Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy

On the 26th of January 1972 four Aboriginal men, Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Coorey, travelled from Sydney to Canberra to protest the McMahon Government's refusal recognise Aboriginal land rights.

Set up on the laws of old parliament house, initially the embassy was a simple beach umbrella, then later, as the protest's aims broadened in scope (from land rights to the broad spectrum of issues faced by Aboriginal people across the country) and the number of protestors increased, more tents were added.

It is widely acknowledged that the establishment of the tent embassy was a focal point in Aboriginal politics and activism. 

Aboriginal Tent Embassy website

Anna Morozow and ABC TV (2012) Tent Embassy turns 40. 7pm News: ACT.

Cowan, G., Nomadic Resistance: Tent Embassies and Collapsible Architecture, Koori History Website. 

Dow, C., (2000) Aboriginal Tent Embassy: Icon or Eyesore?, Chronology 3 1999-2000, Social Policy Group, Parliament of Australia - Parliamentary Library: Canberra. 4 April 2000.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


On the 1st of January 1901, the self-governing British colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and South Australia joined together to form a Federation. Under the new Constitution, each state retained a degree of self-governance, while a newly formed Federal/Commonwealth/National government was given a number of central powers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were excluded from the Constitutional Conventions held in the decades leading up to the enactment of the Constitution in 1901.
The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) (‘Australian Constitution’) came into force. Section 51 (xxvi) gave the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to ‘the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it was deemed necessary to make special laws’. Section 127 of the Constitution provided: ‘In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.’
In 1967 sections 51 was amended and section 127 was repealed. Widely believed to be a watershed moment in Australian history, the constitutional amendments did not lead to the types of meaningful changes in the status and position of Aboriginal People that was hoped for at the time.

Dow, C and Gardiner-Garden, J (2011) Background Note: Overview of Indigenous Affairs: Part 1: 1901 to 1991, Parliament of Australia: Canberra.

Image: A Souvenir of Australian Federation. National Library of Australia.

Friday, December 30, 2011

First post

Welcome to the Blak History Project. It is an on-going project (years long) where I will try to provide a day-by-day account of historical events throughout the year.

I imagine that 2012, will be a year of building the structure of the site and creating the tools. There will also be many gaps in the first year. However I imagine that they will be filled in subsequent years.

Wish me luck. Cheers, Leesa