Law Text Culture


In Arnhem Land, when the white people came, they wanted us to move off our homelands, into the missions and government settlements. Some people did, and some people always stayed on their homelands. In the larger communities, there was often fighting between clans because they didn’t live like that before. Some of the people who had moved to the communities decided to go back to their homelands … We are very confused by what the Government has been doing to us lately. Has the Government changed its mind again, to stop treating us like people? ... We want both governments [Australian and Northern Territory] to recognise that there is a Land Law here that was here before either of them, and is still here (Our Home, Our Homeland 2009: 5). This quote captures how two Indigenous policy approaches in Australia — ‘protectionism’ in the early 20th century and ‘interventionism’ in the early 21st century — have sought to contain and settle traditionally mobile peoples.