Are you a non-Indigenous Australian wondering what NAIDOC Day/ Week is? National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee…was a committee responsible for organising national activities in representation and acknowledgment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Events happen annually around the country at the beginning of July. You might want to do some Googling about NAIDOC and see what’s happening in your area. There are some misconceptions that it’s an exclusive celebration….Wrong! Everyone is welcome.
In Brisbane it’s a big gathering in the park (how black is that Lol). Murries come from far and wide. If you are wondering, hesitant or scared to participate, let me break it down for you by answering a few faqs?
Q: Are there going to be black people there?
Q: Can I eat the food? Will there be any protected species in it?
A: Weeeell ya never know. There are no guarantees here. I am a vegetarian - much to the disappointment and disbelief of my mother and family. I constantly live with threats and fear of my food being laced with echidna, goanna or dugong fat. The two obvious things are:
i) Kids…line up behind them at the food stall. Black kids are like any other. They refuse to eat the same food as the parents. They’ll hound parents all day for that pie, dagwood dog, hot chips and ice cream.
ii) Aunties…food stalls where the aunties are jumping the cue and leaving with that plate literally overflowing with what looks like curry or stew and rice delicately balancing a big-ass piece of damper on the top. Chances are there’s something else in there. Or Aunty's just starvin’.
Q: How do I communicate with Indigenous people?
A: Please note: it’s not Hug a Black Day…..in your attempt to communicate with Indigenous people it is not necessary to overzealously go in for the big reconciliatory bear hug without really knowing the person. Not because we don’t want to welcome you or be friendly, it’s because it freaks us out, man! Personal space is something most people have so you might want to take it slow and work your way up to that. A good old "hello, how ya going?", a handshake, and simple conversation will do it. You might want to adopt the rules commonly used in art galleries ie; don’t take photos of the Aborigines", and don’t touch the Aborigines…..ie without asking first. As for "Don’t feed the Aborigines, that rule doesn’t apply. We’re always up for a good feed.
Q: How long does it go for?
A: Usually as long as it takes you to get across the park. Remember that you are at an event where a mob of people with massively extended families are trying to catch up with other. The traffic and road blocks created by this occurrence could force continual detours in your journey. If you have an Indigenous friend and plan on meeting them there, good luck. So to see everything yeah it’ll take all day.
Q: What is there to see?
A: Regardless of the potential for extended traditional welcomes, dances representing every native Australian animal we have, and line dancing and sing–a-longs spontaneously manifesting out of the slightest hum of a country and western tune there is a great deal to see. Don’t freak out about a gathering of the mob. What may feel like a scary black mosh pit is actually a sea of exciting contemporary Indigenous culture. Wade your way in gradually, feet first. Ride the waves, and by the end of the day I guarantee you’ll be diving into all it has to offer - maybe literally, moshing to the tunes of the headline act.
To all my elders, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, brothers from the other mothers, cousin in the wrong skin marriage (but we love you anyway), sister who’s not blood related but I know you long time so you are like my cousin, and to everyone………….HAPPY NAIDOC DAY!
NAIDOC BE IN IT! Have a great time.