plants db - indigenous

Felicity Wright flickwright at
Mon Dec 31 06:42:54 EST 2001

I just have to say something on this subject. I also found that first
statement introducing Russ' comments about the accessability of
knowledge and the rights of Indigenous people really confronting. I
agree with many of the points made later in his original email but find
it so difficult dealing with analogies people draw between Aboriginal
peoples' behaviour/attitudes and whitefella behaviour/attitudes when
there is a whitefella perception of reverse discrimination.

I'm sorry I don't have the time and energy to write a long piece about
this issue (there's permaculture property outside my door demanding most
of my time and energy at the moment) but I URGE (BESEECH) any of you
interested in Postcolonialism and its impact on Indigenous people to
read the book 'Why Warriors Lie Down and Die' by Richard Trudgen
published in 1998 or thereabouts. It's published by the Aboriginal
Resources and Development Services (ARDS) that operates in Darwin. They
have a website and I ordered the book from there.

Richard writes specifically about his experiences and work over more
than 20 years in Central and North East Arnhem Land in Australia as a
community development worker (originally went to the bush as a fitter
and turner) and he has dedicated years to learning local languages and
understanding how it is to walk in the shoes (I suppose footsteps when
you are barefoot!) of yolngu (Indigenous people). He now runs
cross-cultural awareness workshops in Darwin, Nhulunbuy and beyond that
are highly effective in challenging and educating. After hearing of his
work for years by chance I ended up working on a five month consultancy
in Ramingining that finished a couple of weeks ago that is the community
where he worked for many years.

I have been working with Aboriginal people in remote communities,
specifically artists and their locally owned and managed cooperatives
known as 'art centres' since 1986, and have published on the subject.
Reading Richard's book this year was an incredible experience (not said
lightly) and helped explain so many of the issues, challenges and
problems I had been dealing with internally and in my relationsips with
others (black and white, personal and professional) in my years of
working with Indigenous Australians. His book explains/illustrates the
overwhelming power of the dominant paradigm (that dominates all the
thinking of non-Indigenous Australians of caucasian/Euro background) and
its effect on yolngu spiritually and psychologically - at the same time
as challenging all of us who go to the bush to consider how we carry our
culture's baggage and then (usually unconsiously) impose it on other
people and take all our understandings of their actions/behaviour
through eyes colored by our cultural viewpoint. It has relevance to all
colonised people and discusses the myriad expressions of alienation,
dispossession and resignation, what causes them and proposes solutions. 

So, if you're up for a challenge and re-thinking your relationships with
colonised people and pondering the answers to the questions people
always ask me like 'Why do Aboriginal people do X (some inexplicable
behaviour from our cultural reference point)?' or 'What's the answer to
Aboriginal health problem?'........

flick (Felicity) wright

1earth permaculture wrote:
> >>It seems, on information supplied, that this woman was generalising
> about 'white folk' the same way many Australians of European origin
> generalise about Aboriginies.
> This poor, and great, woman has seen the genocide of the Tasmanian
> Aborigine and has experienced first hand murder, rape, torture, slave
> labour, the introduction of smallpox and alcohol, and the kidnapping
> of her babies, and experiences her daily doses of racial
> villification.  Despite this, she is good natured and cares more about
> the earth and it's people than many who adopt an ethic to do so.
> Despite lengthy scientific and cultural arguments as to why she should
> share her knowledge of the plants, I respect her wishes to be careful
> as to whom this knowledge is passed to.
> Marcus
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