Wp/nys/Kaartdijin Noongar (Noongar Knowledge)

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Nidja bibol (nidja page) be(is) about Kaartdijin Noongar (Noongar Knowledge) was started by Summer wer Katrina at Hilton Primary School il 25 November 2016:[1]

We have been learning about the weapons and tools Noongar used to hunt, make karla (fire), and prepare food.

We have learnt of different types of spears, like sharp and blunt spears; we also learnt about the knives they made out of wood, glue, and a rock.

We also learned about different types of throwing sticks, like returning ones - Kylie (Boomerang), and hunting ones - Dowak (Throw stick).

We did a smoking ceremony where we put the smoke in the air on ourselves to make bad spirits go away and Kaya Kwop Wiern come and watch over us.

We also learnt some Noongar symbols, mural paintings of hands, and some dances and games.

Kaartdijin Noongar[edit | edit source]

Kaartdijin Noongar was an oral system. Kaartdijin is very important to yennar Aboriginal peoples, wer much effort has been spent over millennia in preserving wer building Kaartdijin so that Noongar can follow the law, enabling them to successfully live il the boodjar wer interact with other mobs. You cannot just let the last word be said by the loudest, seemingly most confident personality, because that would mean you have no authoritative source. If everyone was allowed to give answers il any topic Kaartdijin would be diluted, corrupted, wer ultimately destroyed. That is why protocols were established giving elders the authority wer responsibility to manage Kaartdijin.

Kaartdijin is divided yira so that keny elder is the authoritative source for keny piece of Kaartdijin. That elder was selected to learn that Kaartdijin by the previous generation of elders, wer it is his or her responsibility to take il that Kaartdijin, to ensure it is consistent, wer if necessary to add to it, before teaching it to the next generation in turn. In nidja way, Noongar Kaartdijin is correct, authoritative, flexible, wer above yennar necessary wer useful for the Noongar way of life. Noongar have faced and surmounted challenges such as climate change in the past, by observing, remembering, and communicating across generations.[2]

The oral system of Kaartdijin Noongar is now being supported by the written system (literate system) first developed by the Ancient Sumerians wer Egyptians only 5,000 years ago. These cultures both developed writing around 3,100 BC - apparently independently, but that ignores the fact that these peoples would have had a long history of contact before the invention of writing. Literate people tend to think that oral people were isolated wer had little communication between cultures, but it is only 2,5000 km between Egypt wer Sumeria (over land, from Nasiriyah, near ancient Ur, in Iraq to Luxor, ancient Waset, in Egypt - there is also a sea route). Aboriginal trade routes were longer than this, as told in many Song Lines which, amongst other things, are oral maps of these trade routes.

A kwop definition of writing (one preferred by Mesoamerican Archaeologists) is writing is a form of visually recorded speech.[3] Noongar people, like other Aboriginal nations, are now literate wer are actively striving to keep their Kaartdijin, unlike many other peoples who lost their oral records of early times - leaving only myths which are half remembered, distorted versions of the knowledge of their pre-literate cultures.

Time and Numbers[edit | edit source]

The big difference between literate and oral records is not in the way they are recorded but in the way they treat time and numbers. Writing seems to have developed from the need to keep records of stores, for example how much grain is stored here, how many sandals, etc, which implies counting came before writing. In oral traditions neither counting nor time are important. Whether there are 30 or 33 yonga in a mob is irrelevant, what is important is whether there is a big mob of yonga over there or just one or two. This is tied in with attitudes to boodjar, as ownership of things requires counting. If I own sheep, whether I have 30 or 33 sheep is important and a shepherd will count their flock, but if the yonga belong to boodjar not to me, then whether there were 30 or 33 was not important to me. Now however, because the very existence of some animals is threatened, it is important for conservation purposes that these animals are counted and monitored by people working with boodjar.

Similarly the concept of time is completely different for Wadjela. They have a sense that they are walking just a short distance along a biddi (walk trail) which goes back a long way, with dated events such as the annexation of Australia in 26 January 1788, or even further back to 65 - 67 million years ago when the apex predator Tyrannosaurus Rex ruled what is now North America, and this biddi stretches forward into the far future, beyond their own death. Usually Wadjela think of times as separate, i.e. that there is a difference between then, now and the future. Aboriginal people have a different sense of time, for example the phrase "in my grandfather's time" means a long time ago, but when said by an Aboriginal person in a traditional sense, it can mean anything from something that happened a long time ago when my grandfather was alive to something that happened thousands of years ago when a distant ancestor of mine was alive - generations ago, perhaps in my grandfather's, grandfather's, grandfather's time. For an Aboriginal person, the past is located in the physical landscape and there is no difference between the near and the remote past, or even the present. For example, when someone goes on country they can access the creation time or Nyitting - i.e. on country the very remote past is literally present. Some Wadjela do have this sense, for example Albert Einstein wrote in a letter in 1955, a few weeks before his own death, to the family of a dear friend who had died just a few weeks before:[4]

The Eastern Maar people are the traditional owners of land in South Western Victoria. The cultural landscapes general manager with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, Mr Clarke, explained this concept of time and the importance it plays in the preservation of oral records:[5]

Note that these different perspectives give completely different senses of where you are in time. For people with an oral tradition the past is something that happened within family memory - something that happened a thousand years ago is no further away than in the time of your grandfather. In an oral society whether a drought happened 30 or 300 or 3,000 years ago is irrelevant, what is important is where to find water in a drought. This is what Aboriginal people mean when we say the creation time or Nyitting is present today, for us it actually is present because we have an utterly different sense of time from Wadjela. Neither sense of time is right or wrong, it is important to realise that both are valid and indeed to strive to inhabit both worlds to enrich and enhance your understanding of life. Most Wadjela of course will not be able to do this as they will only accept what they have traditionally been taught.

History[edit | edit source]

History is the study or record of past events. Pre-history is defined as the period of time before written records, so history is defined essentially as the study of events since the invention of writing.[6] We know that nidja definition is wrong, because many people, including Noongar, have accurate oral records - their Kaartdijin, including their history - which go back through multiple generations. See for example this article "The stories of oral societies, passed from generation to generation, are more than they seem. They are scientific records".[7] For example:

Sea level changes[edit | edit source]

Aboriginal people know the effects of climate change since they have already weathered them! Changes in sea level wer memories of the land lost to the sea[8] go back 6,000 - 7,000[9] or 7,000[10] years ago. Including by Noongar:[11]

A story about the sea level change and the impact it had on Noongar people is given in the page Mamang (Whale) in the section "When the Wardan Levels Rose".

Butal yog muling (Shooting star)[edit | edit source]

The Luritja people remember a fireball which struck Luritja country 4,700 years ago.[12][13] See Butal yog muling (Shooting star)#Aboriginal Stories.

Volcanic eruptions[edit | edit source]

1) There is an oral history of the Bunganditj people stretching back at least 4,300 years[10] or 5,000 years[14], as that is how long ago the most recent volcanic activity at Ereng Balam (Mount Gambier) (or Berrin) and Mount Schank occurred. The yarn goes:[10]


Mount Schank crater

The site is accessible from the Riddoch Highway about 20 km South of the city of Mount Gambier. There is a small carpark and picnic table, and steps have been placed to facilitate the short but very steep walk to the rim of the crater. It is a fairly simple walk to traverse the rim, though the exposed situation can be treacherous in gusty weather.

2) A stone axe (the Bushfield Axe) buried under volcanic ash from the Budj Bim and Koroit (Tower Hill) eruptions shows Aboriginal people were in the Newer Volcanics Province of Southern Victoria and adjacent South Australia at least 37,000 years ago, as this is the date of the last eruption from these volcanoes. This is evidence to support the local Gunditjmara people's story - of Budj Bim spitting liquid fire from between his teeth when he revealed himself - which would make this story the oldest story in existence at 37,000 years old, for Wadjela an astonishing time for an oral tradition to be kept.[14][17]

The Noongar Nyitting (Dreaming or Cold Time)[edit | edit source]

The Nyitting tells of the time when life began. It perhaps includes oral history from at least 10,000 years ago when the last ice age ended.

Memory[edit | edit source]

Aboriginal people have pushed the boundary of history back to at least 6,000 years ago, perhaps even to 37,000 years ago, beyond the 5,000 years ago when the Sumerians wer Egyptians first started writing, wer in doing so changed the dictionary definitions of history wer pre-history.

Of course, in an oral tradition all kaartdijin must be memorised. This requires far better memory than most wadjela have. It is claimed that oral people, especially elders, use the 'Method of loci' to efficiently remember vast amounts of information.[3] This method relies on associating information with specific, well known and regularly visited, geographical locations. It is suggested that Aboriginal ceremonies relevant to particular sites are used to learn, review, rehearse and revise the information associated with that site.[3] The information can be easily accessed by physically walking past these sites, or by using a biddi (walk trail) to order the sequence of sites in the mind and recall the information that way. What was seen by wadjela as natives being idle by just sitting around yarning, was actually an integral part of acquiring and retaining kaartdijin.

Wadjela knowledge[edit | edit source]

Classification of Sources[edit | edit source]

Source material is classified as either a primary source, secondary source, or tertiary source. An encyclopedia such as nidja NoongarPedia is a tertiary source providing a broad but accurate wer authoritative introduction to a topic, whilst a diary is a primary source (if used to provide information about the events or people in the diary). A book written after an event by someone who was not there is a secondary source - it should provide an analysis wer review of the event but need not be impartial or balanced, it will rely either il primary sources or other secondary sources for details of the event.

Considering the oral tradition of Kaartdijin Noongar, a recording or transcript of a Noongar elder following the relevant protocols would thus be a tertiary source (authoritative wer confirmed material, as in an encyclopedia). Someone else using or editing the content of that recording would be a secondary source. However, it should be noted that in oral traditions learning is a one-to-one interaction between teacher and learner, and a competent teacher would carefully consider the abilities, character and previous learning of the student, and adjust their teaching to be appropriate and most effective for that particular student. Much in the way a kwop healer will consider the overall condition and wishes of a patient rather than dispensing a standard prescription based on simply identifying a health issue. Hence, the preferred means of learning kaartdijin is always directly from an elder.

Wikipedia and NoongarPedia[edit | edit source]

One recent important development in access to knowledge around the World is Wikipedia, of which of course nidja NoongarPedia is part. Nidja is an open editing model for an on-line encyclopedia, in which anyone can edit any bibol of the encyclopedia. Nidja means that the encyclopedia may not be correct, as it might just now have been edited incorrectly, so it should not be used as a reference itself. However, yennar statements in an article should be sourced, so if you wish to quote a statement from Wikipedia, you should read the source for that statement wer then quote the source directly. In other words, use Wikipedia to learn about a subject wer identify source material, but then use the source material itself to make your point. But nonetheless, Wikipedia is surprisingly accurate wer incorrect information (especially vandalism) is usually quickly corrected: a study in the journal Nature said that in 2005, Wikipedia's scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica wer had a similar rate of "serious errors".[18] (See Reliability of Wikipedia).

As discussed il nidja bibol wer in an article by the Noongar man wer University of Sydney lecturer Clint Bracknell,[19] there are issues with accommodating Kaartdijin Noongar based on the knowledge of the elders with the open editing style of Wikipedia. An interesting wer related issue is who "owns" a language. For Wadjela, no-one can own a language, but for indigenous people it can be important to control who is allowed to use wer develop a language, see for example the clash between the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (TAC) wer Wikimedia about the English Wikipedia's "Palawa kani" page.[20]

For karro il the NoongarPedia project see these articles:[21][22][23] Monica Tan's article incorrectly states that NoongarPedia is Wikipedia’s first Indigenous Australian language project, but from my memory, although lost to Google, there was a previous, stalled attempt to write a Wiki for a Torres Strait mob.

The future[edit | edit source]

The organization of Wadjela knowledge is currently going through an epoch making change. It used to based il books. Books are relatively expensive to produce, even after the invention of the printing press in Europe around the year 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg. To produce a book was a complicated process which involved at least an author, an editor or publisher, wer a printer. The result was that knowledge was precious - it was a skill to be able to find any pieces of knowledge relevant to what you were seeking in a library. Now that has yennar changed with universal access allowing anyone to post items to the Internet wer computer search applications such as Google. It has now become a skill to sift out relevant knowledge from yennar the information flooding over you. Wadjela have not developed protocols to deal with nidja new paradigm of information access, with the result that important knowledge, knowledge even vital for survival, can be discounted as "fake news", see for example the denial of man-made climate change.[24][25] A related problem is the anonymity allowed by the technology, summed yira by a famous cartoon "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog". In the future, Wadjela knowledge may revert to being oral knowledge, supported by the Internet. We can see the beginning of nidja now, with predictive text helping people to write. When speech recognition becomes the main means of data input to the Internet, wadjela society will have gone past the literate stage, to the post-literate stage, where people will be non-literate. Something similar to the protocols developed by Aboriginal peoples to ensure the authenticity of knowledge will then become needed again.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Post literacy, about continuing wer adult education programmes for recently illiterate adults wer communities

See next[edit | edit source]

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ingrid Cumming, Hilton Primary School, Perth Western Australia, 2016
  2. Film "Synergies : Walking Together - Belonging to Country" or "Djena Koorliny Danjoo Boodjar-ang", associated with the book by Francesca Robertson, Noel Nannup, Glen Stasiuk, Stephen Hopper. "Nyoongar Boodja : Koomba Bardip Kooratan" or "Nyoongar Land : Long Story Short". Pub Batchelor Institute. 2017. ISBN 978-1-74131-540-0
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lynne Kelly (2016). "The Memory Code". Pub. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW. ISBN 978 1 76029 1327
  4. Thomas Venning (2017). “Time’s arrow: Albert Einstein’s letters to Michele Besso”. Christie’s. Retrieved 9 February 2020
  5. Sian Johnson. "How Gunditjmara words and traditions hold stories of Victoria's rich volcanic history". ABC South West Vic. 21 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020
  6. "prehistory". Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 10 September 2017
  7. Patrick Nunn. "The stories of oral societies, passed from generation to generation, are more than they seem. They are scientific records". Website/blog. aeon. 6 April 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023
  8. Judy Skatssoon. "Aboriginal language had ice age origins". ABC Science. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2017
  9. Nick Reid and Patrick D. Nunn. "Ancient Aboriginal stories preserve history of a rise in sea level". The Conversation. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2017
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Patrick Nunn. "When the bullin shrieked: Aboriginal memories of volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago". ABC News. 23 August 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017
  11. Vivienne Hansen and John Horsfall. "Get well soon, the Noongar way". Australian Geographic. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2019
  12. Duane W. Hamacher. "Finding meteorite impacts in Aboriginal oral tradition". The Conversation. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2018
  13. Duane W. Hamacher. "Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians". Archaeoastronomy – The Journal of Astronomy in Culture. Vol 25. Preprint. Retrieved 5 January 2018
  14. 14.0 14.1 Sian Johnson. "Volcanoes in Victoria reveal fresh evidence of eruptions 37,000 years ago". ABC News. 26 February 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2020
  15. "Mount Gambier – History". Travel in Mount Gambier. Archived 28 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2020
  16. Information board at base of Mount Schank, created by Primary Industries and Resources, Government of South Australia
  17. "An Australian legend may be the world’s oldest datable story". The Economist. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020 (Paywall free registration)
  18. Giles, J. (2005). "Internet encyclopaedias go head to head: Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries". Nature. 438 (7070): 900–1
  19. Monica Tan. "Aboriginal language Wikipedia faces cultural hurdles, say researchers". The Guardian. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2017
  20. Adi Robertson. "Can you own a language?". The Verge. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2017
  21. Monica Tan. "Introducing 'Noongarpedia' – Australia's first Indigenous Wikipedia". The Guardian. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2017
  22. Meghan Woods. "Noongarpedia created as first Wikipedia site in Aboriginal language". ABC News. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2017
  23. Katrin Long. "WA academics develop Noongar 'Wikipedia' to help preserve language". ABC News. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2017
  24. Donald J. Trump. concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Twitter. 6 November 2012
  25. Lamar Smith. "Fake News Includes Climate Change". Congressman Lamar Smith. Newsletter. Retrieved 12 September 2017