The land is a crucial structure in most societies, and it has been linked with different cultures, in the 21st century. Among the indigenous people, land revolves around the sense of duty and human dignity in their lives including morality, ethics, devotion to gods, and family. As a source of dutifulness, the land provides a duty for everyone to carry out responsibility to his parents, children and blood relations among the indigenous people (Valverde, 2011). The land is also embodied by the divine personification towards aboriginal's beliefs and traditions. It functions as a means that subjects elicit roles and responsibilities based on obligation and duty (Valverde, 2011). Therefore, to the indigenous people, the land is much more than mineral, rocks, and soil. They have a sense of belonging and a connection to their land. Their relationship with the land is one of the critical aspects of their way of life and identity. They achieve their strength and spirituality through their land because of the belief that their ancestors were buried there and their spirits continue to care and protect them and their land (Korf, 2019). Therefore, management of land is essential for aboriginal people because of the cultural, spiritual, social, and physical connection with their land. This paper addresses how indigenous people honor the lands, and how important the land is important to the world as an indigenous Blackfoot lady.
The Meaning of Land to the Indigenous People
To the aboriginal people, the land is a source of belonging, purpose, and identity. Unlike the aboriginals, the non-indigenous people see land as a commodity-something that can be sold or bought by anyone (Korf, 2019). However, aboriginals have a deeper connection with their land. Their land is more than a place. Humans, animals, hills, river, tree, and rocks form part of their ancestors who were buried in their land, and continue to live there in spirit form. By loving and caring for the land, they believe that the land will love and care for them in return. A piece of land that they live in is also based on the kinship ties that also give them a sense of belonging, purpose, and identity. Therefore, the land provides and sustains their families while the people care and manage the land through ceremony and culture because of the respect and reciprocity involved (Korf, 2019). Such a close connection when destroyed or disrespected leads to a negative impact on the aboriginals' wellbeing. This is why the aboriginals always have problems with the Europeans who come to destroy their land because for them "without the land, they are nothing (Valverde, 2011)."
The aboriginals land is profoundly connected to spiritually. The land is their mother, and its health is essential to their culture. For that reason, they have the responsibility to care for it. The cultural and spiritual connection of aboriginals and their land are based on burial grounds, water holes, archeological sites and dreaming sites that have been preserved because they are seen as the living sites of ancestors (Valverde, 2011). Through ceremonies, the aboriginals can appease the dead and rebuild their spiritual relationship with the land and other holy sites. Today, most aboriginal lands have native titles which make those looking to grab their land find it more complex, costly and lengthy. Whenever aboriginals try to explain what land means to they are always faced with hurtful comments such as "the land is not yours, it belongs to all of us (Korf, 2019)." This is something that non-indigenous people cannot understand. As a result, most aboriginals have lost their connection to their land since most of their lands have been taken away from them. To them, this is like taking away the love of a parent from a child. Therefore, for aboriginals land is a source of identity, culture, sovereignty, and family.
The land for aboriginals is seen as a place that holds the stories of their cultures and traditions from one generation to another. The land shapes them and has recuperative characteristics, which are critical to their well-being. Just as the sea, they consider land to have a powerful healer. When aboriginals walk in their country, they have an energy that invokes a feeling and serenity that they are not alone because the ancestors can communicate to the living through their senses and feelings that is important in healing (Korf, 2019). Therefore, by living in their lands and able to see, feel and hear the spirits of their forefathers, they fell the connectedness and depth of their relationship with their ancestors. Besides, by seeking the opinion of their ancestors, they learn how to heal themselves and move on with their lives.
The Land Owns Aboriginals
The aboriginals are commonly referred to as owners or custodians when looking at their relationship with their land. Such an intimate relationship means they are not looking after their land for someone to come and claim or buy it in the future. They are, therefore, the caretakers, the custodians, the owners, and the occupiers. This brings the connection between their art and land. The aboriginals do not see the world like the Europeans. Instead, they see the earth as both a historical landscape and mythical landscape (Korf, 2019). The ancestors showed them how to live based on well-prescribed laws. Laws are the basic foundation of the relationships they have in their country (Korf, 2019). This means laws are the basis of everything and it brings a sense of belonging and identity within the community.
Life for the indigenous people exists as a grain of sand that was formed through fusing some grains that form a desert which in turn forms a country. Through a country, the aboriginals can learn about their land and care for it over a million years to come. Besides just like a library book that they need to read and understand, they have no option but to take care and give back to the land (Korf, 2019). Therefore, the land is the backbone of the aboriginals and the history of their country.
Not all Aboriginals Oppose the Development of Land
Since the aboriginals are considered to have a strong connection with their land, most people believe that they do not encourage any form of land development. However, that is not true because a study in 2007 showed that landowners not only care about their land but also they encourage economic development (Valverde, 2011). The main reason for allowing economic development is for self-sustainability due to lack of financial support. Most land developments among aboriginals are primarily for benefits that bring packages worth millions, give them opportunities, get some White-fella money or develop their future. However, some aboriginals do not welcome any form of development in their lands. This is because these developments leave behind destruction and wastes that pollute the environment.
In conclusion, To the aboriginal people, the land is a source of belonging, purpose, and identity. They have a deeper connection with their land, which makes their land more than a place. The land is also their mother, and its health is essential to their culture. For that reason, they have the responsibility to care for it. By loving and caring for the land, they believe that the land will love and care for them in return. Such a close connection when destroyed or disrespected leads to a negative impact on the aboriginals' wellbeing. Thus, the non-indigenous people need to understand the connection that the aboriginals have with their lands. This will help them to understand why their dissociation from their ancestral lands hurts the aboriginals and their cultures. For most aboriginals, colonization had devastating implications on their land since it stole their sense of culture, identity, belonging, and purpose. Despite their history, most indigenous people have a close connection to their country because of their good relationship and connection to their land. Unlike the attitude of the Europeans, which states that land is privately own, most aboriginals believe that land owned by the community. The land belongs to everyone who is part of the community. Honoring their connection to land is important when looking at the culture and traditions of people living in Canada today.
Korf, J. (8 February 2019). Meaning of land to Aboriginal people. Creative Spirits. Retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/land/meaning-of-land-to-aboriginal-people
Valverde, M. (2011). The honour of the crown is at stake: Aboriginal land claims litigation and the epistemology of sovereignty. UC Irvine L. Rev., 1, 955.
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