The Importance Of Land/Country To Australian Aboriginals.

1838 words - 7 pages

For Aboriginal Australians, the land has a special significance that is rarely understood by those of European descent. The land, or country, does not only sustain Aborigines in material ways, such as providing food and shelter, it also plays a major role in their spiritual lives. As Rose put it, "Land provides for my physical needs and spiritual needs." (1992, p.106). To use Rose's own term, to Aboriginals the land is a 'nourishing terrain'. (1996, p.7).The basic tenets of Aboriginal spirituality are inextricably bound to the land."For Indigenous Australians the land is the core of all spirituality." (www.dreamtime.net.au, 2003, p.1). All land is important in some way, but some places are more sacred than others. These 'sacred sites' are usually places where important events happened during the Dreamtime, the name given to the Aboriginal creation myth.Dreamtime (known as tjurpa) cannot be separated from the land. "The earth is the repository of blood from Dreaming deaths and births...Dreaming is quite literally 'grounded'." (Rose, 1992, p.57). As a major part of their spirituality, the importance of land is a result of the importance of Dreamtime. The dreaming explains to Aborigines how life began, and how all life is connected to the land - which is also seen as a living entity as well as being the creator of life.The land is seen as the repository of spirits, which in Dreamtime became alive in the form of animals, people and plants. These lifeforms in turn created features on the land. The Gura people of Central Australia believe the Todd River was formed by a giant caterpillar:Lherre Mpwarntwe. that old Todd River. He is a backbone,lying there. This is his body, right here in Alice Springs. Theriver is his backbone, and that good soil on both sides, that ishis back muscles, that is his flanks. His legs stretch down....this is the good country. This is all the Yeperenye CaterpillarDreaming country. (Kimber, 2002. p.6).While white Australians may consider the land they live on to be merely dirt and rocks, for Aboriginal Australians the land is imbued with spirituality, a belief that has more in common with pagan religions than with the Christianity of the European colonisers of Australia. As in pagan religions, Aboriginals consider the land to be alive, to have a consciousness.At any site where 'something happened' in the pre-humanera, the site itself commemorates that happening. Thecharacters involved in that particular story remain therein spirit, as an intrinsic part of it. The site is not just earthor rock or water, but more than that. (Saxby, 1979, p.142).Aboriginals acknowledge the dirt and rocks, or what is seen as surface, but they also acknowledge the spirits, the dreaming and the law. This acknowledgment is shown through songs, stories and ceremonies.This holistic view of the land is indicative of what it takes to survive in a country that can be harsh and arid. Not only do Aboriginals attribute their culture and spirituality to the...

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