Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fired up

This is pretty interesting. From what I understand, Australia's Western desert is one of the harshest environments on the planet. I'm sure the local species are glad of any help they can get.

Martu life revolves around hunting and fire, Douglas Bird explained. Martu inherit ritual duties that correspond to certain tracts of desert called "estates." An important part of this inheritance is the knowledge of when and where to light smoldering brush fires. Martu never start blazes without knowing every nook and cranny of a territory and often forgo campfires when traveling through foreign estates, he said.

"You never burn unless you're with someone who has all of that knowledge about that estate," he added. "If your fire were to threaten one of those totemic spots where they keep all their religious paraphernalia associated with these rituals, it's technically punishable by death."

Whoa! Message received. Even if you know how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, you want to take a consult before you actually do it.


susan said...

It's pretty fascinating just how much ancient nomadic cultures did actively participate in managing the lands they traveled and this example is a new one to me. You've probably read too about native Americans doing<a href="
much the same thing</a> with western grasslands and also with tree planting. The thing was they were so subtle about it it took white people a very long time to realize what had been going on before the invasion.

I like the fact that the Aboriginals consulted with each other about the burnings. Too bad we haven't learned anything from them.

susan said...

Oops, sorry about the link.

Ben said...

I'm glad to find out both comments are from you. Maybe that Chinese(?) porn site has stopped spamming here.

Out of necessity, indigenous people have come up with some very creative means of resource management. Whites didn't find out because well, when you have all the science and industry, why ask anyone else? At least there has been some change in that, if overdue.