Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples fit into a fabric of Indigenous peoples globally who are, every day, sharing culture, knowledge and cultural practices that have survived colonisation.
In our country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples equate to 3 per cent of our national population — small but incredibly mighty.
As conversations about truth-telling and Treaty unravel in Australia, we’re asked to think about sovereignty on a larger scale — but how much do we really know about other Indigenous peoples?
The recent tragedies of child remains discovered in unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools for Indigenous children has no doubt placed Canadian First Nations at the front of the global mind. Yet many are unaware there are three Indigenous groups in Canada: First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Amnesty International tells us that the world over, there are about 370 million Indigenous people coming from more than 5000 different Indigenous peoples across 90 countries. Representing about 5 per cent of the world’s population, they speak more than 4000 languages.
As the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples approaches on August 9, perhaps it’s time to educate ourselves and learn more about the great diversity of cultures and depth of knowledge the world’s Indigenous peoples have to offer.
Within Australia lives and breathes the oldest, continuing culture in the world but we are still grappling with constitutional recognition. Perhaps it would be wise to look to and learn from our international friends.
In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is widely known as the founding document of the country. The Treaty was made between more than 500 Maori rangatira (chiefs) and the British crown, and was signed in 1840.
In Canada, there are 70 recognised historic Treaties which were signed between Canada’s First Peoples and the crown between 1701 and 1923.
In 2009, the Republic of Bolivia in South America became the Plurinational State of Bolivia under a new constitution which recognises 36 Indigenous languages alongside Spanish as official languages of Bolivia.
While official and signed documents are nothing without action and implementation, these various countries have more to show for their steps towards Reconciliation than Australia does.
We’ve had panels and consultations and councils resulting in greatness like the Uluru Statement from the Heart, yet the Federal Government continues to plod along with a co-designed, legislated Voice to Parliament that many oppose.
Australia’s First Peoples have thrived for tens of thousands of years and endured violent colonisation and attempted genocide.
Indigenous peoples of the world offer knowledge, perspectives and solutions that can and will make our collective future better.
The rest of the world just has to listen.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples provides us with an opportunity to learn more and do more for Indigenous peoples and each other globally.
It’s an opportunity that makes us accountable to keep learning and doing better each day as we move forward together.
Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by the NIT editor Hannah Cross