Australia is home to many distinctive species of birds, and Aboriginal peoples have developed close alliances with them over the millennia of their custodianship of this country. Aboriginal Peoples and Birds in Australia: Historical and Cultural Relationships provides a review of the broad physical, historical and cultural relationships that Aboriginal people have had with the Australian avifauna.
This book aims to raise awareness of the alternative bodies of ornithological knowledge that reside outside of Western science. It describes the role of birds as totemic ancestors and spirit beings, and explores Aboriginal bird nomenclature, foraging techniques and the use of avian materials to make food, medicine and artefacts. Through a historical perspective, this book examines the gaps between knowledge systems of Indigenous peoples and Western science, to encourage greater collaboration and acknowledgment in the future.
Cultural sensitivity warning
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Birds as ancestors
Chapter 3. Birds as creators
Chapter 4. Birds and the spirit world
Chapter 5. Bird nomenclature
Chapter 6. Early hunting and gathering
Chapter 7. Birds working with people
Chapter 8. Food and medicine from birds
Chapter 9. Material culture
Chapter 10. Conclusion
Philip A. Clarke is a consultant anthropologist working in native title and Aboriginal heritage. With an academic background in both science and anthropology, his research interests are focused on the ethnosciences, in particular Australian ethnobiology and ethnoastronomy. He is also the co-author of Aboriginal Biocultural Knowledge in South-Eastern Australia.
"Since the dawn of time our people have had a spiritual, environmental and cultural connection to all birds and their habitats. Whether it be through our Ngartji [ngaitji] system which defines our roles and responsibilities of caring for Country and all in it, our storylines and songlines, as a food source, as a material source or as a transmitter of messages – birds are and have always been a part of our daily rituals and wellbeing. This book encompasses all that is our connection to Country and self."
– Mark Koolmatrie, Ngarrindjeri Elder