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The Forum > Article Comments > Reclaiming their heritage > Comments

Reclaiming their heritage : Comments

By Stephen Hagan, published 18/1/2007

Ayers Rock had its name changed, now Torres Strait Islanders want the same for their homeland - Zenadth Kes.

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This is a great story Stephen, not just for the way it shows the pride and dignity of the Namok family but also for your own conscientious efforts to correct an error of fact.

I'd be interested in an explanation of how the Uluru name change came about. I fear the worst in the case of Zenadth Kes.
Posted by FrankGol, Thursday, 18 January 2007 11:34:29 AM
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Stephen said:

[Many of our high profile Indigenous athletes today also chose to make statements of pride in their racial origin]

Which of course.. is basic 'racism' .. ethnic or racial "pride" is based on the idea of separateness and superiority ? It's also about a partucular understanding of History.

The reality of Australian history, is that there was a large influx of white pella's who did what every incoming race/tribe did to other tribes, and dispossesed to a large degree, wiped out to a considerable degree, abused, fought with etc.... until out of all that, with all its rights and wrong, we now have "Australia".

History is difficult to reverse, and those seeking to do so should count the soldiers and weapons very carefully first.
Robert Mugabe is one trying. Interestingly, in his 'reversal' of past inustice, his regime is open to the very same 'wrongs and rights' as our heritage depends on.

Flags ? I have GRAVE reservations about any indigenous person waving any flag which is not the official Australian one at any major public event. I would rather they did not compete if they wish to do that.

In this day and age, if we cannot ALL view ourselves as 'Australians' first and ethnic or historical that second, then we are just the Hatfields and McCoys, Croats and Serbs, Macedonians and Greeks etc etc etc.

So, let me make my position abundantly clear on this. NO indigenous flag. But.. I have no problem with dual language signs, where such signs should be in English on top with Indigenous name below.
Why ? Simple, all our public expressions of nationhood should present the power and historical realities which have made us so.

Any Aboriginal or Torres strait Islander who cannot see themselves as part of the bigger 'Australia' may as well grab an AK 47, and a rocket launcher and retreat into the bush and try to change it by force because there is no other way it ever would.

So, our indigenous Australian brothers.. get over this thing please and regard ourselves as ONE NATION.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Thursday, 18 January 2007 2:05:50 PM
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Be Quiet for once Boaz,

It still pains me to think of Bernard Namok as having passed on.

I can clearly remember sitting in class 8A with Bernard and others, (I think the teacher was Mr Martin).

Bernard was showing us the drawings and sketches he had done. He talked about his dream that he would one day design the Torres Strait Flag.

Bernard was a totally decent person and he was fortunate to have been able to realise his dream.

It is just so tragic that Bernard left us so early in his life.

So Boaz for goodness sake, show some respect and be quiet and let us remember the achievements and dreams of people such as Bernard with the respect they deserve.
Posted by Aka, Thursday, 18 January 2007 5:50:27 PM
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Hi Aka...
I didn't mean any disrespect for any departed soul or their dream mate. Sorry if you felt I did. On the contrary, I'm trying to avoid any sentimental drawback in assessing a very important issue.

Looking at such a dream, on a human level, sure, we can emphathise and sympathise, but lets put that aside for a moment, and ask why Bernard had such a dream ? I'm genuinely curious. Is it to promote a Torres Strait nationalism ? Please help me out here.

The title of the article is 'reclaiming.....their heritage'. Does that mean some kind of sovereignty ? Thats what flags are about arn't they ? Is it about ethnic identity ? ..well I have reservations about how that would pan out in the long run, if you use as a benchmarck any Islander community in the area.. Bouganville, Solomons PNG.etc.

Why would you want me to just be quiet ?
Posted by BOAZ_David, Thursday, 18 January 2007 9:17:14 PM
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Nice article, Stephen. Too little recognition is given to the cultural heritage of Torres Strait Islanders, as distinct from Aboriginal people.

Boaz: "The reality of Australian history, is that there was a large influx of white pella's who did what every incoming race/tribe did to other tribes, and dispossesed to a large degree, wiped out to a considerable degree, abused, fought with etc.... until out of all that, with all its rights and wrong, we now have "Australia"."

I guess you could call that the 'might is right' reading of one of the more shameful aspects of Australia's history.

Stephen Hagan: "As Mr Sagigi so eloquently put it, ' they came with a Bible and told us to close our eyes and when we opened our eyes the white man had taken away our land'."

Boaz, as a Christian Brethren missionary who wishes to sweep cultural diversity in Australia under the carpet, would take the former view, wouldn't he? I agree that he should keep quiet on this issue, unless of course he wants to say "sorry".
Posted by CJ Morgan, Friday, 19 January 2007 7:44:06 AM
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There are all kinds of flags. The Boy Scouts have a flag. I have a Clan flag and a Coat of Arms. Let these people call themselves and where they live what they will and lets not go on as if the world is at an end. I happen to like just as many of "them" as I do "whites". Racism is never going to go away. It just shouldn't be used as a social tool or a means of contending against another.
Posted by aqvarivs, Friday, 19 January 2007 1:57:01 PM
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