First peoples?

There has been a lot of indecision in recent years about what to call those people whom for many decades we have called "Aborigines".  That word now seems to be taboo.  "Indigenous" is a favourite replacement but the Canadian practice  is increasingly creeping in. Canadians say "First Nations" for the early inhabitants of their country.

Using "first Nations" for early inhabitants of Australia is a however a substantial misfire.  The many pre-white tribes of Australia had few of the characteristics of nations except perhaps informally understood borders.  Making "nations" out of hundreds of tribes is quite a stretch. There was  certainly no language common to them all and not much that we would recognize as governing bodies or a defence department.

Perhaps for that reason the angry article below refers to "first peoples" instead, a more defensible usage.

But both usages founder on the claim that the pre-white inhabitants of Australia were in any sense "first".  They were not.  It enrages the Left for anybody to mention it but it is well documented that the original inhabitants of what we now call Australia were a race of pygmies.  And the pygmies concerned are far from a lost tribe.  Some of them still survive in areas of the Atherton Tableland.  

One of them walked right past me in 2004 as I was sitting in an open-air cafe in Kuranda.  He was black but was only about 4'6" tall, a height commonly given for the Australian pygmies in early documents.  There certainly are still some very short blacks  in the mountainous areas behind Cairns

In the early days, anthropologists and explorers took photos of the pygmies which showed them as being about 4.6" (1.3 meters) tall

There is a long article by the irreverent historian  Keith Windschuttle which gives the full story.  See

There were quite a lot of reports of contact with pygmies  throughout the 20th century.  See:

There have been many attempts from the Left to debunk the story that there were a race of pygmies in Australia but have a look below and you will see one of them, 3"7" tall and still alive when the picture was taken by a news photographer in 2007. 

She is pretty substantial to be a "myth"

There is an article about her reprinted below under the heading "Pygmy elder faces eviction"

It’s a measure of the confidence assimilationists now feel, not to mention their profound indecency, that they’ve wasted no time pushing to start rolling back what few gains have been made on Indigenous policy.

Tony Abbott immediately demanded that Indigenous flags no longer be flown and acknowledgements of Indigenous people be abandoned at official events — signs of separatism, he says. If even those most basic acknowledgements that First Peoples exist are now to be erased, then we are indeed seeing full-blown separatism. The LNP in Queensland abandoned support for a treaty process in that state. Peter Dutton, in the words of one of his own MPs, sought to “weaponise” claims of child abuse within Indigenous communities.

The mainstream media also wasted no time in trying to fit the result into a narrative that carefully avoided the core issues of the referendum. The Australian Financial Review echoed the argument of The Australian that it was all Anthony Albanese’s fault for his “failure to genuinely consult with Mr Dutton to try to secure bi-partisan support for the Voice,” arguing that it was down to Albanese’s “hubris”.

This is a self-serving lie that gets everyone — Dutton, the No campaign, racists, the media — off the hook. There is literally no referendum proposal that Dutton would have supported, as his goal was to damage Labor, not address the substance of either recognition or closing the gap. The AFR goes on to complain that Albanese has ruled out “pursuing other forms of constitutional recognition or legislating for an Indigenous advisory body”.
Let’s coin a name for this fiction: how about the White Man’s Recognition Myth? It’s one many No supporters, including Abbott and Dutton, cling to — that if only they’d been asked to support simple recognition without a Voice, they’d have backed it.

White Man’s Recognition found a full flowering in an extraordinary column by David Crowe last week. Normally the doyen of both-sidesist press gallery commentary, Crowe came alive during the campaign to lash the No campaign but lamented last Thursday “a Yes vote is only possible for leaders who compromise more than they would like. This is true for Indigenous leaders as much as party leaders. As late as June this year, there was a pathway to success for recognition without the Voice, something Dutton says he supports.”

That is, the failure of the referendum is on First Peoples and their inability to compromise, their unwillingness to accept a token White Man’s Recognition, their insistence that recognition actually be meaningful and involve a two-way interaction, not imposed on them like so much else has been imposed on them for more than two centuries.

Stop complaining, accept what you’re given, abandon any agency, it’s non-Indigenous people who’ve done all the compromising, why won’t you? Being recognised as actually existing should be enough. It’s not just Albanese, evidently, who is afflicted with hubris.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but after the ferocious and resentful dismissal of genuine recognition by non-Indigenous Australia, no non-Indigenous person is in a position to lecture First Peoples about what they should have done differently in order to please us.

It is non-Indigenous people who have killed off recognition and reconciliation in favour of maintaining a white fantasy in an occupied country. The next steps, whatever they are, must come from First Peoples. And if those steps are away from the rest of us, we’ve only ourselves to blame.


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