Most cultures around the world have ignored native rights and driven them to the margins of civilization. Like the Native Americans of the United States and the Aboriginals of Australia. This paper will concentrate primarily on the Aboriginal people of Australia and the challenges they have been through on land rights issues, as well as on how non-Indigenous science has influenced them and the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous research. It will also look at some of the works done by the indigenous authors and how well they depict the Aboriginals issues. The paper will mainly answer the question if the Aboriginals should be given back their land rights.
Indigenous Research And Non-Indigenous Research
Non-Indigenous research is based on seeking validation and answers to the particular that is being researched on. It is geared towards more on solving issues as it involves a process of gathering the necessary information that is required and analyzing the information. The knowledge being gathered is usually classified as an individual entity that can be owned by an individual. Non- Indigenous research has two main frameworks mainly positivism and constructivism. Positivism is based on the positivist social science paradigm which concentrates on obtaining the objective truth about the causes and effects of programs, and focusing on the generalizability of findings through the use of rigorous methods (Katz, Newton, Bates and Raven 2016). Positivism is therefore associated with quantitative research methodologies, as this framework is explicitly aimed at providing objective data about programs and their outcomes. Whereas constructivism there is no objective truth about the effectiveness of programs and policies; different stakeholders have different viewpoints about the implementation and impact of the program, each of which must be taken into account to assess its value (Katz, Newton, Bates & Raven 2016).
Indigenous research methods are mainly focused on fulfilling the rational accountability. Unlike the Non-Indigenous where it is focused on seeking answers, this method focuses more on fulfilling the relationship around the researcher. Indigenous knowledge relational it is shared by all creation be it the earth, cosmos, animals or plants. This research method is focused on the relationship that exists between one another and also between entities. Some of the Indigenous frameworks used are story telling where it involves someone narrating tales to a group, this strengthens the relationship between the teller and the listener and also creates a new relationship. Another framework is Decolonizing research. This term is used for research that recognizes and works within the belief that non-Western knowledge forms are excluded from or marginalized in normative research paradigms, and therefore non-Western/Indigenous voices are silenced and lack agency within such representations. Participatory Research is also another framework used, it actively involves the indigenous people with the research process and does not leave their ideas and beliefs behind.
The Australian Aborigines have taken to the pen to express their displease with the state in which they are living in. Some of the key issues that are expressed are the long term suffering they have endured during the colonial period and also the aftermath of the colonial period. The Aborigines also write about how the Non-Indigenous research methods have had adverse consequences on the Indigenous peoples and why this method has not been particularly useful in expressing the Aborigines suffering and opinions. Some writers have advocated for the use of decolonizing research method to be used. New Zealand scholar Linda Tuhiwai-Smith in her book Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999), she sets out the reasons why Indigenous peoples have been hostile and suspicious of research. This is because historically it has been used as a way to scientifically prove the inferiority of Indigenous peoples. Therefore, research has been a significant site of struggle for Indigenous peoples against colonial exploitation and oppression. Thus in her book, she advocated that the Indigenous people conduct their own research to be able to express their opinion on colonial oppression. Tuhiwai- Smith also states that research conducted by the Aborigines themselves will give an unbiased opinion and accurate information. Other authors such as Moreton-Robinson (2004) stated how the Nineteenth century literature offered contradicting view on the Aborigines their lifestyle and religious beliefs. This literature during the colonial periods is responsible for how the Aborigines are depicted as childish, primitive, cunning and savage.
An early indigenous writer to write about the suffering of the Aborigine is Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920-1993), he was a famous whose poems depicted the suffering of the Indigenous people during the colonial era. Some of his famous poems are ‘The Dawn Is At Hand’ and ‘We Are Going’. In his poem ‘The Dawn Is At Hand’ he speaks about the tears shed by the Indigenous people and how justice seemed to be dead. Though he speaks about their suffering, the main theme of this poem was how equality will soon come and how they would rise above the difficulties they face. ‘ You will be welcomed mateship-wise, In industry and in enterprise No profession will bar the door Fringe dwellers no more’ (Noonuccal 1990) is a potion from the poem The Dawn Is At Hand which clearly states how they will rise from the ashes and will be viewed as equals in society regardless of where they decide to venture. His poem ‘We Are Going’ speaks more on how the colonials affected them both physically and mentally and how their daily lives were disrupted with cruelty. The poem talks about how the colonials first arrived on their lands subdued the indigenous peoples and took their sacred lands form them and defiled them and build their farms and estates. The poem also states how they were once the owners of the lands and the people who owned them and dwelled upon them but they are now strangers and their voices can no longer be heard. ‘They sit and are confused we are strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers’ (Noonuccal 1990). These poems show how the Aborigines suffered and their cries for justice and equality that they sought and how they want things to go back to normal.
Some Indigenous writers in the recent times have written about the kind of earth that is left behind for future generations and how it is being misused, most fear the impeding danger of climate changes. It is important to note that most indigenous groups of people had a close relationship with the earth. Alexis Wright, gives voice to this concern in her book The Swan Book. It is a futuristic book that reminds people of the horrors of climate change that the world fears has already reached Australia’s Aboriginal people. It is for the writers to take the indigenous people back to their old beliefs and culture that identified then with mother Earth. With land holdings and water bodies on a decline the Aboriginal people feel a lack of belonging as their main livelihood activities of fishing and farming are threatened. Thus it strongly advocates for the Aborigines to fight their battles so and take what rightfully belongings to them so that their lives may return to normal.
Kevin Gilbert in his book Because a White Man’ll Never Do It, he points out the horrors of colonial violence and the ongoing legacy of colonialism that dogs the life of the Australian Aboriginals. The books also talks about how the Aborigines should fight their own wars since the Non-Indigenous people will not do it for them. He also states that the lands should be given back to the Aborigines and let them rectify the damage that had been done by the white man because a white man will never do it.
Poetry speaks a lot in just a few words. The poetry written by the indigenous people reflect upon the hard times they go through and speaks of what they also long for in this world. Taking local images that reflect their truth the poets weave pictures that are universal symbols of oppression and colonization. At the same time their bonding with nature and Earth gives them hope of rejuvenation and the inner strength to struggle. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was among the first indigenous writers to have their works published and was acclaimed for his work in poetry and pioneered for other indigenous writers to write.
In recent year the government in Australia have created land act rights for the indigenous in order to return the lands of the natives. Some of the lands have been successfully returned to the natives a fine example is Kenbi land that was returned to the Aborigines after a thirty seven year fight. This shows how the struggles of the Aborigines are starting to pay off, though there is still a long way to go. Some believe that not all the land will be rightfully returned to the Aborigines since no government is will to part with the lands as they bring revenue for them. Thus the struggle is ongoing even though the land acts rights have been introduced.
I personally believe that the Indigenous people have inherent knowledge of nature and its ways. Their roots are deep into the soil that sustains them. I am of a clear opinion that it is this deeply rooted sense of unity with the Earth and Nature that colors their work. They use their knowledge and understanding of nature’s laws to reinforce their belief that their day will come.
Many Aboriginal writers have written about the suffering of their peoples and also rebuked the Non-Indigenous research methods. Though the experiences they have written about are second hand it still depicts their struggles and gives a better perception of the Aborigines as compared to the Non-Indigenous literature. It just showed how deeply rooted their culture is and how they are connected to the earth. The literature shows how affected they are due to the loss of their lands and how much their lands need to be returned to them so as to compensate for all the suffering they have endured and for their lives to return to normal.
Ilan Katz. BJ Newton. Shona Bates. Margaret Raven (2016). Evaluation Theories And Approaches; relevance for Aboriginal Contexts. Retrieved from http://www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/research-and-evaluation/Evaluation%20theories%20and%20approaches%20-%20relevance%20for%20Aboriginal%20contexts.pdf
Oodgeroo Noonuccal. (1990). We Are Going. Retrieved from https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/noonuccal-oodgeroo/we-are-going-0719054
Oodgeroo Noonuccal. (1990). The Dawn Is At Hand. Retrieved from https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/noonuccal-oodgeroo/the-dawn-is-at-hand-0719036
Moreton-Robinson. (2004). Whitening Race: essays in social and cultural criticism. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
Tuhiwai-Smith. (1999). Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples.
Alexis Wright (2009). The Swan Book. Australian Literary Studies. doi:10.20314/als.299450cf39
Shawn Wilson. (2001). What Is An Indigenous Research Methodology. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234754037
Linda Miley. (2006). When Writing Black: Issues of Authorship and Authenticity in Non-Indigenous representations of Australian Aboriginal Fictional Characters. Retrieved from https://eprints.qut.edu.au/16485/1/Linda_Miley_Thesis.pdf