The time has come to publicly acknowledge the sovereignty of the First Peoples of Australia, to recognise their profound faith as a vital contribution to the multi-faith culture of Australia and to call on the Australian government to pursue the treaty process so as to enshrine a First Nations voice in the Constitution.
The biblical background for this acknowledgement, for those of us whose faith includes the Abraham tradition, are the precedents enshrined in the Abraham narrative. When Abraham entered the host country of Canaan, he:
Had peaceful relations with the indigenous Canaanites
Joined with Canaanite allies to defend the land
Acknowledged and swore by the indigenous God El
Made a covenant/treaty with an indigenous community
Agreed to be a joint custodian of the land
Unlike Abraham, our European settler ancestors
dismissed the capacity of the Aboriginal Peoples to be custodians of this land,
dismissed their creation spirituality as pure paganism
and dismissed their capacity to negotiate a treaty with the settlers.
The time has come to challenge the Christian Churches and similar bodies not only to recognise regrettable past relations with the Aboriginal Peoples, but also to take the lead and publicly acknowledge the deep faith of Aboriginal Peoples as a basis for establishing a treaty that restores their dignity and their rights, a faith grounded in the wisdom of global indigenous cultures.