In July, 2014 p 9) the last tracker is retiring from the Queensland police force, which highlights the fact that few of the younger aboriginal generation are learning aboriginal culture – which includes tracking, spatial know-how, finding desert food and water, making temporary shelters, weaving dillybags, knowing the southern stars – all of which are more important for the future of white as well as black than being good at football and painting pictures for white buyers, and specific aboriginal languages.
This is the aboriginal culture that can be taught by aboriginals to whites, thus raising their self-esteem. The time will come when we will be glad of it.
The very terms <indigenous> and even <aboriginal> cannot be spoken by aboriginals, much less written by them.
Aboriginal children stupefied by white imports of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, petrol for sniffing, and gambling cannot benefit from white imports of education. Fetal alcohol syndrome produces a next generation that is not capable of either aboriginal culture or white culture.
Different languages are claimed to be important, as they are dying out. Their importance is really how they carry practical as well as legendary knowledge which is dying out.
Different aboriginal ‘nations’ have different knowledge which should be kept.
Even the older white records are being lost, which record some of it – .e.g. how to make and throw boomerangs – a better weapon than guns which require a supply of bullets.
At present the aboriginal settlements in the far outback are losing the ability to survive in it without constant supplies from the white shops. At the same time, they are not keeping their numbers down as in the past to the numbers that can survive in the desert and semidesert; they multiply, when in the past they kept their numbers stable.
They eat out the traditional foods, like turtles and fish.
They have far too many among them, from babyhood to adulthood. who are disabled by white imports, Diabetes and other disorders they never had before have been imported or developed in response to white food, as well as diseases like trachoma which are eradicated elsewhere in Australia, but the young aboriginals still catch to make them blind.
Parts of the old culture which are harmful still remain. Mothers in Palm Island still tickle straws in babies’ ears to quieten them – and introduce germs for deafness. Then the deaf or semi-deaf children cannot respond to teaching, either white or black.
Who can do anything about this? The aboriginal elders that are recognized by the aboriginal people themselves, who may even have some of this passing knowledge themselves. The aboriginal leaders that are recognized by the white people. The publishers of books for the youth and educational market, white and aboriginal. The remaining custodians of the aboriginal culture, who will die out within a generation unless they can transmit it now.
Aboriginal children still attend kindergartens in Western Australia who if asked where they live can point accurately in the right direction while their white peers can give an address, but do not know where it is.
There are still blackfellers who can sleep out in the cold of a desert night without suffering, and who can find water where nobody else can.
There are librarians and scientists who have collected bodies of knowledge that should be more widely known.
There are gardeners now interested in aboriginals’ plant foods that were extirpated by our cattle.
Who is collecting this knowledge?
When I was a child in Blackburn, then a rural suburb of Melbourne, there were aboriginal campers up on the hill at the end of our street. We were taught to keep clear of them – nobody thought they could teach us anything. Now they are gone – and what they knew then, nobody knows now.