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Aboriginal Civil Rights Movement Essay

1. Why did four Indigenous activists erect a beach umbrella on the lawns of Old Parliament House? On Australia Day in 1972, Indigenous activists erected a beach umbrella on the lawns outside of Old Parliament House. They set this up to start a protest; they placed a sign that said “Embassy” to represent a displaced nation. The McMahon Liberal Government made a statement in which land rights were rejected in favour of 50-year leases to Aboriginal communities, the activists were against this and this was the reason that this protest started. The activists were repeatedly asked when the protest would end and they said that they would stay until Aboriginal Australians had land rights, which could be forever. 2. Is source 2 a primary or secondary source? Why? Source 2 is a secondary source because it is not the original photo that was taken at that time. This photo would have been edited, copied and scanned so that it could be used for website and for other sources.

3. What sort of information can a photograph give historians about a past event? What might a photograph not tell us about the past? A photograph can give historians an idea about what the situation looked like and also the people involved and how they seemed to be feeling. A photograph cannot tell historians exactly how people were feeling because people may seem happy and content in a photograph when they are really going through a horrible time. A photograph also doesn’t show the full story and may only capture a small part of the past event. These points are proven in source 2 because in the photo there are two Aboriginal Australians sitting in a tent with signs saying “Aboriginal Embassy”, these two people seem quite relaxed and that’s how people that saw the photo would think they were feeling. Because of this reason you know that it doesn’t capture the full story as these people were protesting for land rights and the Government wanted them to be removed. These protesters also faced a lot of violence and you wouldn’t have known that from just this one source.

4. Read source 3. How does the government plan to respond to the Aboriginal Embassy? When the government realized what the Aboriginal protesters were doing they knew that they had to be removed because they were trespassing on Government land. They decided that that action should be taken to remove the campers which were on the lawn; it was put into place that it would be done with reasonable notice and tactfully with the least disturbance.

* 5. Look at source 4. Do you think the cartoonist is critical of the Government or the Aboriginals? What other groups are represented in the cartoon? I think the cartoonist is critical of the Government because the writing under the cartoon is being said by the Aboriginals. In the cartoon it is stating that the white settlers have come to Australia and have taken over from the Aboriginal Australians and are taking away the right that the Aboriginals had. The people that are represented in this cartoon are the Aboriginals and the Politicians.

I think the fighting would involve the Aboriginals and also the white people because you can see the people in the fight and you can see one person biting another’s leg in front of Parliament House. You can also see a sign which says ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ and a tent which may show that they are destroying the camper’s area. In the quote it states that ‘They’ own the place, I think that when they say ‘they’ it is referring to the White Settlers and the politicians. There are also two Aboriginals walking away from the fight looking very casual with the quote “They get stranded by some travel agency in 1770, then act like the own the place…!”.

6. Using all the sources, explain what happened to the Aboriginal Tent embassy in 1972. On Australia day 1972 four Indigenous activists, Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Koorie erected a beach umbrella on the lawns of Parliament House. These four people set up a protest and placed signs which said ‘Embassy’, this was to represent a displaced nation. The protesters were against the McMahon Liberal Government’s statement in which land rights were rejected to Aboriginal communities. They issued a petition which had a detailed five point plan which addressed that Aboriginals had ownership of existing reserves and settlements.

The Aboriginal protesters said that they would stay out on the lawns opposing until the Aboriginal Australians were granted their land rights. After a while the Government realized that they needed to get rid of the Aboriginals that were camped at Old Parliament House. They decided that they would be removed without any disturbance and with plenty of notice. The police pulled down and raided the tent embassy may times and many Aboriginals were arrested. Even through all of this and the support through the nation the embassy said that they would stay until they were granted their land rights.


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