Abstracts for Issue 2, 2011
Straight line stories: Representations and Indigenous Australian identities in sports discourses
There is an increasing body of literature, and awareness, of the nature of deficit discourse and its contribution to the essentialising of Indigenous identity. Through an analysis of sports writing since the 1960s, this paper explores how such discourses can develop.
Sport, however, has another attribute: it is the avenue by which Aborigines and Islanders have earned and demanded the respect of non-Aboriginal Australia; it has given them a sense of worth and pride, especially since they have had to overcome the twin burdens of racism and opposition on the field. It has shown Aborigines and Islanders that using their bodies is still the one and only way they can compete on equal terms with an often hostile, certainly indifferent, mainstream society (Tatz and Tatz 2000:33). In the aftermath of civil rights victories, the politics of ‘victimhood’ became the predominant methodology of black advocacy and the reigning paradigm of public policy thinking (Pearson 2007:26).
Journalism and Indigneous health policy
The Australian News Media and Indigenous Policymaking 1988–2008 project is investigating the relationships between media attention to Indigenous issues and policy development processes. The ways in which Indigenous issues are discussed through public media as ‘intractable’ have concrete policy outcomes that impact on the lives of Indigenous Australians, and on the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in urban, rural and remote settings. The project is investigating the emergence of policies governing Indigenous populations in specific discursive environments, through the analysis of news reporting, policy outcomes, and the local knowledge of actors involved in the development of health, media and education policies. This paper reports on a qualitative framing analysis of media texts, policy documents and public statements concerning Indigenous health from 1988 to 1995, finding that there were direct and indirect relationships between media reporting of Indigenous issues as policy ‘failure’ and dramatic shifts in federal government health policies.
Aboriginal water values and resource development pressures in the Pilbara region of north-west Australia
Marcus Barer and Sue Jackson
The Pilbara is a remote arid region with a significant Aboriginal population, rich mineral resources and rapid rates of mineral resource development. Pilbara Aboriginal people claim deep ongoing connections to the land and waterscapes of the area and value water sources and features for a range of socio-cultural, economic and environmental reasons. Those water sources have come under increasing pressure from a new phase of development in the mining sector and so Aboriginal people have a strong interest in the long-term sustainability of this activity. We outline research generated through an agreement between the CSIRO and a major mining company in which fieldwork interviews were combined with the first peer-reviewed synthesis of the diverse and scattered literature describing Aboriginal people’s water interests in the area. The paper describes and contextualises Pilbara Aboriginal peoples’ relationships to water, highlighting its significance as part of the creative legacy of the ancestral beings, as an elemental resource for life, as reflective and constitutive of group and individual identity by relating people across time and space, and as a key focus of concerns about the ongoing effects of resource development. The scale of water use pressures in the Pilbara and the depth of feeling among its Aboriginal traditional owners and residents emphasise the need for greater resource allocations and engagement by those involved in mine water management and regional water planning, as well as in Aboriginal advocacy and research.
Indigenous Land Use Agreement - building relationships between Karajarri traditional owners, the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc. and the Government of Western Australia
Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc. is located on the eastern shores of La Grange Bay, 200 kilometres south of Broome, Western Australia. Formerly known as La Grange Catholic Mission, the community has a population of around 800 residents, which comprises the traditional owner group - the Karajarri - and their traditional neighbours - the Mangala, Juwaliny, Yulparija and Nyangumarta - who moved on to the mission when it was established in 1955. The Yawuru, northern neighbours of the Karajarri, have generally lived on their own estates and on shared country where traditional boundaries overlapped; however, in recent years a small but significant number of Yawuru have settled at Bidyadanga and the Yardoogarra outstation 30 kilometres to the north, and regard Bidyadanga as a hub with its essential services and infrastructure. The Karajarri had their Native Title aspirations recognised by the Federal Court of Australia in 2002 and 2004. The Karajarri Native Title determinations have become significant turning points for political and community relations between traditional owners and the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc, and also affect the way government, non-government organisations and other stakeholders manoeuvre within claimed Native Title areas. In an attempt to shed some light on the complexities and challenges that confront the people at Bidyadanga today, this paper discusses the contemporary social, political and economic history of the former mission and its people, and comments on the new era of land management and political processes that governs and influences their lives. The author is a member of the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association where he has served as the deputy chair since 2002.
A late nineteenth-centruy map of an Australian Aboriginal fishery at Lake Condah
Debate regarding the complexity of Aboriginal societies in south-west Victoria began in the late nineteenth century and continues to the present day. One of the bases of a transegalitarian society is the production of a stable food surplus and in this region such a surplus is related to the construction and management of extensive water control and eel trapping systems. However, such systems have to date either been described in nineteenth-century ethnohistoric documents, or recorded and mapped in the late twentieth century by archaeologists, but not both. This paper provides full publication, authentication and analysis of a nineteenth century map and accompanying text documenting a system of Gunditjmara eel traps and associated water control features near the Lake Condah outlet that has been ground-truthed by recent archaeological research. This is the only historic map of such features known to exist, and it is accompanied by a detailed explanatory commentary on their functioning as a system. Much of the value of the map and text lies in their unique creation on the basis of observation in combination with information obtained from traditional owners. The documents provide invaluable information on the specific operation of features at the Lake Condah outlet and on the operation of such water control and eel management systems in general, as well as crucial evidence regarding the economic basis for transegalitarian features of the ethnographic Gunditjmara.
The New South Wales Aboriginal Lands Trust and its place in history
The Aboriginal Lands Trust of New South Wales (1974-1983) was the first all-Aboriginal democratically elected statutory body to own freehold title to Aboriginal land in Australia. However, it was almost totally written out of history with the passing of the New South Wales Land Rights Act in 1983. The Trust came after the era of paternalism and the assimilation policy of the Aboriginal Welfare Board, and the Act under which it operated gave rights to the Aboriginal people of New South Wales that have yet to be matched. It was an early example of Aboriginal self-determination that ironically was destroyed by the promotion of just that ideal. The struggle to survive and to serve its people forged a fierce pride and loyalty among its staff and members, and its destruction fuelled a devastating sense of betrayal and cynicism of government. There are very few primary documents from the Trust in public collections and histories written of this era mainly focus on the land rights movement. South coast leader Ossie Cruse was elected to the Trust from its beginnings and served as chairman for seven years. He kept boxes of detailed files containing minutes of meetings and other documents, which are now housed in the Aboriginal Culture Centre Monaroo Bobberrer Gudu archive, near Eden, New South Wales. I have been working with community members since 2003 to catalogue and preserve the files. These files, along with interviews with Trust members, employees and the administrator, have provided me with the evidence to piece together the story of what the Trust was, what it did and what happened to it.