Irene Watson’s Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law is a story of law from an Aboriginal ontology—a law that is lived, not imposed; a law that is “raw” and “naked”. Indeed, nakedness is the central metaphor in the book, highlighting how the muldarbi (an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “demon-spirit,” which Watson applies to all instances of colonization worldwide) covered the lands of Aboriginal peoples, civilizing and smothering those with different ways of being in the world, and doing so in complete ignorance of those ways of being.
Indigenous law, philosophy and knowledges are core to our Indigenous past and they still hold our present worlds together, promising a future for First Nations peoples even in the face of colonialism which has done much to marginalise First Nations. This paper discusses the marginal position held by Indigenous peoples, one which is refl ected in international law and which deems us as objects of colonial states. This is our political position even while First Nations continue to hold and centre our lawful obligations to care for country.
Indigenous knowledge in relation to bushfires has been largely overlooked in Australia. In this paper Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Kaurna elder and Chief Investigator of the Australian Research Council (ARC) project Indigenous Knowledge: Water Sustainability and Wild Fire Mitigation, is “yarning” or in conversation with Irene Watson. The ARC project is working towards positioning an Indigenous philosophical standpoint that will bring a greater focus to Indigenous understandings of our natural world and the relationship between humans and the natural world, particularly in an era of climate change.