Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

Following the arrival of Europeans in Australia (1800’s) the traditional way of life (hunting and
gathering) of indigenous Australians and their ecological systems, to which their life is intimately
intertwined, have been significantly altered. Indigenous Australians have a deep spiritual
connection to land, creation beings, plants and animals, interrelated stories, song and dance, and
have a dynamic relationship with their environment. The food resource inventory utilised by
Aboriginal Australians has narrowed substantially since pre-European times, having a major
influence on the subsistence patterns of indigenous communities. For example the Martu peoples,
from the Western desert of Western Australia, based their family group movementson the
availability of food, and on ritual, with hunting and collecting based on deep ecological
understandings, while refreshing and refining the hunter’s traditional ecological knowledge. Food
and water resources are utilised to maximise availability. Approximately 20 native mammal
species were available for Martu hunting in pre-European times compared to just five native
mammal species hunted in 1990. A 75% decline in the number of animal species hunted and 70%
of plant species gathered(Walsh, 2008) has occurred. In the tropical Western Kimberley Region
of Western Australian traditional food sources are both land and water based eg turtles, dugong
and sea bird egg collection; the spearing, poisoning and trapping of fish; and the gathering of
shellfish. The coastal Monsoon Vine Thickets, provide plant derived food sources, are managed
in a non-wasteful manner, while incorporating respect of spiritual beings. Many traditional food
sources are rapidly declining at a time when food scarcity and people’s traditional relationships
with their hunting and gathering lifestyles are under increased threat through land clearing and
rapid expansion of mining of resources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems
EditorsD Das Gupta
Place of PublicationJodhpur, Rajasthan
PublisherMs Agrobios
Chapter47
Pages383-389
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9788177545098
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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hunting
food
vine
resource
song
seabird
poisoning
subsistence
turtle
lifestyle
trapping
monsoon
desert
water resource
egg
animal
fish
water
land

Cite this

Fisher, J. L. (2013). Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia. In D. Das Gupta (Ed.), Food and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems (pp. 383-389). Jodhpur, Rajasthan: Ms Agrobios.
Fisher, Judith Lorraine. / Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia. Food and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems. editor / D Das Gupta. Jodhpur, Rajasthan : Ms Agrobios, 2013. pp. 383-389
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Fisher, JL 2013, Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia. in D Das Gupta (ed.), Food and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems. Ms Agrobios, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, pp. 383-389.

Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia. / Fisher, Judith Lorraine.

Food and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems. ed. / D Das Gupta. Jodhpur, Rajasthan : Ms Agrobios, 2013. p. 383-389.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

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N2 - Following the arrival of Europeans in Australia (1800’s) the traditional way of life (hunting andgathering) of indigenous Australians and their ecological systems, to which their life is intimatelyintertwined, have been significantly altered. Indigenous Australians have a deep spiritualconnection to land, creation beings, plants and animals, interrelated stories, song and dance, andhave a dynamic relationship with their environment. The food resource inventory utilised byAboriginal Australians has narrowed substantially since pre-European times, having a majorinfluence on the subsistence patterns of indigenous communities. For example the Martu peoples,from the Western desert of Western Australia, based their family group movementson theavailability of food, and on ritual, with hunting and collecting based on deep ecologicalunderstandings, while refreshing and refining the hunter’s traditional ecological knowledge. Foodand water resources are utilised to maximise availability. Approximately 20 native mammalspecies were available for Martu hunting in pre-European times compared to just five nativemammal species hunted in 1990. A 75% decline in the number of animal species hunted and 70%of plant species gathered(Walsh, 2008) has occurred. In the tropical Western Kimberley Regionof Western Australian traditional food sources are both land and water based eg turtles, dugongand sea bird egg collection; the spearing, poisoning and trapping of fish; and the gathering ofshellfish. The coastal Monsoon Vine Thickets, provide plant derived food sources, are managedin a non-wasteful manner, while incorporating respect of spiritual beings. Many traditional foodsources are rapidly declining at a time when food scarcity and people’s traditional relationshipswith their hunting and gathering lifestyles are under increased threat through land clearing andrapid expansion of mining of resources.

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Fisher JL. Decline of availability of traditional food sources in indigenous Australia. In Das Gupta D, editor, Food and environmental security: imperatives of indigenous knowledge systems. Jodhpur, Rajasthan: Ms Agrobios. 2013. p. 383-389