Australian Aboriginal Sovereignty is a political movement amongst Indigenous Australians and supported by others in the 20th and 21st centuries, demanding control of parts of Australia by indigenous peoples. Aboriginal sovereignty is not recognised by the Australian legal system.
As is the case in many other countries where native people were displaced by European settlers, such as New Zealand, the United States and Canada, the issue is complicated and controversial.
Initially, the British afforded very little recognition of Aboriginal customs and laws. In 1840, all Governors in Australia and New Zealand were directed that all Aboriginal customary law was to be superseded by British law.
In 1972, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established on the steps of Old Parliament House in Canberra, the Australian capital, to demand sovereignty for the Aboriginal peoples. The protest has remained in place for over forty years. Demands of the Tent Embassy have included land rights and mineral rights to Aboriginal lands, legal and political control of the Northern Territory, and compensation for land stolen.
Many public events in Australia, including ceremonies, speeches, conferences and festivals, begin with a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country. Welcomes to Country are made by Elders of the Aboriginal nation on whose traditional lands each event is taking place. Welcomes to Country can be relatively long, and are often spoken in full in both English and the language of the respective Aboriginal nation. (Sometimes an interpreter is required to translate the Elder's language into English for the English-speaking audience present.) Acknowledgements of Country are more common, and are typically made at the beginning of a speech or an event by a speaker who is not of the requisite Aboriginal nation. Acknowledgements of Country are usually only one or two sentences long, and simply ask those present to acknowledge the fact that they are on the traditional lands of a particular Aboriginal nation.
Notable proponents of Aboriginal sovereignty included Charles Perkins and Gary Foley.