Indigenous Australians have always had a strong connection to the land in which they lived. They lived a nomadic life, following the seasons for food and shelter. With few physical possessions, they managed to survive the harsh Australian outback. They respected, nurtured and protected the land and its environment. For Indigenous Australians the land was and still is the core of all spirituality and belief.
When the British colonized Australia in 1788, they disregarded the Indigenous Australians, invaded the land and took possession of whatever they pleased. They did not enter into a treaty with the Indigenous Australians, as they had with other countries including Canada and New Zealand. The British claimed that the indigenous Australians did not have sovereignty that could be recognized and that the land was not owned by anyone. It was due to this, that they claimed the land as their own and formed government.
The British’s disregard for the Aboriginal people has left deep scars in the Aboriginal communities. Indigenous Australians have long been fighting for recognition and to reclaim the land that was taken from them.
In 2008 the Australian Government acknowledged the injustices of the past and apologised to the stolen generation for the pain, the hurt and the suffering that they caused. Today, the Australian Government recognizes the unique position of Indigenous Australians and acknowledges them as Australia’s history.
It is now common practice for an Acknowledgement of Country ceremony to take place before all major events. This ceremony is a way for non-indigenous Australians to show respect for Aboriginal heritage and the ongoing relationship between the traditional owners and the land.
Centuries of mistreatment and dispossession have left deep scars in surviving indigenous communities. These centuries will always be remembered as a dark time in Australian history and we can only hope that the future will be one of recognition, appreciation and equality.