With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve seen colonies and independent nations across the globe reflect on the history and legacy left behind by the monarch.
For much of white Australia, and especially for monarchists, she has been painted as a beacon of light, hope, strength, and love. She is celebrated as a grandmother, a mother, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, and as a ruler forced into a difficult role at the tender age of 25. However ultimately she was responsible for upholding a structure of power that has oppressed our people since 1788, and millions of people globally.
As proud Gomeroi people, she was not our Queen, and for us, her death has triggered a state of deep reflection. However, this is not a state of reflection associated with a feeling of loss. Rather than reflecting on the monarchy, we have chosen to reflect on the colonialist legacy that she has left behind, and what matriarchy means to us.
The bloodlines of Gomeroi course through our veins, with every heartbeat carrying the strength, resilience and compassion that our own matriarchs have upheld in the face of great injustices. We descend from knowledge holders, nurturers, and warriors, who despite the conditions they were born into, chose to lead with love and fight.
To us, matriarchy is our own Sovereign women who have built their legacies doing what many First Nations people would consider true service. They’ve given tirelessly to their families, communities and the struggle of First Nations people — whether it be for our own community or for others — all whilst carrying themselves with grace and stepping into their power.
This struggle and fight would not exist without the ongoing colonisation of our sacred lands, sites, and communities. Queen Elizabeth II was someone who upheld that power structure from the safety of her palace walls in a foreign country, without a true understanding of its impact.
Since her departure from this world, we’ve been reminded daily by the media of the commitment she had to her duty, her faith and her family. But she and her family have left our people with a history of dispossession and oppression, the effects of which we’re still feeling today.
Our fight for Sovereign recognition and true autonomy over our already devastated Country extends back to first contact and the illegitimate claiming of so-called ‘Australia’ as Crown Land. The fight for land rights continues for First Nations mob across the country, and for the Gomeroi, this stems from our obligation to defend Ngambaa Thawun (Mother Earth). We have no choice but to protect Country and fight for our birthright in order to maintain our cultural practices.
We have an obligation to our matriarchs to carry on the legacy established by our fierce female leaders that set the landscape for Land Rights; icons like Aunt Elizabell Coe and early Gomeroi Land Rights activist Mary Jane Cain (nee Griffith) to name a few — along with all the other powerful women who maintained the fight and continue to do so today.
As Gomeroi, and like many other First Nations people across Australia, it's hard to stomach that a national “Day of Mourning” was announced only two days after the passing of the Queen, while acts of violence are still being committed against Country and First Nations People. On Thursday's so-called “Day of Mourning”, we will be reflecting on the Crown's role in the destruction of Country, and on the strong matriarchs that came before us.
We will be protesting against the monarchy and its continued illegal occupation of First Nations homelands across so-called Australia — especially the claim that the Crown has over Sovereign Gomeroi Country. With rallies planned in capital cities across the east coast, we are calling for those who participate in this illegal establishment by existing in it, to join us in calling out the active colonial project and help us move towards a post-colonial era.