Here in Australia we are privileged to live on land that has the oldest living continuous culture on the planet.
It’s important for us to learn how to connect to our place. Aboriginal elder Noel Nannup has generously guided us through many of the Social Impact Festivals. You can listen to Noel in this video from Perth Artists to orientate yourself and be inspired.
Understanding where you are is always harder than it sounds. The following words were originally printed by the Aurora Foundation and given to this toolkit by Noel Nannup; they are a good starting point for connecting to your place.
Protocols are ways of behaving on country and in communities. They change at different places and different times for different people. But always watch and listen, show respect, be careful.
Have you acknowledged traditional custodians? Do you have permission and welcome? Have you stated who you are? Have you stated where you are from? Do you know what offends people here?
Who are the traditional custodians of your land?
This document from Reconciliation Australia shows you how to acknowledge and respect the land you are on.
Note: We have been told that it is preferred to acknowledge Elders past and present, but not ‘emerging’.
Whether you are on your own country or another country, you need to know about the land on which you are staying. It is important to know where you are.
What are the plants and animals here? What goes on in this season right now? Where is north, south, east, west? What languages are spoken here? What are the dangers here? Where can’t I go? What can’t I do? Whose ancestors are here?
‘Language is more than just a means to communicate, it is an essential characteristic that makes people and communities unique, and plays a central role in a sense of identity. Language also carries meaning beyond the words themselves, and is an important platform within which much cultural knowledge and heritage is passed on.’
You can visit the AIATSIS website, which holds the largest collection dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories and provides information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Connections between people, language, time, spirit, story, place, nature and the messages coming from these things make a culture of genius.
Do I have connections here through family or friends? What plants are flowering and fruiting, and how does this relate to what animals and fish are doing at the same time? What stars can I see here at the time? What hidden signs and messages can I see?