The Makaratta Project

The Uluru Statement From the Heart was delivered by more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander delegates gathered at Uluru in 2017. After centuries of struggle for recognition and justice the statement calls for the establishment of a “First Nations Voice” enshrined in the Australian constitution and the establishment of a “Makarrata Commission” to supervise agreement-making and truth telling between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Straits islander peoples.

The Makaratta Project is the new album from the Australian band Midnight Oil, probably best known for two rock classics released around 30 years ago: Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining. It contains their first new music released in nearly 20 years and extensively features First Nations artists.

As it states on the sleeve notes –

Midnight Oil will donate their share of proceeds from this release to organisations which seek to elevate the Uluru Statement From The Heart in particular and indigenous reconciliation more broadly.

Here is the ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART in full –

“WE GATHERED AT THE 2017 NATIONAL CONSITUTIONAL CONVENTION COMING FROM ALL POINTS OF THE SOUTHERN SKY MAKE THIS STATEMENT FROM THE HEART:

OUR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER TRIBERS WERE THE FIRST SOVEREIGN NATIONS OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT AND ITS ADJACENT ISLANDS, AND POSSESSED IT UNDER OUR OWN LAWS AND CUSTOMS. THIS OUR ANCESTORS DID, ACCORDING TO THE RECKONING OF OUR CULTURE, FROM THE CREATION ACCORDING TO THE COMMON LAW FROM “TIME IMMEMORIAL” AND ACCORDING TO SCIENCE MORE THAN 60,000 YEARS AGO.

THIS SOVERIGNTY IS A SPIRITUAL NOTION: THE ANCESTRAL TIE BETWEEN THE LAND OR “MOTHER NATURE” AND THE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES WHO WERE BORN THEREFROM, REMAIN ATTACHED THERETO, AND MOST ONE DAY RETURN THITHER TO BE UNITED WITH OUR ANCESTORS. THIS LINK IS THE BASIS OF THE OWNERSHIP OF THE SOIL, OR BETTER, OF SOVEREIGNTY. IT HAS NEVER BEEN CEDED OR EXTINGUISHED AND CO-EXISTS WITH THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE CROWN.

HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE? THAT PEOPLES POSSESSED A LAND FOR SIXTY MILLENIA AND THIS SCARED LINK DISAPPEARS FROM WORLD HISTORY IN MERELY THE LAST TWO HUNDRED YEARS?

WITH SUBSTANTIVE CONSITIUTIONAL CHANGE AND STRUCTURAL REFORM, WE BELIVE THIS ANCIENT SOVEREIGNTY CAN SHINE THROUGH AS A FULLER EXPRESSION OF AUSTRALIA’S NATIONHOOD.

PROPORTIONALLY, WE ARE THE MOST INCARCERATED PEOPLE ON THE PLANET. WE ARE NOT AN INNATELY CRIMINAL PEOPLE. OUR CHILDREN ARE ALIENATED FROM THEIR FAMILIES AT UNPRECEDENTED RATES. THIS CANNOT BE BECAUSE WE HAVE NO LOVE FOR THEM. AND OUR YOUTH LANGUISH IN DETENTION IN OBSCENE NUMBERS. THEY SHOULD BE OUR HOPE AND FUTURE.

THESE DIMENSIONS OF OUR CRISIS TELL PLAINLY THE STRUCTURAL NATURE OF OUR PROBLEM. THIS IS THE TORMENT OF OUR POWERLESSNESS.

WE SEEK CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS TO EMPOWER OUR PEOPLE AND TAKE A RIGHTFUL PLACE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY. WHEN WE HAVE POWER OVER OUR DESTINY OUR CHILDREN WILL FLOURISH. THEY WILL WALK IN TWO WORLDS AND THEIR CULTURE WILL BE A GIFT TO THEIR COUNTRY.

WE CALL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A FIRST NATIONS VOICE ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION.

MAKARRATA IS THE CULMINATION OF OUR AGENDA: THE COMING TOGETHER AFTER A STRUGGLE. IT CAPTURES OUR ASPIRATIONS FOR A FAIR AND TRUTHFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA AND A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN BASED ON JUSTICE AND SELF-DETERMINATION.

WE SEEK A MAKARRATA COMMISSION TO SUPERVISE A PROCESS OF AGREEMENT MAKING BETWEEN GOVERMENTS AND FIRST NATIONS AND TRUTH-TELLING ABOUT OUR HISTORY.

IN 1967 WE WERE COUNTED IN 2017 WE SEEK TO BE HEARD. WE LEAVE BASE CAMP AND START OUR TREK ACROSS THIS VAST COUNTRY. WE INVITE YOU TO WALK WITH US IN A MOVEMENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE FOR A BETTER FUTURE.”

And as the words to First Nation, opening song on the album, so clearly state –

First nation, first nation. First to deserve an explanation.
First nation, first nation. Last to receive an invitation.

First nation, first nation.
When we gonna start the conversation?
When we gonna start the celebration?
When we gonna end the exploitation?
When we gonna say the word invasion?

Finally on the album’s closing song Come on Down are these words for us to ponder –

Society’s enormous
Alienation breeds
Loneliness so sad
We need company

Get off those little screens
And find out what it all means
Gather round the campfire
The campfire of humankind

Come on Down
Come on Down
To the stompin’ ground
Come on Down

Faces are glowing
Strange music plays
Smoke adds distortion
In a magical way

Time passes freely
We’re all passing through
A night round the campfire
Gonna do it for you

Come on Down
Come on Down
To the stompin’ ground
Come on Down

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