Lidia Thorpe: The Indigenous woman shaking up Australia
Granddaughter of a revered Indigenous matriarch takes her fight for justice and equality to the federal parliament .
Melbourne, Australia – The image is striking.
Draped in a possum-skin cloak Senator Lidia Thorpe entered her first day in the Australian Federal parliament last September with her right fist raised in a Black Power salute.
In her left hand, she carried a stick engraved with 441 stripes representing the number of Indigenous people to die in custody since a landmark Royal Commission in 1991.
Thorpe tells Al Jazeera she raised her fist “as a sign of resistance and as a sign of our struggle and in solidarity with Black people across the world”.
She also described the responsibility as “carrying the voice of my people into a place which denied our rights for so long” and confirmed her intent: “I’m not saying anything different to what the people on the ground are calling for.”
While not the first Indigenous senator in parliament Thorpe is perhaps the most outspoken, and certainly the most controversial, even stating last year that she did not identify as Australian.
She is not your average politician.
A grassroots campaigner and activist, she is a descendant of the Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung peoples and a granddaughter of the revered Indigenous matriarch Alma Thorpe.