There were many powerful outcomes and challenges from the first ‘Many Tribes Many People’ conversation held last Thursday. The most immediate for me was hearing about the endless conversations that Aboriginal people have been invited into since colonisation that have rarely served them. Instead their cultural information and knowledge has been stolen and exploited, or it is to satisfy the curiosity of white people, or information is gathered so that they can be managed by others under the banner of ‘deciding what is best for them’. Rarely has anything eventuated from these conversations for the benefit of Aboriginal people and their culture.
That Aboriginal people have not been listened to and have not benefited from these conversations is evident by the terrible health, social, legal and cultural issues they face. To hear that an Aboriginal nation to the North East of Perth has one remaining Elder who has the original language, and the subsequent loss of cultural knowledge and wisdom, was just one example of many.
This challenges us in developing these conversations. John Mogridge and I have already established some things that we feel are necessary. They include: