Brand-New Timeless Traditions, by Tony Thomas. You know the drill:
Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies involve professional mock-ups of supposed thousand-year Aboriginal traditions. Someone hires a local troupe to dance in body paint and laplaps to didgeridoo and clapstick music. The leader says a few words in the traditional language and self- translates it into New Age platitudes about peace and goodwill. Everyone goes home smug.
The fees are quite substantial: $10,500 to perform for the opening of Parliament, for instance. Even “science” bows to PC nowadays:
Even the CSIRO, an organisation nominally pledged to rational inquiry and scientific rigour (OK, there is that climate-change hysteria), has bought in to the ‘welcome’ business, having issued guidelines for pay rates and accommodations when its laboratories need to be cleansed of “evil spirits” by an ochred contractor waving fiery foliage.
It’s all rubbish of course:
The supposedly ancient ‘welcome’ tradition goes back 30-40 years, whereas the House of Commons goes back nearly 700 years. Indigenous entertainers Ernie Dingo and Richard Whalley, of the Middar Aboriginal Theatre, claim to have invented the “welcome to country” in 1976 because two pairs of Maori visitors from NZ and the Cook Islands wanted an equivalent of their own traditional ceremony before they would dance at the Perth International Arts Festival. Another version is that activists shrewdly created the ceremony at about the same time to buttress land-rights claims.
Labor mandates, and the cuckservatives follow:
Whatever the motives, the welcome meme fitted perfectly into the zeitgeist. Welcomes To and/or Acknowledgements Of Country are now mandated by Parliaments, governments, departments, the military, shires, corporates, educators and right-thinking groups all around the country. The mandating is normally done by Labor powerbrokers, while conservatives drag their feet but are too intimidated to resist.
Even the language is mostly made up:
Everett gets particularly interesting on the re-creation of Aboriginal languages for use at such ceremonies. This is symbolically important in claiming pre-contact ancestry — although, at best, only a few vestiges of the language remain in urban settings. Everett says current Darugs have virtually no knowledge of the old Darug spoken language, other than a few words. … When they use it, “it is not understood either by the audience or the speakers themselves” – since it is “a recently invented verbal ritual affirming Darug identity…and is hence more of a dramatic ritual performance than a language”.