The Arts

Celebrating arts & culture

Traditional knowledge on display

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate is an awe inspiring exhibition that celebrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders apply thousands of years of traditional knowledge to manage the land, rivers and sea.

The exhibition, launched last week at the National Museum of Australia (NMA), displays around 90 photographs, and examines over 33 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’ use of both traditional and contemporary land management techniques.

These techniques benefit the nation through the management of cultural sites, heritage values, fire regimes, feral animals, weeds, pollution and climate change impacts.

The On Country exhibition includes photographs shortlisted from the 2010 and 2012 biennial photographic competitions held as part of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Rangers’ Program.

The photographs are of rangers, researchers, teachers, elders and youth, and highlight how their unique bonds with the land, combined with ceremony and science, protects Country.

“These beautiful photographs depict the unrivalled connection Indigenous people have to their Country and to the land generally – and how their unique cultural knowledge is applied to address contemporary environmental issues,” says National Museum curator, Barbara Paulson.

Ngambri custodian from the Canberra region Paul House believes the role of Indigenous people in managing traditional land is an intergeneration responsibility, which is taken very seriously.

“Indigenous people are custodians of their lands for future generations and the photographs reveal how empowering this is for Indigenous communities,” Paul says.

The National Museum’s exhibition shows how the opportunity to manage their own lands, empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and encourages the transfer of knowledge, traditions and ceremony between generations.

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate will be on display in the Gallery of First Australians from November 2013 until July 2014. For more information visit the NMA website.

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