Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We are not the past.

We are not the past. 
The Wambuul event focussed on local wattle species and some of the interesting ways the Aborigines used it.

We are not the past. 
"When plants are used in a customary way, there is a far greater success rate in them having biological activity," she says. "The plants that were used by the Aborigines are very likely to be useful to us." (Associate Professor Joanne Jamie, Macquarie University)
BTW if you're Aboriginal, just to be clear, you are not 'us'.  She isn't talking to you. 

We are not the past. 
Flagellaria indica is our own Sydney cane...Aborigines in Arnhem Land used thin strips of stem to bind baskets and sew together sections of canoe hulls. We don't know if or how local Aborigines used the cane, but it is inconceivable that such a useful substance was not exploited.
Maybe ask one?

Oh, phew - educators! This HAS to be better.
Many native plants used by the Aborigines contain toxins for which the Aborigines had developed preparation techniques to neutralise their effects.
Oh wait, maybe this is good news, maybe they no longer contain toxins… maybe that’s what they mean when they say ‘used to’?

Aborigines used the area extensively.  
We still use it.


  1. Have you ever watched cross cultural awareness training programs unfold? The few that I have witnessed emphasizes that we are the past in the present, living museum pieces, archaelogical artifacts, still hunters and gatherers all wrapped up in lovely spiritual smoothies and bound by the mandatory black red and yellow ribbons.

    1. I so agree. So many of the people who run them have no clue, overrun by people who frame themselves as 'facilitators' as they are... often non-Indigenous (as you know!) or just assuming that we can't be in the audience. Of course when we are, they are beside themselves and often their whole process falls apart, and until you wrote this, I didn't realise, but you're right, they just want to put us in the past, so when we're present it's too, too much. The sad thing about the museum pieces comment (so agree!) is that the work I do is in museums and there you get people who are remarkably progressive and on the other hand some of the most frightening people hiding out... again - for those people - when faced with an actual, living Indigenous person they either fall apart or lash out. Which... well I suppose you don't have to wonder how they deal with everyone else.

      Meanwhile I love the rhetoric of 'spiritual smoothies' - so right on!

    2. I also love the descriptor of watching the training programs 'unfold'... cos it really IS like watching a car crash sometimes.