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Brief History: Why we celebrate NAIDOC Week?

Just recently, I heard few comments from friends and colleagues about what is NAIDOC WEEK. Yes, for many that don’t know what it all means and why we celebrate NAIDOC Week. The acronym NAIDOC stands for (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee). It is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday.

NAIDOC history in brief: The organising committee behind the day adopted this name in 1991. The idea behind NAIDOC goes back to a letter written by William Cooper that was aimed at Aboriginal communities and at churches. It was written on behalf of the Australian Aborigines Progressive Association, an umbrella group for a number of Aboriginal justice movements. The association gathered together a wide circle of Indigenous leaders including Douglas Nicholls, William Ferguson, Jack Patten and Margaret Tucker. In 1937, they were preparing for what would become the famous DAY of Mourning in 1938. It not only sparked a very effective one-off protest, it also stimulated a national observance that was at first championed by churches and is now a national celebration.

NAIDOC Week is about celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces. They have different themes each year. For this year 2018, the theme is #Because of her – I can. This recognises the achievements and valuable contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to their people and the country as a whole. 

NAIDOC activities are held across Australia. The activities include cultural and education activities in schools and work places and public displays. NAIDOC week activities might include listening to Indigenous Australian music, reading dream time stories, visiting Indigenous Australian websites on the internet and organising an art competition. This major celebratory events take place in Australian major cities as well as in larger rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In many ways, it unifies the communities and to share with the rest of the nation.

I had the great opportunity to witness some of the Boigu dancers from Torres Strait Islands performing at Bunnings at Port Smith in Cairns. They certainly gave us something to enjoy while shopping. It gives me great satisfaction to see how people celebrate the events that is so significant to them. They take pride and without a doubt display their culture to the people that knows very little about their history and probably about their own country as well.

Boigu Dancers from Torres Strait Islands

I was not only fascinated about their performances but the musical instrument they use. This include the long hollow tree which they call varup. This is very similar to what my people use in their traditional celebrations but we called them Kundu drums.

To better understand about this celebrated event among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, go to NAIDOC official website.

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