Since time immemorial, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have scientifically investigated the world around them and put this knowledge to use. Encompassing everything from the soil to the sky, these First Peoples’ ecological perspectives and connection to Country includes scientific knowledge of the stars, moon, tide, atmosphere, weather, seasons, and ecosystems. This knowledge has been passed down across generations through culture; storytelling, songlines, art and dance are some of the ways many First Peoples’ cultural and ecological knowledge continues to be practiced and shared today.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have used this scientific knowledge to care for Country across what is now known as Australia, maintaining the diversity of natural resources and ecosystems for over 65 000 years. Using sophisticated and sustainable agricultural systems, care for Country includes a variety of methods such as cultural burning (Nangak Tamboreein, in the Woi-wurrung language of Wurundjeri people), fishing traps made from woven fibre baskets, and storing and sowing plants such as wild yams.
The work of contemporary artists Yhonnie Scarce (Kokatha and Nukunu), Katie West (Yindjibarndi), N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM (Boon Warrung) and Sarah Lynn Rees (Palawa) expresses a continuation and necessity of First Nations cultural knowledge in understanding and caring for Country.