< Өмнөх хуудас руу буцах

Scholars experience First Nations culture ahead of NAIDOC Week

Нийтэлсэн: 2024-07-8

On 7–14 July 2024, Australia marks NAIDOC Week to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Ahead of NAIDOC Week, Australia Awards scholars from Mongolia have participated in Indigenous engagement activities across Australia. These opportunities provided the scholars with an appreciation of Indigenous Australians’ culture, history and achievements.

One of the highlights of these events was a three-day, two-night immersive First Nations experience held in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia. Fourteen scholars from South Asia and Mongolia, including several who are indigenous or from traditionally marginalised groups, travelled from across Australia to participate. Scholars undertook tours to learn about the relationship that the Adnyamathanha people, the Traditional Owners of the greater Ikara and Flinders Ranges area, have with the environment. Scholars also learnt about Indigenous perspectives through a yarning circle around a campfire at Ikara, leading to a discussion of this year’s NAIDOC theme: ‘Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud’.

Reflecting on her experience of the cultural immersion tour in Ikara, Mongolian scholar Arai Byeibitkhan said, “I felt a profound connection to my own country, Mongolia, through the exploration of ancient rock carvings. In the Sacred Canyon, I observed intricate carvings depicting emus and kangaroos, which reminded me of the rich heritage preserved in Mongolia’s rock carvings. Our rock art features wild sheep, elk, aurochs and ibex, symbolising the deep bond between our ancestors and the natural world. This experience highlighted the universal human practice of recording and venerating the wildlife that shared our ancestors’ landscapes, creating a cultural and historical connection between Australia and Mongolia.”

Scholar Arai at the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia.

In Melbourne, scholars travelled to the Willum Warrain Aboriginal bush nursery in Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula. Peter Aldenhoven, a Quandamooka man and the founding member and CEO of Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association which owns and operates the nursery, began the tour with a smoking ceremony, Welcome to Country and face-painting using ochre. Peter then imparted his knowledge about the Koorie bush tucker trail, traditional huts, material culture and the local flora of the Mornington Peninsula.

Mongolian scholar Saruul Orshikh said, “Participating in the smoking ceremony was an incredibly profound experience for me. The ceremony reflected the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association’s rich customs and spiritual practices on Mornington Peninsula. The rituals showed the community’s connection to their ancestors and the natural environment. I felt calm and connected during the ritual. Smoking for purification and blessing reminded me of my own culture. This encounter deepened my appreciation for Indigenous traditions. I am grateful to see such a meaningful occasion and receive such a warm welcome.”

Scholar Saruul (third from left) with scholars from South Asia at the Willum Warrain Aboriginal bush nursery in Hastings, Victoria.

In Sydney, scholars embarked on a cultural cruise run by Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation and learnt about the history and traditional culture of Sydney Harbour. Stories of the Gadigal, Guringai, Wangal, Gammeraigal and Wallumedegal people were shared on board the cruise before the scholars disembarked on Clark Island. There, the scholars learnt about life pre-colonisation, the coastal lifestyle, and traditional fishing methods and food gathering techniques.

Scholar Sergelen Tsetsegmaa is welcomed at the cultural cruise by a representative of the Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation in Sydney.

In Adelaide, scholars were welcomed at the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre with the greeting ‘Niina marni’, which means ‘Hello, how are you?’ in Kaurna language. Taylah, the Indigenous tour guide, led the group around significant Kaurna sites in the south of Adelaide, including Moana Sands Conservation Park and an 800-year-old scarred tree in the Warriparinga wetlands.

Mongolian scholar Tuvshinjargal Ulambayar (left) participates in a traditional smoking ceremony at the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre in Adelaide

The scholars learnt about the history of the locations and their cultural significance. Throughout the day, they walked together on Country, fostering a sense of connection and unpacking shared understanding of cultural values. Mongolian scholar Tuvshinjargal Ulambayar said that “the smell of the smoking ceremony reminded me of being in my own country”.

Main picture (left to right): Mongolian scholars Tsolmon Puverdorj, Sarantuya Batgerel, Mendbayar Dolgor, Nergui Enebish, Milkhaabaatar Munkhzu, Mendbayar Dolgor and Saruul Orshikh at the Willum Warrain Aboriginal bush nursery.