The reasons to celebrate National Reconciliation Week (NRW) are many – there are lots of things to see and do, and this year expectations are running high.
But behind all this fun, frivolity and festival fever are two important milestones commemorating significant moments in Aboriginal Australia’s journey towards Reconciliation.
May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum ensuring Indigenous Australians were counted in the census and granting them voting rights in their own country.
On 3 June 1992, The High Court of Australia legally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s relationship to the land paving the way for Native Title.
So every year from 27 May to 3 June NRW celebrates the successes of the journey, paying tribute to vibrant cultures, and shining a light on work still needing to be done.
Here at M&G we’ve picked out some highlights in the program – but these are small offerings compared to what’s online at the mothership of the NRW website. Check it out – there’s history, stories, resources, ways to get involved as well as an extensive What’s on calendar of events.
On 10 June 1838, 28 Aboriginal men, women and children from Myall Creek cattle station in northern NSW were brutally slaughtered by a dozen stockmen.
It was one of the countless massacres that took place from the early colonial days to 1928. The Myall Creek Massacre is remembered and commemorated as it is the only time in NSW history that white men were arrested, charged and hanged for their crimes.
On Sunday 8 June (slightly outside NRW Week) there will be a commemoration ceremony at the site of the massacre. But if you want to go to Bingara before that, there is plenty to facilitate your journey. There’s a Soundtrail app, available free from the Apple store or Google Play which guides you through the background and the walking trail itself. You can also use the website which has detailed information about text on the eight granite markers on the trail as well as plenty of background information.
Boomali is an Aboriginal artist cooperative based in Leichhardt in Sydney and every year they raise money for their exhibition program through an art auction.
Go along on Wednesday 3 June at 5pm to bid on something. It’s a great chance to buy something for your office wall, as a gift or to take home and simply adore. As at all auctions there’s something for everyone and a broad range of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal art.
You can also donate an artwork valued at over $300 to their cause – you’ll need to have it to them by Friday 29 May.
This is an exhibition at Sydney College of the Arts Galleries in Lilyfield which features video art by five contemporary Indigenous artists: Vernon Ah Kee, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Julie Gough and r e a. Incidentally we have an interview with r e a coming up in next month’s M&Gazine so stay tuned to hear more about her work.
The SCA Galleries is not far from Boomalli in Leichhardt so you can see both on the same day without much effort.
Coming to town to the Nicholson Museum from its origins at Western Plains Cultural Centre is this collaborative project between two Wiradjuri artists Lynette Riley and Diane Riley McNaboe. They have made possum skin cloaks – a fundamental piece of clothing for many Aboriginal people in colder climates – headdress, belts and blankets to accompany historical material that profiles the rich Wiradjuri culture.
The Verge Gallery at Sydney University Union has put together an exhibition of contemporary Indigenous artists who join together with curators Blackmore and McIntyre to discuss anti-colonial cultural ideas and provocative ways to think about Australian national identity.
This exhibition has a stimulating public program of events including a panel discussion on Wednesday 27 May from 6-8pm where artists Garry Trinh, Emily Hunt and Kate Britton discuss their process.
Then on Wednesday 3 June from 6-8pm there’s a panel discussion led by Dr Victoria Grieves, ARC Indigenous Research Fellow USYD.
Both look set to startle.
In association with Breimba – looking for you research project, 37 photographic portraits by John William Lindt of Aboriginal people from the Clarence Valley region in the 1870s will be on display at Grafton Regional Gallery from Wednesday 14 May.
The portraits were some of the most widely distributed images of Aboriginal people in the second half of the nineteenth century and were generously donated to the Gallery by the Cullen family.
The studio portraits are being used to reconnect family members separated as a result of systematic separation and dispossession of land and cultures. For the past seven months, two researchers have sought to establish the identities of many of the portrayed people with some success and intend to develop a new catalogue for the gallery’s Lindt collection providing up to date research information with each photograph.
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