By Pamela Nathan
Welcome to NAIDOC Week!
As we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements, and recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society, I hope that many more Australians will become aware of the remarkable Aboriginal Songlines – the living narrative of our nation.
‘Songlines’ is the theme for NAIDOC Week 2016. The NAIDOC website shares the following:
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures.
Dreaming tracks crisscross Australia and trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lores. These dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ as they record the travels of these ancestral spirits who ‘sung’ the land into life.
These Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups.
Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters.
The extensive network of Songlines can vary in length from a few kilometres to hundreds of kilometres, crossing through traditional Country of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups.”
Songlines tell the story of the past and present of Australia. For millennia they have been connecting people to knowledge, land and each other. Through story-telling, song, dance, art, tools and cultural practice, for those who are willing to listen and recognise all that they can offer, Songlines are willing to share some of their stories.
Songlines have the ability to save lives.
This NAIDOC Week, let’s all celebrate the incredible treasury of Songlines and the knowledge that transcends time! Let us have a recognised tomorrow of songlines sustaining and enriching the living narrative of our nation.
Director, CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program