Sunday, 20 June 2010

Indigenous whale dreaming in Australia - then and now.....*ATSIC readers please note that this post may contain images of persons who are deceased

This month the International Whaling Commission meets to decide if the global moratorium on commercial whaling remains in effect.
In the past the Commission has often considered the 'right' to hunt whales, but appears to pay little attention to the spiritual and cultural position of the whale in many societies such as the coastal/saltwater peoples of Australia.

Amongst all the creatures of creation was Gyian the whale, Baiyami's favourite .......The new world was born then Baiyami said to Gyian, "This will be your Dreaming place. You shall reign over these lands and waters, my friend. Your kin will forever live in these sacred realms on Earth. Go and give what I have given to you, the kinship of life. Gyian went into the lands taking with him the spirit of Baiyami.
Baiyami ascended back to the Mirrabooka. During the dreamtime period Gyian intermingled with other creatures , passing on the Laws of Baiyami. He later changed form from a bird of the land to live as he does today in the ocean as a whale. This was the birth of Gyian on Earth.

Riji: pearl shell ornament depicting Min-nimb, the whale circa 1930s

Pearl shells, known as riji or jakuli in the Bardi language, are associated with water, spiritual powers and healing due to the luminous shimmering quality of their surfaces.

Kondili, the whale Kondili the whale song MP3
The Ramindjeri story of Kondili the whale was first published in Manners and customs of the Aborigines of the Encounter Bay tribe: South Australia in 1846 by Pastor H. Meyer who recorded the story from the Ramindjeri people at Encounter Bay with whom he worked. The story of Kondili is set before Ramindjeri people had fire. Meyer wrote that two to three hundred people would meet (probably from near and far) for dances during the time he worked with at Encounter Bay. A fire would be lit at sunset for light. Women sat apart with animal skins rolled up and held between the knees upon which they beat time. Young men wore emu feathers in their hair and red ochre paint or used chalk to make circles round the eyes, along the nose and dots on the forehead and cheeks and more designs on the body. These designs should not be copied without permission.

Whale Dreaming Elder -Elko Island

Baby whale given indigenous burial in 2009
A baby humpback whale that washed up on a Gold Coast beach will be given a traditional burial by Aboriginal elders.
Wildlife authorities had planned to dump the animal at the council tip after it was found at Runaway Bay about 7am, until the traditional owners of the area, the Kombumberri people, were consulted about its disposal.
Instead, the eight-metre mammal was towed to South Stradbroke Island, where it has been buried ahead of a traditional ceremony later this week.

Excerpt from a November 2007 letter to the Honourable Emporor of Japan from the Woppaburra People

It is with the greatest respect and honour that we send this open letter, and that this great respect and honour can be reciprocated and afforded in our special request, we also send this open letter with our commitment to international peace and good will.
We respectfully request
We are an Australian Aboriginal Tribal Group, the Woppaburra People, of the Keppel Islands, Great Barrier Reef, of Central Queensland, Australia. The Keppel Islands are the ancestral homelands of our ancestors/forefathers, who were the original aboriginal inhabitants (custodians) of the Keppel Islands. Today's descendants carry on the ancient customary laws, traditional practices, protocols of our ancestors/forefathers. Our 'living' culture is based on respect and honour for all living things, in the circle of life.
As an Aboriginal tribal group of Australia and as Australian citizen's, we have made a 'choice' to be proactive and champion the protection and conservation of our Sacred Spiritual Totem, the Humpback Whale - 'Mugga Mugga', we wish to join countries around the world in their humanitarian conservation cause to protect, not only the Humpback, but all whale species, all marine species and their natural habitats. Every living thing is here for a purpose, all elements, mankind, flora, fauna, we are dependant on each other's existence, Aboriginal people of Australia, have known this since our ancestors/forefathers times.
The Woppaburra language name for the humpback whale is 'Mugga Mugga', which is our 'Sacred Spiritual Totem', our sacred emblem, it is our life-long responsibility (from the days of our ancestors/forefathers) to protect them and the environment in which they live, we are spiritually connected with Mugga Mugga, they are as much a part of us, our family, as we are of them, their family, we are joined spiritually - forever. We can no longer sit in silence and tolerate their slaughter, as our ancestors/forefathers witnessed in long times gone by. We are becoming increasingly upset and stressed in regard to Japan and their pending 'take' of 50 of our sacred emblem - spiritual totem, Mugga Mugga, for the purpose of scientific research.
The Woppaburra descendants of today, like our ancestors/forefathers in long times gone by, cry tears of sorrow and anguish in silence, in seeing this ongoing slaughter of our emblem - sacred spiritual totem. The beautiful songs and singing of our whale populations is the way they communicate, and we have always strongly believed, just like our ancestors/forefathers, that they also sing songs of sorrow, sorrow for mankind, in the near destruction of their species, and songs of sorrow, for the way mankind destroys all things that are beautiful in our world. The emotional, spiritual health and well-being of the Woppaburra People, past and present and future generations, will continue to suffer, as we witness and are helpless in stopping the slaughter of our Sacred Spiritual Totem - Mugga Mugga.
Each year, on the commencement of their migration journey from the Antartic to the Great Barrier Reef to breed, the Woppaburra People of the Keppel Islands, rejoice and wait in anticipation and celebrate (in private) in knowing that their sacred spiritual totem, Mugga Mugga, will soon be home for a short while for another year and hope and pray (in private and silence) that their Sacred Spiritual Totem, Mugga Mugga will continue to have safe passage as they travel their annual migratory journey. It is a 'good omen' for us, that everything in the world is as it should be, all elements of our mother earth is continuing, there is 'balance' in the life cycles of all living things, just as we all enjoy the full seasons of Mother Earth, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter - and when there is 'disturbance' in our world, brought about by mankind, we will always feel the 'full fury' of our Mother Earth, as a global family - it is her warning, to stop and think, before its to late.........
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Image from Spikebot at Flickr


Margi said...

Respectful and important reminder to us all WaterDragon. Thankyou

WaterDragon said...

Thank you for that remark Margi.
Trying hard to do my bit.

Emily Katzman said...

Thank you for sharing this compelling letter. I am curious, what was the result of the letter to the Emperor of Japan? Did he ever respond? What else are the Woppaburra people doing to protect the humpback whales?