Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises

In yet another example of indigenous stories having a much greater value than we (non-Indigenous western types) like to think, this story from the Guardian explains that there is a tremendous amount of historical scientific knowledge kept within the stories of Indigenous people.

It’s pretty incredible to think that the Indigenous Australian people who tell these stories have managed to keep the message unchanged for thousands of years.

When we listen to these stories we’re hearing eye-witness accounts of sea level rises, 7000 years after they happened. 

I find it fascinating that the way this comes about is not through any particular feature of the language, but rather the storytelling culture of the population. Because retelling and checking the stories at every step is so important for the family and community units, all of the people listening today can hear essentially the same stories that their ancestors heard when they were told back then.

 Indigenous rock art in Kakadu national park in the Northern Territory. Researchers say stories about sea level rises in Australia date back though more than 7,000 years of continuous oral tradition. Photograph: Helen Davidson for the Guardian

Indigenous rock art in Kakadu national park in the Northern Territory. Researchers say stories about sea level rises in Australia date back though more than 7,000 years of continuous oral tradition. Photograph: Helen Davidson for the Guardian

I love learning about how Indigenous cultures know so much, and I love seeing coverage of them in popular media. Another article that I saw recently was this one, a great narrative about the stories of earthquakes and tsunamis that the Indigenous people of the Pacific North-West tell.

It’s a very similar tale, but one that we should try to remember: there is so much that the Indigenous people know, all over the world, and we would do well to listen to them speak.

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One response to “Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises

  1. Pingback: Endangered tongues | Mother Tongues

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