Other avenues trialled to pursue our goals and aspirations

Other avenues trialled to pursue our goals and aspirations

Makarrata is a word in the Yolngu language meaning a coming together after a struggle, facing the facts of wrongs and living again in peace. The  Commonwealth Government had previously agreed that the National Aboriginal Conference, a body established in 1977 to provide a forum for the expression of Indigenous people’s views, should develop proposals for a treaty of commitment, or Makarrata. All Australian governments had agreed to enter into discussions about this matter with the National Aboriginal Conference. A treaty with Indigenous people was expected to have significant legal, constitutional, political and social implications for Commonwealth,state and territory governments.

It was in this context that an information paper on the Territory position on a Makarrata was considered by Cabinet in August 1981. One of the central issues for Cabinet was whether the Territory Government should develop a position in relation to a Makarrata for discussion with the National Aboriginal Conference and Commonwealth Government, or await the proposals being developed by the Conference.

The initial Makarrata proposals put forward were for a treaty, covenant or convention which could include provision for matters such as:

• the protection of Indigenous identity, language, law and culture;

• the recognition and restoration of rights to land;

• the conditions governing mining and exploration of natural resources on Indigenous land;

• compensation to Indigenous Australians for the loss of traditional lands and to their traditional way of life; and

• the right of Indigenous Australians to control their own affairs and to establish their own associations for this purpose.

Cabinet noted the issues for Makarrata and decided to await proposals from the National Aboriginal Conference which could be the subject of future discussions.

Submission No. 1574 and Decision no. 1863 of 11 August 1981












The NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CONFERENCE (N.A.C.) is selling out our heritage, our independence, our proper Aboriginal ident­ity, by calling for a ‘MAKARRATA’ instead of a ‘TREATY’, which in­cludes a ‘BILL OF ABORIGINAL RIGHTS’.

ABORIGINALS have never given away or sold any of our land, nor given whites the right to take any of it. Aborigin­als always have owned ALL of Australia, our sacred lands – ruler, king, boss of our own country, sov­ereigns with sovereign right to rule in our own country. A KING, the boss in his own country, has ownership and sover­eign right in his own land.

THE N.A.C. has been persuaded by their white managers, the Australian Government, NOT to ask for a Treaty, but to call their deal a ‘Makarrata’, an agreement which means ”all is well after the fight’.

THE N.A.C., on the advice of their white manager, agreed to compromise Aboriginal people by not calling for a ‘TREATY’ because a ‘TREATY’ means an agree­ment between equals – an agreement between men who own their own country and another government, the white government, – and agreement between sovereign nations.

THE WHITE GOVERNMENT says we are not rulers, kings in and of our own country, we are not equals. So instead of a Treaty between equals, between righful owners, between kings, between sovereigns, they call for a ‘Makarrata’, a deal between white,gov­ernment and men with no status, rubbish men, same as the old ‘Dog Licence’.

INSTEAD of land owner, king, who owns his own country and his law and ruler of his own govern­ment, they say we are vermin, rubbish who have no proper title and do not own land, rubbish men who haven’t the right to call for a’ Treaty, but only for an agreement – a dog deal.

WE MUST protect our heritage, the Australian government’ must recognise our sovereign right, our right as equals, as kins who fathers and mothers owned and ruled ALL of this country un­til the whiteman came with his government, came in with guns and strych­nine, killed our men and killed our women and children – the whites said, ‘Killthe breeders, kill the nits!’

THEY SAID we had no government and no rules, no law. They said we were not kings in our own country and said we had no sovereign rights. They said our land was waste land an unoccupied. They said we were vermin and not human.

NOW THE ABORIGINALS on the N.A.C. have agreed with the white government and say they won’t go for a Treaty between equals, between equal men with equal right. The N.A.C. say they will call their agreement a ‘Makarrata’ – ‘things are OK again after the fight’.

Aboriginal way, ‘Mak­arrata’ is a dog deal, a Jacky Jacky deal, a pact with the devil on the devil’s terms.

WE, THE ABORIGINAL people, have owned all of this country, from the Dreamtime, from the time before time began. We are owners of this land. We are ruler, king, of our country and we must make white government talk to us as kings of our own country.

WE WANT our land own­ership recognised, title to all tribal land, sac­red areas, hunting, and fishing rights and title to all reserves. For our  tribes in the south, who  had all their land stolen by whites, we want enough land so they can build their strength again and survive. We want all reserves and sacred sites.

WE WANT compensation, in cash, for all land taken and used by whites. In the Treaty, we want a Bill of Aboriginal Rights put into the Australian Constitution so the whiteman can’t go back on his word.

THIS TIME, if the whiteman treats us like vermin by making a rubbish agreement, if he says we are not king with our sovereign rights, we must prepare our people for a long and bitter fight, for we must fight against the Devil Deal ‘Makarrata’, the kiss of Judas.

IF WE DO NOT fight we will lose the law, the rule, and we’ll become ungootcha, the soul-less, the dead who have no place. Our children will become the dead who

have no place and will live like dogs in shame, under the whiteman for­ever.

WE WANT a Treaty, a Bill of Aboriginal Rights. We do not want a dog deal Makarrata, which the Aboriginals on the N.A.C. have been tricked into.

PREPARE to fight. Pre­pare the people for the storms, so justice and the proper way will live forever in our own country. Things are not OK after the fight, the fight is not over……

THE N.A.C. DOES NOT REPRESENT THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE. The N.A.C. is not even democratically elected, because to be democratic the people have to have a choice to vote for the speaker they want, their repre­sentative and also the party or the machinery.  White elections have at least a Labor Party and a Liberal Party, at least two choices and the voice goes right to the top.

THE WHITE GOVERNMENT chose to set up one body of Aboriginals, the N.A.C., that can’t have its full voice heard right to the top because there is a lid on them, the Committee of Abor­iginal Development (C.A.D.) which is select­ed by the white minister and the N.A.C.

THE C.A.D. can veto N.A.C. decisions and the white minister can veto C.A.D. decisions. So the people’s voice is not in it right to the top, but the white government claims the N.A.C. represents the voice of the Aboriginal people, says it is our black parliament.

WE SHOULD HAVE a choice between two bodies, not only the one N.A.C. that dances as the strings are pulled by white government. When Germany invaded Holland during the second world war, the Dutch would not co­operate with the invaders, so the Germans set up a ‘quisling government’ of Dutch traitors and called it their govern­ment, but the people had no choice. The N.A.C. is a ‘quisling govern­ment’ for the Aboriginal people.

THE NORTHERN LANDS COUNCIL, Central Lands Council, North Queens­land Land Council, Ab­originals in Perth, W.A., S.A., N.S.W., Victoria and Queensland said they want a Bill of Aboriginal Rights and the National Aboriginal Government to talk for them. They wrote letters saying this. We want proper selection so the traditional owners and Aboriginals can elect their own voice and own spokesman to the Nation­al Government and form an Aboriginal Rights Council who talk straight to the white government and go back and talk straight to the people again.

THE PROPER WAY to select is that each big mob picks out their talker, telling him what to say and sends him to do it. He has to come back and talk again be­fore any change is made. The Aboriginal Rights Council would be free of the whiteman’s chains. As the first step of com­pensation, the white government must unconditionally provide the same amount of money that they give to their body, the N.A.C., for the Aboriginal Rights Council of the National Aboriginal Government, so that the voice of the Aboriginal people can be fairly represented.

SEND YOUR VOICE to the National Aboriginal Gov­ernment, to the N.A.C. and the white minister, and to all tribes all over the country, tell­ing them what you want.

TALK UP as the ruler, boss of your own country and lead your people the proper way. Otherwise the rules will leave our country, the proper way will be lost, our shadow, our soul, our dreaming will leave and we will lose forever. While ever there are fish in the river, while the sun is in the sky, the Aboriginal has to lead the people the strong way, the proper way – that is the business, the law.





A TREATY does not bind a government to the rules. A Treaty literally means the intention to legislate, the intention to carry out a recognised pact. It does not guaran­tee that the States will obey what the Federal government agrees to in the Treaty, or that meat will be given to the bones of that Treaty. It does not guarantee or give its unbreakable word that a new white government won’t change the rules of the Treaty or rubbish it.

AN ABORIGINAL BILL OF RIGHTS in a Treaty would mean all white Australians and all State gov­ernments would hold a referendum and vote yes or no for a Bill of Ab­original Rights to be in­cluded in the Australian constitution and to stay in the constitution to protect our Aboriginal rights forever.


The Federal Australian Government is not a completely autonomous,. sovereign government in its own right.

THE AUSTRALIAN Govern­ment is not a sovereign government in its own right. It is still under the control and power of Britain, the sovereign nation. This was proved when the British Queen’s main representative and controller of Australia the governor-general, Sir John Kerr, kicked the representative sov­ereign government, the Whitlam Federal Labor government out of power. The governor-general acted in the name of the Queen of Britain.

THE WHITE government, acting for their sov­ereign of Australia, the Queen of Britain, can immediately legislate under the power of Britain. Under the power of British’ statute of Westminster, the Austral­ion constitution can be altered without recourse to a referendum and if necessary, without the consent of the Australian government.  An Aboriginal Bill of Rights can be included in the Australian constitution by Britain exercising its sovereign power under the statute of Westminster.

IT IS THE sovereign right of Aboriginal people to call on sovereign Britain to negotiate a Treaty.  It is the Aboriginal right to offer a Treaty to any other sovereign power if the British and Austral­ian governments refuse to accept.

When exploring and col­onising, the British recognised the sovereign right of indigenous nat­ive peoples. Britain gave orders that the land was to be settled only with ‘the consent of the natives’. The colonisers disobeyed that law and invaded our country, instead of ask­ing for our consent to occupy or buy the land like British law said they should.

THE SETTLERS said we had no government, no land ownership, no human rights. They said we were not human;. They said the land was ‘waste land and unoccupied’. They murder­ed our people and took the land by force as outlaws and desecraters.

IN 1837, the British government in their House of Commons said white Australian settlement was wrong and that the Aboriginal country was taken illegally, out­side British law. Re­commendations to rectify the situation were ignor­ed in Australia. That means that the Federal government of Australia illegally, without proper law or rights, now occupies our land.

THEY ARE ROBBERS and murderers who have acted without obeying the proper law. Our land is wrongfully occupied. The Australian government must follow the proper law of Britain and accept the fact of our sover­eign right, our owner­ship of this our land.

A BILL OF ABORIGINAL rights included in the Australian constitution and in the Treaty is the proper way for the Abor­iginal owners of our land to talk to whites.

AN AGREEMENT can be a promise between two people. It doesn’t mean the agreement will be kept. It doesn’t stop government from changing the words of the agree­ment.

THE MAKARRATA agree­ment takes away our right as the proper owners of our land to go outside Australia to ask for our rights to be recognised. It takes away our sov­ereing power and says we are, in political terms, a domestic matter, only to be heard inside Aust­ralia.

SOVEREIGN RIGHT is the right of the proper own­ers of the land to talk to the invading white government, or other governments, about land ownership – the right to decide how much of our land, the land left to us by the law and the old ones, our sacred land, we want to keep for Aboriginals and how much we will sell and let the invaders live on.

SOVEREIGN RIGHT means the right of the boss people, the owners, to talk in their right place as boss, as king.


WE KNOW we own the land. Our tribes own all the land in this country. Why do we talk about Lard Right – Land owner­ship and compensation?

LAND RIGHTS IS an attempt to gain some of our land back and to draw up the area of land onto a map, so the white people know where the borders are and can re­gister the title.

EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE knows we own our land, the Woodward Commission and the white courts try to give us as little as possible. They make us fight our land claim in the white courts under white rules to try and trick us out of our land right. They keep us poor by making us pay for white solicitors and expenses. Sometimes each land right case costs us $40,000 and if the white rules trick us, we lose the money and the land.

THE AGREEMENTS made by government have no faith or good heart. The Pitjanjarra got land and mineral right. Now the minister of Aboriginal Affairs says the miner­al agreement has to be chucked out so miners can go into Pitjanjarra country and dig it up like they did before Land Right.

ABORIGINAL LAND Right is proper. It means we want ownership recog­nised and the title deeds registered so that no mistakes can be made.

ABORIGINALS OWN ALL of Australia. It is our land, our right to hold our main areas, our tribal land, our sacred sites. The white man has got it wrong, he should draw up a plan, a map, of the land he wants to buy off us for his people to live on and ask us, the Aboriginals, if we will sell some of our land to him.

IT IS NOT HARD for white Australians to give us back our proper Land Right. When they took over Papua Nuigini, its land and people, they gave Land Right back to the Papua Nuigini people. But Australia is the only country in the world that hasn’t given back Land Right to the indigenous people they have colonised.

THE AMERICAN Red In­dian has Treaties. They are recognized as a nation within a nation. They still have their sovereign rights.

THE MAORI in New Zeal­and have their Land Frights, they did not surrender their sover­eign rights.

ABORIGINAL Land Right is for white Australia to take notice of our sovereign right – to recognise our right of ownership of all the land before Captain Cook came to this land – to take notice that we never gave away or sold land to whites. We never signed a Treaty. We never surrendered any of our land to them.

WR WANT a Bill of Aboriginal Rights to be concluded and made law forever to protect our people forever.

THE FEDERAL government and State governments shall:

– Ask to reside upon any portion of land to legally qualify them selves and their subject white citizens. They shall also acknowledge and guarantee the Treaty and Bill of Aboriginal Rights for inclusion into the Australian constit­ution.

-Guarantee and fac­ilitate the return of our land base, our sacred and traditional areas in perpetuity.

– Guarantee and fac­ilitate the return of our sacred sites and their protection.

– Where tribes have been massacred and driven from their trad itional home land, land bases shall be returned on a needs basis in in­alienable perpetual title.

-Guarantee that Ab­original communities re­tain their sovereignty – nation within a nation.

-Guarantee fishing and hunting and camping rights without any white rule usurping or re­straihing our right in this matter.

-Guarantee that in those areas where trad­itional Aboriginal law

is maintained, that Aboriginal law prevails.

– Acknowledge the sovereignty of the Abor­iginal nation and guaran­tee the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to examine questions of massacre, infringements against human rights, racial victimisation and apartheid.

– Guarantee a com­pensation and war repar­ation fund be established to pay for human, social cultural damages in­flicted unlawfully upon us by white Australia.

– Guarantee a compen­satory fund be establish­ed from a negotiated percentage of the gross national product and a continuous levy of 2% on local and federal valuer-general’s unim­proved capital value of all lands held by what­ever title, except Abor­iginal perpetual title.

– Guarantee the es­tablishing of a primary compensation/reparation fund equalling 21/2% of the gross national pro­duct taken over the last twenty five years.

– Guarantee that, of all Aboriginal land bases claimed and all tradit­ional areas claimed, the total shall be not less than 33 and one-third percentum of the total land mass of Australia.

-Guarantee that, where the area of land­base cannot be determined according to traditional structures because of contemporary fragment­ation of Aboriginal communities in that area, or loss of traditional information because of enslavement, transport­ation to different areas of the country by whites or fleeing from massacre areas, the people shall be returned a land base determined on a basis of land per total capita (excluding Aboriginals from the per capita sum), the sum acreage per cap­ita multiplied by a sum of 5 – or the area to be not less that 2 square mile per Aboriginal in the designated area.

– Guarantee that all mineral rights on design­ated Aboriginal lands be held by Aboriginals, such right to be in­alienable and not to exclude their right of consent or veto on min­ing.

– Guarantee the es­tablishing of a National Aboriginal Government Commission to be fully representative of Abor­iginals, completely autonomous and staffed and controlled by Aborigin­als. This Commission to receive Compensatory and Royalty disbursement funds and to represent Aboriginal people.

– Guarantee the es­tablishing of a National Aboriginal Bank of Aus­tralia.

– Guarantee the es­tablishing of a National Academy of Fine Arts.

– Guarantee the es­tablishing of a National Aboriginal Art Gallery.

– Guarantee a National Holiday be declared to celebrate National Aborigines Day.

–          Guarantee to es­tablish within Parlia­ment 3 Parliamentary Senatorial seats for Aboriginal representat­ives and more orthodox representation.

Kevin Gilbert


For further reading on the topic visit link below to read Treaty or Makarrata?


Treaty, Compact, Makarratahttp://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/40332345?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102024654761

The Bark Petitions

In August 1963, the Yolngu people of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land sent two bark petitions – framed by traditional ochre paintings of clan designs – to the Australian House of Representatives.

The petitions protested the Commonwealth’s granting of mining rights on land excised from Arnhem Land reserve and sought the recognition by the Australian Parliament of the Yolngu peoples’ traditional rights and ownership of their lands.

Asserting title to Yolngu country under Yolngu law, the petitions were the first traditional documents recognised by the Commonwealth Parliament and helped to shape the nation’s acknowledgment of Aboriginal people and their land rights.

We value the foresight, strength and determination of the Yolngu people whose Bark Petitions set into motion a long process of legislative and constitutional reforms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

While appealing for the recognition of Yolngu rights to land, the Bark Petitions were a catalyst in advancing changes to the Constitution in the 1967 referendum, the statutory acknowledgment of Aboriginal land rights by the Commonwealth in 1976, and the overturning of the obstacle of the concept of terra nullius by the High Court in the Mabo Case in 1992 that recognised the traditional rights of the Meriam people to their islands in the eastern Torres Strait.

Today, we look to a future that better understands and celebrates the unique connection that Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander’s share to country, as we continue to build an Australia that reflects the achievements and furthers the aspirations of our people.

If you would like to know more, read on for a comprehensive insight into the Petitions.


Story of the Barunga Statement

In the 1870’s pastoralists and telegraph line construction crews followed the explorers; tin mining began in 1913 and continued until 1946. The Darwin – Mataranka railway was completed in 1928. During the war Katherine became a major army base, and many people moved in from all over the NT to work as labourers or drovers. After the war a ration station opened at Maranboy, but water shortages forced its removal first to the King River, and then east to Tandangal in 1948. The people were reluctant to settle at Tandangal because it was a sacred site, and so in 1951 the station was relocated again, on the Beswick Creek, an area rich in rock art. The settlement, known as Beswick Creek, was renamed Bamyili in 1965 and Barunga in 1984.

The people won freehold title to the 100ha former government station which is managed by Bamyili Community Council Inc. The community hosts the annual Barunga cultural and sporting festival. A statement of national Aboriginal political objectives issued to the federal government in June 1988 became known as the ‘Barunga Statement’. Written on bark and presented to Prime Minister RJL Hawke at that year’s festival, it called for Aboriginal self-management, a national system of land rights, compensation for loss of lands, respect for Aboriginal identity, an end to discrimination, and the granting of full civil, economic, social and cultural rights. The Prime Minister responded by saying that he wished to conclude a treaty between Aboriginal and other Australians by 1990, but his wish was not fulfilled.

Text by Dr Ian Howie-Willis from the Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia

The Barunga Statement

We, the Indigenous owners and occupiers of Australia, call on the Australian Government and people to recognise our rights:

  • to self-determination and self-management, including the freedom to pursue our own economic, social, religious and cultural development;
  • to permanent control and enjoyment of our ancestral lands;
  • to compensation for the loss of use of our lands, there having been no extinction of original title;
  • to protection of and control of access to our sacred sites, sacred objects, artefacts, designs, knowledge and works of art;
  • to the return of the remains of our ancestors for burial in accordance with our traditions;
  • to respect for and promotion of our Aboriginal identity, including the cultural, linguistic, religious and historical aspects, and including the right to be educated in our own languages and in our own culture and history;
  • in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights, the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, rights to life, liberty, security of person, food, clothing, housing, medical care, education and employment opportunities, necessary social services and other basic rights.

We call on the Commonwealth to pass laws providing:

  • A national elected Aboriginal and Islander organisation to oversee Aboriginal and Islander affairs;
  • A national system of land rights;
  • A police and justice system which recognises our customary laws and frees us from discrimination and any activity which may threaten our identity or security, interfere with our freedom of expression or association, or otherwise prevent our full enjoyment and exercise of universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We call on the Australian Government to support Aborigines in the development of an international declaration of principles for indigenous rights, leading to an international covenant.

And we call on the Commonwealth Parliament to negotiate with us a Treaty recognising our prior ownership, continued occupation and sovereignty and affirming our human rights and freedom.


Compliled by Kaiyu Bayles




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A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe
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