Wadandi elders have cave expertise
I am writing in response to Karin Ashma’s critique of Wadandi elders managing the region’s sacred cave network (Doubts over cave proposal, 23/2).
I find it quite astounding that such an antiquated view of indigenous people and their abilities to manage their country still exists.
The intricate and sophisticated management relationship that Aboriginal people have to country as custodians meant the Australian environment remained unscathed for more than 60,000 years.
A lot of damage has occurred since non-Aboriginal people arrived in Australia.
In little more than 200 years, that same vulnerable environment has faced destruction and degradation through the overuse of natural resources, pollution of waterways, clearance of native vegetation, overgrazing, soil nutrient exhaustion, erosion, man-made droughts, weeds, salinisation, invasion of feral animals, urbanisation and climate change.
Tourism is a big part of our region, which is understandable given how spectacular the country surrounding us is.
However, poorly managed tourism can also bring about the degradation of country, which includes land that is sacred to the Wadandi people.
The “sad and tedious” label that Karin has given grossly misinterpreted requests from elders and is unfair.
The dominant society’s social norms does not tend to accommodate and value different and diverse life worlds.
Across Australia, particularly in the Kimberly and Northern Territory, Aboriginal people have been successfully managing country, including tourist sites.
I am sure this can be replicated with the primary stakeholders here.
In particular, the Webb family need to be commended and should be held in the highest esteem as they continue to share their wealth of knowledge about traditional, historical and contemporary Wadandi culture, including this beautiful part of our country over which they remain as custodians and which we are fortunate to be a part of. Name and address supplied