Welcome to country ... not

Kristina Everett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


It seems that every public function I attend includes a 'welcome to country' speech presented by a representative of a local Aboriginal group claiming traditional ownership of the land where the gathering is conducted. Indeed, while it was already becoming customary for white officials to acknowledge traditional Aboriginal ownership prior to introducing any kind of its own business in recent years, it seems to have become de rigueur since the 42nd Federal Parliament was opened with a 'Welcome to Country' speech from a Ngunnawal representative in February, 2008. As this paper demonstrates, welcome to country might be understood by whites as a 'safe' kind of inclusive gesture of recognition all the time knowing that such claims are not legally enforceable. But, as the two ethnographic examples I present in this article demonstrate, Indigenous agency, once acknowledged in performance, cannot be fully directed by the nation state to serve its own ends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Darug
  • Identity
  • Land claim
  • Welcome to country


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