1770 Lieutenant James Cook proclaimed the ‘Great South Land’ a body of land, of which he was not sure how big or vast it was, now belonged to King George III in Britain.
A land the King never saw or visited. A land of many nations who did not know of the landing of a ship on a coast in a harbour behind an island over the mountains and near the sea which was never apart of their nation. Not our country. But some King suddenly owned it.
So that happened. 1770 owns this.
A Council in Melbourne, the Yarra Council, wished to have a day of commemorating Indigenous families and struggles instead of the snags and beer absurdity of a beach landing. Now the City of Darebin council have also joined them. Its not a matter of adhering to sensitivities of Indigenous people. It’s the shame of history and the actions of invaders.
The British wanted this land. They were losing the great continent of northern America, the war of Independence meant they could no longer obtain the resources of northern America any longer. They were at war with the French. They needed trees to build ships and flax to make rope. The tallest flat in New Zealand and trees for ships in Australia. They obtained it through British and accepted European means, invasion. However, the King told James Cook, to chart the south lands coast and “obtain information about its people, cultivate their friendship and alliance…”
Land was essential to the British at all costs. So they took it without regard for our people, the owners of country, the leaders and communities of nations.
It was labelled “empty land” or Terra Nullius. No ones land. A lie.
Australians have wanted to own this history.
Australians have wanted to own the 1770 & 1788 lie.
Celebrating 1770 landing on the 26 January each year reinforces that lie. A lie of settlement. A lie of Australian history.
The British grabbed land from Aboriginal people. Systematically stretching & stealing ownership from Aboriginal nations. Lied to. Stolen. Rounded up by stockmen and colonial police. The invasion of a village. A camp. Massacre of a family. The decimation of the population. The killing of children. The poisoning of water holes. The history of the British invasion.
The survival of Aboriginal people is real. A continual struggle to live with this history, it’s consequences and structures. Formal and informal structures established to maintain the invasion and ensure it is not questioned or dismantled.
So that happened. It happens still. Own it? Celebrated it?
The new nation of Australia did not appear then. The land was here. The people were and are still here. It was a land of over 300 nations & languages. Incredible diversity and knowledge. Nations who respected other nations for thousands of years. But in 1770, a country was to develop around the Aboriginal nations. One that fought hard against the traditions of the first nations. One that took directly from the first nations.
So that happened. British invasion. 1770.
Australia Day in July
Australia Day started as an effort to raise war funds in 1915. That was July 30. The following year, Australia wide, it was changed to July 28. It was called such things as Foundation & Empire Day and was originally, only in the state of New South Wales. Events such as stalls, theatre, speeches, auctions and collections to raise extra funds was the purpose of Foundation Day.
Different states had different days of celebration because they were named for different reasons. Established dates had a different date of establishment. Wattle Day, Foundation, Proclamation Day all recognised the states establishment and was celebrated as a day they became apart of Australia.
So that happened. July, June and other dates. That was owned. Almost Australian.
Proclamation Day was an annual celebration in South Australia each December and Western Australia celebrated Foundation Day on June 1.
Various celebrations of a national day in Australia
Western history still evoke the British arrival in 1788 as successful. Successful for trade for the British. Successful for the resources for the British. Successful for the killing of the nations of Aboriginal families for the British.
But it wasn’t an Australian act. It was British. For Britain. It wasn’t Australian because it wasn’t for all Australians. The new country of Australia was living in with the ‘White Australia’ policy, so it was only for European, anglo-Australians.
Today, we are Australian. Since 1967 we have been Australian. But we are apart of this land and landscape since time began. So the label ‘Australian’ is a new one as we always have been apart of our nations. Wiradjuri. Gamilaraay. Yorta Yorta. Wurundjeri. Wik. Larrakia. Jawoyn. Jagera. We are a people wanting to be apart of a country that moves in one direction with a history & future to be celebrated. It must be without regret or excuses. It must also be expressed with pride. That didn’t happen in 1770 or 1788. Our families fought in WWI and WWII for the same country that did not accept us as citizens. Being defenders of this land was and is still a priority of our people. The future of our people and culture rely on our fight.
Living in two countries, one state and a divided history.
In 1938, our leaders who established the Australian Aboriginal Advancement League in Victoria and the Aborigines Progressive Association in NSW commemorated the 26th January as “The Day of Mourning”. We protested the 150 years of invasion in Australia.
Leaders such as William Cooper, Jack Patten, Bill Ferguson and Pearl Gibbs, developed a political movement to improve Indigenous lives, rights and conditions while educating non-Indigenous Australians about our struggle. William ‘Bill’ Ferguson also has a memorial in Israel as he supported the Jews against the Nazis in WWII.
Day of Mourning 26 January, 1938
Jack Patten and Bill Ferguson wore in their Aborigines Demand Citizens Rights! 1938 manifesto,
‘We ask—and we have every right to demand—that you [white Australians] should include us, fully and equally with yourselves, in the body of the Australian nation’.
That happened. It was 1938.
We continue to fight Australia Day, being the 26th January, a day that is an insult to our people. It means we do not belong, we are a pest; fauna and flora. It means the start of our eradication. The systemic death of our families.
All Australian states officially celebrated and proclaimed the 26 January a public holiday in 1993. The following year, it became the National holiday known as Australia Day.
To separate the actions of the British and Australians, an independent day that means celebrating as a people of one. A people together. That should be done on a date we all want together. A date that is needed for our survival. As a nation of one.
Australia became a country in 1901 at Federation. Non-Indigenous Australians became Australian citizens of this country in 1948, not just British subjects.
Indigenous people in 1967. Finally!
But Australia still celebrates a British invasion. The systematic take over of over 300 Aboriginal nations. Indigenous lands and waters. Our grasslands, gardens & forests.
So if 1788 divided us, disown it. That was a British action not an Australian one.
If massacres were a British action, disown it.
If hunting parties and poisoning of water holes was a dividing British action, disown it.
Change the date. An Australian date where the actions of the British are past.
Break the date.
Mates with mates.