Friday, May 27, 2011

Native Title

I've finally found a word that best describes those individuals who adhere to a mindset that sympathizes with and have empathy with anything to do with Australian aborigines. The word is ROMANTIC. There is a romantic association with the aborigines in the minds of people who consider everything to do with aboriginals as something to do with the Noble Savage.  It's no surprise then that the aboriginal identity with land is treated with reverence. We have given and continue to legislate what is called Land Rights giving Native Title to aborigines for large areas of commonwealth land, as well as legislate the requirement to acknowledge aboriginal ownership of land at every public ceremony, speech or event. It is  symbolic gesture that is based on romanticism.

Continuing with the romantic notion of the Noble Savage, the aborigines lived a life of subsistence from foraging and hunting. Their technology never advanced beyond spears and boomerangs while some tribes never even discovered fire. A society on the level of the stone age in fact.
The degree of contrast between civilized society and primitive aboriginal culture is seen as yardstick to measure the extent to which civilization has failed to remain noble to the idea of living only to survive, living only to satisfy our immediate needs of food, water and shelter. Civilization in contrast is ignoble because we have denuded native forests, polluted the atmosphere, created global warming.

The aboriginal identity that is so closely associated with land that the two are considered inseparable in the minds of aborigines is treated as a virtue, it is and ideal that we as westerners can only aspire to and make amends by discussing environmentalism and global warming with an overbearing sense of collective guilt.
Aborigines don't feel such guilt since they have never endorsed any human activity that involves exploiting the land or modifying the environment. That is until the granting of Native Title, the aborigines never had the option of negotiating mining leases.These days they can benefit financially from mining and tourism.

 Only the future will tell if they begin to share our western sense of guilt as the destruction of the landscape from mining comes back to haunt them.

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