I attended to a couple of school functions late last year and at both there was an acknowledgement of traditional Aboriginal ownership of land and a statement of respect for Aboriginal culture and elders.
I found this puzzling. I initially wondered about the tradition of reference here. Obviously it was not mine, and not incorporated in any residual tradition that is significant in Australia generally, to my knowledge. It must, I conclude, be a purely Aboriginal tradition and therefore referentially irrelevant to most us who were in the room and to the culture that we have inherited; the one that provides our education, science, mathematics, art, literature, productivity, system of law, industry, economic capability and other social benefits. Nor is “ownership” meaningful in this context. Indeed it is completely misplaced and its use would seem to teach children that non-Aboriginals possess the land wrongly. I protest most strongly at this.
Whatever past events were, there was no ‘invasion’ as is popularly characterised by some, including, in a great display of political opportunism and historical ignorance, the current Prime Minister. Rather, the history is occupation by diffusion and absorption, indeed, by sharing, which has been universal in human history. In no way does this support the fantasy implied in the ‘respect’ homage. It may be worthy to recognise the Aboriginal occupants who predated the school’s use of the site, but suggesting that they ‘owned’ the land in the meaning of ‘owned’ we use today is erroneous, and not fitting for a major private school to entertain or promulgate, unless it is a contra-positive object lesson in culturally transmogrified anachronism.
Nor is it fitting to uncritically impose Aboriginal religious beliefs on our children, noting that Aboriginal people claim to have a ‘spiritual’ relationship with the land; whatever that could mean. Probably it simply indicates that it was ‘home’ to them! However, if we accept their concept of ‘spiritual’ then this is a religious matter. The school should eschew general imposition of religious matters without informed parental agreement.
Then there is the approbation of Aboriginal culture. This is irksome. No, revolting! Historically, and even today, Aboriginal culture features systematic enslavement and abuse of women (the first European settlers noted the ubiquitous disfigurement of Aboriginal women from the violence of their males), near universal abuse of children, including the pack rape, violent genital abuse and extended humiliation of young girls abuse of both boys and girls in parental neglect, and inter-tribal wars of annihilation. The idea of respecting this culture is idiotic and the elders who permitted this warrant our contempt, not acknowledgement.
A few relevant quotes:
Captain Tench wrote “They [women] are in all respects treated with savage barbarity; condemned not only to carry the children, but all other burthens, they meet in return for submission only with blows, kicks and every other mark of brutality”
He also wrote “When an Indian [sic] is provoked by a woman, he either spears her, or knocks her down on the spot; on this occasion he always strikes on the head, using indiscriminately a hatchet, a club, or any other weapon, which may chance to be in his hand.”
Peleopathologist Stephen Webb in 1995 published analysis of over 4500 individuals’ bones from mainland Australia going back 50,000 years. In the tropics female head trauma injuries, suggestive of deliberate attacks were evident in 20-33% of individuals, in contrast to 6.5-26% for males. In the south rates of female injury were higher at 40-45% of individuals.
Stephanie Jarrett in her introduction to “Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence”, says. “It is important to acknowledge [the] link between today’s Aboriginal violence and violent, pre-contact tradition, because until policy makers are honest in their assessment of the causes, Aboriginal people can never be liberated from traditional norms and practices of violence”
Bess Nungarrayi Price adds: “My own body is scarred by domestic violence...We Aboriginal people have to acknowledge the truth. We can’t blame all of our problems on the white man...This is our problem...”
Joan Kimm wrote: “The sexual use of young girls by older men, indeed often much older men, was an intrinsic part of Aboriginal culture, a heritage that cannot easily be denied.
And here’s an anthropologist’s description from the 1930s of how that ‘intrinsic part’ plays out:
“...when a Pitta-Pitta girl first showed signs of puberty, ‘several men would drag her into the bush and forcibly enlarge the vaginal orifice by tearing it downwards with the first three fingers wound round and round with opossum string. Other men came forward from all directions, and the struggling victim has to submit in rotation to promiscuous coition with all the ‘bucks’ present.”
This continues today:
The atmosphere in Aboriginal communities was described as one of “continuing fear from which there is no escape...Sexual abuse is an inadequate term for the incidence of horrific sexual offences committed against young girls and boys in a number of Community locations in Queensland over the last few years”
The elders who failed and continue to fail to lift Aboriginal people from the parlous lives they often lead and to protect children from abuse, neglect, fear and suffering deserve our condemnation. Naturally the Aboriginals working to bring the benefits of modern civilisation to this group deserve our support and applause. But enough of this misplaced and gullible celebration of a dead-end stone age culture: it is no more than one of those ‘stationary’, spook infested, unproductive, degrading and toxic primitive cultures that we are better off without. It has contributed nothing to anyone and deserves its evolutionary fate of complete expiration. Indeed, that is the benefit of evolution: eliminating the ineffective. Aboriginal culture cannot survive as a functioning culture and we should do nothing to prevent that outcome.