Water and its Importance: Portrayals Through Australian Indigenous Stories

By Sonia Tidemann and Tim Whiteside.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Australian Aboriginal stories about water occur across the continent from temperate regions, to the desert and tropics. Most are about fresh water and had themes and outcomes that revolved around creation or changes of form. Most stories about waterholes came from the desert, most about floods, rain and swamps came from the tropics while most about water as a drink came from temperate areas. The actors in the stories included giants, spirits, moon, people, birds and other vertebrates. While western concepts of water relate very much to its cyclical nature as well as its use and abundance, those emerging from Aboriginal stories are complex and multi-dimensional extending into spiritual dimensions. The depiction of Aboriginal relationships involving water reveals a body of knowledge that is different from western concepts but that should be regarded as equally valid and respected, bringing with it a new richness to western thought.

Keywords: Australian, Aboriginal, Aborigines, Stories, Water, Desert, Tropics, Temperate

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.141-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 844.485KB).

Dr Sonia Tidemann

Head, Academic and Research Division, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Batchelor, Northern Territory, Australia

From secondary to tertiary teaching at the Australian National University, Canberra and, after a Masters in educational psychology, to a PhD in bird behavioural ecology. Then a research scientist in northern Australia focusing on the endangered Gouldian Finch. From there to Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education where, for the last 12 years, my focus has been capturing Indigenous knowledge before it is too late, raising the status of traditional ecological frameworks and integrating Indigenous knowledge with western constructs.

Tim Whiteside

Senior Lecturer, Natural and Cultural Resource Management, School of Health, Business and Science, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Batchelor, Northern Territory, Australia

Tim has brought his interest in geographic information systems to students in the Institute where he has been lecturing for 11 years, has completed a master’s degree and is currently engaged in PhD studies.


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