A counter-narrative to Woke assumed indigenous claims against modern land tenements
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
In recent years in Australia, whenever there is a public meeting, particularly of an official nature, it has become increasingly customary to acknowledge indigenous original ownership of the land on which the meeting is being held. It usually takes the following form: “We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather, the Whadjuk people of Noongar Boodjar. We recognize their continued connection to the land and waters of this beautiful place, and acknowledge that they never ceded sovereignty. We respect all Whadjuk Elders and Ancestors, and any First Nations people here today.”
By acknowledging the enduring custodianship of the designated indigenous group, we are asked to admit that modern era colonization did not expunge it and that by implication, that they have an enduring legitimate claim on it, which by way of emphasis, they never ceded.
Firstly the colonial notion of terra nullius (nobody's land) did not suggest that Australia was unoccupied, but that the land ownership tenements that were first established by neolithic villagers 5-10,000 years ago, rendered earlier collective land uses (wanderments/commons) as no longer recognized or legitimate, because they had been rendered obsolete and redundant by more productive, knowledge intensive and technically elaborate methodology, and precisely measured boundaries of private ownership that were eventually codified into written documentation.
Secondly, it is an ideological fiction that indigenous groups had the necessary political organization to cede anything to anyone in the way that the Māori did in New Zealand, where they had tribal hierarchies and chiefs who could negotiate with the European colonial power a treaty like the one signed at Waitangi in 1840. (It should also be noted that at the time, the Maori outnumbered Europeans 40 to 1, were heavily armed with muskets they knew how to militarily deploy, were depended upon to provide European settlers with both food supply and maritime transport....and Maori all spoke the same language, which meant the inter ethnic dynamics and negotiations were totally different to what was going on over the ditch.)
Thirdly, the notion that indigenous bands were in any sense 'nations' is a misappropriation of an entirely European originated idea whose demographic scale and institutional elaboration caricatures its use when applied to them. The mockery of such ethnic misuse seems to have escaped its users.
Such ritualistic statements have been almost entirely driven by Woke activists, and most of the rest of us in our communities have dutifully and politely gone along with it, as much as anything because any demur would almost certainly attract condemnation as a 'bigoted racist'. And no matter how unjust that might be, it adds weight to quite natural 'diplomatic' instincts to indulge the fantasies of others, not to want to 'make a fuss' or be seen to be 'difficult'.
That silence, unfortunately, has given the impression of acquiescence, which has further emboldened and fed the ideological conceit of the Woke. And since around 2015, this has become more problematic, as The Woke have become more aggressive, militant, intolerant and debate dismissive in their attacks, on not just our civilizational narratives, but sexual reproductive ones as well.
The time has therefore come where if one does not agree with Woke 'Acknowledgements Of Country', one is increasingly obliged to register some kind of dissent, to the extent of saying something to the effect that, 'In this matter, you do not speak for me'. That at least breaks the silence and the illusion of consent, even if only to the power of one, which may or may not give others the courage to break theirs. Without such leadership and preparedness to take a reputational risk and gamble it in public, The Woke version of history will prevail, as it already does in the reified postmodernist indoctrination centers to be found in our universities, which is all that is left of the once Enlightenment inspired humanities.
My view is that one needs to do more than just demur. One needs to provide a counter narrative that others can gather round to proudly share in its illumination, so that we are not merely on the defensive, but re-asserting and revalidating our cultural traditions and the immense value that the colonial experience brought to the modern world, in building a better life for more people than our species has ever before achieved.
This is not a call to go out of one's way to antagonize people, but in order to galvanize ourselves out of a culture of silence and a false Woke hegemonism, this may be unavoidable.
So be it. This is my country and I will fight for it if I have to.
I acknowledge modern era migrant settlers as the first citizens of what has become the Australian nation state and recognize that they have had a unique relationship with this land and its resources, transforming it into a vast food bowl and industrial materials supplier, making possible the modern way of life we now enjoy.
I further recognize that we live on land tenements that over millennia have globally rendered all older land uses and claims obsolete and redundant.
I offer my respectful thanks and gratitude to the modern founders of my country for their British legacy of democratic governance and the rule of law, that is the envy of the world and a beacon of hope to anyone who wants to build a better life.