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Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow

Martin, Jesse T.

For millennia, my people have been the stewards of this land. Coming from a place rich with everything one could want for, my ancestors lived by a strict and binding law which dictated that each individual would look out for the collective and the collective would look after each individual. A circle of balance, with this knowledge and responsibility, passed from one generation to the next. With a governing core philosophy which stressed the importance of individual responsibility for the betterment of each other, my people created a balance with themselves and the world around them. The arrival of Europeans and the Western identity changed this world forever, and now the modern age has heralded changes for us which we must look to overcome, to adapt to, to survive and to thrive alongside in this new world. Although split into many tribes and clans across the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a whole constitute the longest continuing culture on the planet, with my people being here over 50,000 years. However, it is important to stress that for this time, we have not remained fixed in time as some of the Western stereotypes may depict the image of the unchanged “noble savage.” No, we have been able to survive and thrive as long as we have due to the fact that we are the most adaptive people on this earth. As circumstance and necessity dictate, so we adapt, and so we overcome. Today this same principle applies, and although we have a drastically altered and different experience ahead of us, drawing upon the same core philosophy of our past we indeed shall not only survive but thrive, adapting to a new world and once again showing why we indeed are the longest continuing culture in the world to date.

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Also Published In

Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes

More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Published Here
October 28, 2019


This is a chapter from "Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at