When I say “I’m running on Blackfulla time!”, it usually means I’m running late. But the concept that I’m on a different clock than non-Indigenous people is true.
Time is a concept that changes from culture to culture. First Nations people see time not as a twelve hour circle with arms, but rather a story that is being written and rewritten every hour of everyday; usually referred to as the Dreaming. It’s the words and actions of our Ancestors that inspire our everyday decisions. It is ‘everywhen’ - where now, then, and later are the same.
Imagine someone says, “That happened years ago! It doesn’t matter now.” Compare that to what I’ve explained about time and you might see the connections between different senses of time between different groups of people. The things of the past are the present. It is the effect of what our Ancestors affected.
Affect [verb]: to impact or change. Effect [noun]: the result of change. Every small action, to laws and policies, impacted the lives of those who came before us so change could be lived in the present.
The actions of the past depended on visions of the future and what they wanted the now to look like. This is futurity. In a colony, settler futurity is the main goal. Settlers' wellbeing is prioritised over First Nations peoples and Country. Methods of ensuring futurity is control of natural and human resources, and creating a story that justifies these actions for all generations. These were methods such as terra nullius, massacres, the belief of race (that races have hierarchies and human evolution ends with white people), removal of First Nations people off their traditional lands, the Stolen Generations, segregation, and then the systemic racism existing today. Indigenous futurity centres First Nations wellbeing: health of people, health of Country, kinship, cultural strength, good education, community, land rights, accessibility, self-governance systems separate from a federal settler government, and an Indigenised society that rejects colonial systems and beliefs, and embraces Indigenous practices and belief systems.
The path forward is a method that First Nations people have perfected over millennia: storytelling. Visual arts, dance, verbal retellings, song, body paint, weapons, and clothing has been used by First Nations peoples to explain who they are, where they came from, and where they are going. Stories are who we are. Humans’ ability to communicate lessons and histories is what makes us people. The ending isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of these stories, but rather how we got there. Western methods such as books and learning institutions are new, but can be used in the same way. If we write the histories and stories through the lens that prioritises the truth and Indigenous futurity, we will reach a future that the Ancestors imagined for us.
There is a simple truth I would like the reader to take away today. We are the accumulation of the choices of those who came before us, and their small choices made big effects. Always find strength in the reality that you are an Ancestor.