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Learning from Camp Sov May 9, 2006

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One of the awesome things about hanging out at Camp Sovereignty is the amount of learning or re-learning going on. For many people it's even a first experience with indigenous culture. After all, Camp Sovereignty is the only place in central Melbourne where you can go and experience grass roots Aboriginal culture in action. Something you'd think the Council would be keen to embrace, considering it isn't really costing them anything!

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Paying respect May 6, 2006

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The following is an email response we received after posting Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty by Robbie Thorpe a few days ago. This email is from some of our long time supporters who have another understanding of colonisation from the other side of the ditch. The experiences of Tangata Whenua are quite different from the experiences of Aboriginal people but we can learn lots from each other all the same. And of course the strength in solidarity is undeniable. Thanks a million to the Brown-Davis Whanau for all their aroha!

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Another support letter April 22, 2006

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From The Age

It appears that in recent times there is again a negative over-representation in the popular press about indigenous people and issues.

It is of great concern that indigenous Australians are presented as a problem to Australia and not as contributors.

How can we achieve reconciliation if we continually portray the negative and perpetuate negative stereotyping and urban myths?

What about stories of indigenous war heroes such as Captain Reg Saunders or his brother Harry (killed on the Kokoda Trail)? Great humanitarians such as Sir Douglas Nicholls? Great inventors such as David Unaipon?

Is it any wonder that there is such a racial abyss in Australia when our popular press for the most part vilifies indigenous Australians with apparent manipulative abandon?
Richard J. Frankland, Belmont

The burning issue! April 21, 2006

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Anna hits the nail on the head in The Age today:

THE message may be "unclear" to Ben Doherty (The Age, 19/4) However, the occupation of Kings Domain is perfectly clear to many Australians who support the protesters' right to occupy their land. There is not "public indifference" to the message. Perhaps the estimated $30,000 a week spent on security staff to watch the protesters from the shrubbery would be better redirected to the establishment of an eternal flame or healing fire.
Anna Dillon, Panmure

Reflections of Camp Sovereignty – 17th April April 17, 2006

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Australia: A paper thin culture
Mandy Field

Australia. A culture built on paper. Not on humanity. Or morality.
Or, dare I say in fear of being coined a hippy pagan, spirituality.
The values of life, all on paper.

A group of men, and their supporters,
Fighting to protect.
Something lost, something sacred.
In its raw form.
Ancient form.

Met with ferocious opposition.
And yet I would be curious to know, how these very oppressors felt
In being taken through the fire.

Neither the human world or culture is built on paper.
But on Wood and Wind and Fire and Water from the sky.

Genocide = Ecocide

Reflections of Camp Sovereignty – 15th April April 15, 2006

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The fire of reconciliation
Reliving History

Mandy Field

Where the sky’s are melting
And the shadow’s electric
Buried beneath the concrete stones of time
She lays down her lore
On an urban hilltop
A fire burns to remind us all

The spirit of this country is awake
Indigenous culture is alive and reviving all the time

The city stirs.

Reflections of Camp Sovereignty – 13th April April 13, 2006

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Lore
Mandy Field
Tribal lore returns
The old language
A reminder of the right way

Not a language that speaks of systems and structures
But of a moral code

We all know this lore
Our families all once lived by it

A language of truth, of justice
Fire and flag.
Lore is not just a cultural language, or an indigenous language
But a moral language

Older than time itself
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Positive support April 10, 2006

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Below are some letters of support that were published on The Age website. Thanks to the crew out there spreading the positive word!

We should all embrace Camp Sovereignty 

MR HOWARD, I am curious as to what you mean by "I don't think that sort of thing should be allowed" (The Age, 8/4), with reference to the Aboriginal tent embassy in Kings Domain. What "sort of thing" exactly?

Yes, the time has come where the indigenous people of this country are no longer going to be swept under the carpet or put into the "too hard basket". Yes, it must be a little confronting to consider people living in the park. But I ask, by whose standards?

This is exactly the kind of religious persecution and colonial, Eurocentric perspective that resulted in the genocide that has taken place in this country since the "first landing", and the forced removal of indigenous children from their homes.

"These are the sorts of things that really set back the cause of reconciliation because it's the unacceptable face, in a way, of reconciliation," you say. "The sensible face is where you co-operate to try to remedy wrongs and help people become part of the community in the fullest possible sense."

I again ask you, Mr Howard, who are you, yourself, to determine what the "acceptable face of reconciliation" might be? You won't even recognise the injustices your Government's rule has caused. What are you doing, exactly, to right the wrongs?

The indigenous people at Camp Sovereignty are acting in a self-determined way, demonstrating how it is that reconciliation is possible, and how it is that living indigenous culture can, in fact, in reality become a "part of the community in the fullest possible sense".

Captain Cook has a cottage and grounds dedicated to his memory. In essence, how does Camp Sovereignty differ? Where is that home for urban indigenous peoples to come together to practise their living culture?

I ask the community and Mr Howard to consider how Camp Sovereignty can benefit and enrich the culture of Melbourne — a city that is built on values of tolerance, respect and celebration of different cultural practices. Camp Sovereignty is an example of the very heart of Australian culture, a place where we can participate in indigenous culture not through looking at it hanging on a wall or on a stage, but by exchanging with elders, hearing Dreaming stories, engaging in ceremony or sharing a meal. Not hundreds or thousands of kilometres away, removed from the urban lifestyle. But in our town.

I feel we should be honoured.
Mandy Field, Brunswick

A perfect opportunity 

CAMP Sovereignty, which was supposed to be a symbol of Aboriginal law and religion, has developed into another representation of Government incompetence when dealing with the sensitive issue of indigenous culture. Instead of recognising the camp as the perfect opportunity to memorialise Aboriginal culture, the Government has found a way of making this into another grudge for the indigenous people and supporters of indigenous rights to hold against this country.Why does the discourse between Government and indigenous groups always have to be one of mutual distrust? Why do unimportant bylaws impede the nurturing of a relationship between two estranged factions of society? Why can a compromise never be reached?
Oscar Schwartz (17), Toorak

Converted to the cause 

THANKS, Mr Howard. At first I didn't think that continuing the camp in Kings Domain was a good idea. But your high-handed and arrogant approach to the issue — talking about a group of indigenous people as if they are noxious weeds — has convinced me otherwise. Long may the fire burn as a constant reminder of whose land we have stolen and as a reproach to the Federal Government and its apologists.
Vanda Hamilton, East Melbourne

Reflections of Camp Sovereignty – 10th April April 10, 2006

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This is the first in a series of reflections from one of our most dedicated non-Indig supporters Mandy Field. Mandy has been there day and night helping on site and getting the message out there. Massive respect Sis!

Reflections – April 10 Mandy Field

A War is restaged, the rightful winners winning everyday
Not through deception as is the trend of history
But through truth

Not through Law, as a force of dominion
Over nature and her subjects

Through Lore
The unified truth that speaks
Only through a respect for her

The land of the serpent
A universe guided by the Great Spirit.
We are all one under the Southern Cross
As ‘the children of god’
God who ‘takes many forms’

We are all one, sharing the fruits of the earth
There was a time once where all peoples lived in harmony with her.