Tuesday, 22 January 2019


At the Uniting Church National Assembly we were asked to support recognition of Aboriginal Sovereignty of the land of Australia.

My initial reaction was to be concerned about the word Sovereignty.

Did this imply ownership?

Were we in for huge lawsuits claiming compensation?

Not that I oppose Aboriginal land rights but we already have Native Title.

In any case the word Sovereignty is a British word meaning ownership by the Crown or King it is not an Aboriginal concept.

I prayed fervently about this and received the answer that it was not Aboriginal Sovereignty that was the problem but the concept of ownership and materialism itself.

Our white settler Sovereignty was no more valid than Aboriginal Sovereignty.

God owns the land.

We are merely custodians.

Like the tenant farmers of early Israel.

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine: with me you are but aliens and tenants."  Leviticus 25:23 (NRSV)

I believe that this concept is much closer to the traditional Aboriginal concept of Custodianship.

Therefore I believe that Sovereignty is an inappropriate word to use.

I support Native Title and I support a Treaty.

But I don't support Sovereignty - Aboriginal or White European.

[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

Photo Credit: Razmataz' Flickr via Compfight cc

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