A Compromise of Australian History

 (--------- I was reading a book about Australian history when i started to watch this film .)

By: Lorne Chan, Spurs.com

  Some say this flim is the duplicate of Gone With The Wind , some say it is the embilishment of invasion , some even say it is a bad fabrication .But i`d like to take it as a compromise of Australian history .

So moved by her time with Mills’ family, Levesque is launching StraitSwim, a line of swimwear inspired by the Torres Strait Islands.

Aborigines want more than a mention in Australia’s constitution

But would other Australians vote for that?

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Print edition| Asia

Jul 6th 2017| SYDNEY


LINDA BURNEY was ten when Australians voted in 1967 to remove the clause in the constitution that excluded aborigines from the national census. “The notion that you weren’t worthy of being counted was very painful,” she recalls. Ms Burney belongs to the Wiradjuri clan, and grew up in rural New South Wales. Last year she became the first aboriginal woman to be elected to the lower house of the federal parliament. Australians should soon get the chance to vote on another constitutional amendment concerning aboriginal rights. The new one is intended to go quite a bit further than that of 1967, in some way acknowledging aborigines as the first Australians. But just how far it should go is a matter of intense debate.

In late 2015 Malcolm Turnbull, the conservative prime minister, and Bill Shorten, the leader of the opposition Labor party, agreed to set up a council to propose a specific change to be put to a referendum. On June 30th the referendum council delivered its recommendation to the government, which has not yet made it public. Mark Leibler, the council’s co-chair, says the referendum will be an “important milestone in Australia’s history”.

Aborigines inhabited Australia for perhaps 60,000 years before the British began settling it in the late 18th century. But they were excluded from the conventions that drew up the constitution in the 1890s. The document only acknowledged their existence insofar as it denied them certain rights. It also imposed a high bar for amendments: a majority of voters nationwide, plus a majority in at least four of the six states. Just eight of 44 proposed changes have succeeded. Yet the amendment 50 years ago to include aborigines in the census was approved in every state, and by more than 90% of voters nationwide—a record to this day.

Aborigines are about 3% of Australia’s 24m people. They are more likely to go to prison and tend to die younger than most Australians. Ken Wyatt, one of five aborigines in the federal parliament, says a few aboriginal MPs are not enough to achieve an “aboriginal voice” on issues affecting his people.

At a referendum 18 years ago Australians rejected a clunky proposal by John Howard, the prime minister at the time, to mention aborigines in the constitution’s preamble. Mr Wyatt is “glad” it failed: “It was done in haste with the wrong set of words.” (The proposal simply spoke of “honouring” indigenous people “for their deep kinship with their lands and for their ancient and continuing cultures which enrich the life of our country”; veterans and immigrants also got a shout-out.)

This time, the referendum council took a different approach. For six months it consulted indigenous people around Australia, culminating in a “First Nations National Constitutional Convention” at Uluru (Ayers Rock), in central Australia in late May. The resulting “Uluru Statement” demanded more than token recognition. It called for “Makarrata”, or “agreement-making between governments and First Nations”—a treaty, in other words. (Unlike those in neighbouring New Zealand, the British colonisers in Australia never signed any treaties with the indigenous people.)

A treaty would not necessarily involve constitutional change. But the convention’s other big demand would: it asks for a “First Nations voice enshrined in the constitution”. At the very least, this seems to mean that aborigines should have some formal involvement in the drafting of laws that affect them. “In 1967 we were counted,” the convention declared. “In 2017 we seek to be heard.”

Distilling all this into a referendum question will be a challenge. Mr Leibler expects the council’s report will be released after the council meets Messrs Turnbull and Shorten later this month. Its proposal, he says, will be “reasonable, moderate and achievable”, with “a great deal of respect for the Uluru Statement”.

Ms Burney would like to add a further element to the mix. Two embarrassingly antiquated articles of the constitution—one allowing the use of racial criteria in defining eligible voters and one allowing laws specific to particular races to be made—should be deleted. Unless these “race powers” are finally discarded, she says, the referendum’s legitimacy will be diminished.

A vote had been projected for this year, but is now unlikely before

  1. For some indigenous leaders, the risk that a substantive amendment might be defeated is reason to delay even further. Such an outcome might set their cause back decades and would embarrass all involved. Political and business leaders seem more optimistic. So is Ms Burney, who sees the vote as part of a bigger process of reconciliation: “I think Australia is up for it.”

This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline"Counted but not heard"

  The story was told in the tone of a small boy --- an aborigine . Though the love between an English Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), and an itinerant Australian cattleman, the Drover (Hugh Jackman) weighted a lot , we still could see the growth of a boy clearly , first hided around , then escaped busily , then drove the cattle bravely , then went back to his grandfather -- returned to his "Dream Time " . Thus he was out of the list of "the stolen generations"---the children of indigenous peoples who, from the 19th century well into the 20th, were forcibly separated from their cultures by white Australians in the name of God and civilization.

When a fan says ‘bala’ or makes their way to the San Antonio Museum of Art, Mills said it’s raising cultural awareness bit by bit.

Counted but not yet heard

  Histrory wars always exist , revisionists rejected "the dark side" , while criticists points out this characterises the japanese denial of "Nanking Massacre" . From this film ,I see the compromise ---- on one hand i see the fight for settlement of the whites as grand as a poem ---- skipped the topic of invision , on the other hand i see the return of that indigenous boy who belong to "dreaming "culture ---- a denial of Protection and Assimilation .

Her 9-year-old son, Pat.

No problem, Yvonne said. There was an expert at the school who could give the same presentation, someone who could teach on 50,000 years of Aboriginal history.

Yvonne said she can’t go far in Australia without seeing a kid wearing a Mills jersey. And it’s all Australians – white and Indigenous – cheering for Patty Mills, the son of a Torres Strait Islander and one from the Ynunga people of South Australia.

Benny Mills’ son is arguably the most famous Indigenous Australian living in America. The platform is there for Patty, but the idea that a country or a culture is on a person’s shoulders can either be a weight or an opportunity.

“People talk about the Spurs and how we do a decent job at playing basketball,” Mills told the crowd. “But there is a deeper meaning to who we are, where we come from, and at the same time, why we play basketball.”

Half of the students at Holy Trinity Primary School were enthralled by Yvonne Mills’ stories of Indigenous Australian history, but her time was up. She had another commitment before the assembly for older grades.

Almost 20 years later, Gregg Popovich gave a similar lesson on heritage to a crowd of Mills and his 14 teammates. It was June 3, 2014 – Eddie Mabo Day. The Spurs were about to begin the NBA Finals, and Popovich shared the story of the man who fought for land rights for Aboriginal Australians and was the first to win in 200 years.

“You want racism to stop, but it’s not like you can make it all go away,” Mills said. “The best way to counter that is to empower young Indigenous people and make them proud of who they are. Those are the key values I learned growing up and what I want to teach to other young Australians. Without that, nothing else matters.”

“Australia is still at a stage where it’s coming to embrace the Indigenous community at-large,” Benny Mills said. “It helps to see an NBA player promoting Australia and the Indigenous culture as one. Obviously, I’m proud of Patty, but so much of my pride is in the way he respects others and wants to bring awareness.”

The irony isn’t lost on Yvonne Mills. She was taken from her family in an effort to erase Indigenous culture. Now, her son, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander roots, is sharing their culture with the world.

Courtesy: PattyMills.com.au

In 1998, Australia held its first National Sorry Day on May 26 to commemorate the country’s mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.

The exhibit, Of Country And Culture, featured more than 100 pieces of art collected throughout history. On the Spurs’ first day back from the Rodeo Road Trip, Mills made a trip to the museum and said he was taken home.

Last month, he posted his support for an Australian rules football club after two Indigenous players were subjected to racist remarks during a match.

“I had a roommate who refused to believe that there were black people from Australia and that I just had this accent,” Mills said. “I got frustrated. I’m saying, ‘mate, you’ve never heard of Aboriginals?’ And he definitely never heard of the Torres Strait Islands. I wasn’t prepared for any of this, but as years have gone by, I’ve taken it as an opportunity to educate.”

Every morning of a Spurs game, Mills tweets “GAME DAY BALA GAME DAY!!!” to his 300,000 followers. The ritual caught on with Spurs fans who will call Mills ‘bala” in public.

Fourteen years later, Mills carried two flags when the Spurs won the NBA Title. The Australian and Torres Strait Islands flags.

Visitors were invited to a special viewing in March, where there were two extra pieces on display. Paintings by Mills’ aunt, Joylene Haynes, that Patty took from the walls of his house.

Mills bared his soul, and he implored the audience to soak in the deep history of Aboriginal culture, the very thing the Australian government once went to great lengths to prevent.

Leaning against a wall in the back of the room, Popovich smiled.

The moment has become a part of Spurs lore. The team learning a piece of Mills’ heritage on the eve of the Finals.

“Whether it’s a conversation or you’re teaching people what Bala is, they’re all little reminders of who you are, where you come from and where you are right now,” Mills said.

“The message we gave Pat is that you have to rise above, that you make your own life for yourself and nobody else will do that for you.” - Yvonne Mills


With that in mind, Mills is standing in the San Antonio Museum of Art, asking a few guests if they “want to go for a wander.”

“The message we gave Pat when he was growing up is that you have to rise above, that you make your own life for yourself and nobody else will do that for you,” Yvonne Mills said. “Indigenous Australians have a sad history, but you have to look at the positive side and the good that has come out of it. My sister started painting to help her to heal. She may not have been a painter if not as a result of her being taken away.”

While the Mills family lived in Canberra, the nation’s capital on the mainland, Benny and Yvonne played him island songs and enrolled him in an island dance troupe, ensuring that the rhythm of the Torres Strait Islands would be Patty’s heartbeat.

Bala is the Meriam Mir word for brother.

“The way he talked, the way he is closer to his culture and closer to his family than anyone I’ve met,” Levesque said, “that’s who Patty is.”

Mabo is Patty Mills’ great-uncle.

Before Patty arrived stateside at Saint Mary’s College in 2007, he had always been raised in Indigenous culture. He had no idea how much or how little the rest of the world knew about Australia’s history, warts and all. He immediately realized how much sharing his heritage was going to become part of his life.

Mills explained to attendees how his father, Benny, was from the Torres Strait Islands, where he was one of the first ones chosen to be a guinea pig and sent to the mainland to attend school.

Patty Mills said that as much as progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.

Patty’s mission has long been in the making. Benny and Yvonne met while working for the Australian government on programs for Indigenous Australians. They started a basketball club called The Shadows for Indigenous Australians, which Patty joined at age 4.

“I know how hard Patty works to tell his story and explain to people that he’s more than just a basketball player from Australia,” Levesque said “He has this heritage that he’s so proud of and wants to share to the world. To do something that’s one of my passions and can help him share his, that means the world to me.”

Damper, or bush bread, has been cooked in hot coals by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years with a process that brings one closer to the earth. Recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, and on a recent trip, Mills’ family passed it to Levesque. She watched Patty’s aunt work the dough and explain how ancestors had collected seeds and grain from the land.

"Obviously I’m proud of Patty, but so much of my pride is in the way he respects others and wants to bring awareness.” - Benny Mills

Two years later, at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, Patty was a 12-year-old in his parents’ living room when he watched Cathy Freeman, an Indigenous Australian, win a gold medal the nation behind her. When she took her victory lap, Freeman carried both the Aboriginal and Australian flags.

Since then, Patty has shared his story many times, including at the San Antonio Museum of Art in March when an exhibit on Aboriginal art came through.

San Antonio’s favorite Australian had a new avenue to share his story.

They took her fishing, taught her a traditional dance, and Levesque picked up a few words in Meriam Mir, the language spoken in the eastern part of the Torres Strait.

Levesque has joined Mills on a few trips to Australia since then. Mills’ family has shown her their history, and Levesque has embraced their culture.

“Playing basketball is fun, and I love it and I enjoy it every day,” Mills said. “But I’ll never let basketball define me, because this is who I am. It’s not every day that an Indigenous kid gets this opportunity to share our history.”

Good thing Patty Mills has spent a lifetime telling the story.

And how his mother, Yvonne, was an Aboriginal Australian from the Koonibba Mission in South Australia, where she was one of the Stolen Generations. When she was 2, Yvonne and her siblings were forcibly removed from her family as part of an Australian government program. Yvonne, whose father was white and mother was Aboriginal, was deemed a “half-caste,” and the goal was to separate children like Yvonne in an effort for Aboriginal culture to die out.

It’s a tall order, sharing 50,000 years of history and heritage.

“There is a deeper meaning to who we are, where we come from, and at the same time, why we play basketball.” - Patty Mills

Set to launch this summer, one of the designs is called, “damper.”

"It’s not every day that an Indigenous kid gets this opportunity to share our history.” - Patty Mills

The odds of 100 pieces of Aboriginal art winding up in a San Antonio museum, Mills says, might be as rare as an Indigenous Australian winding up in San Antonio to play basketball. Which is to say that it has only happened once, so make the most of it.

“This is the fabric of our organization,” said Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford. “Basketball and the things we’ve shared as a team aren’t what we’ll all take away from each other. The experiences we’ve had together outside of basketball are what we’ll look back on and remember as unique.”

One of the first Americans to get Patty Mills’ history lesson was his girlfriend, Alyssa Levesque. A forward on St. Mary’s women’s basketball team, they met in 2008 when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore. On one of their first dates, Mills told Levesque about his family and his heritage.

Patty Mills: Bala, Brother

They told Patty about Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander who challenged the doctrine of Terra nullius, a doctrine that decided Australia had been unoccupied before white European settlers arrived in 1788. The legal battle took more than 10 years before the Australian High Court ruled in Mabo’s favor.

“This is my mission,” Mills said. “To be able to use as a platform to tell people where I’m really from and who I really am. Being Australian is a lot more than saying ‘g’day mate’ and ‘throw a shrimp on the Barbie.’”

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