By Miranda Johnson

The Land Is Our History tells the tale of indigenous felony activism at a serious political and cultural juncture in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. within the overdue Sixties, indigenous activists protested assimilation guidelines and the usurpation in their lands as a brand new mining increase took off, notably threatening their collective identities. frequently excluded from felony recourse some time past, indigenous leaders took their claims to court docket with awesome effects. For the 1st time, their particular histories have been admitted as facts in their rights.

Miranda Johnson examines how indigenous peoples endorsed for themselves in courts and commissions of inquiry among the early Seventies to the mid-1990s, chronicling a rare and missed heritage during which nearly disenfranchised peoples pressured robust settler democracies to reckon with their calls for. in response to large archival learn and interviews with top individuals, The Land Is Our History brings to the fore advanced and wealthy discussions between activists, legal professionals, anthropologists, judges, and others within the context of criminal situations in far-flung groups facing rights, historical past, and id. the results of those debates have been abruptly wide-ranging. via saying that they have been the 1st peoples of the land, indigenous leaders forced the robust settler states that surrounded them to barter their rights and standing. Fracturing nationwide myths and making new tales of starting place valuable, indigenous peoples' claims challenged settler societies to reconsider their experience of belonging.

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The land is our history: indigeneity, law, and the settler state

The Land Is Our background tells the tale of indigenous criminal activism at a severe political and cultural juncture in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. within the past due Nineteen Sixties, indigenous activists protested assimilation rules and the usurpation in their lands as a brand new mining increase took off, noticeably threatening their collective identities.

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National politicians believed that the mine would bring benefits to this remote community and would help Aborigines’ transition to modernity. Blending an argument about mining opportunities with the policy of assimilation, Minister for the Territories (which included the Northern Territory) Paul Hasluck claimed in April 1963, before the bark petitions were sent to Canberra, that the mine would help to “advance” the Aborigines who lived on reserve land in the area. Hasluck promised that royalties would be paid into a special trust fund held for local people.

Since these aspects of Citizens Plus 17 identity concerned relationships to and use of land, activists argued that what they needed most was land rights. The emergence of a land rights struggle in Canada and Australia at the same time was not simply serendipitous but a common strategic response to similar historical forces. 6 It was an innovative and effective idea for widening participation in a shared struggle and gaining nationwide attention. As “citizens plus,” indigenous peoples in the majority settler states asserted their rights as coeval citizens in the context of the settler state, and they insisted that they were distinct nations with their own territories and even a right to local self-​government.

Mounting a novel legal claim entailed more risk and more work than any of those involved in the case—the Yolngu leaders, the Methodist mission, the lawyers hired to prosecute the case, or the anthropologists brought in to provide expert testimony—could have anticipated at the time. Yolngu people were supported by the Methodist Commission for Aboriginal Affairs, first convened in 1962, which had affiliated with the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI).

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