Three years ago, Jeremy Geia was a well-paid political journalist reporting from Australia's capital.

But he doesn't exist anymore.

Murrumu Walubara, as he is now known, has taken a tribal name, renounced Australian citizenship and abandoned two decades' worth of savings.

He has returned to his ancestral land in northeast Australia, where he has set about creating an indigenous nation with its own laws and institutions.

Witness follows Murrumu during his impassioned weekly radio broadcast to promote the newly announced state, at citizen swearing-in ceremonies, and travelling to Canberra to lobby Australian ministers and foreign embassies for recognition.

Will he be greeted as a publicity-seeking activist or will his calls for independence be taken seriously?


FILMMAKER'S VIEW

By Yaara Bou Melhem

Every year, on January 26, Australia celebrates its national day.

While it will see widespread community celebrations, the welcoming of new citizens and the release of the Australia Day honours, it's also a day mired with controversy.

The date is tied to the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in 1788. And many Aboriginal advocates and community leaders have already argued why Australia Day's date should be changed to allow a more inclusive celebration of national identity that is not tied to colonisation.

It's especially poignant now as Australia considers whether to amend the constitution to recognise its First Nations people.

But the Aboriginal Sovereign Yidindji Government believes questions of recognition and inclusivity are a non-sequitur, as the very nature of white settlement has meant original peoples and Australia have always been separate entities - and that Aboriginal tribes should take advantage of that.

Creating a Nation puts explores an alternative viewpoint to the issues of recognition and sovereignty that are currently being discussed in Australia.

One of the primary goals of the Sovereign Yidindji Government is to sign a treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia [Tanja Bruckner/Al Jazeera]

The film follows Murrumu, the foreign affairs and trade minister for his government, as he lobbies the Australian government and international community for a treaty.

As there was, and still is, no treaty between Australia and its original inhabitants, the Sovereign Yidindji Government says it then follows that sovereignty was never rescinded so just needs to be asserted.

The government is barely in its infancy but is gaining recognition and legitimacy. This is in part because Murrumu is not only personable and charismatic, but he can also call upon a vast network of national and international contacts to help achieve the government's goals. 

The most significant endorsement so far is from the chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous and Peoples, Megan Davis. She reportedly said there's nothing stopping the Commonwealth of Australia from entering into a treaty with the Sovereign Yidindji Government.

The Yidindji aren't counting on pressure from within Australia alone to get a treaty, they're making sure other powerful nations are aware of the country's lack of consent.

There is currently no significant movement or public discourse arguing for a treaty between Australia with any of its indigenous peoples. The country is still grappling with other basic issues, including whether to put to referendum amending the Australian constitution to recognise its original inhabitants.

But one of the primary goals of the Sovereign Yidindji Government is to sign a treaty with the Commonwealth of Australia. It believes it can correct the error at law of establishing Australia without the consent of its First Nations peoples.

The Sovereign Yidindji Government has a long way to go before it can reach its goals of a treaty. Before then, it has a lot to nut out about its governance and how, or if, it should marry its ancient tribal laws and customs with today’s norms. But it’s just getting started.

For now, if it simply sparks a national conversation about a treaty, then it will have already proven itself a success.

Will the former journalist be greeted as a publicity-seeking activist or will his calls for independence be taken seriously? [Tanja Bruckner/Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera