The above video is a recording of our workshop ‘The New Normal: How musicians can green their practice, normalise First Nations leadership and inspire change’ (June 2020). First Nations Artists Allara and Neil Morris (DRMNGNOW) presented important First Nations themes around the role of music within society and Indigenous leadership within the music sector and beyond. Berish Bilander, Co-CEO of Green Music Australia, and artist Lisa Mitchell explored the intersection of our two crises – health and planet – and how they're forcing us to reevaluate everything. The event was facilitated by Matt Wicking. Read on for an overview of the workshop and the resulting resources.
Song has had sacred importance on this unique continent; so-called Australia for thousands of years, across thousands of generations of First Nations peoples. The intricacies of a healthy symbiosis with this land and its people was lived through expression of ancient song and continues to be held in song, dance and art. Due to colonisation, the development of most sectors that drive our lives in this land of great sacredness have been birthed at the consequence of Indigenous genocide, land theft, destruction and exploitation of natural resources.
Music always was and always will be sacred but has also been exploited. This must be addressed. Prior to colonisation music was not industrialised for purposes of profit, popularity or control but was a map to walk this country and a guide to care for Country. More recently, First Nations songs are embedded with hope, resilience and truth telling. Post COVID-19 we hope to flip it, challenging current so-called Australian society in a way that honours First Nations cultural practices. This can be done within the music industry, by creating a new normal. Together, through this workshop and future events, we hope to co-create a vision for our sector that is centred on justice and healing – one that places First Nations First; strives to regenerate Country; is powered by renewables; and transforms waste into gift. Together, when our festival and touring scene come back to life, we will be ready to restart thoughtfully, and create a New Normal.
A resource list for non-indigenous allies supporting First Nations Leadership and environmental action in the music industry
It’s time for us all to step it up and continue the work. Let’s make this a movement, not just a moment. There’s plenty of great information and support out there, so we’ve pulled together a list of links and actions to help you as we centre First Nations folks in our movement towards environmental justice. For any additions, corrections or edits to this content, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We suggest you start with:
- Neil Morris’ words on the need to move beyond tokenism, towards First Nations Leadership in the music industry
- This handy list of 10 positive ways to engage with Indigenous culture (produced by Yawuru woman, Shannan Dodson)
- This perspective on how Indigenous knowledge systems can help solve the problems of climate change (by Birri Gubba and Kungalu, Murri woman, Teila Watson)
- And this take on the role of indigenous leadership in protecting life (from Julian Brave NoiseCat, an enrolled member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen, British Columbia)
Then find your entry point in the resources below, get educated and get active:
BEING AN ALLY, ADVOCATE AND ACCOMPLICE:
- Learn the basics of how to be a good Indigenous ally with this excellent summary from Yorta Yorta woman, Summer May Finlay
- This scaffolded list of anti-racism resources is structured to make them more accessible. Learning can facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices, for anti-racist work. This US-based document is still relevant or racial struggles here. It can be supported by this long list of Australian Anti-Racism resources for addressing internalised white supremacy.
- Read Decolonising Solidarity to learn more about how to stand in solidarity in a way that empowers, recognises and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and doesn’t expect them to do all of the work. Decolonising Solidarity also offers a list of actions in a handy matrix that gives you more detail on what this work can look like in practice.
- Form a group of allies to learn together. It’s better you don’t do this work alone. You’ll benefit from the support, and we’ve all got a responsibility to use our knowledge and privilege to support others in their journey. So join or form a Decolonising Solidarity book club or get a reading group together based on the links provided here.
UNDERSTANDING OUR HISTORY
- First Australians (SBS): chronicles the birth of contemporary ‘Australia’ from the perspective of its first people.
- ‘The killing times’ (The Guardian): The colonisation of Australia was brutal and bloody, but many stories of the frontier have been hidden or denied. This special series tells some of them and asks, are we ready for truth telling?
IMPROVING YOUR CULTURAL COMPETENCY
- Generate // Working in First Nations Cultural Contexts (FCAC): This workshop is designed to build the capacity and effectiveness of non-Indigenous workers to better support sovereignty and self-determined outcomes in First Nations arts, culture, education and community engaged practice. (Note: next course delayed due to COVID, contact FCAC for more: https://footscrayarts.com)
- Black Card Cultural Capability Training: Training to solidify cultural capability, strengthening ethical behaviour between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
- Watch ABC’s You Can’t Ask That: Indigenous if you want to see some basic questions answered by a diverse group of Indigenous folks.
RAISING INDIGENOUS WORK AND VOICES
Advocate for Indigenous musicians, share their music and amplify their voices. Give Indigenous musicians headline billing, stage time and support slots. Below are some great ways to find your new favourite artists:
- Indigenous music playlists on Spotify
Indigenous Radio Music Programs (thanks to Neil and VMDO for this list):
- National Indigenous Radio Service
- Koorie Radio Sydney
- Koorie Classics on Koorie Radio
- Awaye Presented by Daniel Browning on ABC
- Rhianna Patrick presented by Rhianna Patrick on ABC
- Deadly Sounds presented by Rhoda Roberts on NIRS
- Still Here on RRR
- Black n Deadly hosted by Robert Thorpe on 3CR
- The Black Block hosted by Vivian Malo on 3CR
- Deadly Beats 10 am Fridays on Radio Adelaide
- Jampakt with Jonzy
PAYING THE RENT TO TRADITIONAL OWNERS
- Pay the Rent by donating a portion of ticketing profits to a body led by Indigenous Elders. Use this guide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander charities, the links in Shannan Dodson’s article from the top of the page, or the #paytherent links in the anti-racism resource above to choose a group that’s genuinely controlled by the community, without government interference.
- Consider supporting Indigenous environmental activists like SEED Indigenous youth climate network, for instance.
Acknowledgment of Country:
We acknowledge this workshop was broadcasted on the sacred lands of many First Nations peoples. We acknowledge that sovereignty has not been ceded. We acknowledge that the song of First Nations peoples has been integral to life upon those lands for thousands of years and continues to be to this day as guided by sovereign lores.
Green Music Australia acknowledges that as a settler-colonial organisation that exists with a colonial society founded upon a white supremacy framework, we have ongoing work in incorporating decolonial practice within the centre of our ways of working and are committed to ongoing learning and unlearning. In doing so we acknowledge that we must ensure that we platform and centre First Nations peoples to take their rightful place within leading affairs on their lands, which includes song.