La Madre De Las Cosechas

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Hace mucho, pero mucho tiempo, cuando aún no habías nacido tú, ni tus padres, ni tus abuelos, cuando aún no habían casas ni calles, ni habían televisores ni radios, cuando aún no habían libros y los únicos cuentos que existían eran los que se escuchaban contar por los abuelos y las abuelas alrededor del fuego, hace mucho tiempo, cuando las personas todavía salían a cazar y a recolectar frutas silvestres para poder comer, pues aún no sabían cómo cultivar la tierra sembrando semillas, en ese tiempo tan lejano, casi al comienzo de los tiempos, había una niña llamada Pacha. Pacha era una niña muy particular, pues no le gustaba hacer lo que hacían las demás personas. No le gustaba ir de cacería, ni tampoco le gustaba andar por el bosque recolectando frutas silvestres. En cambio, a Pacha le gustaba hacer cosas que a nadie más le interesaba. A Pacha le encantaba jugar en la tierra, enterrando cositas y recordando dónde las había escondido para volver a desenterrarlas. Este era su propio juego. Era un juego de memoria que sólo ella entendía, y con el que ella solita se entretenía. continue reading–>

Dancing in the Ring – Learning wisdom from our indigenous cultures

photo: Wild Roses, by Tania Aguila, 2011

The English folk song “Here the Rose Buds in June” has long been one of my favorites. It sums up for me the riches of culture and our place in nature. Growing up in the nineteen seventies my environmental awakening was a school bird project at age 13, Young Ornithologists Club membership given to me by an older cousin set me on the route to birdwatching and later a life as a professional ecologist. Despite training as a scientist I have tried to integrate my love for nature into the whole of my life through art, culture and religion. This folk song I discovered at about the time that I started British traditional morris dancing and the words of this song and the earth ethic of folk dance has been a long-term influence. The three time beat and haunting melody gives it an almost hymn like quality, and it has a spiritual resonance. The many authors and holders of this song, and no doubt there were many as it was handed down and honed by several generations of singers, were clear that they were part of nature, and not separated from it as I felt growing up. Here is the song and some of my thoughts… continue reading–>

Growth – Revision for Higher Biology or Different Ways of Knowing

The bud swelled

the spring flower

unfolded

a blinding blue

translucent star

Growth: The irreversible increase in dry matter

The baby smiled

at his mother

suckled on the

warm soft breast

taking sweet nourishment

Growth: The irreversible increase in dry matter

The new leaf

shone vivid green

against azure sky

where only just before

there was

nothing

Growth: The irreversible increase in dry matter

The seed swelled

enlarged

burst open

and a green flicker

of hope for the world

emerged

Growth: The incredible increase in what matters

A Sense of Place (Campfire Meditation)

credit: Cristina Mittermeier

We’re hearing so much about Indigenous knowledge lately Knowledge about the natural world We want to know that knowledge To understand what we’ve done wrong To make things better But knowledge alone won’t do that for us Stories we hear From indigenous mouths Are not stories of Knowledge of place alone They are stories of Sense of place… continue reading–>

Caring for Country: An Australian Approach to Indigenous Land Management

The Tanami track is a rough, corrugated ‘bush highway’ that cuts across the Central Australian desert from Alice Springs northwest to Halls Creek in the Kimberley. While an important artery serving Aboriginal communities and mining operations, this route traverses one of the more remote and unforgiving regions of the country, offering few amenities to the uninitiated traveler. From my home in Alice Springs it was a 650 km drive up the Tanami before reaching the turnoff to Lajamanu, the Warlpiri Aboriginal community where I worked, a further 230 km north.

Employed by the Central Land Council’s Land Management Unit last year, I gained a unique glimpse into life in the northwest Tanami desert and the land management issues its traditional Aboriginal custodians face in “caring for country”. My initiation into this field of work offered a steep learning curve and an experience rich in gems, thorns, opportunities and contradictions. I couldn’t have asked for a more challenging and engaging position.

Appointed as an “Indigenous Protected Area Development Officer”, my role was to consult with the Lajamanu community on a broad range of natural resource management issues and facilitate on the ground programs that encouraged greater community involvement in land management activities. Funded by Environment Australia, the position was created to assess the feasibility of Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) declaration in the northwest Tanami, a national initiative that seeks to promote biodiversity and cultural resource conservation on Aboriginal lands. As a liaison between community elders and government conservation agencies, I had to learn to walk between the worlds, acting as a bridge between traditional ways of caring for country and contemporary western land management principles.

Home to about 700 Warlpiri and Gurindji Aboriginal people, Lajamanu was established as Hooker Creek Reserve in 1948 by the Northern Territory government’s Native Affairs Department. At the time nearly 400 Warlpiri people were forcibly transferred from Yuendumu (a community about 500 km southeast) and the surrounding region to this new settlement on Gurindji land. While many people walked back hundreds of kilometers to their homelands, after repeated relocations some Warlpiri people adopted the community as their home. Issues continue to arise over the ownership and use of the Lajamanu area. However as the population today is primarily Warlpiri, many of the Dreaming stories and cultural responsibilities associated with the area have been passed on to them from Gurindji people.

Today Lajamanu is a dynamic community continue reading–>