This year's lead up to NAIDOC Week has been stretched a little longer. Like so many events, NAIDOC week, which usually runs in July, has been changed to the 8th till the 15th of November due to Covid-19. NAIDOC is Australia’s largest Indigenous celebration. It commemorates the history, culture and achievements of First Nations people. All Australians are encouraged to embrace and celebrate this important occasion.
Image sourced from Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC)
The origins of NAIDOC began in the 1920’s when Indigenous rights groups began boycotting Australia Day. Sadly their efforts were largely overlooked and it wasn’t until 1938 that things started to change. On Australia day protesters marched through Sydney, this was then followed by a congress attended by over a thousand people. The day became known as the “National Day of Mourning” and became an annual event. In 1955, it was decided that this significant event should also be a celebration of Indigenous culture and the day was shifted to July. In 1956 major Indigenous organisations, State and Federal Government, and a number of church groups all came together to support the formation of the National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC). With the new name, the celebration got extended into a full week of activities acknowledging and celebrating Indigenous history and culture. In 1991, due to the growing awareness of the distinct culture of Torres Strait Islander people, the name was changed to what we know it as: The National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).
Each year NAIDOC has a theme that incorporates history, culture and holds meaning for Indigenous people. This year's theme “Always Was, Always Will Be” recognises that First Nations people have lived on this beautiful land for over 65,000 years. For thousands of years, Indigenous people have been sustainably managing and caring for their land. This intimate knowledge of their country has allowed First Nations people to adapt to environmental changes such as climate change, droughts and rising sea levels. They are both spiritually and culturally connected to this continent and continue to pass down the world's oldest oral stories through the generations. The theme makes us all reflect and appreciate the incredible connection Indigenous people have to this continent and how truly remarkable their history is.
“Our Beautiful Country” by Alicia Close
Here at Bundarra, every year we collaborate with our talented Indigenous artists to create a collection that reflects the NAIDOC theme of the year. This year, we have worked with five incredible artists to create our beautiful NAIDOC 2020 collection. The artworks each tell a unique story that represents the theme “Always Was, Always Will Be”. Artist Alicia Close’s piece “Our Beautiful Country”, tells the story of sea levels rising all along the coast approximately 7000 years ago. One of the sites where this change took place was in her home country, Quandamooka country. When talking about her artwork Close says “It is truly amazing to live in a country and be part of a culture where stories have survived thousands of years where there was no written form of recording but only through our art, songs, dances, these stories have survived. May these stories live on for many more generations to come”.
We hope everyone takes the opportunity to celebrate NAIDOC this year and embrace this incredibly important message “Always Was, Always Will Be”.