Everyone has a view on changing the date. Teila Watson is hoping more people form strong views on ending the destruction of country.
Everyone’s talking about changing the date. I think it’s a cute sentiment, however it would be meaningless if the government continues to fail to cease and desist the colonial process that is occurring.
Also, where the reparations at? And give our land back and fund the reconstruction and adaption of our systems of governance and law.
See Invasion Day is about more than just a date in history to celebrate. They didn’t just invade our lands and ethos, they invaded our logic and philosophy and stole the power of definition, taking our rights to be human and our rights to be respected and considered as people who know this continent and know how to govern ourselves and our eco-systems.
That has had as much a lasting effect as the genocide, rape, pillage and plunder. Invasion Day is about what is and isn’t happening today, how we got here and how we can’t move forward, regardless of a date on a calendar. Not only because what has happened and is still happening to First Nations people and lands – and what is happening to non-Indigenous people in this country – but because there is no safe or healthy model to govern this continent and move forward in an environmentally or socially sustainable way.
Science has proven that for more than 70,000 years First Nations people have been living in the continent now referred to as “Australia”. This means we lived through ice ages, sea level changes and other catastrophic events like volcanoes and major changes to land masses and climate. These major changes also affected social relationships between nations and required a form of social governance that was extremely effective in ensuring the health of people and land and also upholding the dynamic relationships each nation had with their lands.
So despite all the challenges for over 70,000 years, we found ways to thrive through observing, adapting and adjusting not only the way we went about daily life but the way that we governed our lands. Because when our climate is changing, forms of social and environmental governance should always change with it, as change is natural to life on earth, and life indeed, is a living thing.
And yet our ‘government’ here in ‘Australia’, continues to face climate change and global warming with the same colonial view that has created then allowed these issues to prosper. All the while, First Nations people still have many of the scientific knowledge, philosophies, logic and traditions that have sustained this country environmentally and socially for millennia. And, we have not stopped calling for change, for the health of our lands and people.
As many know, we didn’t have a written language, but that doesn’t mean the invaders haven’t had 230 years to learn anything, it just means that a lot of our knowledge has been handed down in more social ways, through storytelling and various forms of art and ceremony. But it’s also been handed down through relationships, with each other, with land, sea, sky, flora and fauna. So in effect our knowledge has lived within us, as it too is a living thing.
Of course now that we have extra tools, we are using them, so there’s books like ‘Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe that give us an idea of just how advanced our societies were when the invasion occurred, and also how quickly our progress was decimated by the invasion and the (maybe not intentional) weaponization of cattle and sheep.
The truth is that in 1788, our people were far more advanced than what the government and probably a large amount of mainstream society would like to believe or acknowledge. The problem is that using the colonial gaze, paired with the destruction that was caused by the invaders, it’s quite easy to dismiss our people’s advancement and continue with the myth that we were somehow uncivilised nomads and unable to appropriately manage our lands or ourselves.
It’s proven extremely profitable for the invaders. Like myth-making, racism is one of the greatest colonial tools there is.
The idea that not fitting in with the colonial standard of living is enough to give moral and legal power for the theft of land and the genocide of nations fails to address the invaders’ inability to properly care for that land for future generations, of any race. Coz’ let’s be real, it’s not as if white people came here and continued to nurture our land and keep it safe. And it’s not as if they haven’t riddled it with unsustainable farms and mines and relentlessly attacked it in the name of profit and progress, handing more power to capitalism and colonialism.
So while the premise that the colonial structure of government is somehow more effective or civilised is not only incorrect and deeply insulting and unfair – even to its own people – it’s also very dangerous because it’s not actually adequate to address the social and political needs of the very people that it burdens, especially when we are faced with something like climate change.
The government is constantly and consistently missing something, something really important, and if only it could face forward and consider the nation’s children’s children, or grandchildren’s grandchildren it might start to understand. Because if future generations of First Nations people can’t breath fresh air and drink clean water, or eat healthy food from healthy land, neither can theirs.
That doesn’t stop us changing the date, but it should focus our minds.’
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