Why do we ignore our Indigenous culture?

Forget multiculturalism for a moment and let’s talk about the cultural respect we show to Aboriginal heritage in this country.

I am a firm believer that as a nation we are far too behind when it comes to embracing the culture and beliefs of the original owners of our country.

Last week The Hills Council voted against an “acknowledgement of country” being read out at the beginning of each council meeting. 

This may very well be one council and does not extend to the many other councils that proudly recognise the Indigenous heritage, but the premise that an organisation can choose to show its respect or not is the questions that troubles me. This should simply not be a choice – surely it should be just part of what we do as Australians.

As a nation built on migrants since the First Fleet we should turn our attention toward respecting the very first culture in this country before we pride ourselves on being a melting pot of multiculturalism.

The respect we show should go further than reading an acknowledgement, and rather we should embrace the culture in our music and arts.

Dreamtime stories and ceremonial demonstrations should be far more entrenched in our “Australian” culture.

Perhaps then politicians would be more likely to see the value of respecting the people and culture of this land.

Adopting the original culture of this land will give us all a unified frame of cultural reference much like what the Hakka has done for New Zealanders. 

Ignoring our Aboriginal heritage doesn’t make us more progressive as a nation, it actually strips us of a strong and warm cultural embrace.

Australia is a vast country identified by stunning landscapes, flora and fauna. Would it not be even more recognisable and respected if we had strong music, arts and culture to add to this identity?

Surely there will be no reason then for people to consider it acceptable to ignore acknowledging our heritage during important meetings and events.

Perhaps it’s time we campaign for more respect for the original custodians of this land before we talk about multiculturalism.

  • Keiasha Naidoo is the Fairfax north west editor. Share your thoughts about the recognition of Aboriginal heritage and recognition with her. Email: keiasha.naidoo@fairfaxmedia.com.au.
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