• NITV speaks to Indigenous artists across the country to hear their perspective on January 26. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Some of Australia's most well-known Indigenous artists are using their voice to speak out about January 26 and changing the date.
By
Laura Morelli

26 Jan 2018 - 7:57 AM  UPDATED 9 Apr 2018 - 1:41 AM

From young to old, established or up and coming, these Indigenous artists have shed light on the true meaning of what January 26 means for them and their take on changing the date - a topic that is currently gripping the nation.

It seems that most people across the country don't want to change the date. A survey from the Institute of Public Affairs found more than 70 per cent of Australians believe the country should be proud of its history. But others argue that perhaps they don't know the extent of it and that white Australia has a black history.

It's only fitting that on this day that we hear the thoughts from some of Australia's most prominent and respected artists that use their musical talent as a vehicle for driving change and combatting Indigenous injustices. 

 

Yirrmal, Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project 

One of the most iconic songs in Australian history and now more than 25 years later, Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project are pushing their messages across the country and ensuring their voices are being heard. Be it about Treaty or change the date - this group will continue to fight for Indigenous justice.

"Jan 26 is a very significant day where massacres and genocides happened for our mob here…When the Western Colonisation came in 1788 and stole the land. It’s a fair call for mob to call for a change the date. I don’t know what Jan 26 means, what do they celebrate, rivalry?".

"For us it is a significant day and what they are doing is threatening us again. This is a new year, change it, move it, make it happen. We are all human, we’ve got educated people now, we are not uneducated kids."

Briggs

Briggs is one of the top dogs in the hip hop world. His lyrics are ruthless, his tats are raw and his take on Australia Day is as brutal as they come. He spoke to NITV at Subsonic Music Festival , and has certainly made people think twice before proudly wearing a flag cape on January 26.

"It’s a white nationalist holiday. It’s about the expansion of the white race and the dehumanisation and genoicude of us. like whole heartedly that’s what the day represents. I don’t think people understand the actual tangible and reality of the conflict that day brings about."

"There’s nothing worse when that day comes around and it’s a real nice day. It shits ya because you don’t want to go outside because you’re going to be confronted by you know – flag caps."

Baker Boy

As the fresh prince of Arhnem Land continues to rule the throne, NITV couldn't miss the opportunity to catch Baker Boy while he was performing in Sydney. Not only can the cool kid rap in Yolngu Matha, breakdance and play the Yidaki - he can also speak up to five languages and share his view on January 26. 

"That day reminds Indigenous Australians about the day of the hurting, the loss of family and soldiers that fought for this land. It’s pretty sad to celebrate it. We want to celebrate Australia day as well but not on the day when it’s actually about what happened centuries back."

"If they could change the date, that means everyone in Australia could celebrate like a strong nation as one."

Trials

Ying and yang - deadly duo Trials and Briggs make up one of Australia's biggest hip hop groups, A. B. Original. Toegether their debut album has educated, empowered and informed Australia about it's black past - whilst also offending the rednecks of the nation. Their song January 26 helped push for change across the country in regards to the change the date debate and NITV spoke to Trials at Subsonic Music Festival, where it's clear the boys aren't stopping there. 

"It’s the exclusion of the nation’s first people, the oldest living culture on the planet. I spend the day on the phone to Briggs, trying to figure out how we’re avoiding it every year. Blind patriotism, and that’s the thing."

"I can understand people who might not be educated on the matter, that’s why we [A. B. Original] wrote the song [January 26] in the way we did. In the most slap in the face this is what it means to us and anyone who still stands that way after hearing out song, that’s their issue that’s something they’ve got to deal with because they’re a dying race, they’re a dying breed, they’re gone."

Sampa The Great

NITV caught up with sultry songstress Sampa The Great, at Lost Paradise Festival - one of Australia's most diverse festivals on picturesque Darkinjung land, NSW Central coast. The Zambian born hip hop artist showcased her colourful culture, soulful music and her perspective of changing the date for Indigenous Australians.

"Who is really free, on the same day you came and killed the people of the land? How can you truly celebrate that and think that is right? I think it is very ignorant for you to be privileged and not give space in your head for people who are not. That is stupid."

"To continuously celebrate something that undermines people’s lives is very evil and I think it is something we need to talk about, heal from and have space enough to see that is wrong. That is what I think about it.

"So change the f***ing date." 

Indigenoise

NITV spoke to the young and up coming hip hop group Indigenoise when they played a set not to forget at Dragon Dreaming Festival  - a fusion of drum, base, beats and culture tucked far away on the border of Ngunnawal and Wiradjuri land.  When the group was asked what came to mind when they thought about Australia Day – these were just a few words that came to mind.

Jannali Doncaster: Survival, culture, invasion 
Benjamin Robinson: Senselessness, detachment from suffering
Minjarrah Jarrett: First fleet arrival, genocide, survival day
Coedie McCarthy: Sorrow, confusion and anger

OKA

Standing strong in their Kulcha and keeping culture alive is something OKA have been doing for years. NITV caught up with the group at Subsonic Music Festival where they spoke about celebrating survival and educating the next generation on Australia's black history.

"Like most First Nations people I have never celebrated it. It doesn’t make sense, it’s not a sense of unity. It’s kind of like thanksgiving in North America. It’s like that celebration that has become a celebration over something horrific. Because we’re affected in it we know that pain first hand from generation to generation. You can’t celebrate trauma. You can’t celebrate when someone in your family has passed away on a day."

"People have been educated that that’s a day of celebrating unity when I think that’s all bull. I love that it’s a survival day I think it’s good to celebrate keeping culture alive by just being here and I think the resistance is not getting caught up in a fight but celebrating culture we have. It’s an important day to educate people."

Tasman Keith

"Jan 26th represents the start of a country and a system that was built on black blood. A system that continues to have the same impact on our people today, that it was intended to have when they first came here through systemic racism. It represents a day that people can shrug off the guilt of what happened in the past, and act like it ain’t their fault that things are happening now with no changes being made. Jan 26th is the tip of the iceburg for what really needs to be changed in this country."

"It should be changed to show that Australia recognises what has happened, acknowledges history in the right way, shows respect and can prove that this country is ready for some sort of change, even if it only begins with a date." 

Philly 

"It’s always been a day of rememberance and mouring for our ancestors and everyone that fell for this country during those times. It’s the fight that we’re still fighting today. It’s about showing respect to our Elders who did everything for us. The fact that we’re here is a statement in itself because the British plan was to eradicate Aboriginal people."

"January 26 is a day to remember, mourn and celebrate the fact that we still exist. Changing the date is another piece to the puzzle to help conversations lead to bigger things like Treaty. I know people think we should focus on more important things in Indigenouds affairs, but this is a step forward. These conversations inspire change and help people become aware of what happened past, present and future." 

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