Fourteen years on, one looks back sadly at the devastation and havoc wreaked by the Intervention, with contemporary morbidity—long-term ill effects—experienced by many whom the imposed measures were supposed to heal and restore.
We were out in Gudanji country, a place some of us older people know well. But we didn’t know where we were. The river had gone, huge mountains of waste rock were piled high in the sky, blocking our view of The Barramundi Dreaming… We were lost in our own country.
The land is not only a physical space in which to live with dignity but also it is the source of Indigenous laws: indeed, mainstream representations of Indigenous territories, taking into consideration the topographic and biologic dimensions of the earth’s surface, have forgotten the pluriverse of organic and inorganic beings that make and negotiate their social living together with Indigenous peoples’ ecological and spiritual relations.
…it seems the First Nations of Australia will be left with another empty promise that governments and mining companies, together so invested in their ongoing dispossession, will act in good faith to ‘protect’ them and their heritage. Surely nobody can reasonably believe this by now.
Systematic overwriting of one form of injustice with another reiterates the claim that settler law is not on the side of the First Nations. The innate unfairness in the system begets greater injustice by weighing economic interests against Indigenous rights that are incommensurable.
In nearly all cases where states require associations of traditional connection to be publicly performed in order to be recognised, the persons called upon and authorised to perform them have had their associations fractured by colonial dispossession.
It is no longer an overworked, under-resourced and at times chaotic legal system. It is now not fit for purpose and has become a depraved jailing machine consuming Aboriginal men, women and children at an ever-increasing rate.
Blink and you’ll miss the Northern Territory on national COVID-19 graphs. Almost 34,000 tests have been conducted here since March. All 34 positively diagnosed people, mostly returned travellers, have recovered. No community transmission, no deaths.