The Corridors for Climate Change Project endeavours to design corridors that not only protect the environment and economy, but conserve cultural heritage as well. Cultural corridors connect cultural sites and can be used to protect and promote important heritage locations.
Claude McGuire recently joined NACC as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer and is working with our Indigenous Coordinator Greg Burrows on the Corridors for Climate Change Project.
Claude explains some of the cultural sites in the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR), their meaning to Aboriginal people and their connection to the landscape, “For thousands of years the Yamatji and Noongar Aboriginal peoples have been gathering knowledge of the environment across the NAR. Their traditional knowledge is extremely valuable in informing and enhancing the ways we care for our environment.
“The Yamatji and the Noongar people are the Traditional Owners of the NAR. Yamatji are the Traditional Owners of the land and coastal waters extending north from the coast at Greenhead, to Onslow and the Ashburton River. The Noongar people are the Traditional Owners of land south of Coorow and Lake Moore. These Aboriginal communities have a strong spiritual connection to the land and its natural resources.”
The dreaming paths of Aboriginal people across Australia formed major ceremonial routes along which goods and knowledge flowed. These became the trade routes that crisscrossed the Australian landscape and transported religion, story and cultural values.
In the past, some of these locations were used for initiation, others for teaching. Some sites were places where ‘increase’ ceremonies were conducted in order that various species of plants or animals could thrive.
Claude explains, “At particularly powerful locations, senior men or women could tap into the power of the ancestral past in order to influence the present and future. Many sites are where Ancestral Beings are said to have transformed the land with long-lasting, startling effects. Others are their final resting spots or places where they entered stone, earth or water. Some localities are marked with rock art, stone arrangements, scars on trees or temporary earthen sculptures, but many are not.
“Not all rock-art sites are sacred sites, but at many locations there might be paintings with various levels of meaning, including depictions of Ancestral Beings themselves. In the traditional past, all of these places were cared for by way of food, hunting and visitation restrictions, special ceremonies, songs, conversations with ancestors and other practical and ritual customs.”
It is believed many sacred sites radiate out influences from their central features. Aboriginal people would argue that it is not just the specific features that need protection, but also the large areas of land around the sites.
The Corridors for Climate Change Project is working with local Aboriginal people to include these teachings in the planning, organisation and implementation of landscape corridors in the hope that their important knowledge can help to preserve traditional culture and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of sustainable habitat management and landscape scale conservation projects.
Source: Corridors for Climate Change