I recently watched a video called Kings Seal that discusses the formation of the state of South Australia and the rights of Aboriginal people.
As most South Australians will be aware, this state as we know it today was set up as a colony of free settlers rather than a convict settlement. Less well known is that it was also intended, by decree of the King, to honour the rights of the original inhabitants and their descendants:
Provided Always that nothing in those our Letters Patent contained shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation or enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives.
In particular, it was deeply saddening to see in King’s Seal the unearthing of Aboriginal burial sites on the hillside of the Onkaparinga River during the construction of the Seaford rail bridge.
Whilst we so often hear the Kaurna people acknowledged as the custodians of this land and as having a living connection with the land, it seems that our actions fall short. It is stated in the video that the local people told the government of these burial sites by the Onkaparinga River but no plans were changed as a result of this information. It is hard to imagine desecration of European graves being sanctioned in such a way.
Consider BBC productions like Time Team and note the care with which all historical artefacts are treated, and compare that to the scenes in King’s Seal. We are a country of many histories and peoples and it is time we behaved with respect for all.
Until we recognise Aboriginal people in the Australian Constitution and negotiate a treaty we will continue to leave Aboriginal people in a disenfranchised limbo – a state that does justice to no one. Without constitutional recognition and a treaty we will continue to repeat the same mistakes, to fumble and stomp and err; we will fail to unify as a nation of many cultures.
We cannot allow that to happen because we all share a common humanity, we are all indigenous to the Earth and we need to come together to heal the past and create a future together that we can all be proud of.
Find out more and join the call for Recognition and Treaty.
“ANTaR SA, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (South Australia) Inc, is a coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community people and community organisations.”