G27 – Unsettlement: The relationship between first and second peoples
“Ganma is the name of a lagoon where salt and fresh water meet. Water is a symbol of knowledge in Yolŋu philosophy, and the metaphor of the meeting of two bodies of water is a way of talking about the knowledge systems of two cultures working together.”
Dr Raymattja Marika
For Issue 27 in June 2022, we will consider the relationship between first and second peoples. “First peoples” includes those Indigenous peoples who inhabited the land prior to European colonisation. “Second peoples” includes traders, invaders, settlers, migrants, tourists and guests who entered the land of First peoples, usually without permission. This division is open to critique.
The relationship between First and Second peoples has been primarily one of colonisation, which involves the invasion of other people’s lands justified by a belief in cultural and racial superiority.
With time, the logic of colonisation begins to unravel. Indigenous cultures do not disappear when confronted with a more “developed” civilisation. As well, the project of importing a foreign culture into a new land loses momentum as myths of empire fade and ancient local cultures re-emerge. Places once named to mirror the other side of the world give way to Indigenous names: Aotearoa reemerges from New Zealand.
Yet the descendants of the colonisers remain, followed by waves of migrants. They are often the majority population and dominate positions of power. The rightful path now is to redress this by supporting Indigenous communities and giving over positions of power to their representatives.
What then for settlers? How can settlers strengthen their relationship to land without continuing to usurp Indigenous culture? How are migrants involved in this relationship? And for the first peoples, what is to be gained from the colonising culture that doesn’t involve the loss of one’s own culture?
How can first and second peoples be in dialogue?
To help answer this, we look to makers who break, create and re-build connections. We look to those who recover lost techniques, reanimate museum artefacts, find respectful connections to land for exotic materials, and negotiate Indigenous-settler collaborations.
This issue has special relevance to the colonial settler nations of the South. But it can apply to places of Indigenous presence elsewhere, including Turtle Island, Israel and Scandinavia.
You can find guidelines for submitting a story here. The deadline for stories is 1 May 2022. Please let us know in advance of your idea here. If you’d like to be a pathfinder and share the development of this issue, please send an email
Some stories to consider: