There are around 6,500 different types of Australian native foods, but there are many barriers to First Nations people commercialising them. Currently, Aboriginal people only receive 1-2% of revenue from the commercial bush food space. The good news is that 40% of the land mass has been returned to Traditional Custodians, and now with a formalised commercialisation and export strategy for native foods, the opportunities for Indigenous producers are endless.
The latest issue of the Proceedings of the RSV features papers from the 2021 ‘Stewardship of Country’ Symposium, which delivered presentations across multiple domains of land management practice and scholarly expertise, representing an historic collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts, industry practitioners and thinkers. The series posed the question: who are we becoming, as Australians faced with an increasingly unpredictable and challenging future?
Stewardship describes a deep relationship between people and place. In modern Australia, it is often proposed as the next step of transition for a culture that is emerging from a colonial, extractive relationship to the landscape. The transition to stewardship may require we reorganise around the unique characteristics of the country, undertake significant regeneration of damaged ecosystems and deprioritise constant economic growth in favour of an enduring sufficiency gathered from a prosperous and biologically diverse environment. Join members of all the Royal Societies in Australia for this unique series of three webinars, seeking a new model for the management of the Australian landscape so that our natural systems are conserved and regenerated for the benefit of future generations.
According to Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, we live in a ‘Dynamic Universe – because of the diversity within it.’ Tyson belongs to the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland and is a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University. Indigenous knowledge is a dialogue – it’s the yarns, carvings, songs, and dances that change depending on the relationship of the people who are sharing it, where they are, and where they are from. With so many cultures, stories, and points of view, stories of the sky change according to where you stand. ‘Truth is not an empirical thing, but an aggregate of stories and diversity.’ What Westerners call a meteor represents the eye of an evil spirit or death to many Aboriginal groups across northern Australia. Cultural astronomer A/Prof Duane Hamacher has felt privileged to learn how meteors and meteorites are incorporated into Indigenous knowledge systems by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders around Australia.
Indigenous cultures have a deep emotional investment and attachment to the landscape that acts as both almanac and encyclopaedia. It’s amazing that different cultures separated by vast oceans and continents have independently perceived the patterns in constellations in strikingly similar ways, despite being geographically and temporally separated. Stories from the cosmos give both practical guidance and spiritual comfort, and this way of telling stories and reading the stars is a way of keeping knowledge constant across generations.