The aboriginal group Yuin came together to heal the land as intense wildfires continue to ravage across Australia.
Over the past few weeks, Australia has been ravaged by intense wildfires. While the last few months of the year generally comprise bushfire season, the wildfires have blazed on with a force and intensity that has never been seen before. The unprecedented strength of these fires has put a strain on the country's resources, including its firefighters and emergency responders. As thousands of people flee their homes and millions of animals' lives are lost to the deadly blaze, there is much talk about what can be done to quell this natural disaster. Many blame climate change for the intensity of the fires this year. Thus far, the Australian government has been rather apathetic to the situation. However, an aboriginal group has come forward in a historic move to perform a healing ceremony for Earth and Mother Nature, ABC News reports. It was the first healing ceremony of its kind to take place in over 150 years.
The aboriginal Australian group Yuin gathered at the foot of Mount Gulaga on Yuin country for a Birriga Bunaan, which literally translates to "big ceremony," in order to heal Australian land, the country's spirit, and its determined people. The Yuin is a group of Australian aboriginal people from the South Coast of New South Wales. All current people of the Yuin group have ancestors who once spoke one or more of the Yuin language dialects as their first language. These dialects include Djiringanj, Thaua, Walbanga, Wandandian, and Dhurga language (from Narooma to Nowra). At one point in time, the Yuin was 11,000 people strong. The group's population sadly dwindled to a mere 600 people due to smallpox epidemics in 1789 and then again in 1830 as a result of colonization.
Nonetheless, the group is still tightly bound by their traditions. Members of the group gathered together in the hundreds, traveling from as far as Sydney and Victoria, to be part of a healing ceremony. During the ceremony, they "danced on country all at the same time and on the same day" so as to breathe life back into the land. The members donned their traditional clothes and applied white paint on their bodies and faces. Children, seniors, men, women, and everyone in between were present at the ceremony. They danced, played music with wooden sticks, sang, and prayed for healing. In an interview with ABC News, some members of the group shared their thoughts and feelings about attending the historic ceremony.
"Today's about healing," said Warren Foster senior. "Healing land, healing country, healing spirit, and healing people." Raymond Timbery, another member of the group, added, "We come out here [to] stomp for our mother... It's about looking after our old people and ancestors. [Our traditions have] never been lost. For many, the ceremony was about connecting to their ancestors and identities as well as the Earth that they were gifted. For Ashleigh McGuire, it was about coming together in order to heal collectively. She said, "The land's sick at the moment, so our people are sick. And if we can come together and dance together [to] not only heal our own spirits but do it for the whole community - that's the true meaning behind our whole culture." As the world comes together to support Australia, we must remember it was home to indigenous tribes first, and as they heal the nation, continue to support them just as they do mainstream society.