The Federation Press

People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures


Over the past four decades Aboriginal people living in remote and regional Australia have been empowered by land rights and native title laws to claim back large tracts of their ancestral lands. Today the Indigenous estate covers over 20 per cent of the continent and includes areas of globally significant biodiversity and cultural value, many now declared as Indigenous Protected Areas in the National Reserve System. But none of the Indigenous estate is in its pre-colonial condition and it faces a myriad of environmental threats.

People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures draws on a diversity of perspectives to document a significant social and environmental movement that is quietly gathering momentum across this vast Indigenous estate. This series of essays, drawn from an unusual collaboration between university researchers and Indigenous land owners, tells a little-known story about Aboriginal people who are living on, working on and caring for the lands and seas that they own and manage. The ongoing struggles by Indigenous people to conserve and rehabilitate the outstanding natural and cultural values of their ancestral lands deserve wide recognition and acclaim.

This book seeks to reposition Indigenous people and their caring for country activities from the margins to the very core of the growing national conversation on issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion. It challenges the Australian public, policy community and politicians to re-imagine the role that the Caring for Country movement, deploying a mix of western scientific and Indigenous ecological knowledge systems and techniques, must play in the proper environmental management of Australia in the 21st century.

Table of Contents

People on country as alternate development
Jon Altman

Part 1: Researcher perspectives
Caring for Country to Working on Country
Seán Kerins
Conducting two-way ecological research
Emilie Ens
Indigenous rangers and the customary economy
Geoff Buchanan and Katherine May
Country as classroom
Bill Fogarty
North to south?
Janet Hunt

Part 2: People on country perspectives
Dhimurru wind of change
Mandaka Marika and Steve Roeger
Ranger djäma? Manymak!
Banduk Marika, Banul Munyarryun, Buwathay Munyarryun, Napunda Marawili and Wanyubi Marika, Facilitated by Seán Kerins
A long walk home to Warddewardde
Peter Cooke
Countrymen standing together
Victor Rostron, Wesley Campion and Ivan Namarnyilk, Facilitated by Bill Fogarty
Commitment to our country
Cherry Daniels, Edna Nelson, Julie Roy and Priscilla Dixon, With Emilie Ens and Gillian Towler
No more yardin’ us up like cattle
Jack Green and Jimmy Morrison, Facilitated by Seán Kerins
Reconnecting with culture for future generations
Tanya Patterson, Facilitated by Janet Hunt

Indigenous futures on country
Jon Altman

Appendix 1 The People on Country project
Elisabeth Yarbakhsh
Appendix 2 Engaging the state
Seán Kerins and Elisabeth Yarbakhsh

Of interest...