Understanding, appreciation and respect for indigenous Australians and their cultural beliefs and values is a critical part of moving forward as a society.
For thousands of years the continent was managed and conserved by indigenous Australians and through understanding indigenous culture we can come to appreciate and gain a spiritual connection to the land.
Indigenous communities across Australia had extensive ecological knowledge which enabled them to survive and thrive in a harsh dry continent for over 30,000 years. They know how to find food in every climate and season; they understand the medicinal properties of plants; and undertook intricate land management using fire, to increase the types of animals and plants that would be available. Underlying and resulting from this, they have a strong connection to both the land and to their understanding of it, the ’Dreaming’.
A small step in our conciliation with the indigenous people is to understand and respect the significance of their knowledge, culture and relationship with the land. Our interest and respect will support the indigenous community, and assist us moving forward in Australia’s journey of conciliation with its traditional owners.
How to do it now!
There are many ways to learn and support indigenous culture. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Increase you knowledge of what reconciliation really means. If you do not understand what something is how can we achieve it? Through understanding we can take actions to contribute to everyone walking together. See Reconciliation Australia to gain an understanding of what reconciliation really means.
Purchase indigenous artwork and products. Many indigenous artists use the proceeds from selling their art to support their family and community. The Australian Government’s Culture Portal provides a good introduction to indigenous art.
Get to know your local indigenous history. Most areas of Australia had vibrant indigenous cultures and histories prior to the arrival of European settlers. Explore the indigenous history of your local area through a range of local literature. The Australian Government’s Culture Portal provides a starting point.
Visit your local indigenous cultural centre. Many areas of Australia have indigenous cultural centres, open to the general public, where visitors are invited to take a journey through time to explore the way the local indigenous people lived prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Why is this action important?
Modern life has led many of us to disconnect from nature and to forget how deeply we depend on the health and vitality of the environment. Indigenous people, through many centuries of experience have developed a spiritual connection, understanding and deep appreciation of their land. There is much to gain by exploring and respecting the wisdom and ways of Australia’s first people.
As we aim to lighten our footprint on the environment there are many lessons we can learn from the way indigenous people lived and continue to live in harmony with the land, and its natural environment. Little waste was generated and entertainment was sourced from each other, the stars and the natural environment.
By understanding the culture and relationship that Australia’s first people have with the land, we can deepen our own understanding and appreciation; it is important that we acknowledge the historic events that have shaped our country. Through understanding comes connection with each other, the land and our shared values and beliefs.