Irene Watson belongs to the Tanganekald and Meintangk First Nations Peoples of the Coorong and the South–East of South Australia. Irene a recent 2013-2015 Australian Research Fellow continues to work on the project Indigenous Knowledges: Law Society and the State. Irene is Professor of Law in at the University of South Australia and an admitted legal practitioner with extensive experience working on questions of international law and Indigenous Peoples. Irene has published with Routledge (2015) Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law and (2002) Looking at You Looking at me an Aboriginal history of the South-East among other scholarly publications.
The Land and Laws of First Nations Peoples
There are many challenges that arise from the unfinished business of colonialism. The legal limit in dealing with the fact of First Nations Peoples existence was once again reiterated and set by the High Court in Mabo (No 2). That is, the extent of recognition cannot move beyond the ‘skeletal’ principle which is the foundation of the colonial state. Yet the genocide of First Nations continues, the record of animal and plant extinction is out of control and the ecocide of our territories is holding by a thread about to tear with each new and damaging development proposal. In response to environmental concerns I will embrace the complexity of First Nations legal systems and the problem for us in fitting into the limits of western eurocentric legal systems. In the near future the challenges are immense and the legal and policy responses should be aware of those complexities and impossibilities. So where to begin?