15 August 2009

Restitution for Aboriginal Australia

In a conservative and European-dominated society such as Australia, whose very basis of existence is premised on the expropriation of indigenous access to the land, an impassioned call such as Rev. Peter Adams' will likely rock many boats. The extensive press coverage of his statements in Australia is an indication of the salience achieved by his call. Here are some links and extracts:

Send all non-Aborigines back to where they came from
The Australian, 12 August 2009

Extract: "ALL non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave the country if the indigenous people want that, making restitution for the vile sin of genocide, an Anglican leader said last night. If they stayed, they would have to provide whatever recompense indigenous peoples thought appropriate, the Reverend Peter Adam said. 'It would in fact be possible, even if very difficult and complicated, for Europeans and others to leave Australia. I am not sure where we would go, but that would be our problem. No recompense could ever be satisfactory because what was done was so vile, so immense, so universal, so pervasive, so destructive, so devastating and so irreparable. The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads are stolen property'."

Australia, the Aborigines, and restitution: Such an impossible task may help us focus on real ways to make amends
The Age, Barney Zwartz, 13 August 2009

Extract: "ANGLICAN theologian Peter Adam thinks that unless Australia's indigenous people give us belated permission, everybody whose forebears came after 1788 should decamp and return the land to its first inhabitants. In a public lecture on Monday, he said that if the non-indigenous stayed they should have to provide whatever recompense the indigenous thought appropriate for the genocide and theft they have suffered....The Christian concepts of repentance and restitution or recompense are profoundly radical. Adam's idea is in keeping with the biblical concepts, even if these are honoured more in the breach than the observance now that Christianity is so institutionalised."

Just recompense to Aboriginal people necessary: Anglican theologian
CathNews, 13 August 2009

Extract: "Principal of the Anglican theological Ridley College, Dr Peter Adam says Christians must consider appropriate recompense to Australia's Aboriginal peoples, who suffered European colonisation, church planting and nation-building....'Do churches have any responsibilities in these matters? Yes, because the land and wealth of churches came from land stolen from the indigenous people of Australia. The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime'."

Peter Adam urges 'recompense' for Indigenous injustice
Christian Today, 11 August 2009

Extract: "In an address to be presented tonight, Dr Peter Adam, Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, will call on Christians to consider appropriate “recompense” for the injustice suffered by Indigenous Australians as a result of European colonization, church planting and nation-building. Dr Adam will give the Second Annual John Saunders Lecture at 7.00 pm at Morling College, Macquarie Park, Sydney. The lecture will discuss Aboriginal land claims, the history of injustice against Indigenous Australians, and appropriate Christian responses including the question of recompense."


Personally, I rather like some of the important symbolic and political possibilities of national indigenization that are implied in Adam's vision. One aspect of his call involves seeking permission to stay. In Canada, where we use the label "First Nations" to refer to Aboriginals, one would think that they would have some say on who enters and stays, especially if by implication other people in Canada are "Second Nations," "Third Nations" and so forth (labels not in use). There should be some form of honorary Aboriginal citizenhip offered to all non-Aboriginal Canadians, which involves permission to stay in return for some acts of service and commitment to the First Nation that adopts them.

What do you think?

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