Indigenous People have a great depth of knowledge about navigating Country. A vital skill in earlier times, navigation was used for many reasons like sourcing food, hunting, gathering materials for tools, and trading. Navigating the land meant analysing environmental markers; the position of the sun, the direction of sunrise and sunset, and the stars.
Tracking was done by studying the tracks of animals. It could be determined what kind of animal the tracks belonged to by looking at the size and shape of the tracks, and examining markings on the surrounding land that were out of the norm or that were associated with certain animal behaviours.
Post colonization, police, government agencies, farmers, explorers, and surveyors would call upon Indigenous people for their tracking abilities, which would be of great assistance in tracing people or animals by evaluating their path and direction. Sadly, many were not adequately compensated for their labor.
Indigenous peoples’ vast knowledge of the land, which was once a crucial part of survival, has provided a great deal of enrichment to their lives and culture. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation, and continuing to do so is what keeps the culture alive and strong.
Taj Mamid – Aboriginal Custodianship Project Officer