Monday, September 13, 2010


AT Tjapuki we learned to throw boomerangs... sort of. I still throw like a girl! Right into the ground. The returning boomerang is native to the rainforest Aboriginals, used in bird hunting especially, to flush out the game. Tjakupi is a Cultural Park near Cairns that highlights Aboriginal culture. Before you go to their performance, you watch a movie of the history of Aboriginals in the time of colonialism. It was a no holds barred documentary of the generations of abuse of the native peoples, some from ignorance, some from intent. These beautiful young men are all of Aboriginal descent. There is not just one tribal type. The Aboriginals of Australia appear to descend from several groups that emigrated to the continent between 30,000 and 60,000 years ago. Those who traditionally inhabited the rain forest, tended to be paler skinned; those who inhabited the desert looked more African. There are over 300 language groups in Australia, some so vastly different that they must have arisen independently. These young men are professional singers, musicians, actors and dancers. They were very impressive, by Western standards. They imparted much information in a very slick, palatable way. It wasn't pandering. They were clearly very proud of their abilities and their heritage. It was a method that I think worked to make the mysterious more understandable. The power of art.
They gave us a behind the scenes talk about "bush tucker," showing us a plant that could be sucked on for caffeine, broken open for nuts, and shredded to form a paint brush. They talked about there dry & wet language groups: presumably desert vs rain forest. The organization they described for the rainforest people sounded more patriarchal than the desert peoples. They explained the dilly bag, a woven net bag, that was used for collecting and carrying food stuffs and for rinsing the toxins out of some the the foods. Traditional, old clothing, would be little more than pubic coverings, often made of human hair.

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