Too sad? Maybe a forensic mystery is more to your taste:
“Sirs,” said the doctor, as he rushed into the parlour. “The results are conclusive.”
“Out with it, son. I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“It was in the blankets. The smallpox virus that killed the natives…..it was in the blankets issued by the government.”
“Yes, yes. Leave us. We have a robust burgundy waiting to be savoured.”
An apocalyptic mystery:
They stood, transfixed at the mysterious cloud that engulfed the horizon, not realising that their lives would be forever changed by this toxic black mist that would scorch Country.
Too far-fetched? How about a supernatural mystery movie:
Sister Mary Marie stands at the front door, not heeding the moths beating against the hall light behind her. She frowns. This country has too many bugs. Sister Mary scans the darkened bushland surrounding the Shepherds of The Lord Children’s Home.
A short distance away, the grounds-keeper rested on his shovel at the end of another long day. He grimaced, wondering how many more child-sized graves he would dig this week. And, not for the first time, he thought: what evil lurks inside this place?
Too dark? Perhaps a romance mystery novel will be more appropriate.
Like the story of how the young Aboriginal woman eventually fell in love with the sealer who brutally took her from her family. Or the tale of the barely-a-woman who warmed the heart of the soldier who felt alienated in such an inhospitable country.
In all seriousness, none of the above historical events are mysteries. These and similar histories (stories) have been told in film, documentaries, plays fiction and non-fiction literature, in art, poetry, song, and dance. And represented in monuments, public art and built environs.
If non-Indigenous people choose not to listen or to see, that does not make pre-invasion or settler-colonisation histories a mystery. And if people choose to white-wash our collective history, then shifting hearts or minds becomes impossible.
This year’s reconciliation theme has the potential of utilising stories to create change, but this story-telling needs to challenge the status quo by being brutally honest.
However, First People should not be expected to share stories of achievements and contributions to Australian society – to demonstrate they are ‘worthy’ of being recognised. This is reflective of the harmful narrative that only good refugees are worthy of sanctuary, and only productive migrants are worthy of being recognised as Australian.
Any sharing of history needs to be done on the terms of the story-keepers – those that have lived experience or tell the stories of their ancestors. Not dictated by non-Indigenous people, no matter how qualified they see themselves. Truth-telling involves deep listening. And a willingness to engage with the uncomfortable.
History is not a mystery. And neither is some people’s reluctance to listen, learn, and embrace change. Are you listening?
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Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, and is the founder and CEO of IndigenousX.