Monthly Archives: December 2019

Fire, Water and Land in Indigenous Australia

qqqIn this new book about Indigenous knowlege linked to country Glenn and Bentley talk with the people of the Crocodile Islands about ‘Saltwater Burning. Here we reproduce the last two paragraphs with thanx.

The ontological shift and new power language associated with ‘environmental
management’ offers great rewards and penetrating challenges to Yan-nhaŋu ‘law’. With new generations coming into this kind of opportunity and their ‘old people’ rapidly disappearing, new approaches and new tools may be warranted to help new generations of leaders maintain a critical eye on what may otherwise be an unquestioned movement of Yan-nhaŋu livelihood and well-being into the political economy of the State. Change is inevitable and not to be too harshly pre-judged from the ‘outside’. A level of continuity is essential to Yan-nhaŋu and other Indigenous Australians because such value criteria as connection to country, identity through language and ancestry, authority to direct the future, unique knowledge, symbiosis with seasonal change, define them and give them surety and presence in an otherwise fickle and opportunistic [wider] society.

In a world bereft of magic, these magnificent trees of connection between earth and
sky, people and place, kin and country continue to re-create the knowledge of the ancestors. Knowledge of ancestral essences in country, embedded in songs, stories and language, heard on the voice of the wind, in the songs of the birds, in the seasonal revisitation of spirits of country. Knowledge so intangible, indiscernible and elusive, at once powerful and precarious. Invisible to the scientific myopic of the modern world, irretrievable, inestimable wisdom linked to place, who can perpetuate this metaphysical jewel but Yan-nhaŋu themselves.