Wadandi elders have cave ex­per­tise

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters -

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

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