Possible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpretations
These phrases represent possible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpretations of the symbols in Resource 1. Any one phrase could match several different symbols. There is no one right answer. These ideas are designed to stimulate discussion.
The importance of sea country
Indigenous peoples' traditional links with sea country
Indigenous peoples express a strong and continuing sense
of belonging to, and responsibility for, their traditional estates. Their
sense of custodianship extends to sea as well as land areas and often
focuses on particular places of cultural significance. These may include
Dreaming tracks, story places, poison places, burial grounds and archaeological
Cultural sites occur in all types of coastal and marine
environments including beaches, headlands, estuaries, reefs and the sea.
Indigenous people in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland
also identify cultural sites offshore; such sites are known up to 80 km
off the coast in the Northern Territory. Some inland groups also have
cultural links with the sea through Dreaming tracks that cover long distances
to the sea.
Many groups of Indigenous people consider areas in the
sea to be integral parts of their traditional country, known as `sea country'.
Some of these groups identify with the coastal and marine environments,
calling themselves `salt water people' or `white sand beach people' and
so on. Anthropological research shows that distinct maritime cultures
continue to exist among some Indigenous communities. Early records describe
systems of Indigenous property rights related to reefs and seas.
Although the knowledge, observances and management practices associated with owning and caring for sea country may have disappeared from parts of the coast, they continue to exist in varying degrees in some areas.
Understanding the importance of sea country
Understanding the importance of sea country to Indigenous Australians involves recognising that certain areas of land and sea are central to the identity, culture and social structure of particular groups of Indigenous peoples. It involves recognising the significance of sacred sites, the contemporary importance of traditional hunting, fishing and gathering, and the need to secure an independent economic base while maintaining traditional associations with land and sea.
It also involves recognising the effects of dispossession and the importance of present efforts to recognise, rebuild and strengthen links with traditional land and sea country.
Aboriginal resource use and management
Despite these daunting changes and challenges the traditional Aboriginal owners of the region have survived with a complete sense of their Aboriginal identity. As is the case elsewhere in Australia, the foundation of Aboriginal identity at Napranum is the complex relationship between culture, people, country and resources. By understanding the present Aboriginal use and management of resources, the tenacious efforts of the traditional Aboriginal people can be recognised and valued.
"The land is our mother... we have got to look after it. We must self-manage it with love and respect".
"Aboriginal people must look after land, we need protection for lagoon, swamps, beaches, everything. We have to care for the country."
"The sea is important to us. We have always lived off the sea. When we go hunting and fishing today, we take our children and teach them how to hunt and fish."
"Today there is too much waste. People go fishing, take too much fish. Aboriginal people don't waste."
"I want to make sure that tourists do the right thing - no littering, not too much fishing - they have to respect our place."
"We want to show tourists our sea country and help them to understand a little bit about Aboriginal culture. Maybe then they will understand why Aboriginal peoples' connection to the sea is so strong."