Author: Liam Price
What do we mean by ‘healthy language’? And why is it relevant?
With the loss of First Nations’ languages comes a loss of ‘landscape communication’. In other words, connecting with the land requires a deep understanding of the various languages and traditions of this vast country. In that understanding is the knowledge of the deep web of connectedness of families, animals, ecosystems and how to sustain it (and ourselves) now and for the future. That is why it is relevant – to everyone, including you.
Indigenous people were masters of the Australian landscape. Some still are.
Moving into the future, we need to be looking into our Aboriginal ‘deep past’, to guide us on how to have a healthy relationship with our home, the land. The Indigenous language of the land you live on is the key to you having a healthy relationship with your home.
Language and Country are intrinsically linked.
This perspective plays a massive role in the way Western perspectives differ. Separateness and dividing people are a way that developed in various agricultural societies, as it is a way of evaluating land, stock, produce and family titles. Instead of a river dividing people (example: The Rhine River splitting up France and Germany); in the Aboriginal way, it is a landform that was created to connect people as they both share the river for the belief is that it is a spiritual being that connected people through it’s creation story. Is it Germany’s river or France’s?
We are at a crucial time in history where we are making up for past errors.
There is a focus on the environment and the impact we are creating. If we go into the future to master the traditional languages of Australia and other native people around the world, then we will master the knowledge of the home we all share.
Where does language come from?
“In the beginning, the world was flat, and no life existed. Then one day, Beings came from across the ocean, fell out of the sky and came up from within the Earth itself.”
These are the events that are traditionally told as the creation of life in Australia. From these Beings came specific plants and animals, as well as specific people. These specific people are family groups and were instructed on the languages to be spoken. These languages are the languages of the creator Beings. All these creations mapped various landscapes, describing ecosystems as well as mapping families, languages and connections to various areas.
We didn’t need a GPS.
What is created through our languages is an in-built GPS mapping system at a time when atlases were not available. Our languages have all the knowledge we needed. There is much discussion of healthy ecosystems and a healthy planet. But Aboriginal language is the missing ingredient. Save our language and then we can save our home, Earth.
Below is a graphic recording by our talented Kim Summer based on our team discussion on the meaning of how to create Healthy Languages.