Halfway into this morning's Independent, I was interested to read the news that an aboriginal group in Australia has been granted land rights over some of the national parks in New South Wales. The deal, which is said to have taken over a decade of negotiation, gives the Githabul 'native title' rights, which means, as I understand it, shared ownership and management of the land.
One of the things that struck me about the article was this quote by Tony Fleming, director of the state's environment department, given in an interview to the ABC radio station:
"I think for a lot of our visitors to national parks, it adds a huge dimension to their experience. They'll get access to the knowledge of the Githabul people, the interpretation of this part of the state from an Aboriginal perspective, and we as land managers learn a lot from Aboriginal people about how to look after these sorts of places."
Whilst there's a slight risk of this sounding like the tribe will be an tourist curiosity within the national parks, I think it's a hugely warm and positive statement. I don't know much about the history of Australia, despite Fiona having studied a small part of it, but I imagine that aborigine history, and their relationship with the white non-native population, is quite a complex and difficult subject. It doesn't take much reading to know that the original colonisation of the continent was a horrific and brutal affair. How best to deal with the issues such as land ownership, apologies, political representation hunting rights, and so on, I couldn't begin to imagine.
There's a shockingly small amount of content online about the Githabul - unless there are alternative spellings - just over 500 results in Google, and that's after this news has broken. I've created a stub article for the Githabul tribe on Wikipedia, which I hope will gain some content, although the list of Indigenous Australian group names suggests that many others don't have any information about them either.