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Ngarrindjeri treaty negotiations
Daryle Rigney, Simone Bignall, Alison Vivian, Steve Hemming, Shaun Berg and Damein Bell explain the role of treaty in Ngarrindjeri nation rebuilding, and how treaty discussions helped support and guide their nation rebuilding journey.1Daryle Rigney et al., “Treating Treaty as a Technology for Indigenous Nation-Building,” in Developing Governance and Governing Development: International Case Studies of Indigenous Futures, eds. Diane Smith, Alice Wighton, Stephen Cornell and Adam Vai Delaney (Maryland: Rowan & Littlefield, 2021), 135.
“For Ngarrindjeri, their participation in treaty discussions, though aborted before an agreement could be reached, at the same time provided valuable political knowledge transferrable to their wider project of sovereign nation-rebuilding. Among other things, their engagement in treaty discussions confirmed some key practice-related lessons of Indigenous nationhood.
First, develop and hold your political ground in an appropriately sovereign way; begin by establishing authority in the process itself as a primary sovereign act of political relationship and don’t let the state control the relationship, or decide the nature of the process, or determine the limits of the outcomes.
Second, keep your organisation disciplined and maintain a firm agenda; plan strategically for the unplanned; know your teams’ individual and overall capacities, such as who has the right skills to achieve the desired outcomes; know how to delegate responsibility while maintaining control.
Third, remain mindful of the desired end point and know what cannot be left out or negotiated away; know in advance when to compromise, and why – for what gain?
Each of these involves the exercise of sovereign decision-making for the strategic purpose of advancing the Nation’s long-term interests. For this reason, we suggest nation-rebuilding is a necessary supportive framework for Indigenous peoples involved in treaty and, at the same time, that treaty can be a useful tool for advancing Indigenous nationhood.”