Australia Bushfires Are ‘Obliterating’ Aboriginal Culture

Australia Bushfires Are ‘Obliterating’ Aboriginal Culture

When forests burn, indigenous people all too often bear the brunt. We saw that in the Amazon last year and Northern California in 2017 to point to just two recent examples where indigenous groups were hit harder and received less help in the face of massive fires. That’s to say nothing of the myriad ways the environmental and climate crises harm indigenous people on top of historical injustices.

And about those injustices. Colonialism and genocide have decimated indigenous peoples around the world, leaving them with insufficient resources to successfully navigate the colonized world or torturing those that opt to stay out of colonized society.

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Australia has a particularly fraught relationship with its past and genocide committed in the name of colonial expansion. About 30 percent of indigenous households there live in poverty. Their unemployment rate is more than twice that of non-indigenous people. Compared to other western nations like the U.S., the Australian government has only recently begun to return stolen land to indigenous peoples. The Gunaikurnai were the first to win some of their lands back from the government in 1965. Yet even today, the Australian government fails to recognize Australian indigenous communities as sovereign in the way that countries such as Canada and the U.S. do.

The consequences in Australia have proven destructive to both indigenous communities and the countryside, and the fires are partly a result of that colonial history. When indigenous peoples lost their land, they lost the right to care for their lands. A common technique used by Australia’s First Nations includes using fire as a cultural resource to clear the forest floor and improve the health of the ecosystem, a sacred practice that ended after colonialist land grabs.

via earther.gizmodo. Australia Bushfires Are ‘Obliterating’ Aboriginal Culture