Australia’s Aboriginal communities have a vital role to play in conserving the places, plants and animals that sustained and defined their cultures for 40,000 years. The Nature Conservancy is working with Aboriginal communities to protect biodiversity and to enable descendents of distinct tribal groups such as the Noongar find their way back “on country” and revive rich cultures that are bound inextricably to nature.
As a Noongar man, I’d like to share that it is a powerful thing for us to be able to come back and reconnect to our homeland, mother earth, the boodjah. In the past our ancestors were the caretakers and managers of this land. Everywhere we find evidence of their movements, their traditions. We can learn from those traditions what we must do today and in the future, to live in the most balanced way possible.
I’m hungry for my land. I’m hungry for my culture. I’m hungry to come together with our white brothers and sisters — the two cultures need to walk hand in hand, side by side, on the one land and share the two histories, the two heritages and go forth together. I hope that we’ll learn on this journey how to heal the land so the land will heal us.
As I look around my homeland, I can see a lot of destruction, a lot of practices that aren’t right, so we have a big job ahead of us now.
We must encourage our young men and our young women to become involved and learn how to be the caretakers. We must help them restore their connections back to their homeland and to our Noongar way, our history and our heritage. Throughout this land is all of our dreaming*, all of our energy, our power. It flows around our blood.
On behalf of my elders and their ancestors I would like to say a special thanks to all who have engaged the Noongar people in efforts to care for this country, including The Nature Conservancy — and your supporters who are a part of this journey as well.
"Dreamtime” refers to “the time of the creation of all things” when Ancestor Spirits came to Earth and land, plants and animals were given the form they take today. Dreaming” refers to beliefs or spirituality; it establishes rules for social behavior and ceremonies — such as songs, dances, stories and paintings — that ensure continuity of culture and connection with the land. The significance of particular places and creatures is wedded to their origin in the Dreaming, and certain places have a particular potency.