First Nations culture is based on a close connection with nature

The culture of Indigenous Australians is based on a close relationship with nature

My name is Wajpuldania, I am an Aborigine, a pure-blooded Australian from the Aranda tribe. I am 9 years old and have chocolate-colored skin. My ancestors lived around Lake Eyre, the largest lake in Australia. It is almost completely white due to the salt content. When a drought comes, the water evaporates from it, and every few years, during heavy rainfall, its banks fill up. My dad told me that our ancestors had been here forever. At school, you told us that the first people appeared in Australia 40, or maybe even 70,000 years ago. Before the arrival of the white man's ships in the 18th century, there were at least 400,000 people living throughout the country.

When the whites saw us, they called us natives, which in English means Aborigines, and that's how it stayed, we got used to it. The first contacts with newcomers from across the great oceans were even successful. However, it soon turned out that our people did not understand the intentions of the white people. And they didn't understand our culture. My great-grandfather tells me that those were dark times, over 200 years of fights, wrongs and mutual misunderstanding. But at the same time, he boasts that he lived to see him recognized as a normal person and removed from the Book of Flora and Fauna. It was only 50 years ago! And my grandfather was among the first Indigenous Australians to gain the right to vote in 1984 and be able to vote for parliamentary candidates.

He still remembers how important this event was to him. In the city I speak English, and at home, in the yard - the dialect of my tribe. Our Aranda language is rich, has about 30,000 words and difficult grammar. I speak both languages ​​fluently, I can name, describe and arrange everything, but I think differently in each one. I must admit that this is not easy for me. I like going to school, I have friends of different skin colors. I'm the best in my class in math. And in the bush I can find water, edible fruit and I don't need a map or GPS - I can just sing my way. What I like most is my great-grandfather's stories, in which the world of my ancestors has intense colors. They are as beautiful as in the paintings of Albert Namatjira, our painter.

The culture of Indigenous Australians is based on a close relationship with nature. The myths of the First Peoples and the world of beliefs dating back to the so-called Age of Dreams, i.e. the Time of Creation, are more interesting than all the films and computer games I have ever encountered. This is a huge wealth of magical fairy tales that we cannot and do not want to convey to anyone else. My great-grandfather taught me a clan song with which I won't get lost in the bush. He also took care of my initiation - the fire of tribal initiations, thanks to which I am almost a man. My great-grandfather keeps saying that our culture is being reborn. I hope he's right.

text MAREK TOMALIK/ National Geographic KIDS

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