What does land mean to Aboriginal people?
Non-Indigenous people and land owners might consider land as something they own, a commodity to be bought and sold, an asset to make profit from, but also a means to make a living off it or simply ‘home’. For Aboriginal people the relationship is much deeper. The land owns Aboriginal people and every aspect of their lives is connected to it. They have a profound spiritual connection to land.
"We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavour to live with the land; they seemed to live off it".
Tom Dystra, Aboriginal elder
Aboriginal law and spirituality are intertwined with the land, the people and creation, and this forms their culture and sovereignty. The health of land and water is central to their culture. Land is their mother, is steeped in their culture, but also gives them the responsibility to care for it. Living in a city has its own challenges. “I often wonder how to connect with my country when I’m in the city,” wonders Aboriginal dancer and choreographer Francis Rings. “For many Indigenous people it’s a visceral connection; you look beyond the buildings and concrete and feel a sense of belonging,” she says.
Because of spiritual and cultural connections to the land, Aboriginal people also have to care for sacred and significant sites and artefacts including Dreaming sites, archaeological sites, water holes and burial grounds to name a few. Aboriginal law and life originates in and is governed by the land. The connection to land gives Aboriginal people their identity and a sense of belonging.
Aboriginal Elder Bob Randall is a Yankunytjatjara elder and traditional owner of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). In this clip he explains how in Aboriginal culture all livings things are connected and connected to the land.
Bob Randall - The Land Owns Us
Video by Global Oneness Project