Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique and timeless connection to land is the special focus and theme of this year’s National NAIDOC Week celebrations.
The theme – We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate – highlights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea.
The National NAIDOC Committee encourages all Australians, young and old, to embrace the 2015 National NAIDOC theme and to respect and celebrate local and national sites of significance or ‘sacred places’ and to learn of their traditional names, history and stories.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a sacred place could be a geographic feature like a river or lake, a beach, bays, inlets, hills or mountain ranges. They could also be ceremonial grounds, galleries of rock art or engravings, or places used for gathering for cultural practices.
As the oldest continuing culture on the planet, the living culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is intrinsically linked with these sacred places. Long before European arrival, these places had traditional names that reflect the timeless relationship between the people and the land. Often they are connected with Dreaming stories or tell of the meaning of an area.
National NAIDOC Committee co-chairs Anne Martin and Benjamin Mitchell said this year’s theme is an opportunity to pay our respects to country, acknowledge those who work tirelessly on preserving land, sea and culture and to celebrate our many sacred and significant places.
Benjamin said that these places have been of important significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for tens of thousands of years.
“Lots of places in your local region, your town or your city have traditional names and dreaming stories and we encourage everyone to learn more about their history, their meaning and the extraordinary relationship they have to the traditional custodians.”
Anne points out that this year’s theme was specifically chosen to also highlight and celebrate a significant anniversary of one of Australia’s most iconic sacred places – Uluru.
“2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘Handback’ of Uluru to its traditional owners on 26 October 1985 and we wanted to honour and share their story with the nation.”