Carpetblogging #1

Since I began writing this blog two and a half years ago, I’ve resisted the temptation, common to many bloggers, to simply reprint or point to stories that someone else–journalist, blogger, researcher–has written. I’ve felt that if I didn’t have something substantial to add to what someone else had already said, I should just keep quiet. 

That hasn’t stopped me from recognizing superb work done on many of my favorite blogs, which are listed in the sidebar on the right. But it has stopped me from sharing interesting things I stumble across on the web. I use a wonderful piece of software for the Mac to snag all those articles and links and save them in an electronic notebook. The software is called Mori, from Apokalypse Software Corp., and I highly recommend it. (Its authors recommend another product NoteLens, for Windows users.) My “Aboriginal Culture” notebook now has 1482 entries in it, organized into loose categories like “Sorry Business,” (123 entries) about the devastation and sufferings in remote communities, or “Howard’s End” (a personal favorite, 204 entries) and “Kevin 07” (74 entries).

So I’ve decided to try an occasional series that will consist of short paragraphs pointing my readers to some of these gems, websites, interesting trivia, and news reports that I come across. Since I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m profiting unfairly from someone else’s labor, I’ve decided to call the series “Carpetblogging.”

***
Wik, Weipa, and China. Earlier this week The Age carried a story (“Can Chalco show the way in deal with Aborigines?”, March 24) about new developments around the bauxite mine at Weipa. The mine was established in the 1950s, and rumor has it that Midnight Oil’s landmark land rights hit, “Beds are Burning,” tells of the destruction of the mission town of Mapoon to make way for the mine. Now Chalco, the Chinese state-owned aluminum corporation, has signed a deal with Wik landowners to open new operations on the west coast of Cape York. Although the article pays a deal of lip service to the potential for development, renewal, and benefits for the Indigenous people of the area, I would feel a lot better about the story if it weren’t focused on what the media likes to call “anti-social behavior.” An aura of mutual respect seems to be a fond hope at this point.
***
Barbarians at the Gates. Meanwhile, The Australian is keeping up its one-sided campaign against the permit system (“Community gatekeepers are keeping us from the truth,”March 22). It’s the same tired argument: allowing Aboriginal people to control who comes into their communities is only nominally about protecting culture and safeguarding land rights. The real invidious Indigenous intent is to prevent the supposedly objective light of Australian journalism from shining on rapists and drug runners. But as David Ross of the Central Land Council pointed out (admittedly in The Australian–maybe they’re not entirely one-sided, just lopsided) a couple of months ago “Permit system protects residents,” January 23), the problems that exist in Indigenous communities “would probably escalate. Breaking down the barriers … may indeed by a pyrrhic victory.” But maybe it’s all just another example of journos telling the world how misunderstood and put upon they are, as the latest report indicates “Journalists to get blanket exemption” (March 27).
***
Indigenous Welfare. One of the best ways to keep up with what The Australian is saying about Indigenous issues is to bookmark their “Indigenous Welfare” index. It doesn’t cover everything that the broadsheet publishes on Aboriginal concerns, but it’s still a great way to keep up to date on many national issues.
***
And finally, a personal note. When I was last in Melbourne I struck up a friendship and have since enjoyed corresponding with Henry Skerritt, who manages the Collingwood branch of Indigenart. When Henry was still in Perth in the late 90s, he fronted a folk-rock band called The Holy Sea that became quite well known out West. Now they’ve reformed in Melbourne, recorded some new tunes, and are starting to tour. Check out The Holy Sea on MySpace to listen to the infectious “Paddy There’s Got To Be One More Bar Open” and consult their touring schedule.
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