The Federation Press

Unsettling the Settler State

Creativity and Resistance in Indigenous Settler-State Governance


Debates in contemporary Indigenous affairs rarely question the settler-state framework and its accompanying institutions and processes. This silence persists despite Indigenous efforts to engage the settler-colonial order through repeated calls for treaties, for constitutional change, for self-determination and for better representation on the national political stage. These Indigenous efforts to enter into dialogue with mainstream Australia have thus far received little or no reciprocal movement from the settler state and its associated institutions.

To advance Indigenous affairs governance and develop a dialogue for improved Settler-Indigenous relations in the 21st century requires unsettling the silences around the settler-state and its institutions and processes. Instead, we need dialogue and exchange between Indigenous and Settler orders. Only by embracing the challenges of governance in an open an unapologetic way will we be able to address the anxieties associated with Indigenous governance and contribute to healing the persistent sore of the wider Indigenous-Settler relations that continue to trouble the Australian community.

To address these challenges, Unsettling the Setter State documents and analyses contemporary Indigenous efforts to engage with the settler state and its institutions. Chapters by Indigenous authors and settler interpreters and counterparts highlight Aboriginal creativity, vibrancy, and resistance while providing a crucial resource and pathways for rethinking governance and decolonising Australia in the 21st century.

Table of Contents

Unsettling Governance: From Bark Petition to YouTube
Morgan Brigg and Sarah Maddison

Part 1: Framing Contemporary Governance
Beyond Captives and Captors: Settler-Indigenous Governance for the 21st Century
Morgan Brigg and Lyndon Murphy
Reclaiming History for Indigenous Governance: Tasmanian Stories
Patsy Cameron and Linn Miller
Indigenous People in the Media: Telling it like it is and How it could be
Kirstie Parker

Part 2: Aboriginal Law and Contemporary Political Practice
The Way of the Warlawarlara: Kapululangu’s Two-Way Governance
Zohl dé Ishtar and the Women Elders of Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Law and Cultural Centre
Alcohol Restrictions in the Fitzroy Valley: Trauma and Resilience
June Oscar and Howard Pedersen
Ngarrindjeri Futures: Negotiation, Governance and Environmental Management
Steve Hemming, Daryle Rigney, and Shaun Berg

Part 3: Regional Governance and Collaboration
Murdi Paaki: Challenge, Continuity and Change
Sam Jeffries, Sarah Maddison and George Menham
Indigenous Governance Structures in the Southwest of Western Australia
Manuhuia Barcham
The Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company Planning Process: Resilience, Resistance and Innovation
Angela Pitts with Mick Mundine

Part 4: Future Governing
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples: Changing the Relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the State?
Tom Calma and Darren Dick
An Australian Dialogue: Decolonising the Country
Patrick Dodson and Darryl Cronin

Epilogue: Can the Settler State Settle with Whom it Colonises? Reasons for Hope and Priorities for Action
Lester-Irabinna Rigney

Of interest...