It’s NAIDOC week and I have no idea what the acronym even stands for. All I know is that it has something to do with celebrating the Aboriginal culture, which I reckon, is a great medium for creating mainstream awareness and acceptance of indigenous way of life.
To be honest, and I’m not proud to say this, I don’t really have an in-depth knowledge about the Aboriginal culture nor its people. I mean, I hear things but that’s about it. And a lot of times, the things that I hear cast the group in a negative light — substance abuse and alcoholism, mental health issues, etc.
I find it conflicting because I’m sure they’re more than just their reputation. Theirs is a culture and ancestry so rich but is fraught with grievances from past generations of colonial oppression. Healing from those deep-seated wounds doesn’t happen overnight.
Look, like I said, I’m not educated about Aboriginal history and their issues but from where I sit, I reckon their art and their stories are fascinating. They hold so much knowledge and wisdom about the land and its animals because, let’s face it, they were here first. And for that, they have my respect.
So when I heard Raven recite this poem to me which she said was shared in her class, I thought it was so beautiful. I had to ask her to teach me, after I made her recite it about five times more because I could not get enough of it. Plus, that voice! It was endearing listening to the squeaky bits. So cute!
In the beginning, there was nothing.
Bunjil, the Creator made large boulders and put them in place and then he covered them with dirt. The land was flat.
He went back up into the sky, and while looking down he decided to create things that made the land look beautiful. So, he created the plants; the trees, the bushes, the grasses, the flowers, the mosses and all plants.
He went back into the sky and looking down he decided to create things to move around through the plants. So, he created the animals; the kangaroo, the emu, the goanna, the wombat, the echidna, the cockatoo and all the animals. But, he only made one of each animal, and each of those animals was huge. He went back into the sky and noticed that the animals were not getting along with each other. So, he thought long and hard and decided what to do. He went down to the land and called Gure, the kangaroo over. He explained what he was going to do and performed some special Ceremony. Then he took out his axe and chopped Gure into smaller pieces. Each of those pieces turned into kangaroos the size we have today. He did the same to the other animals (except the Emu-which is a whole other Teaching).
He went back into the sky and was very proud of what he had created. He decided he needed to create things to look after all of his creations. So, he created people. He called all the people together and told them his rules. It is ok to take parts of plants to use, but don’t kill the whole plant. It is ok to kill an animal as long as you perform Ceremony and you use all of the animal. It is important that you look after yourself and the other people around you – especially the Elders.
An easy way to remember Bunjil’s rule is to think YOE – Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect the Environment.
Bunjil turns himself into a wedge-tailed eagle to watch over this Land he made. Not all wedge-tailed eagles are Bunjil, just one. When he is resting, he sleeps in the sky and the planet Jupiter is his campfire.
*Raven at 5 years old