Home-Grown Heroes; the Fraser Coast Is Extremely Proud of Its Aboriginal Residents and Has Embraced a Landmark Series in the Daily Paper Connecting Young Australians with the Region's Indigenous Culture

Article excerpt

Byline: use an archival pic there are some in advance photos

The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island and a small population (comparatively) still lives on today's Fraser Coast.

Their main community is a farm on the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road and visitors are welcome.

Last year the Fraser Coast Chronicle, in partnership with the Butchulla, won the coveted United Nations Association Media Peace Award for the Promotion of Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Documented early history of the people of Fraser Island is incomplete and open to debate and discussion. Aboriginal people closely guard many of their traditions, legends and laws and, after European settlement, much of the evidence of the Fraser Island people's way of life was destroyed either intentionally or through ignorance.

The Butchulla people were governed by standards established by the council of elders and generations of tradition. A council of elders comprised a number of mature men with only the eldest being afforded voting rights. The council of elders oversaw visitors to the tribal lands, giving travellers permission to enter and telling them when to leave.

The council ensured both social and environmental laws were adhered to and was responsible for governing the totem system.

Each member of the tribe was allocated a totem which represented a plant or animal.

People were not allowed to hunt, eat or harm their totem or their family's totem except during war, special ceremonies or when crossing non-tribal lands.

Totems were seldom vital food sources and the system helped protect resources that were scarce in the area. …