Do we have the concepts?

How do ‘we’ (non-Indigenous westerners) talk about being in relationship with the land? Do our languages contain the words and concepts that allow us to make these relationships palpable? Is it that we need to borrow concepts from Indigenous people and their languages to help us talk a language of ‘being with’?


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3 responses to “Do we have the concepts?

  1. English seems to encourage us to think through the western metaphysics which there is an a priori spearation between people and land. Yolŋu languages might help us to see people and land as one, and everyday (and ceremonial) work as maintaining the connection between the two. But I think the practical answer to the question really likes in considering particular places, and how that place makes you who you are and how you make the place what it is – and how you are aidfferent person in diferent places.

  2. nia

    And what about gurruṯu (kinship) and the role it plays in holding everthing in relationship?

  3. Nia

    Michael, I have been thinking about your comment re: how place makes us who we are and that we make place what it is – a dynamic relationship. A question that is at the core of what I am grappling to understand is, is it important to be aware of this dynamic relationship, this 'being with'? If so, how do people faciliate this process of becoming aware? I might refer to gurruṯu (Yolŋu kinship) to draw something to light… the fact that Yolŋu have conceptualised, named, practice and maintain 'being with' through gurruṯu, places the dynamics of these relationships in people's accute awareness. These kinship relationships are always being performed and spoken into existence. Then, turn to a Western culture whose kinship references are limited to the human relm… where are the concepts/words that we can use to bring into our awareness 'being with' country? Whether there is language to articulate this process or not, we still perform being with, but maybe in ways are are 'off the cultural radar'. It is obvious by my questions and statements that I think it is important for people of Western culture to grow our awareness of 'being with', to feel a sense of connectedness and belonging. So, where to from here?!?

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