Living Soils: The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Health

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The members of the collective Noongar cultural block descend from peoples who spoke several languages and dialects that were often mutually intelligible. What is now classed as the Noongar language is a member of the large Pama-Nyungan language family.

Contemporary Noongar speak Australian Aboriginal English a dialect of the English language laced with Noongar words and occasionally inflected by its grammar. Most contemporary Noongar trace their ancestry to more than one of these groups. The census figures showed that 21, people identified themselves as indigenous in the south-west of Western Australia.

The Noongar peoples had variously, according to their territory, to adapt to four different Mediterranean-type climatic zones, with dry spells varying from as few as three to as many as eleven months. The north was characterized by casuarina, acacia and melaleuca thickets, the south by mulga scrubland but it also supported dense forest stands.

Several rivers ran to the coast and with lakes and wetlands provided the Noongar with their distinctive food and vegetation resources, depend on locality. Generally, Noongar made a living by hunting and trapping a variety of game, including kangaroos, possums and wallabies; for people close to the coastal zone or riverine systems, spear-fishing or culling fish in traps was customary.

An extensive range of edible wild plants were also available, including yams and wattle seeds. Nuts of the zamia palm , eaten during the Djeran season April—May [4] required extensive treatment to remove its toxicity , and for women may have had a contraceptive effect. The forebears of the Noongar, as early as 10, BP , utilised quartz , replacing chert flint for spear and knife edges, when the chert deposit was submerged by sea level rise during the Flandrian transgression.

Before the arrival of Europeans , the Noongar population has been variously estimated at between 6, and some tens of thousands. As they approached from the west, the newcomers were called djaanga or djanak , meaning "white spirits". Initially relations were generally cordial. Matthew Flinders recognized the success of his three-week sojourn as due in good part to Noongar diplomacy, and Noongar rituals celebrated their reception of the newcomers in a ceremonial form.

An example of such misunderstandings was the Noongar land-management practice of setting fires in early summer, mistakenly seen as an act of hostility by the settlers.

Conversely, the Noongar saw the settlers' livestock as fair game to replace the dwindling stocks of native animals shot indiscriminately by settlers. In June a Whadjuk leader, [11] Yagan , formerly of good standing among the settler authorities and known in the colony for his handsome bearing, "tall, slender, well-fashioned..

Caught and imprisoned, he escaped and was let alone, as though informally reprieved as a native version of William Wallace. Yagan himself, with a bounty on his head, was ambushed soon afterwards by an year-old settler youth, [11] after he had stopped 2 settlers and asked for flour. Notwithstanding this violence, extraordinary acts of goodwill existed. From August ten Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island known as Wadjemup to the Noongar, possibly meaning "place across the water" [16].

After a short period when both settlers and prisoners occupied the island, the Colonial Secretary announced in June that the island would become a penal establishment for Aboriginal people and was officially designated as such in To " pacify " the Aboriginal population, men were rounded up and chained for offences ranging from spearing livestock, burning the bush or digging vegetables on what had been their own land. It quickly became a "place of torment, deprivation and death", [19] and it has been estimated that there may be as many as Aboriginal graves on the island, of which five were for prisoners who had been hung.

Except for a short period between and , during which the prison was closed, some 3, Aboriginal men and boys, many of them Noongars, but also many others from all parts of the state, were imprisoned. Highly cultured, very caring, practical and down to earth, Salvado dedicated his life to promoting the humane treatment of the Australian Aboriginals at the mission he created at New Norcia , the territory of the Yued.

The Njunga found refuge under his roof, and he defended many natives up on charges of theft, arguing from Church doctrine that theft was not criminal if dictated by dire necessity. While intent on converting, he encouraged the Noongar to maintain their traditional culture.

From to , the lives and lifestyles of Noongar people were subject to the Native Welfare Act. The Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages website states that out of thirteen dialects spoken by the Noongar people at the time of European settlement, only five still remain.

Noongar people live in many country towns throughout the south-west as well as in the major population centres of Perth , Mandurah , Bunbury , Geraldton , Albany and Esperance. Many country Noongar people have developed long-standing relationships with wadjila white fella[man] [ citation needed ] [f] farmers and continue to hunt kangaroo and gather bush tucker food as well as to teach their children stories about the land.

In a few areas in the south-west, visitors can go on bushtucker walks, trying foods such as kangaroo, emu , quandong jam or relish, bush tomatoes , witchetty grub pâté and bush honey. In Perth, the Noongar believe that the Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl , a snakelike being from the Dreamtime that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways and lakes.

It is thought that the Wagyl created the Swan River. The Wagyl has been associated with Wonambi naracoutensis , part of the extinct megafauna of Australia that disappeared between 15 and 50, years ago. Also in Perth, Mount Eliza was an important site for the Noongar. It was a hunting site where kangaroos were herded and driven over the edge to provide meat for gathering clans.

In this context, the "clan" is a local descent group — larger than a family but based on family links through a common ancestry. At the base of Mount Eliza is a sacred site where the Wagyl is said to have rested during its journeys.

This site is also the location of the former Swan Brewery which has been a source of contention between local Noongar groups who would like to see the land, which was reclaimed from the river in the late 19th century, "restored" to them and the title-holders who wished to develop the site. A Noongar protest camp existed here for several years in the late s and early s.

Noongar culture is particularly strong with the written word. The plays of Jack Davis are on the school syllabus in several Australian states. Davis' first full-length play Kullark , a documentary on the history of Aboriginals in WA, was first produced in No Sugar, The Dreamers, Barungin: Yirra Yaakin [25] describes itself as the response to the Aboriginal Community's need for positive self-enhancement through artistic expression.

It is a theatre company which strives for community development and which also has a drive to create "exciting, authentic and culturally appropriate indigenous theatre". The Barnett government of Western Australia announced in November that, due to changes in funding arrangements with the Abbott Federal government , it was closing of Aboriginal communities in remote locations. As a result, Noongars in solidarity with other Aboriginal groups established a refugee camp on Heirisson Island.

Despite police action to dismantle the camp twice in , the camp continued until April Despite such state government actions many local governments in the south-west have developed "compacts" or "commitments" with their local Noongar communities to ensure that sites of significance are protected and that the culture is respected. At the same time, the Western Australian Barnett government, also from November , had been forcing the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee to deregister Aboriginal sacred sites in Western Australia.

A legal ruling on 1 April overturned the government's actions on some of the sites deregistered which were found to be truly sacred. Elders are increasingly asked on formal occasions to provide a " Welcome to Country " and the first steps of teaching the Noongar language in the general curriculum have been made.

In recent years there has been considerable interest in Noongar visual arts. The 8-metre canvas was commissioned for the festival by representatives of the united elders and families from across the Noongar nation. The Noongar people occupied and maintained the Mediterranean climate lands of the south-west of Western Australia, and made sustainable use of seven biogeographic regions of their territory, namely;. These seven regions have been acknowledged as a biodiversity hot-spot, [29] having a generally greater number of endemic species than most other regions in Australia.

The ecological damage done to this region through clearing, introduced species, by feral animals and non-endemic plants is also severe, and has resulted in a high proportion of plants and animals being included in the categories of rare, threatened and endangered species. In modern times many Aboriginal men were employed intermittently as rabbiters, and rabbit became an important part of Noongar diet in the early 20th century.

The Noongar territory also happens to conform closely with the South-west Indian Ocean Drainage Region, and the use of these water resources played a very important seasonal part in their culture.

The Noongar thus have a close connection with the earth and, as a consequence, they divided the year into six distinct seasons that corresponded with moving to different habitats and feeding patterns based on seasonal foods.

On 19 September the Federal Court of Australia brought down a judgment which recognised native title in an area over the city of Perth and its surrounds, known as Bennell v State of Western Australia [] FCA In the interim, the Noongar people together will continue to be involved in native title negotiations with the Government of Western Australia , and are represented by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council. Justice Wilcox's judgment is noteworthy for several reasons.

It highlights Perth's wealth of post-European settlement writings which provide an insight into Aboriginal life, including laws and customs, around the time of settlement in and also into the beginning of the last century.

These documents enabled Justice Wilcox to find that laws and customs governing land throughout the whole Single Noongar Claim taking in Perth, and many other towns in the greater South West were those of a single community. The claimants shared a language and had extensive interaction with others in the claim area.

Importantly, Justice Wilcox found the Noongar community constituted a united society which had continued to exist despite the disruption resulting from mixed marriage and people being forced off their land and dispersed to other areas as a result of white settlement and later Government policies.

Other native title claims on Noongar lands include: Since the Noongar are largely urbanised or concentrated in major regional towns studies have shown that the direct economic impact of the Noongar community on the WA economy was estimated to range between five and seven hundred million dollars per year.

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