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.

4 thoughts on “Fire, Water and Land in Indigenous Australia

  1. Deb Paton says:

    Dear Bentley Happy Christmas break. I am keen to get your views on Dark Emu. Regards Prof John Blackwell

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Sharon Genovese says:

    Fire, Water and Land in Indigenous Australia -is this a book that is for sale? If so, where is it sold? If it is not sold, where and how can one get a copy?

  3. On behalf of the editors, we are very happy to announce that “Fire, Water and Land in Indigenous Australia” has now been published and is available online through the Cologne University Publication Server at

    As an open access publication, the volume is freely accessible to all who wish to read or download the text. You are also free to disseminate the link as you wish, however for reproduction of content in other publications is subject to permission from the editors.

    Above all we would like to thank all of you, the contributors, for making this edited volume possible. As a little thank you to our contributors, we would like to send you a physical copy, which will be available in late January. If you wish to have a physical copy, please email with your shipping address.

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