Visions of nature: territoriality and landscape photography in three settler sites, 1848-1900
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:57 by Jarrod R. Hore
Ancestral Ties, Visions of Nature and Settler Territoriality. In May 2017 the Australian Referendum Council convened a meeting at Uluru in Central Australia of over two hundred and fifty Indigenous leaders to discuss constitutional reform to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After four days of discussion the delegates resolved to call for the establishment of a “First Nations Voice” in the Australian Constitution and a “Makarrata Commission” to pursue reconciliation. These resolutions were detailed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a one-page declaration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and sovereignty that pleaded for “substantive constitutional change” and “structural reform.” The Statement pivoted on notions of ownership and belonging. It insisted on the link between Indigeneity, spirituality, and territory. The statement detailed the “ancestral tie” that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share with “the land, or 'mother nature'” and maintained that those “peoples who were born therefrom” and “remain attached thereto” must “one day return thither to be united with our ancestors.” This sovereign link, argued the convention, “has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.” In a tradition well established in Australian and settler colonial politics, the calls of the convention were sadly, and predictably, rejected by the Commonwealth government in October of 2017. In light of this “betrayal,” two powerful questions within the Uluru Statement stand out: “How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?”. 'How could it be otherwise?' is a question that haunts the settler nations of the Pacific Rim.