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A rationale for the urgency of Indigenous education sovereignty: enough’s enough

Abstract

For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples in the country now known as Australia have had a very successful education system in place, from place. Currently, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students experience systemic harm in Australia's public and private schooling systems at unacceptable levels and are consistently positioned as deficient in both the practices and outcomes of formal schooling in Australia. Under the pretense of ‘getting a good education’, many Indigenous students feel coerced into compliance, with schools used as vehicles of institutionalisation, indoctrination and assimilation. As a Gamilaroi woman, I find issue with this and am concerned about the intergenerational consequences if Indigenous students remain in this system. Yet, there are few education options available outside the dominant Western, compulsory schooling model. This paper proposes an envisioning of Indigenous education sovereignty, grounded in Aboriginal axiologies, ontologies and epistemologies as an education option for all students.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I use the term Aboriginal when referring to known Aboriginal communities, specific research with Aboriginal people and when referring to my own standpoint. I use the terms Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander/Indigenous when referring to national and international communities of First Peoples. I also recognise that the terms ‘Aboriginal’, ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Torres Strait Islander/s’ are colonial constructs that homogenise the plurality of Indigenous identities.

  2. 2.

    Throughout this paper I make reference to Knowledge Holders, Elders and Old People as a way of showing respect to People of Knowledge, living and non-living.

  3. 3.

    The term ‘Country’ is purposefully capitalised to denote the sacred and specific connection to land/sky/water/place/entities that is held by many Indigenous Peoples in Australia.

  4. 4.

    I use the term ‘White’ to describe structural and discursive practices of domination, drawing on the work of Aileen Moreton-Robinson (2004, p. 78): ‘whiteness is not just about bodies and skin colour’.

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Correspondence to Michelle Bishop.

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Bishop, M. A rationale for the urgency of Indigenous education sovereignty: enough’s enough. Aust. Educ. Res. 48, 419–432 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-020-00404-w

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Keywords

  • Indigenous education
  • Sovereignty
  • Envisioning
  • Decolonisation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • Futurities