What Is NAIDOC?
We all have our roots and we all have our story. I have a convict ancestor and that’s how I, eventually, came to be here — on what was once exclusively Aboriginal land.
What’s interesting is that our Indigenous story (that many other cultures find fascinating) I was never formally taught. It was an Aboriginal friend who taught me a fraction, a tiny fraction, of truths.
My response to these truths is pretty consistent: disbelief. Primarily that it happened, secondly because how do we not know our country’s past?
NAIDOC Week is a good time to start. NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It’s past gets a bit confusing, but since 1955 it has been observed the week following the first Sunday in July. It grew from NAIDOC Day, which stemmed from Aborigines Day, which was originally known as the Day of Mourning.
The Day of Mourning began in 1938 when, in protest of Australia Day, Aboriginal people marched the streets of Sydney, marking one of the first civil right movements in Australia. The Sunday before Australia Day eventually became known as Aborigines Day. Over time, this became a celebration of the Aboriginal Culture and heritage, as well as remembrance.
But , 1938. 1955? I only heard of NAIDOC Week ten years ago. Many would say they’d never heard of it. We know about Thanksgiving in America, we know Halloween, but we know so little about our own country’s history. How can we expect people to respect something they don’t even know about?
I’ve come to realise that, for many, our time to learn will come through our children. Each year, what truths are taught is increasing. The confidence to voice that something was wrong and unfair, is growing. We will learn more about our own country’s people and past, through the very same people who have already taught us the most about life (that we also didn’t know, we didn’t know!) – – our children.
At The Green Elephant we embrace this education. We show children the respect we have for the land and for its original descendants. Because, though we weren’t taught this, it doesn’t mean our kids shouldn’t and it doesn’t mean we can’t learn it now, as adults.
This year’s NADOIC theme is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together. Because through voicing truths, making agreements and standing up for our country’s first culture, the newest generation can do so much more. Every step forward towards understanding, we help smooth the path for our children to learn so much more and go even further. And isn’t that all anybody wants for their child, no matter what land they stand on and who they identify as?
This year, take the time to learn about NAIDOC Week, because we all have our roots and we all have our story.
By Deborah O’Ferry