What is cultural heritage?
Cultural heritage is a broad term that encompasses the tangible and intangible aspects of culture. It includes the physical objects created by people, as well as their stories, dances, art and songs; the environment, plants, animals, waterways, land; and the relationships between people, the environment, and culture. Together, they form a cultural landscape that encompasses and weaves together the natural and the human-made.
Aboriginal cultural heritage
Australian Aboriginal cultural heritage is a valuable resource. For millennia, the Australian landscape has been transformed by the actions and innovations of Aboriginal people who lived in such vast, often harsh environments. Innovations demonstrated by fire stick farming (controlled burn-offs still utilised today), the construction of enormous fishtrap complexes and the creation of pillared cultural spaces are testaments to the relationship Aboriginal people have with Country.
Sadly, with the coming of European colonisation of Australia, Aboriginal knowledge systems were undermined, and much of their cultural heritage lost through massacres, forced assimilation, mass displacement, and cruel government policies. But Aboriginal people have survived and there are efforts to reclaim what was taken from them. While there is still some ways to go, Australia is reconciling with past injustices so we can all move forward together. Reparations have been made to survivors of the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal people are being brought to the table for negotiations and matters affecting them, and there is growing support for the creation of a Treaty, recognising the sovereignty of Aboriginal people which was never ceded.