[by Tara Ali]
Alwyn Doolan. Image: supplied
Greens Stand with Message Stick Walk on Path to a Treaty
Alwyn Doolan a Gooreng Gooreng Wakka Wakka man has walked 8,500km, starting from Bamaga, at the tip of Cape York, across the country, on his way to Canberra where he will hand over a tribal lore notice and three message sticks to the Australian government calling for a treaty.
Mr Doolan will arrive in Canberra election weekend with a group of supporters ready to meet the newly elected Prime Minister to hand over a tribal lore notice and three Message Sticks carrying feathers symbolising history, colonisation and healing.
“A message stick is an ancient form of traditional communication of indigenous people. You would be given this task, solely a man with a purpose, to travel long distances and through many nations of our people to deliver a message,” he said.
On his journey, Mr Doolan has met with over 50 sovereign indigenous nations in 4 states to inspire support for Aboriginal rights, self-determination and a treaty that recognises the sovereignty of First Nations Peoples.
“It means we can have decision making by our own people in the community, not policies that are made such as closing the gap,” he said.
“We need to paint the picture for ourselves, in our communities and we want our fellow Australians to be a part of that. We want to showcase to you the lands and the living systems of how we survived for over a hundred thousand years. We don’t want to divide you any more than the government has already put between us, from the stereotypes, the perceptions and the judgments that we find here in Australia today.”
While he said treaty had “to come from us”, he said non-Indigenous Australians had a huge role in healing and reconciliation.
“The message stick walk is inclusive because the non-Indigenous people play a great deal in the healing, because it’s not about us going back to pre-settlement. You are a part of us now. You are a part of this land. It’s not about you going back to wherever you came from. This is about how we move forward together by recognising the truth,” he said.
Mr Doolan said education and truth telling was key in moving forward and fostering reconciliation.
“It’s all of these rumours and ideas come out in society of who we are as people and you only get a small amount of that put across to our non-Indigenous people,” he said.
Mr Doolan has spent time in each town he travels through finding out what is happening in Indigenous communities at a grassroots levels.
“Truganini being the last of the Tasmania full bloods is completely false.”
“I have discovered the nine nations that make up Lutruwita (Tasmania) with each distinct First Nations Peoples revitalising their language and culture. This historical inaccuracy reflects how white washed our education remains by colonialism,” he said.
When it comes to any fears non-indigenous have around treaty Mr Doolan offers reassurance.
“Such ideas that farmers and white Australians will have to move off land is a myth. It’s more so that any destructive impacts to the environment need to be repaired in a working relationship with First Nations Peoples as the original custodians of this land.”
“This is about living with nature; We are a part of it. We must care for it and it will care for us.”
After he delivers his message to the government, Mr Doolan said he would walk from Canberra to Uluru where he plans to hold a First Nations Peoples yarning circle June 2020.
“[It’s] where we can talk amongst ourselves and no government voices are in place and we can come up with our goal and what is going to work best for this treaty as a nation.”
Australia is the only commonwealth country without a treaty agreement with its First Nations Peoples.
The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples guarantees that First Nations Peoples have a right to self-determination and political representation to lead in the development and implementation of public policies, programs and services that affect them.
You can find out more on how you can join arrival weekend events in Canberra by following Mr Doolan on Facebook @Mssgstickwalk or Instagram @MessageStickWalk and contribute to his costs via https://www.gofundme.com/message-stick-walk
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