WA Tent Embassy: ‘We are the indigenous custodial owners of this land’

February 21, 2012
Aboriginal activists at the Nyoongar Tent Embassy resisted eviction on February 19. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

The Nyoongar Tent Embassy in Perth released the statement below on February 19. The statement was authored by embassy spokesperson Robert Eggington.

* * *

[Aboriginal warrior from the Nyoongar] Yagan stated: “You came to our country — you have driven us from our haunts, and disturbed us in our occupations. As we walk in our own country we are fired upon by the white man; why should the white man treat us so?”

In 1828, Captain Stirling, the first governor of the West Australian colony, led an armed aggressive military unit to the banks of the Murray River along with Thomas Peel who was then the colonial promoter of the West Australian government to engage what has now become the most infamous dawn raid massacre against the nations of the Nyoongar people. As at Pinjarra on that day [February 19] our people here at Madagarup [the Tent Embassy site] were awoken from their peaceful sleeps by an armed and aggressive force by the West Australian police.

During the past week our families have been living in harmony at this sacred place, fishing, singing, storytelling and practicing our cultural traditions in accordance with our religious beliefs.

This is our religion.

Theirs is Christianity. Their beliefs of creation were through their prophet Jesus Christ.

The queen is the head of the English Church and the English monarchy, which governs the decision of their government to engage in war.

The crown of England is the most brutal regime that has perpetrated massacres of horrific proportions against the world’s indigenous peoples in order to conquer and steal the wealth of the lands.

Our traditional creator is the Wagul. The Wagul created the sacred fresh waterways, our boodja and all that had lived within it.

Within our tribal lands our sacred sites of religious practice have now become tourist playgrounds for middle class white Australians.

Our elders are the ceremonial caretakers of our sacred religion.

On what was once the site of the great balka bush, which provided the strongest medicine for the Nyoongar people, now stands the casino.

From this sacred place we call for the unification and solidarity of all the Nyoongar nations and their peoples to stand strong in the memory of our ancestors who had fallen to their blood against the forced occupation of our sacred lands where they plunged the Union Jack into the heart of our sacred boodja and claimed it as conquered lands that were forced to become part of the British empire.

Our peoples were never recognised as the traditional owners of this land through any form of treaty that ceded our sovereign rights to our land.

We are not Australians.
We are the Indigenous custodial owners of this land.
We stand proud as the Bibbulman people.

We do not stand in respect of the deceitful verses of the Australian anthem or the Australian flag. We stand in pride of the colours of our flag: red, black and yellow.

May our campfires burn forever.

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