abused, and removed from their families. They were deprived of their languages, cultures, and traditions. They were exposed to new illnesses and diseases. Their lands were stolen, and they were made to feel inferior on their own land. They were locked up and put in ‘human zoos’ for people to come and have a look at. They were considered to be nobodies, and were treated like animals.

All in just 5 minutes.

But rather than focusing on that aspect, many people are choosing instead to state that white people have achieved more in those 5 minutes than the Aboriginals ever had in the rest of their time. But 1. Who are you to say what is progress for them? I’m sure they were infinitely happier when they weren’t ripped away from their families, when they weren’t being abused and murdered, when they could feel comfortable and happy in their own land, and in their own homes. When they were speaking their languages and practicing their culture. You can’t go in and destroy somebody’s entire life and tell them you did them a favour.  And 2. The Aboriginals actually had achieved a lot in that time. They looked after the land, and learnt to live off it. The land in Australia is very difficult to diversify, and yet they put great systems into place and were able to live off the land comfortably for tens of thousands of years. They were also very intelligent with their inventions, and implemented methods of aerodynamics, before the rest of the world had worked them out (they did this with the boomerang). They have invented countless other things, including the first ever wind instrument (the didgeridoo), which is much more complicated than it looks. Australian Geographic even states that many Aboriginal inventions show a deep understanding of science and medicine. They had their own medicines, their own tools and inventions, held strong family values, had strong community values, had laws in place, had homes, had cultural celebrations and held events. They were an intelligent civilization who were content with their lifestyle choices.

Those who are telling people to get over the hardships faced by Aboriginal people at the time of British settlement because it was “such a long time ago”,  are not only incredibly insensitive but are also mistaken. It’s been less than 50 years since the last stolen generation. That means that there are people today who have been personally affected by it, or have parents and grandparents that have been personally affected by it – which means that they are still being affected themselves. They can’t simply “get over” something that has affected and altered their entire lives. 

There are also people who say that Aboriginal people haven’t contributed to society, which is a blatant lie. We walk around with the face of an Aboriginal man in our pockets, and don’t even realize it. (David Unaipon – $50 note). We need to start learning about the contributions that Aboriginal people HAVE made to society, and we need to appreciate them. We need to acknowledge that we, non-Aboriginal people, are living on their sacred land. We need to know the history of the land that we call home, and know that the history belongs to them. Only 5 minutes of that history is our own, and we spend so much time focusing on just those 5 minutes, that we forget every single other minute that came before it. Wake up Australia. Learn your history. Respect your history.  Respect your people.

 

Post written in response to the following article and the comments found below it:
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/if-aboriginal-culture-was-24-hours-old-white-people-have-been-in-australia-five-minutes-20170719-gxets8.html

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