Prepared by Rhoda Roberts AO
All our local government areas are boundaries dictated by a western framework rather than the traditional boundaries of the clans on the Bundjalung estates and unceded territories- please be mindful most council boundaries cross two to three clan groups. So, it is relevant to point out the location initially. (See Below for contacts and cultural authorities of the region you are filming on).
The Bundjalung territories and Homelands extend across Northern NSW to Southeast Queensland with the Logan River as the northern boundary and the southern boundary is the Lower Clarence River
We as sovereign first peoples have shaped our unceded territories and country, it is in the stories, the language, the songs, the dance, and today the arts. The complex system of family groups caretaking the biocultural wisdom is all about the spirituality, totemic connections to family groups and the growth of the ecosystems, that must be maintained nurtured and passed on to the next generations.
Eons of learning the oral way is essential to understand the listening encouraged by leaders, custodians and guardians of language,
Australia consists of over 350 different Indigenous nations each with clan groups who have their own distinct dialects. So hence there are some 600 plus languages across the country.
Our protocol dictates, we honour our sky, land and water ancestors and acknowledge the gifts of the land we are one and the peoples of that country who have continued ancient obligations against many challenges, be they products of Colonisations, climate change and or government policy .
Welcome to Country
Performed by the local clan custodians, who honour the nation they are from and the country of their clan group welcoming visitors are safe passage.
This can be performed as a spoken welcome, can be sung in and or danced in. Depending on the area’s cultural authority such as the local elders council, Land and Sea Councils and or Aboriginal Co-op and Elders council and Custodial Groups. (See contacts below)
If you live in Australia, you will have heard Non-Indigenous and Indigenous who are living away from Homelands refer to a land Acknowledgement of country.
It’s a way of showing respect by acknowledging the traditional custodians and country or territory. It’s a step we can all take is to make an acknowledgment at the beginning of a meeting.
For example – We acknowledge the unceded Sovereign Traditional land (clan) that this event takes place on, the (people) of the (nation), and we pay our respects to Custodians of the old ways, today’s leaders and the knowledge holders of tomorrow. Thank you for having us on country.
The call and response of calling country is all about paying inclusive respect and waiting for the invitation to cross borders and clan homelands. It involves the song/dance and the gifting, as well as the welcome, and more of the community are involved including dancers to songmen and women.
In the ancient ways, when these clans would travel across their borders and arrive onto the land of neighbouring clans, the visitors would “call-out” to announce themselves to the clan group of that nation or ‘country’ (it was part of the song cycle). In return, the custodian of that specific country would ‘call back ” in response to their arrival inviting them to cross into their territories. And the two combined chants would merge with respect and often the gifting would occur.
For some regions a smoking ceremony would be performed, in other areas decorative body painting indicated the type of ceremony being performed. This varied depending on the diversity and environments of clans. There are many forms from sweeping, cleansing and welcoming to sweat transference. The visiting groups were entrusted with information about the country they were on and safe passage would be ensured.