Saltwater People: The Waves of Memory

Saltwater People: The Waves of Memory

Saltwater People: The Waves of Memory

Saltwater People: The Waves of Memory

Synopsis

A fascinating insight into the culture of the saltwater peoples of northern Australian coasts, their profound knowledge of and attachment to their sea country, how this endured despite dislocation and repression, and how this has shaped their values and relations with territory - with telling contrasts to our own western institutions and their origins.

Excerpt

The tropical coasts and islands of North Australia, where the sea and the terrestrial environments meet one another, are areas of great richness and diversity. the marine environment, plant communities and animal life offer food sources as abundant and varied as anywhere in Australia. the indigenous peoples of these areas are themselves rich and diverse. in their world, threads of association join people with the sea as well as the land, imprinting them as sea peoples. They believe their ancestor spirit beings and heroes of the sea endowed their clans with rights to particular reefs, seabed, sites and waters, also conferring a special responsibility to care for them. the ways in which they distinguish themselves depend on contrasts with their neighbours: Sandbeach People, not bush people; island not mainland people; people of the sea versus people of the bush or 'scrub' country. Yolŋu people of northeast Arnhem Land and Yanyuwa people of islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria make a contrast between saltwater and fresh-water people. 'Saltwater people' is used throughout this book to denote the sea people of the coasts and islands.

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