Australian Aboriginal culture can claim to be the oldest continuous living culture on the planet.
Recent dating of the earliest known archaeological sites on the Australian continent - using thermo-luminescence and other modern dating techniques - have pushed back the date for Aboriginal presence in Australia to at least 40,000 years. Some of the evidence points to dates over 60,000 years old.
The hallmark of Aboriginal culture is 'oneness with nature'. In traditional Aboriginal belief systems, nature and landscape are comparable in importance to the bible in Christian culture. Prominent rocks, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, islands, beaches and other natural features - as well as sun, moon, visible stars and animals - have their own stories of creation and interconnectedness. To the traditional Aborigine they are all sacred: environment is the essence of Australian Aboriginal godliness.
Out of this deep reverence for nature Aborigines learned to live in remarkable harmony with the land and its animals.
It seems there's a lot our modern world can learn from these people.
Traditional Australian Aborigines lived a nomadic life, following the seasons and the food.
With very few simple tools, used with incredible skill, the Aboriginal learned to live in the harsh and inhospitable Australian outback.
It's possible that the first Aborigines in Australia hunted the Australian megafauna - giant kangaroos, giant wombat etc. to extinction.
Maybe that was when Aborigines learned to take care of natural resources and move to new hunting grounds before the old ones are depleted beyond repair.
When at rest, Aborigines lived in open camps, caves or simple structures made from bark, leaves or other vegetation. Their technology was both simple and sophisticated. Above all, it was appropriate for their way of life - ideally matched to the constraints of nomadic life.
The modern notion of possessions is alien to traditional Aboriginal culture. Material things were shared within groups. The idea that an individual could 'own' land was foreign to Aboriginal thinking.
Clashes with colonists
When Europeans first began to colonise Australia, towards the end of the 18th century AD, they found cultures and environments which, in hindsight, were of incalculable value.
Much of this ancient legacy has been destroyed forever in the subsequent two centuries.
Contact between new settlers, under imperial British rule, and Australia's indigenous people, led to the decimation of many Aboriginal groups due to disease, dispossession and in tens of thousands of cases, outright murder.
As populations declined and were fragmented, many unique linguistic and cultural traditions as well as valuable knowledge about the land and its fauna and flora were lost forever.
Seizure of Australia by British Imperial forces was claimed to take place under British law.
Even at that time, the British legal system had developed some traditions of fair dealings with native populations inside colonies.
These constraints were not applied on the ground in Australia. Invasion and blatant land theft by settlers were justified under the astonishing legal fiction of "Terra Nullius" - the notion that Australia was effectively unoccupied before British colonisation.
The lack of indigenous systems of land ownership (in the European tradition of private land ownership) was used to give credence the idea of Terra Nullius. The basic idea was that it was impossible to rob Aboriginal people of land, as they'd previously never owned land.
Over two centuries, the continent was progressively stolen from Aboriginal people. Settlers moved in and appropriated the overwhelming majority of Australia - either for private use or in the name of the British Crown.
Even after Australia was declared independent in 1901, Aborigines continued to be marginal to the new nation and were debarred from becoming citizens by the 1902 Australian Constitution. Citizenship was granted to Aborigines only following a national referendum in 1967.
Legacy of racism.
The Significance Of Kangaroos
Aboriginal people have a diversity of views about kangaroo killing.Kangaroos are of cultural, social and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal people have very little involvement in government decisions about kangaroo management. It is important for Aboriginal people to be included in decisions about kangaroo management for two key reasons.
Firstly, respect for culture and social justice form an essential part of sustainability. The exclusion of Aboriginal people from decisions concerning Australia's wildlife including kangaroos runs counter to this respect.
Secondly, Aboriginal people hold traditional knowledge about kangaroos, other native animals and the Australian landscape which could contribute to assessing and improving sustainability.
Aboriginal people have little involvement in the commercial industry. For example, there has only been one Aboriginal person with a permit for commercial kangaroo harvesting in South Australia in recent years.Although Aboriginal people kill and eat kangaroos as part of their traditional diet, there are strict cultural protocols about how these practices are carried out. Traditional practices conflict with those used in the commercial industry.7
Aboriginal people are given responsibility for the welfare and conservation of particular native animals through their totems. A totem is a plant, animal or other object that is believed to be ancestrally related to a person. Responsibility for a totem generally includes a restriction on the killing or consuming of the totem animal. Some Aboriginal people have a particular kangaroo species as their totem and are responsible for the wellbeing of those animals.
Culling is a particular concern for Aboriginal people. Max Dulumunmun Harrison, has raised a number of concerns about the killing of kangaroos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Uncle Max has expressed concern that the mass killing of kangaroos is damaging dreaming tracks across Australia. He has also highlighted a number of practices used by Aboriginal people to ensure the sustainability of kangaroo use.
(Indigenous perspectives THINNK UTS)
Totems play an integral role in Aboriginal identity at birth, each child is associated with a totem which remains with them for life. A totem holds significant importance for each individual,as they hold the important responsibility of enduring the identified species for generations to come.
Links between the spiritual world, creation time and the living world (land and creatures) are associated with totems which are passed down from mother or father, given by a spiritual sign linked to the spirit of the ancestor that the totem represents.
Aboriginal Rock and Cave Paintings Many Thousands Of Years Old
Integral to Aboriginal spirituality, songlines are deeply tied to the Australian landscape and provide important knowledge, cultural values and wisdom to Indigenous people.
Using songlines, Indigenous Australians have acquired an encyclopedic memory of the thousands of species of plants and animals across Australia.
'Songlines are known as navigational tracks, in that the elders or the trained Indigenous people will sing the landscape and therefore be able to move from location to location through it, and teach each other,
Indigenous songs is knowledge about animals, plants and seasonality—'the sort of information you need to survive and know that environment backwards'.
Australia is home to an extensive network of traditional songlines, some of which traverse hundreds of kilometres through lands of many different Indigenous peoples.
Songlines offer rich explanations of land formations, plant remedies and animal behaviour. Before Indigenous hunters head out, they will perform rituals and repeated acts to improve the success of their hunt.
'If they are hunting kangaroos, for example, dancers will demonstrate the way the ears move if they have detected movement. That sort of information is hugely helpful to get close enough in order to hunt a kangaroo.'
An Interview With Aunty Ro Mudyin
My mob is the Palawa Mob, from Flinders Island, Tasmania.
We hold Kangaroo as Totem, indeed many Indigenous People across Australia hold Kangaroo as Totem, which means that we see them as a Creator Spirit.
In language Kangaroo are known as Tarner, Tarner formed the Rivers, Valleys etc., then morphed from Kangaroo into man and was able to travel to the Mainland. Totem is a natural object, plant or animal that is inherited by members of a Clan, Mob or Family as their spiritual emblem.
Totem defines people’s roles and responsibilities; and their relationships with each other and creation. Kangaroo re-energise Song Lines and Dreaming Tracks across Country, when they bound across this, their Ancestral Home, when their feet thump on this Sacred Earth it sends vibrations through the Valleys, the Plains, the Creeks and Rivers, and everything within and upon them.
The toenails of the Kangaroo leave small holes in the ground which allows seeds that fall into these holes to have a greater chance of germination and any moisture also becomes trapped in the hole giving a huge advantage in the first stages of growth.
Kangaroo are a whole Creator Spirit Of Life on many different levels, they are an essential part of connectivity between us all, because we are all Spiritual Beings and have a spiritual connection to Country and once you start killing and taking these Sacred Totem Animals away from their Sacred Spiritual Land, the Song Lines stop, they don’t sing anymore, there’s no vibrations going through Country so the Song Lines and Dreaming Tracks die, the Dreaming of Country dies as that Spirit Animal is no longer there, all that remains is the blood of the Sacred, staining the dry arid land, with the memories of what once was…the Dreaming on the killing ground now, lays silent.
With this relentless slaughter of Kangaroos and their Joeys, who is there to regenerate Song Lines, Dreaming Tracks? No one, there is no one to create new Valleys, Creeks, Rivers, there is no one there to create new spiritual connectivity between people and Country…it’s been forever taken by the greedy killing.
A lot of Indigenous People who slaughter Kangaroos for the Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry are seen to have lost their Culture, they have lost Respect and Care for the very animal that has and is still essential to the Dreaming and Dreamtime of Country.
A lot of us, whom I call TRUE Indigenous People, we are not about killing, we are about balance and living with Respect…giving back instead of continually taking.
A lot of trouble starts when people are disconnected from Culture because they don’t see or recognise Totem and the Protocol surrounding Totem, the slaughter of Kangaroo, these people, they see (Kangaroo) as nothing but dollar signs, such is the illness of Colonialism.
We must live in balance otherwise there is destruction and we destroy ourselves, we can’t live by taking, we must give back.
In just over 200 years we have seen huge decimations and extinctions of wildlife, and it continues unabated. Settlement is quick to say we Indigenous People are losers and have no idea. We are constantly ignored by academics, government and those who are non-Indigenous because according to them we aren’t educated as well as they are.
I get that attitude constantly when I’m dealing with many farmers and academics who are pro-kill regarding Kangaroos. The illness of colonialism is evident in the mindsets of those who feel the need to control by slaughtering, yet none of our wildlife need to be controlled. They have lived here for millions of years here on their Ancestral Home, never before have Kangaroos faced such ignorant persecution, such hatred as they do now…now, everyday they fight for their survival.
What upsets you the most about the treatment of Kangaroos by humans?
The lack of respect. The lack of understanding as to the importance of Kangaroo as the Creators of this Country, and the need to have them here on this, their Ancestral Home if this Country is going to survive into the future.
The colonialism that surrounds them and fuels their slaughter is sickening.
The colonialism began when the settlers arrived, they saw these primary herbivores as a threat to their future, as a threat to the livelihood of settlement because the Kangaroos like the introduced cattle and sheep…eat grass, and to this very day that exact colonialism continues.
This Colonialism has continued on with many academics being pro-kill, they of course having vested interests with the Kangaroo killing industry, some academics as we recently saw regarding the ACT Kangaroo cull come up with all sorts of “research” to fuel their agenda saying such crazy things as Kangaroos are destroying the environment, that claim recently publicly condemned by the CSIRO.
Kangaroo are Indigenous to this Land, they don’t destroy their own environment, only the stupidity of the Human accommodates that.
Unfortunately today many academics are swayed and influenced by money, many have vested interests in the Kangaroo Killing Industry.
The Kangaroo Killing Industry is an Australian government legislated industry of mass indiscriminate slaughter of which the killing is unmonitored and in which Joeys are bludgeoned to death or decapitated after being torn from their dead or dying mother’s pouch and, if they survive that and escape the killers they will die a slow death of starvation, dehydration or predation. Joeys are regarded as a waste product by the Kangaroo Killing Industry and that makes my blood boil, all of this financed by taxpayer dollars.
The disrespect of Kangaroo by many, the arrogance of not wanting to understand, and dismissing independent facts regarding Kangaroo over academic bullshit is a HUGE and ongoing problem. We have independent conservation biologists, ecologists, wildlife carers with 30 years experience in working with Kangaroos constantly being demonised by academics with vested interests in the slaughter of Kangaroos, and the general public needs to understand this is happening.
The slaughter of Kangaroos is getting out of control and if we don’t stop it, it will be too late.
The disconnect shown by the Kangaroo Killing Industry, academics with vested interests, many farmers, landholders are repugnant and unfortunately they are all in each other’s pockets as Kangaroo are seen as a pest or commodity by them, nothing more and nothing less.
The Kangaroo Killing Industry itself has had no Independent Review in 22 years as it’s a government industry. Could you imagine the meat and livestock industry having no independent review in 22yrs…IMAGINE! Yet this is the case for the Kangaroo Killing Industry and night after night the slaughter continues…unabated, and the very government departments that people think protect our Wildlife like NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, DELWP Victoria, SADEWNR Sth Australia, Qld Environment Dept, WA State Environment Dept, Tasmania Dept Wildlife all support, legislate and profit from the slaughter of Kangaroo. The Northern Territory is the only ‘state’ that doesn’t have a Commercial Kangaroo Killing Industry, and the Federal government sign off on all of it, profit from it and use taxpayer funds to market it it internationally as a sustainable ethical industry.
What is the one thing we can start doing to help Kangaroos?
“Every person can make a massive difference to global conservation, simply do not buy or eat Kangaroo products”– Steve Irwin.
Educate yourself about the Kangaroo Killing Industry in total and beware of the relentless propaganda that surrounds it.
The Kangaroo Killing Industry is mass indiscriminate unmonitored slaughter in which Kangaroo Joeys are bludgeoned to death, that is FACT, despite all the claims that no female Kangaroo are killed Etc Etc all that is, is marketing bullshit, female Kangaroos are still shot even if they are not taken to the processors and left where they are gunned down and remember the National Code Of Practice states that Kangaroo Joeys are to be bludgeoned to death, so if female Kangaroo aren’t killed as some in the Industry claim WHY does the National Code Of Practice exist.
When an Academic comes out and constantly talks about the need to control Kangaroo by killing them, question the WHY, given that Kangaroos have been here for millions of years self regulating their own biological needs and always remember it’s biologically impossible for Kangaroos to overpopulate…that’s the domain of the human.
Kangaroos don’t eat crops, they don’t destroy this their Ancestral Home, they don’t compete with Cattle or Sheep, it’s all Colonialism personified.
Another great way people can find out about Kangaroos is contact your nearest Wildlife Rescue Organisation or Wildlife Rescue Carer and ask to volunteer or join your local Wildlife Rescue Organisation and get to know Kangaroos in person.
The one thing that infuriates me is this constant reference to Kangaroo as a commodity or a resource, that is incredibly offensive, knowing that these people have settled in this Country and then turned around and mass slaughtered Kangaroos, a Sacred Totem Animal is beyond abhorrent…the screams of the Joeys as they are torn from their dead or dying mother’s pouches echoes across the blood saturated landscape, as their tiny heads are bludgeoned as they are swung by their hind legs, their heads smashing into the side of a Ute, a rock, or a tree…this is the slaughter that remains hidden in the night.
By killing the Joeys the killers are wiping out TWO generations of Kangaroos, gunning down entire mobs, which is effectively genocide.
The Kangaroo Killing Industry and affiliates want to make as much money as they can, they don’t care about the carnage they cause, they don’t care about what they leave behind. It’s quite unbelievable when you sit down and think about it.
Kangaroo are Ancient story tellers, Sacred Totem Animals. They are the Creators Of Spiritual Dreaming, and they must be treated with respect.
We really need to look after these amazing animals because if we don’t, the only place we are going to see Kangaroos is going to be in a zoo.
How great is it to take the kids, and family out to see beautiful mobs of Kangaroos bounding across the landscape! One day very soon if we don’t stop the killing, Kangaroos will be no more…when was the last time you saw a beautiful mob of Kangaroos bounding across their Ancestral Home?
Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison is a Yuin Elder who is strongly opposed to the killing of Kangaroos
For further information see:
http://kangaroothemovie.com/reviews in which he speaks about Kangaroos & Country.