Indigenous Peoples, as defined by The World Bank, are distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced.
Australia’s Indigenous heritage originates from two distinct groups, the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander peoples, but from these two spring hundreds of communities with their own unique language, history and cultural traditions. This diversity is a gold mine of knowledge, beliefs and traditions, music and arts. Let’s delve into a couple that pervade the Indigenous cultures and their ways of life.
Dreamtime or Dreaming is the Aboriginal belief on how the world is created, how life and nature came into being, and the interrelation of all things. This is preserved through stories, art, ceremony and songs handed down from generation to generation. Dreaming is the way of life for the Aboriginals, to make sense of one’s place in society and nature. It connects the spiritual world of the past with the present and the future.
Coming of the Light celebrates the Torres Strait Islander peoples’ adoption of Christianity. Due to their geographical location, the sea holds a profound influence on the lives of the island communities. They look to the sea for sustenance and from the sea came the Christian missionaries which marked an impact on many aspects of their life. They co-existed peacefully, fostered a relationship of openness and reciprocity. More than a holiday celebration, Coming of the Light is a hopeful testament to humanity’s capacity to embrace what unites us instead of fighting over our differences.
Indigenous peoples have deep spiritual connection with the land and strong kinship with nature. Guarding and protecting it is at the core of their existence. There is much the world can learn from them about sustainable use and conservation of our land and water resources. By diminishing their heritage we are weakening the customary vanguards of nature and the world we live in.
The United Nations asserts, “Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world.” It marked August 9 as International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples to direct global focus on the issue. This remains a challenging terrain to traverse but the end goal of ensuring a conducive environment for all indigenous peoples to thrive and grow would have been worth all the labor, brick by brick, to build up a strong Indigenous future. Sounding off John Donne’s poem below, each time a heritage ceases, a part of humanity dies - a bell tolls for thee.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
By John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
INSPIREFLIX is launching our Indigenous Films Campaign to feature various stories told by Indigenous individuals. We will lend our platform in support, healing and protection of the Indigenous people, their families, communities and their heritage. Leave us a message or feel free to reach out to us for updates and more.