Lip Service for the Traditional Custodians of Australia

Posted by | January 27, 2022 | Human Thinking and Behavior | No Comments
Do you attend meetings that start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land and by paying respects to Indigenous elders? 

 
I wonder what leads a group of non-Indigenous individuals to publicly show respect to the historic custodians of the land by starting meetings with that acknowledgement.
 
You might argue that I cannot be sure that no Indigenous person is present at a specific meeting. True, but I can be reasonably confident of that at some meetings. 
 
I suspect the goal of the custom at meetings of non-Indigenous individuals is to assuage the guilt of those individuals for owning and profiting from the land once used by Indigenous folks. 
 
I never used to feel that guilt because my ancestors, non-Europeans, did not colonise Australia. However, I am now enjoying benefits of that land grab because I own a house. My property rights are guaranteed by the laws established by the colonisers.  
 
As I think about this land matter, I am starting to feel a smattering of guilt. But I do not feel an urge to repeatedly acknowledge the land situation at meetings. I am not a person inclined toward paying lip service.
 
Instead, I try to put myself in the shoes (or bare feet) of the original peoples of this fine land. That perspective taking is hard to do as I am limited by my own culture and experiences. 
 
My best projection is that I would not care much what others say when I am not present. I would rather have the land of my ancestors returned to my free use. Where that is not feasible, I would like to receive compensation for the lost access.
 
You see that I am a creature of my culture. I think in terms of restitution, with an alternative of financial compensation. 
 
I would not ask for any acknowledgements or any apologies for the land taking. Just give me the access or the money. Then I would feel somewhat respected by the people in power. 
 
I would put off for another day a reckoning about all my people who were killed or enslaved by the colonisers.  
 
Here is another thing I wonder about: Do most Indigenous folks like the practice of acknowledgements at meetings where they are not present? I believe in polls — here is a topic for one. 
 
If most Indigenous folks like the idea, count me in. These acknowledgements are the least we can do. 
 
 
 

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