Reset Reading Group resources for discussion curated and introduced by Karrina Nolan from Original Power. Groups are encouraged to hold discussions of these readings during the week starting 11 May.
Please note we encourage all participants in RRG to read the introduction and the main discussion-starter Indigenous Principles for a Just Transition. There’s also further resources on the theme including videos and podcasts – we don’t expect everyone to get through all of these prior to meeting for discussion.
Reset 2: Disaster Capitalism & A People’s Response readings will be available 18 May. If you haven’t signed up to receive the fortnightly emails yet you can do so at Welcome to Reset Reading Group. The readings for each theme will be available in the Reset collection on an ongoing basis.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are strong and resilient peoples who have cared for our country, our waterways and our songlines for thousands of years. We have also suffered through the devastation of colonisation and generations of government paternalism and intervention into our affairs. We face unparalleled challenges in living strong, proud and healthy lives. We are living in times where our people are incarcerated at higher rates than any other peoples in the world. Our young people are experiencing extreme mental health issues, the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous life expectancy remains unacceptably high and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to live in deep poverty.
The current period of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs is dominated by ever-changing government policy and reduced funding for community programs and services. This extreme inequality is even more clear than ever in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The landscape is further complicated by divisive Native Title and land use arrangements. After decades of struggle around land rights these issues are still unresolved.
These issues are compounded by dangerous global warming, the continued irresponsible use and expansion of fossil fuels, the mining and fracking of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands. Indigenous peoples the world over who have for millennia shown stewardship, cared for country, protected waters and seas, know we are at a tipping point. The way Multinational corporations supported by states, and our economic systems have treated resources, as things to be extracted, with seemingly little regard for their finite nature, cannot be sustained.
We are living in a time of rapid global warming and a changing climate – rising sea levels inundating gardens and sacred sites in the Torres Strait; remote communities across Northern Australia sweltering through prolonged heat waves; warming seas depleting fish stocks across the country; climate-fuelled bushfires ravaging communities. We are already experiencing significant species loss and the changing of seasons is impacting our hunting and gathering practices, and therefore our ceremonies and medicines. Increases in severe weather events such as droughts, cyclones, floods and bush fires are not future possibilities they are with us now. Many Pacific Island nations are experiencing rising sea levels which is affecting the availability of food and leading to the forced relocation of communities. It is increasingly understood that First Nations people are on the frontlines of these impacts.
Yet the extraction continues and pressure to negotiate with companies in the face of limited economic alternatives has left many communities feeling they have been forced to compromise lands that have been cared for and nurtured over thousands of years, by many generations. However, we are also a people who won’t be defined by problems. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have resisted, innovated, led and been the stewards of this country; seas, lands and waters. Many continue to make the difficult decisions and sacrifice monetary gains so their children can access sacred sites and hunt and fish for basic livelihoods for generations to come.
We believe we must treat the crisis of climate change as an opportunity for our people to be part of the economic transition to clean energies. For that to be possible, our communities must be powerful enough for our voices and aspirations to be part of the way we start to do things differently with energy. We also recognise for many of our communities who are saying no to fossil fuel projects, there must be other economic opportunities to pursue. Now more than ever, our people must be able to choose what happens on our country.
I invite you to engage with these readings and deepen your understanding of self-determination, decolonisation and a just transition. There are some key similarities in experiences and insights of First Nations communities around the world so the main discussion-starter comes from the Indigenous Environment Network on Turtle Island (North America) who have been working on climate justice and energy issues for many years.
Karrina Nolan, Original Power
Main discussion-starter: Indigenous Principles for Just Transition
Indigenous Environment Network’s Indigenous Principles for Just Transition. Download the full document from the box at the bottom of the page or read it on the IEN’s website.
“Indigenous prophecy meets scientific prediction. What we have known and believed, you also now know: The Earth is out of balance. The plants are disappearing, the animals are dying, and the very weather – rain, wind, fire itself – reacts against the actions of the human being. For the future of the children, for the health of our Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the rest of Creation, we call upon the people of the world to hold your leaders accountable.” – Circles of Wisdom: Native Peoples/Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 1998
Just Transition is a new term, but to most of our Indigenous peoples, it is understood, first by our heart, and secondly by our mind. Just Transition is a framework, a set of principles, to shift from a “stopping the bad to building the new”. In Indigenous thought, it is a healing process of understanding historical trauma, internalized oppression, and decolonization leading to planting the seed and feeding and nurturing the Good Way of thinking. It is lifting up Original Instructions and Teachings of respecting ourselves, our clans, our family systems and how we are all related with all living things and our relationship with the spirit, personality and consciousness of the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky. – IEN, Indigenous Principles for Just Transition
About the Indigenous Environment Network
Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organizing campaigns, direct actions and public awareness, building the capacity of community and tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact policy, and building alliances among Indigenous communities, tribes, inter-tribal and Indigenous organizations, people-of-color/ethnic organizations, faith-based and women groups, youth, labor, environmental organizations and others. IEN convenes local, regional and national meetings on environmental and economic justice issues, and provides support, resources and referral to Indigenous communities and youth throughout primarily North America – and in recent years – globally.
Download the Indigenous Principles for Just Transition from the box at the bottom of the page or read it on the IEN’s website.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Timeline of Resistance
From invasion to land rights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have campaigned and organised. Download this resource from Original Power to read stories of individual actions, collective campaigning and community strength and resilience.
Protecting Country: First Nations People And Climate Justice
An interview with Larissa Baldwin, former National Co-Director of Seed, by Simon Copland, 13 April 2017, Green Agenda. Please note some issues and campaigns will have changed since this interview. See Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, Protect Country Alliance and GetUp! Human Rights campaigns for updates. Listen to the interview or read the transcript here.
Unsettling Canada: A National Wake Up Call
A book by First Nations leaders, Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ron Derrickson. The following short videos provide an introduction to some of the key concepts. More information about the book here.
Defending Desert Country in WA
A presentation by Kado Muir (anthropologist, archaeologist, linguist and cultural leader) to the Activism at the Margins conference hosted by RMIT, Tuesday 11 February 2020. Watch the video or listen to the podcast.
Prompts for discussion
- Opening activity: Each person briefly share an example of First Nations resistance you have heard about. See the Timeline of Resistance for examples. If you are participating in RRG from another part of the world you may like to share a local example.
- Share which Indigenous Principles for a Just Transition particularly stood out for you. Why do you think they are important? What do you think they would mean in practice?
- These principles were developed by First Nations people on Turtle Island (North America). How do these principles apply in your context? What else have you heard from First Nations people in your part of the world?
- Who in the group has read/watched/listened to further resources? Share particular insights from each resource with others in the group.
- Action: What steps can/will you take to bring this dimension of a just future to life?
About Karrina Nolan, Reset 1 curator
Karrina Nolan is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people in Victoria. Karrina is the Executive Director of Original Power. She’s worked as an organiser, strategist, campaigner, facilitator, lobbyist and hip hop wrangler alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young people and communities for over 25 years. She’s led programs and campaigns on women’s rights, globalisation and environmental justice with a focus on First Nations peoples. Karrina has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities building power and capacity for self-determination in the context of mining, economic development and climate change. Her work has focussed on supporting communities’ capacity to organise, act decisively, share knowledge and make informed decisions that take into account long-term community needs as well as country and culture.
About Original Power
Original Power works with communities and in partnership with others to build the power, skills, capacity and collective capability of our people to genuinely self determine what happens in our communities and on our country. So often, our people know the solutions. We just need the time, resources and support to make them a reality.
Original Power addresses this through three key and interconnected ways:
- Power our people – If people believe their actions will make a difference, they are more likely to take action, so we provide training, mentoring and support to build people’s capacity and agency.
- Power campaigns – By working together, people can turn the resources they have into the power they need to transform the challenges they experience. We provide strategy, advice, build skills and connect communities to the resources they need to ensure community lead campaigns act more powerfully together and win.
- Power solutions – Self-determination means community-driven solutions. We provide research, analysis and resources that can turn ideas into reality, ensuring communities can make informed decisions that take into account long-term community needs as well as country and culture.
For more information see Original Power.
Reset 2: Disaster Capitalism & A People’s Response. View the full program and sign up to receive the fortnightly emails at Welcome to Reset Reading Group.
- Aboriginal Australians
- Climate - Action
- Environmental protection
- Movements_Campaigns - Self determination
- Movements_Campaigns – Racism_Racial justice
- Reset Reading Group