‘Heal Country!’ calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
It’s NAIDOC week, and after 250 years of oppression, genocide, mass incarceration, and continued discrimination, the theme ‘Heal Country!’ calls for “all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.”
The connection indigenous Australians have to land can seem abstract to our “modern” society; a society where the planet and everything on it exists only to serve us - humans. This lack of understanding and overt disrespect is demonstrated every time a cultural site is desecrated out of greed for profit or disregard for culture.
The cultural divide is so wide that it can seem impossible to bridge, but it can be done. We’ve seen that it can be done with Woolworths recently backing out of plans to open a liquor store near dry communities, due to mounting pressure.
PROTECTING INDIGENOUS CULTURE PROTECTS OUR PLANET.
The key to averting a climate catastrophe may lie in the traditions of the oldest living civilisation on earth.
Similarly, there is mounting pressure for our government to take action on climate change and the traditions of the oldest living civilisation on earth hold lessons to help avert a climate catastrophe. So, this year’s theme is especially serendipitous.
Researchers estimate our indigenous population to be between 65,000 and 100,000 years old. That’s the kind of time we can’t even begin to comprehend, the kind of time it takes to appreciate that the land we live on is our equal, and the kind of time it takes to live in true kinship with it. Traditionally, indigenous Australians’ way of living was a nomadic lifestyle harmonious with the natural environment.
Thousands of years of culture and knowledge allowed them to create and live in a world where food and water was plentiful (only requiring a few hours a day to “work”), leaving an abundance of time for a rich culture to develop – with the land at its heart.
HEAL COUNTRY, TOGETHER.
The gas-fired recovery plan puts our planet and indigenous sacred sites at risk.
Each one of us can act on this year’s theme by adding our voice to the tide fighting to protect indigenous lands, indigenous waters, indigenous sacred sites, and indigenous cultural heritage. The gas-fired recovery plan puts our planet and indigenous sacred sites at risk. There are approvals already in place for Woodside to expand their gas plant which will increase their emissions by 60% while also placing Murujuga, home to the world’s largest, densest and most diverse Aboriginal rock art gallery, at risk of being destroyed.
This historic cultural site also contains the oldest depiction of the human face, with former WA premier and National Heritage Council chair Carmen Lawrence comparing the potential damage to Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters. Our government can not let this happen, and we collectively must not let this happen.
In times like these, we like to point to the organisations we trust to lead the way in healing our country. As Summer May Finlay highlights in her extremely insightful article about Allyship, the fate of 3% of our population rests in the hands of the other 97%.
1. TAGENTYERE ARTISTS
Aboriginal owned & directed, Tangentyere Artists is a not-for-profit organisation, returning 100% of proceeds to the artists & service. The Art Centre represents urban & regional artists from 18 Alice Springs Town Camp Communities. Strongly committed to improving social justice and maintaining cultural heritage, the centre operates on foundation principles based on equity, ethics and the protection of artists rights.
One of the artists represented by Tagentyere Artists is Sally M Nangala Mulda. Sally is an Arrernte and Southern Luritja artist who lives and works in Alice Springs. Her painting style, described as figurative and naive, depicts highly politicised issues with brutal honesty.
Looking to turn one of her iconic pieces into wearable art, Tagetyere Artists engaged Citizen Wolf to create ethical and sustainable T-shirt dresses, embodying the values they hold dear. We were humbled, to say the least. The T-shirt dresses are now on display at the MCA, and can also be purchased there.
HalfCut is a charity with a simple mission to protect the remaining 50% of the world’s forests and start the regeneration of what we’ve lost. HalfCut aims to protect crucial forests for threatened and endangered species, protect Traditional Owners land titles, start mass tree planting projects and ultimately be part of the solution to the growing climate emergency, ensuring a safe future for all species on Earth.
Each year they run a HalfCut charity event, with registrations for 2021 now open. To date they have saved 460,000sqm of the Daintree (all handed back to the Traditional Owners) and this year they are hoping to save 400,000sqm more.
3. CLOTHING THE GAPS
Clothing The Gaps is a Victorian Aboriginal-owned and led social enterprise whose purpose is to influence social change that promotes equity, so Aboriginal people feel seen and heard.
They have an ally friendly collection available, so you can wear your commitment to healing country loud and proud.