Issue 1
Monday, 04 March 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
CDU Senior Research Fellows Dr Kathy (Gotha) Guthadjaka AM and Dr Linda Ford together with Colin Baker and Dr Ian McIntosh all gave presentations at the Northern Institute’s Aboriginal Cosmology Symposium
CDU Senior Research Fellows Dr Kathy (Gotha) Guthadjaka AM and Dr Linda Ford together with Colin Baker and Dr Ian McIntosh all gave presentations at the Northern Institute’s Aboriginal Cosmology Symposium

Aboriginal Cosmology meeting hears cultural stories

An Aboriginal Cosmology Symposium at CDU has explored the work undertaken in the field of Aboriginal/Yolngu Cosmology.

The concept of cosmology in the context of Aboriginal culture is the relationship between people, country and laws, with Indigenous people observing geology, cosmology and the weather for millennia.

Senior Research Fellow at CDU’s Northern Institute, Dr Payi Linda Ford is a Mak Mak Marranunggu woman and is the principal Chief Investigator of this Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Research Project. The symposium was part of a wider project to examine the nature of Aboriginal Cosmology and its meaning and affect on public policy for women and gender.

“Indigenous women are the holders of their women’s knowledge and are often overlooked in research terms,” Dr Ford said.

“We previously have not had the opportunity to document Aboriginal Cosmology of women’s Djurrwirr Yalu ‘science’ knowledge. The research will address this gap and examine what it means for women and gender.

“The symposium was an opportunity for Yolngu women to tell their stories and have them documented.

“We heard stories about the relationship with spiritual places that are under women’s custodianship, the songs and rituals that link the stars (constellations in the Milky Way) with these places as women continue to perform their cultural tasks,” Dr Ford said.

Speakers at the symposium included Dr Kathy Gotha Guthadjaka AM, who focussed on the Yolngu women in Northeast Arnhem region of Elcho Island. The project will identify the Djurrwirr Yalu guiding principles used to enhance the levels of governance and other systems applied to their community, culture, traditional ecological environmental knowledge and skill sets.

Dr Ford said it was also critical to transmit the knowledge to younger generations.

“The symposium informed our thinking about transference of knowledge to the next generation. How can this very important traditional Yolngu women’s knowledge be safeguarded and protected for the current and future generations?” she said.