Euahlayi Nation sends Queen Elizabeth a letter declaring their independence

Geoff Bagnall National Indigenous Times 21 August 2013

The Euahlayi Nation have declared their independence and asserted pre-existing and continuing Statehood in letters sent to the Queen of England.

The Euahlayi people of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland are well on their way to setting up civic structures like citizenship and government, according to Ghillar Michael Anderson.

Mr Anderson stressed that in the letters sent to the British Monarch the Euahlayi have not asked for their independence they merely advise her of the Euahlayi's re-assertion of their preexisting sovereign status.

"What we've done is we've advised her of what we have done and we've also notified her that we also want to notify all her generals, Governors of Queensland, New South Wales and the Governor-General of our actions and we asked her to get them to convene a meeting with their Ministers of State and we'll talk to them about what we're going to do in the future as far as self-governance," Mr Anderson said.

The Euahlayi wrote to Queen Elizabeth II asking for "the documents, where war was declared against the Peoples of the Euahlayi Nation or where ... the Peoples of the Euahlayi voluntarily ceded their sovereignty to Great Britain", a request Mr Anderson said the Crown has been unable to fulfil.

Mr Anderson says the Euahlayi have been holding community meetings across their country and have gone a long way towards their goal of a unified and independent state.

"We're just finalising. We've just completed discussions with people around St George in Queensland, just finalising boundary and family connections and what we've done now is that's all mapped out, the boundaries are mapped," Mr Anderson said.

Provisional Euahlayi Peoples Executive Council and the Senior Council of Euahlayi Elders, Dirranbandi, Qld, on 3 August 2013
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Provisional Euahlayi Peoples Executive Council and the Senior Council of Euahlayi Elders
Dirranbandi, Qld, on 3 August 2013
Left to Right - Sitting: Elizabeth Connor (Executive Council); Henry Noble (Elder); Darcy Washington (Elder); Rosemary Weatherall (Elder); Melanie Waters (Elder).
Left to Right - Standing Frontline: Ghillar (Michael Anderson) [Executive Council]; Jason Dries [Executive Council]; Lindsay Noble (Elder); Lyla Dries (Elder); Mavis Eckford (Elder); Margaret Crump. Dr. Mayrah Dries (executive Council); Lenese Cooper (Elder)  
Back Row: Jason Dries Jnr; Gordon Weatherall (Executive Council); Neville Anderson; Pam Touma (Executive Council) and Edgar Draper.

But re-asserting your sovereignty in the modern era is complicated and there is much work afoot.

"I'm already talking to other legal colleagues and what we're doing is the first thing we'll establish is a justice system, the second thing we'll establish is a citizenship act and of course while that's all going on we also have someone finalising the constitution which will be put to all our family members.

"It will be like a sort of a referendum but we will send it out to people so they can comment," Mr Anderson said.

Like many tribes post-invasion, the Euahlayi are scattered so Mr Anderson said meetings would be held in places off-country to make sure as many are involved in the process as possible.

"We've developed a couple of workshops, we're going to have a meeting in Sydney where there are Euahlayi people, we'll have a meeting in different places where we know there's a bulk of Euahlayi people then we take them through to look at the constitution, the citizenship act then we'll begin to issue ID cards," he said.

With development of a constitution and development of justice and citizenship systems, a system of government is also being thought through.

"At this stage we're doing a combination of modern and old and the old one, basically, is instead of a Senate, or two houses of parliament, we'll have one house of parliament where we have a committee of Senior Elders who will have the right to speak, who will speak there on all issues and have their input there when we're doing law and legislation and talking about governance.

"So the old ones will have their input and give their wisdom to the thinking of the young.

"But the Elders' position is paramount, their position is superior to the others," Mr Anderson said.