Treaty Documentary Series Review – Essential Viewing

What does the word ‘traditional’ mean? Long-lasting? Habitual? Conventional? Customary? At the very least, nothing should stump tradition. For example, when a random white guy says because he and his father once climbed Uluru, the climb should not be closed, because, it’s a family tradition. Right? Or, like how schools teach nothing about what really happened to Indigenous culture upon colonisation? Or, how when people want kids that are harassed because of their sexuality to just ‘have to deal with it’, no matter how terrible it can become, because traditionally, schools don’t cater for those who might need some help to get through it. It’s just Darwinism, right? Why spend the extra tax dollars?

In a way, traditionists views are actually quite hypocritical. They want things to stay the way they are but when it come to Australia’s “Traditional Owners”, wanting to have their own traditions, customs and lives recognised, the modern-day traditionalist are quick to shut that conversation down. This is where a treaty may have come in handy.

So, what is a treaty? Long story short, a treaty is an official document that expresses an agreement in words. It’s really simple to understand. A treaty may have given the Indigenous population their own land, to live their own way, to keep culture alive. But we’ll never know what it would have done, because it never happened. In fact, Australia is the only part of the ‘Commonwealth’ that does not have a treaty with its Indigenous population.

So, what would a treaty mean now? What would it look like?

While there are so many options in how it could go, SBS recently released a short documentary called Treaty, featuring four, 7-8 minute episodes, with Indigenous people discussing the idea. It actually quite interesting to hear what people think. There is a range of views, and not everyone is in favour of a treaty. In episode 1, Treaty Now, Indigenous writer Nayuka Gorrie discusses it with Aunty Sandra and friend Oscar. In the second episode, Unceded, we hear from an Indigenous band as they complete a song. All of the episodes present their own case and are conversational. Episode 3, What If, discusses what could have happened if one was signed upon invasion, this was the most interesting episode, hearing a range of community members, including Uncle Jack Charles. The final episode, Young Mob Questioning Treaty is self-explanatory, and is also essential viewing. 

Treaty is the short and intimate look at what a treaty may have meant in 1788, what it could mean now, and how it could happen. It’s essential viewing for anyone with interests in Indigenous rights and is on SBS on demand right now. You can watch it right here.

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