Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Friday, March 07, 2014

Pakulpa pitjama Ananguku ngurakutu

The title means: Welcome to Anangu land
No way could I learn this language in the few days I am at Uluru; this sacred sandstone mountain smack in the center of Australia. Oh, a lot of debates have and will happen regarding this site. The Ananguku tribes take on the role of native protectors to this place. Two aboriginal groups have shared this honor for as long as can be remembered. It has been scientifically proven that the Yankunyjatjara and the Pitjantjatjara have lived here for at least 22,000 years. Some claim they have been here 70,000 years and are the oldest people on earth. They are living off the land, eating what can be found in the immense desert space around Uluru and drinking from the water holes that have been around for Millennia and only they know. They seem to live a deceptively simple life.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. True, in their traditional ways they do not have any material possessions besides the most elementary tools, like a spear, a club, a digging stick and some baskets, trays or home made rope. True, they did not have any written records, if one does not count their picture graphs as a written form of communication. Their life, some say has not changed for 70,000 years. They were always hunters and gatherers. Their counting goes one, two, three, many. Their living style is unique. Totally in tune with nature, adept at seeing the smallest sign of change in their surroundings, they can live and have lived in the harsh climate of the Australian outback for eons.
I often wondered why no dramatic changes happened within their culture. No life changing event occurred that would ease their difficult life. Certainly the people of Australia had their own geniuses in the past that must have thought of different ways to see the universe. We call them inventors, scientists or entrepreneurs today. The native way of looking at life is very different. They do not wear 'European' or 'Western' glasses to look at life. Their outlook is much more Universal. They are part of the Universe and live within the natural flow of things. Their "God" is not some deity with a name but they are part of all God has created. And this nameless power, this force that keeps the world alive, has taken care of them for ages and will continue to take care of them in times to come, will feed them, give them drink and will be clearly visible in the signs nature shows them daily. The indigenous Australian is the rare living being that lives from day to day, lives within the moment. And they have been doing this for thousands of years and there is no other, easier, different way to live. No modern invention will change the basic nature of things if one lives 'with' nature, like the Ananguku and other tribes have done in the past. Their oral traditions continue to be taught, stories of the creation of the universe are shared and even though they do not make 'scientific' sense, they are accepted by the tribes.
This is a very different way of looking at life, far from what I have been taught in my life. I am at the other, opposite side of my birthplace on earth. But I am also on the opposite side of human understanding of what is life on earth. My European glasses tint my outlook, my trained ego finds it difficult to comprehend this way of the aboriginals. It sure worked for them longer than all of European history existed. The white man brought deep changes to their way of life. Few among the Ananguku are unaffected by what modern Australia dishes out to them. Their traditional ways are challenged constantly, but.... and this is amazing, lately the Federal Australian Government returned land to the natives that now is managed in the old ways by a coalition of 4 Aboriginal men, 4 Aboriginal women and 4 Federal Representatives. However the Indigenous groups continue to give 99 year leases back to the Federal Government because of the huge tourism industry. While before, the white man's point of view ruled over all of Australia, now huge tracks of land are 'retuned' to the natives because they can manage it best. They are, again becoming the guardians of the land.
Atunmankunytjaku they call it. Looking after the land.

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