Survival Day Bermagui calls for recognition of First Nations sovereignty

Australia's First Nations will always be a sovereign people which the federal government needed to recognise, the organiser of Bermagui Survival Day has said.

On Sunday, Rodney Kelly, a descendant of a Gweagal warrior shot by Captain Cook's marines as they landed in Botany Bay, opened the event by saying to the crowd of over 300 that it was about celebrating the survival of First Nations people.

He said while it was Australia Day for many, for Indigenous Australians January 26, 1788 marked the beginning of genocide, pillaging and land theft.

"We still have deaths in custody. Some of them are dying in there, not getting looked after. You're fearing for you life because you don't know what's going to happen," he said.

"Our kids are still being taken away at alarming rates, just like back in the Stolen Generations."

He also spoke about the need to recognise the sovereignty of First Nations people.

"Our law was here first, our law is the law of the land, not the law of the courtroom," Mr Kelly said.

"We're always going to be sovereign people and the Australian Government needs to recognise that.

"There's not just one people, there's many tribes."

He said there were tribes in the country that still practiced on a daily basis, including such practices as initiation ceremonies.

He encouraged non-Indigenous Australians to research the history of the country and view such information as the map of massacres in Australia, such as the one released by the University of Newcastle.

"History has always been shied away from, it's never taught about in schools properly," he said.

"These things need to be out in the open, that's how we heal as a country."

Mr Kelly also addressed the bushfire emergency, saying Australians needed to learn about cultural burning to learn how it can help the land and that Indigenous Australians had been calling to get more involved in land management for a long time.

"We want to take care of the land, we want to take care of the beaches," he said.

"We have been here for thousands and thousands of years, we are really the best people for that job."

Money raised at Bermagui Survival Day will go towards families who lost their homes in the recent fires.

This story Survival Day Bermagui calls for recognition of First Nations sovereignty first appeared on Bega District News.