Outdoor and Environmental Studies Unit Three. 3.1.2 Indigenous Relationships With Natural Environments. INDIGENOUS RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. Beliefs Perceptions (what we think) Impacts/practices (the effects) Interactions (what we do).
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Indigenous Relationships With Natural Environments
Equivalent to the bible.
Creation stories explain natural features, animals and plants
When they died they returned to the earth or became a natural feature/plant/animal
Storytelling, while explaining the past, helps young Indigenous Australians maintain dignity and self-respect in the present.
Present-day custodians of stories play a vital role in Indigenous communities.
As Flannery states: "Imagine the boost given to a clan that could harvest meat twice as rapidly as its neighbours". The decline in marsupial numbers as a result of the arrival of the dingo, Flannery further argues led to an increased abundance of grasses, which in turn provided the basis for the increased propensity of Aboriginal people to harvest and eat grass seeds. This increased propensity appears to have occurred by about 1000 years ago. This shift in diet may have been associated with a further increase in human population. As Flannery states: "In this dingo-driven revolution we see a profound restructuring of Australia 's ecosystems and human cultures, which involved a further diminution of the role of large herbivores, and an increase in human population fuelled by harvesting newly available plant foods. This was a dramatic departure from what had gone before."
Unfortunately in many parts of the country, aboriginal people where treated worse than feral animals. Farmers and landowners would ride into camps shooting men, women, children and babies for the sport of it. While this was still considered murder, it mostly went unreported. Aboriginal people were often forcibly moved from their land if it was of value to settlers. Children who had mixed blood, were routinely taken from their parents and moved to orphanages across the country (the stolen generations). A lot of people in more populated areas of Australian were put onto reservations and missions
operated by the government and the church. Today aboriginal people make up less than 1% of the population, they survived in larger numbers in more remote country areas. Aboriginal history is unfortunately a very sad one, however in 1967 they were allowed to vote
(previous to this they could not vote as they were officially recognised at Fauna – native animals). In 1992 the landmark ‘Mabo’ case recognized native title of the first time’. This case disputed the legal principal of ‘Terra Nullius’, by which the British legally occupied Australia. The British Government successfully argued that the aborigines did not have a civilised society, until it was overturned in 1992.
There is very little evidence to back up any of these claims. Gippsland squatter Henry Meyrick wrote in a letter home to his relatives in England in 1846:
The blacks are very quiet here now, poor wretches. No wild beast of the forest was ever hunted down with such unsparing perseverance as they are. Men, women and children are shot whenever they can be met with … I have protested against it at every station I have been in Gippsland, in the strongest language, but these things are kept very secret as the penalty would certainly be hanging … For myself, if I caught a black actually killing my sheep, I would shoot him with as little remorse as I would a wild dog, but no consideration on earth would induce me to ride into a camp and fire on them indiscriminately, as is the custom whenever the smoke is seen. They [the Aborigines] will very shortly be extinct. It is impossible to say how many have been shot, but I am convinced that not less than 450 have been murdered altogether.
Non Indigenous relationships with Australian environments
The first fleet sailed into Australia in 1788, landing in Botany Bay, Sydney. At first they found this land somewhat strange, after sighting kangaroos and koalas. They met with some aborigines who seemed to object to their arrival, however they were quickly scattered with their fire-sticks (muskets). Had those Aborigines known what their future would hold, they may have put up a more substantial fight. Within 100 years their population would dwindle from approximately 4 million to less than 200 thousand, through murderous slaughter and introduced disease.
PerceptionsMost of the first settlers were convicts who longed to return to England. They were unsure if they would survive in this desperate and hard place. They believed the land was now owned, by them! However they saw Australia as a threat that had to be defeated, they wanted to tame this wild land and turn in into Ye-old England. They cared none for the way the indigenous people looked after the land and managed it. They wanted to clear forests, put up fences, introduce European animals, and valued the land only on it’s commercial yield (logging, sheep and agricultural farming etc).
Sealing and Whaling
The settlers population expanded to 400,000 people by 1850 and they still saw the environment as a resource. The land was devastated by their practices, after the gold rush the land was left in a disastrous state, as native habitats were destroyed causing the land to resemble Europeans environment. Development started by 1880 with export businesses expanding (extended grazing areas, irrigation, orchard development, market gardens and grain plantations).