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The Australian flag is a blue field with the Union Jack in the top left part and white seven-pointed stars. Many people know about this flag. However, how many of you know that the Aboriginals in Australia also have their own flag? Do you know the history of Australian Aboriginal flag?
Aborigines are the indigenous people of mainland Australia and some of the surrounding islands, such as Tasmania, Hinchinbrook Island, Fraser Island, Tiwi Islands, and Groote Eylandt. In the last 200 years, they were finally defined as a single group called Australian Aborigines, and they also had their own flag.
The History of The Aboriginal Flag
The Australian Aboriginal flag was first raised on July 9, 1971, on National Aborigines Day at Victoria Square, Adelaide. In 1972, it was also raised at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.
The flag was designed by an Aboriginal artist, Mr. Harold Thomas, in 1971. He is a Luritja man and a member of the Stolen Generation. Luritja is an Australian Aboriginal group native to the Northern Territory of Australia.
Although the flag was designed and created in 1971, only in 1997 did the Federal Court of Australia declare Harold Thomas as the copyright owner of the Aboriginal flag design.
In 1994, Cathy Freeman was waving both the Aboriginal and Australian National flags during her victory lap after winning a 200 meters sprint in the Commonwealth Games. This caused controversy as a rule at that time was only the national flag should be displayed. However, she did that again in her victory lap of the 400-meter race.
The decision made by Prime Minister Paul Keating to make the Aboriginal flag a national flag in 1995 received much criticism and opposition. However, that decision was never overturned even after successive governments, and the flag is still hoisted alongside the national flag of Australia.
In January 2022, Harold Thomas then transferred intellectual property rights to the Commonwealth government. The long history of the Aboriginal flag then becomes the symbol of the Aboriginal people of Australia and their movement.
The Meaning Behind The Colors and What They Symbolize
The Aboriginal flag is horizontal, with an equal size of the black region on the top part and the red region on the bottom part. Then, a yellow circle is superimposed on the center part of the flag. Each color and shape symbolizes different things.
The black color represents the Aboriginal people of Australia. The Red color represents the red earth as well as the red ochre used in Aboriginal ceremonies. Finally, the yellow circle represents the sun, which is considered the life-giver and protector of the Aborigines.
The Importance of The Aboriginal Flag to Australia
The flag symbolizes the spiritual relation of Aboriginal people to their land. Not only it symbolizes Aboriginal Australia, but it also has legal and political status in the world.
When it was raised for the first time in 1971 at a land rights rally in Victoria during National Aborigines Day, the flag became a symbol of Aboriginal strength and their ongoing spiritual connection to the land they live in.
Due to its wide acceptance, despite some controversy, and its importance in Australian Society, the flag was finally recognized legally in 1994 by the Commonwealth.
Since the 1970s, the flag has been repeatedly displayed in various events such as political rallies, sporting events, or any celebrations across the country. Sometimes it is also displayed as a permanent fixture outside important buildings in Australia. This was done to recognize and respect the Aboriginal people in Australia as the First Nations people.
This is the history of the Australian Aboriginal flag and its importance to Australia. Aside from this flag and the national flag we commonly know, other flags are recognized in Australia. That is because each state and territory also has a distinctive flag representing its region and its people. Find out more about these in the articles discussing flags of Australia states and territories.