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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

About Time!

posted by on February 12 at 16:16 PM

All apologies:

Australia apologized on Wednesday for the historic mistreatment of Aborigines in a move indigenous leaders said would help end generations of pain.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told parliament that past policies of assimilation, under which aboriginal children were taken from their families to be brought up in white households, were a stain on the nation’s soul.

“Today, the parliament has come together to right a great wrong,” Rudd said.

“We apologize for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.”

Indeed, white man come and took everything!

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Geez, next thing the Kiwis will be apologizing to the Maoris . . . Naw, never gonna happen.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 12, 2008 4:24 PM

I was really hoping for Beds are Burning.

Posted by johnnie | February 12, 2008 4:24 PM

The Maori situation was a little different.

This is a beautiful thing, and long overdue. The abuses of the Aboriginal populations were much more brutal than even our own shameful racial past, and much more recent as well. The white Australians weren't hunting them like vermin with traps and dogs in the 1970s, but they were doing other shocking things.

I was just reading a thing about Aboriginal art in the Alice Springs area, in the early 70s when the art was first starting to become popular in the cities. This fellow used to act as their dealer, taking their paintings into town to sell, and bringing the money and art supplies back to the reservation. It wsa the first time they had access to large quantities of good materials. The amount of money started to increase, and the people were able for the first time to acquire things, like vehicles. At the sight of the first vehicles, the white officials who ran the place started to take all the money and keep it.

There was one particularly heart-breaking story about the birth of commercial Aboriginal art. When the fellow first brought in the art supplies, the people met and discussed it, and decided to paint the side of a large building with a Dreaming in their local tribal style. After they were finished, another meaning was held, and it was decided that the painting revealed too many secrets, so they painted over the realistic ant symbols with a more stylized version that was not directly attributable to their ancestral painting style. This painting was THE birth of the modern Aboriginal style, as it moved from tribal rock paintings to a commercial, public style (it is incorrect to think of their paintings as traditional or folkloric; they are modern art). The value of this work, both in dollars and as a cultural touchstone of their community, would be incalculable.

The white officials had a maintenance man paint it out. This was in 1974.

Posted by Fnarf | February 12, 2008 4:44 PM

Also, see Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Posted by me | February 12, 2008 4:46 PM

This is way overdue. I remember visiting Alice Springs and being deeply moved by the reality, which a friend of mine who was from Tasmania (half-Tasmanian) had clued me into, back when I wrote short stories for Aussie mags.

As to the Maoris ... yeah.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 12, 2008 4:50 PM

Indeed VERY VERY SORRY, ...straight White Christian men are still there and in control. Yeah we're sorry, now let's get on with things as if nothing has happened. Asking for forgivness, not permision, it's still crap, the damage is done.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | February 12, 2008 5:17 PM

Any excuse to post more Midnight Oil, I love it!!!

Posted by Aaron Edge | February 12, 2008 5:55 PM

Peter Garrett is awesome and I appreciate his lifelong activism, but nobody could do that *sudden handclap!* like Michael Hutchence.

Posted by kid icarus | February 12, 2008 5:59 PM

Well you'd know # 6-the last PM held out for 11 years not apologizing. This apology is not asking for forgiveness, or permission-its acknowledging what was done. We know the damage is done-we deal with it every day. We raped and murdered, we took the kids away, we practised discrimination and exclusion-Fact. Unlike here, Australia signed no treaties (however worthless or token you may consider them) with its indigenous peoples. And of course, as you'd also know this long fought for apology is part of the three pronged response to Mabo. The Native Title Act, the Indigenous Land Fund and the Social Justice Package.Without treaties- reparations have to begin somewhere. However imperfect you may consider todays action this apology is the end of a long battle of acknowledgment for many Stolen gens members. All strength to them.

Posted by Betty Du Bois | February 12, 2008 6:00 PM

About fucking time.... damn skippy.

Posted by JME | February 12, 2008 6:17 PM

Craving to hear a living reincarnation of 'The Oil's'? Check out local Seattle band The Protocol. Singer dude channels Peter Garrett.

Posted by Dave Robinson | February 12, 2008 6:23 PM

Saw these guys 20 years ago at Thunderbird Stadium w/ Hunters and Collectors. They were a great band, and it was the first exposure I had to the issue in Australia.

You know Chuck there were some people who were abused right here in America. I know all your victims are black, but First People were similarly victimized. Leonard Peltier is certainly a more cmpelling drama than your wrongly accused anti-hero in Italy.

Posted by left coast | February 12, 2008 6:39 PM

This apology was the very first item of business for the new Labor government, and is truly a wonderful thing.

Perhaps the most uplifting part, for me (a non-Aboriginal Aussie), is that after 11 years of stubborn resistance from our disgraceful former-PM, this apology has been eagerly anticipated by a wide section of the nation, and does not appear to be generating much of a redneck backlash.

For the first time in quite a while, I have been able to read international news reports about my home, without feeling shame.

Posted by Bento | February 12, 2008 7:12 PM

This is great. Clearly the only thing that the Aussies brought the aborigines other than mass extermination is alcoholism and funny accents.

did they say, "sorry mate, no worries?"

Posted by SeMe | February 12, 2008 8:20 PM

No..."they" said "that's not a knife...this is a knife" Full text here.,25197,23202612-5013172,00.html

Posted by Betty Du Bois | February 12, 2008 8:33 PM

Bento @13: we'll be joining you on November 4th.

Posted by Fnarf | February 12, 2008 9:05 PM

It's funny how watching a video again after 15 years can give it new meaning.

The part of the video where you see tourists walking up Ayers Rock(Uluru),the lyrics go "white man came, took everyone." Because of the spiritual significance of Uluru, the Aborigines prefer tourists to climb it. But many climb it anyway.

The trail was closed because of high winds when I went there last summer. I wouldn't have climbed it anyway but a few folks in my group were disappointed.

Posted by Chalupa | February 12, 2008 9:14 PM

The Aborigines prefer tourists NOT to climb it, I should have said.

Posted by Chalupa | February 12, 2008 9:17 PM

Thanks for getting "All Apologies" stuck in my head all day, Charles. Damnit

Posted by Katelyn | February 12, 2008 10:22 PM

i would have preferred beds are burning mixed with for whom the bed tolls. apologies are nice but are abbos really better off?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 12, 2008 11:20 PM

Bellevue @ 20 - 11 years ago Australians elected a conservative government, largely based on economic considerations, which were essentially selfish. The Labor government which was thrown out of office had been making reconciliation one of its main policy platforms (read Paul Keating's 'Redfern Speech', for example).

In 2008, after 11 years of petty, racist, selfish and mean-spiritied rule, Australians have thrown out the onservative government, DURING A TIME OF SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY, and Howard was the first sitting Prime Minister to lose his seat since 1929. This, to me, suggests a populace which made its decision on unselfish and non-economic values, and the Labor platform for reconciliation was a significant aspect.

So, yeah, shit still isn't great, but there is at least an indication that the process has started.

BTW - 'Abo' is pretty much equivalent to 'the N word' here.

Posted by Bento | February 13, 2008 12:03 AM

I'm in rural Western Australia, and all the white people I've asked today think saying sorry is "stupid and wrong". They also erringly believe that none of the Stolen Generation are still living and that the government has apologised before. They believe that lifetime welfare payments are more than enough of an apology and that the Aboriginal collective condition is not their problem; their lack of empathy is chilling. I will continue to celebrate Sorry Day and encourage others to do so.

Posted by Mrs. Jarvie | February 13, 2008 12:27 AM

Looks like the issue isn't quite as black and white as Chaz would have us believe:,25197,23182149-28737,00.html

Posted by croydonfacelift | February 13, 2008 12:32 AM

Compensation hasn't really been discussed yet - a bit of a tacit agreement between the parties that maybe the electorate is only ready for 'baby steps'.

These sort of culture shifts always seem to start with a symbolic gesture - a woman sits down on a bus, a man makes a speech, an 'enemy of the state' is released from prison...

As a noteworthy aside, Peter Garrett was also elected as part of the new Labor government - he's the Minister for Environment.

Posted by Bento | February 13, 2008 1:41 AM

Bento@24 - I was just going to mention the Peter Garrett in Parliament thing. It's cool to see a political musician now involved in politics rather than obscurity/rehab.

Posted by KariMD in Canada | February 13, 2008 8:52 AM

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