Simon Ortiz, a Native American Indian, conveyed the importance of Indigenous culture, stating that ‘Culture is the knowledge of our way of life, love, revere and respect our culture…marginalisation saps our strength, courage, fortitude, resistance and resilience…We may often feel we are not real people who…have full complete cultural, political and conceptual sovereignty as Indigenous peoples living within their own sovereign land…’ (Ortiz, 2011: 289-290). This extract from Ortiz’s address provides a Native American Indian Indigenous perspective that highlights the utmost importance of culture to Indigenous people, globally.
I recently had the privilege of attending NAIDOC week where I heard the CEO of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) speak. I was inspired by his dedication and positivity toward the challenges Indigenous Australians have faced with their identity and place in dominant Australian society. One example that stuck out was the reduction in crime rates in Redfern once a boxing program had started at NCIE, keeping vulnerable members of the community occupied and focused on their health and a challenge.
Governments throughout the past two centuries have struggled to devise a policy that will reduce the stigma attached to Indigenous Australians and their future and a policy that will ensure their life expectancy increases. After many late nights, lots of paper and research I discuss the background surrounding the issue of Indigenous Social Policy in Australia and some positive steps forward.
One case study to consider is the success of the integration of the Maori culture in contemporary New Zealand. Many say Kia Ora to greet people in native Maori language. The Haka is also performed before each Rugby Union match as a traditional tribal war dance.