Often times than not, when in an argument or merely observing replies on a comment section or reading an article, you’ll be faced with some individual or a group of individuals using the term “First Nations” to define Australian Aboriginals. For those who do not understand the historical context and the potentially dangerous implications it has for Australia’s future, this article will aid in alleviating this problem.
Firstly, before we delve any deeper into this topic, we must first discuss how this came to be. Where did the concept of “First Nations” originate?
For starters, the concept itself never existed till 1982 where the United Nations established a Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights called The Working Group on Indigenous Populations. This Working Group was established as a result of a study by José R. Martinez Cobo on the problem of discrimination faced by indigenous peoples throughout the world.
After the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which stems from The Working Group of Indigenous Populations draft, insinuated that Indigenous peoples by virtue, can freely determine political, economic, social and cultural self-determination. As well as stating that indigenous peoples have “the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties”.
Keeping this in mind, Australia along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States voted against this declaration, along with other countries abstaining.
Australia’s reason from voting against the UN Declaration is due to the Australian Federal Governments long expressed dissatisfaction with references to self-determination, adding that the declaration places customary laws above Australia’s own national laws. In laymans terms, concerns over indigenous peoples having the right to veto over national legislation and state management of resources and land rights at the discontent and disharmony of the rest of the citizenry of the country.
However, the Australian Govt later accepted the declaration as an “Aspirational” statement.
The Declaration is however, a non-binding agreement of international bodies and serves no real power other than being a symbolic gesture.
Symbolic gestures do incite quite a lot of interpretation and misunderstandings from groups of people with a preconceived and distorted views on such Declarations. While this Declaration was in its drafting stage, North American Left Wing activists in the 1960s pushed to reject previous terminologies to refer to indigenous cultures and peoples. These activists in the United States and Canada saw the usage of terms such as American Indian or Eskimo and Inuit as a misnomer and had racist connotations attached to these phrases. Pushing instead in America to call American Indians as Native Americans, which became a preferred term of reference.
Even though, many if not most indigenous individuals in America continue to refer to themselves as Indians and are often offended by such a change.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that self professed “Native Americans” in Canada began to use the term “First Nation” as their preferred self-referent. The Canadian government did adopt this term but did not furnish a legal definition for it. However, many other tribes such as the Metis and Inuit did not want to be called First Nations, however the Canadian government referred the Inuit and Metis as “Aboriginal Peoples” in aggregate.
By the end of the 20th century, many of these “Indigenous” Activists from around the world begun to encourage others to self profess themselves similarly as “First Nations” and encourage tribal self-names when possible.
This terminology became nothing more than a leftist political argot. Often repeated in left wing extremist groups and organisations. It only became adopted after 2009 in Australia after the government accepted the UN Declaration and it later implanted itself into the national political dialogue after being repeated throughout in the Uluru Statement. The “First Nations” terminology thus became a theory and an ideological mission creep by activists.
Said activists, particularly in Australia, only used the First Nations Theory as a wedge to push into the national political dialogue, blending the North American concept with a misguided and often inaccurate definition of Aboriginal traditions and copious amounts of politically biased academic additions.
After the Uluru Statement, the Australian concept of “First Nations” often insinuates an unequal political system that will inevitably culminate in the creation of an Aboriginal Country from within Australia and leeching off from Australia. Effectively breaking down Australia and reverting the continent back to a patchwork of tribes that self-profess as “Nations”.
As it currently stands, the Uluru Statements aim is to create a third chamber parliament where Aboriginals can veto Australian legislation, citing that this will give Aboriginals the first step in self-determination, autonomy and self-government they seek, however, at the detriment of the Australian parliament, autonomy, and self-determination. When told that this is too unfair and extreme, one is often called a ‘racist’ for denying ‘self-determination’ at any cost. And the Uluru Statement derives its statement from the UN Declaration in pushing for treaties. However, that will involve over 500 different treaties for each and every tribe, since the latest proposal is for each individual tribe to not only be recognised as a sovereign independent nation, but for the Australian government to make a treaty with each and every one of them as if they were a seperate entity, in order to access land, resources and even for citizens to travel in and out from. And the argument for these self-professed “nations” to be recognised as independent is due to the Native Land Title Act. Which is a law passed by the Australian Government with the purpose of which “to provide a national system for the recognition and protection of native title and for its co-existence with the national land management system” after the Mabo Decision which is notable for recognising some Indigenous Australians have proprietary rights to land, in a legal form of ownership referred to as “native title”. Excepting for in situations where that law had been extinguished by subsequent British laws inconsistent with customary law, as the High Court held that the crown possesses radical title over all land in the realm. Said Act did give these left wing extremists the implication that there is a potential for secession or independence. Mind you, most if not all Aboriginal Tribes in Australia do not follow this mindset, and often than not, this is the thought-process and ideologically driven agenda, almost exclusively by Rich White Upper Class Australians.
From extremists who want to break up Australia and revert back to a primitive way of life, there are some moderates who prefer reform such as a symbolic recognition in the constitutional preamble to mention the “First Nations”. However, issues arise with that since as an interpretation from most Australians, the insinuation that Aboriginals are considered “First” and are also Australians, means that there are categories of Australians. A racial hierarchy of who is more Australian than the other. A group of people with certain ancestral heritage becoming “First Nation Australians” and the rest being considered lesser on the totem pole. Often rebuked with another option of calling Australians descendent of the First Fleet; “First Citizens”, but regardless, any symbolic gesture will amount of a lot of drastic and unequal change and will not bring about “unity” but cement disunity forever.
The term of “First Nations” in conclusion can be boiled down to nothing more than “Preferred Pronouns” where one must attribute and recognise an individual for their chosen aggregate. The concept of “First Nations” is very similar to “Preferred Pronouns” in that sense, with one notable difference. The “First Nations Theory” insists that said tribes and clans are above or equal to their host countries such as the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Nor is the term and meaning an accurate or factual description or aggregate for Aboriginals in Australia as it’s nothing more than a politically charged argot.