Behrendt, Larissa: Indigenous Australians know we’re the oldest living culture – it’s in our Dreamtime

Behrendt, Larissa

Indigenous Australians know we’re the oldest living culture – it’s in our Dreamtime‘, Guardian Australia, 22 September 2016

Responds to recent material on DNA-based research on Indigenous culture. More. ‘Scientific research often reaffirms what is in an oral history’, Behrendt says, using examples about geological changes, sharing of resources, Indigenous farming and fishing methods, fire management, and cultural practices.

A part of the dominant narrative, echoing the ethnocentrism of colonial thinking, is that Aboriginal culture is violent and uncivilised. Current social problems that are the result of dispossession, marginalisation and intergenerational trauma often deflect attention away from what remains the ancient wisdom of the world’s oldest living culture. Governments in particular have been quick to use the rhetoric that Indigenous culture is part of the problem not part of the solution.

However, what is clear is that where Indigenous culture is strong, there are more positive outcomes for Indigenous communities. This has been shown particularly in the area of education with programs such as the Stronger Smarter approach developed by Indigenous educationalist Chris Sarra and programs for young Indigenous men, such as Shane Phillips’ Tribal Warrior programs. A connection with culture and a pride in heritage can be important complements to achieving success in other ways.

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