I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity this unit (ETL402) has given me to both read Indigenous literature, and to read about it. One thing that has stood out for me personally is the way so much of it relates back to a sense of place, to the land we live on, and to its spiritual elements. It is a nice contrast to the way general society seems to look at land – as a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.
The importance of land and connection to place is central to the Indigenous culture. Stories of the Indigenous Dreamtime tell of supernatural ancestral beings that move across the barren land’s surface creating the mountains, trees, waterholes and creatures we see today (Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre – Alice Springs, n.d.). Places become more important when we can feel a part of them through stories. Recalling stories relating to special places creates a bond with that place and others who also hold it dear (Bigger, 2010).
The Australian landscape has countless sites that are sacred to Indigenous people. They may be ceremonial grounds, connected to cultural practices, or linked to the Dreamtime (Northern Land Council, n.d.). Students may live near such a site, or visit one. Surely they should understand why such places are so important? Share in the significance of the land on which they live and are a part of?
The Dust Echoes website, published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2007), offers a prime opportunity to feel this significance. Dust Echoes is a wonderful interactive literary resource aimed primarily at school students. It uses text and animation to tell stories of the Indigenous Dreamtime. Study guides are also available to download. Dreamtime stories and a connection to land go hand-in-hand (Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre – Alice Springs, n.d.). Students need to understand the significance of these stories and share in their connection to the land. A student-centred site like Dust Echoes gives them that opportunity.
Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre – Alice Springs. (n.d.) The Dreamtime. Retrieved from http://www.aboriginalart.com.au/culture/dreamtime2.html
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (2007). Dust Echoes. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/dustechoes/
Bigger, S., & Webb, J. (2010). Developing environmental agency and engagement through young people’s fiction. Environmental Education Research, 16(3/4), 401-414. doi:10.1080/13504621003613145
Northern Land Council. (n.d.). Sacred Sites. Retrieved from http://www.nlc.org.au/articles/info/sacred-sites/