HuffPost acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land this article was created on - Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the featured business’ lands and pay respect to Elders past and present and celebrate the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their unbroken connections to the lands and waters of Australia.
NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all people of Australia to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements. Usually held annually in July, this year NAIDOC Week has been postponed to November 8-15 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
NAIDOC stands for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. The origins of NAIDOC Week date back to Aboriginal advocacy groups of the 1920s.
Each year NAIDOC Week is assigned a theme. This year, the theme is: Always Was, Always Will Be, which celebrates the ongoing occupation and care for this continent by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for over 60,000 years. This is an opportunity for all people of Australia to celebrate the oldest continuing culture on the planet, and to recognise that the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations has never been ceded.
There are a number of ways you can celebrate NAIDOC Week including:
- Learning what Aboriginal Country you are on and some of the history of this place
- Attending or hosting a NAIDOC event
- Tuning in to National Indigenous Television (NITV)
- Reading a book by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander author (check out Magabala Books for some great titles)
- Following social media pages by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Listening to music or podcasts by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples
Another deadly (great) way to support NAIDOC Week is to make a purchase from an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned business. There are dozens of these businesses in a range of areas including art, fashion, food and drinks, homewares and more.
To get you started, I’ve created a list of 11 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses trading in various areas. This is only an insight into the breadth of businesses in our community and I hope that from this list, and your own exploring, that you find an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander business that resonates with you to support.
(PS Christmas is just around the corner; there are lots of great gift ideas in this list!)
Founded by Gamilaroi man Clinton Schultz, Sobah is Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer which features native bush flavours including lemon aspen, davidson plum, pepperberry and finger lime.
More than just a drink company, Sobah is promoting conversation about Australia’s relationship with alcohol, and challenging us to dismantle the stigma of socialising sober. Sobah promotes healthy lifestyle choices, social equity, sustainability and positive awareness about Aboriginal culture.
Learn more about Sobah in Episode 3 of Shaun Micallef’s On The Sauce.
Quandamooka sis Delvene Cockatoo-Collins is an artist and designer with a studio and retail store - Minjerribah Art Studio and Cottage - on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). Don’t worry, if you’re not in the area, Cockatoo-Collins also has an online store.
Embedded in her artwork are motifs of her culture, her family and her Country. Cockatoo-Collins sells beautiful ceramics, small sculptural works, stationery, hand printed homewares, clothing, prints and more. I personally have had my eye on her hand printed linen cushion covers for a while.
In 2018, Cockatoo-Collins’ work was celebrated on a national scale with her design being featured on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games prize medals.
Cockatoo-Collin’s Migaloo artwork has recently been given the augmented reality treatment meaning anyone with a smartphone can experience posing with Migaloo and hear why the famous albino whale is important to her and her family.
3. Kinya Lerrk
Kinya Lerrk - meaning ‘women coming together’ in Wemba Wemba - is a collaborative effort between two sistas Emma Bamblett (Wemba Wemba, Gunditjmara, Ngadjonji & Taungurung) and Megan Van Den Berg (Dja Dja Wurrung, Yorta Yorta & Boon Wurrung).
Bala Daniel O’Shane (Miriam Mer & Kuku Yalanji) is an incredibly skilled artist with refined skills in printmaking, carving and illustration. O’Shane’s art practice draws on both his Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) and Aboriginal heritage.
O’Shane’s prints are full of detail and rich with knowledge that provides strong insight into the breadth and depth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
O’Shane has participated in several exhibitions and won a number of awards, including the People’s Choice Award at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2017.
Picking favourites is hard, although I have had Gep saved in my bookmarks for a long time; I love the sense of movement and the teaching about gep (suckerfish) that accompanies the print.
Based between Meanjin (Brisbane) and Narrm (Melbourne), Bimbi Love is owned by two Kungalu and Birri Gubba sistas. Bimbi Love strives to provide authentically made Aboriginal products and to promote the economic development of Aboriginal-owned and operated businesses.
Bimbi Love’s range includes gorgeous earrings, necklaces, bookmarks, wall hangings, prints and more. Their pieces are beautifully detailed and yet simplistic with strong connections to native bush life.
Mabu Mabu - a saying meaning “help yourself” in Meriam Mer - is a food business founded by sisi Nornie Bero (Mer Island).
Mabu Mabu is passionate about using fresh, seasonal and native ingredients to create dishes that meaningfully draw on the flavours of the land and bring people together.
If you’re in Narrm (Melbourne) you can eat in at Mabu Mabu’s cafe or have them cater your event - I promise the wattleseed falafels with native herb hummus are a winner! Otherwise, you can order some goodies online to try at home.
7. EMRO Designs
Founded in 2019 by Bundjalung sista Emma Rolls, EMRO Designs is a business which anyone working in the early education sector should know about! EMRO Designs sell vibrant rugs, mats and cushions that are perfect for classrooms.
EMRO Designs engages with a number of Aboriginal artists and gives profits directly back to these artists to ensure a sustainable income and to support the continuation of their art practice.
NOOD Australia have successfully established a business that provides cleaning products that are kind for Country (environmentally friendly). Anthony Wilson (Ngarrindjeri & Kaurna) is the Managing Director of NOOD Australia and has a strong passion for Aboriginal youth, the environment and creating economic growth and self-sufficiency within communities.
NOOD Australia offers a range of natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly bathroom and cleaning, packing and washroom products which are made using native botanicals including Kakadu plum, desert lime, wattleseed oil and tea tree oil.
9. Bush Balm
For tens of thousands of years Aboriginal people have used plants from the bush to treat illness. Bush Balm is a social enterprise run by Purple House - an Aboriginal owned and operated health service in the Northern Territory - which enables Aboriginal people to continue the practice of making traditional bush medicine and share this with the world. Bush Balm also provides employment for Aboriginal people and supports the transmission of knowledge between generations.
Irmangka irmangka, Yawirriyawirri and Arrethe have been used for generations to treat muscle pain, joint inflammation, skin conditions and cold symptoms; these are the medicinal plants which Bush Balm continues to use today.
Bush Balm products continue to be readily available to dialysis patients and are also for sale to the public from the Purple House in Alice Springs and online.
For those expecting little ones to join their families or the families of loved ones, I could not recommend enough Wiradjuri business, Peached. Peached sells the sweetest organic cotton baby swaddles with designs by Wiradjuri artists, Derick and Tyrone Peachey.
Peached swaddles are versatile; they are good for wrapping up bubs, covering prams, and keeping sand off mooms (bottoms) at the beach.
Peached swaddles strive to celebrate the beauty of Aboriginal culture with the rest of the world and are therefore appropriate for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous families.
11. Bush Medijina
Bush Medijina is an Indigenous-owned and operated business combining Traditional knowledge with scientifically proven formulas, creating unique and effective natural skin care products. Governed by an all-female board Bush Medijina supports Warningakalina women and families across the Groote Eylandt Archipelago.
I got to meet some of the Bush Medijina team at 2019′s Garma Festival and I have enjoyed seeing them continue to grow. Purchasing from Bush Medijina is an opportunity for everyone to support Aboriginal women as they develop a business which empowers the next generation of Aboriginal women.