Yet Another Apology: Multinational obliterates as 46,000-year-old sacred indigenous site in Australia
1st June 2020
When I first read Bruce Chatwin’s widely acclaimed The Songlines (1987), probably in the mid-nineties, I was not so much interested in its literary merits but more in the fact that in part it was an account of the efforts to prevent or at least lessen the wholesale destruction of Australian indigenous peoples sacred sites and sacred landscape in the pursuit of resources, profit and cultural dominance by the non-indigenous, European setters. Here I read, in sometimes distressing detail, about the age old colonial project and the kinds of disputes we know all too well from centring on confrontations over sacred lands invaded by railroads, mines, and construction sites, over the laws and rights of indigenous peoples versus all powerful invasive one driven by the capitalist ethic and the imperialist imperative. Having seen first-hand the lasting and powerful impact of poverty, disease and addiction that still plagues the first peoples of Australia (as well as some of the incredibly hard work that many have engaged in order to bring it to an end) I was not unsurprised to read the attached account (link above) that outlines further wholesale destruction of ancient ancestral sites in the pursuit of natural resource and seemingly unequally distributed material wealth. Here we find a 46,000-year-old sacred indigenous site destroyed with dynamite to expand Rio Tinto’s Australian iron ore mine in the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. I would urge all students to read The Songlines and then do a little research and reflect upon how much or how little has changed, not only in Australia, but also North and South America, parts of wider Oceania, Asia and Africa in terms of indigenous peoples, natural resources and the ever growing environmental crisis….its not all bad news but it makes for sobering work.