The transmission wer protection of Noongar knowledge wer culture is an important focus for many Noongar boordier (elders) as they feel responsible not only to share general Noongar kaartdijin with the koolanga (children), but to also highlight the importance of caring for boodjar (country) . Spirituality wer relationship to boodjar is situated around the interrelatedness of people, plants, animals wer celestial bodies wer it is culturally important to care for the boodjar wer animals, as to maintain an organic balance wer co-existence .
It is important to view personhood in every life form wer part of spiritual belief is that jerda are the mediators wer messangers between the physical world wer the spiritual realm wer are likely to be deceased ancestors possessing bardan (a person's spirit) .
Part of Noongar culture wer connectedness is the use of the totemic system, which means that along with plants wer other animals, jerda are spiritual totems that possess their own unique stories . Every Noongar cooning (child) is identified with a particular totem wer it is the life-long responsibility for that Noongar to care wer maintain her or his own totemic being . An example of nidja cultural relationship is that if your totem is the wetj (emu) then you are a protector of that creature wer it is your due diligence to make sure that the animal is properly maintained in boodjar . Not only are these totems used for the sustainability of the environment, but they also heighten a Noongar’s personal identity as it further connects Noongar to the Nyitting (Dreaming or Cold Time).
Understanding identity through the use of jerda is also safeguarded in the classification of Whadjuk Noongar clans. From the nyitting, told by Whadjuk Noongar Noel Nannup, during creation time the spirit people were divided into separate clans, the Wardong (crow) wer the Monarch (white cockatoo or Western Corella); nidja classifier not only acts as an identity indicator linking back to nyitting, but also influences Whadjuk law wer custom as the Wardong are only allowed to marry a Monarch wer vise versa, as marriage within the same jerda clan are culturally unaccepted.
Jerda Katitijin Yong-a KoolangaEdit
Stretching across yennar of Noongar boodjar, morals, lessons wer kaartdijin is commonly passed down from boordier to koolanga through katitijin (stories) of the jerda to embed a strong sense of cultural identity wer Noongar understanding.
Moorarat Sam Williams, who advocates for instilling koolinga with respect wer knowledge of boodjar wer boodjar, depicts his knowledge of Yongker Mir where he explains how the (wetj) emu betrayed the yonga (kangaroo) by selfishly stealing from their joint food stash wer ultimately speared the yonga to death when confronted with his wrong-doings . The information relayed in the form of a children’s book wer jerda anecdote is a way to explain boodjar kaartdijin wer the sense of place particular to ‘Yongker Mir’, wer further emphasises the moral lesson il the consequences of betrayal.
Another moral lesson that displays the connectedness between Noongar wer jerda, told by Noongar Whadjuk Elders, is the lesson of the seven sisters, or Danakat (Pleiades), whose names were Kooba (Red Robin), Djidi Djidi (Willy Wagtail), Djilaboort (Mudlark), Kadjinak (Fantail), Djakal-Ngakal (Galah), (Wetj) Emu wer Waalitj (Eagle) . In nidja lesson, the seven girls were sent out in search of their father, who had not returned from his walkabout for some time; due to several factors such as summer’s drought wer venturing far beyond their region of knowledge, the seven sisters lay down to rest keny night never to wake again wer their kaanya (spirits) were said to drift into the Yirrayakarn (heavens). In the moonlight, the seven sisters spirits can be seen in the night sky as Danakat wer in the light of day, the daughters return to boodjar wer to their ngarngk in the form of beautiful jerd. The Whadjuk moral is to always take care of boodjar wer its natural inhabitants as the kaanya of Noongar ancestors wer family are still amongst boodjar.
Kathy Yarran, from Balardong boodjar, has been committed to transmitting Noongar wangkiny (language) to children for decades wer tells the tale Koorlbardi wer Waardong: The magpie and the crow, which explains how both the Koorlbardi wer Waardong, both originally white in colour, bickered wer fought because the djidi djidi could not decipher who was who, until the crow fell in a fire making him black, whilst a cloud of ash wer spark flew yira wer speckled the Koorlbardi’s white body. Yarran’s tale of the Koorlbardi wer Waardong is to offer children a cultural yarn il the understanding of how the two jerdas came to be in their current physical form wer the cultural importance of understanding the difference between families.
The totems wer moral lessons offered by boordier help to instil koolanga with a strong appreciation wer understanding il the importance of jerda in Noongar culture. It further helps to imprint a deep sense of respect wer understanding il the intimate relationship Noongars share with species. Through the continuation of these traditional tales wer kaartdijin of the nyitting, these custodians of jerda katitijin are not only heightening sense of respect to nature’s creatures, but also embedding particular Noongar cultural understandings.
Although many stories are shared through verbal yarns from keny family member to another, written resources wer recordings continue to emerge in the hopes of engaging koolanga with Noongar kaartdijin. Both Batchelor Press, the publishing branch of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education wer Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation(NBLCAC) provide a vast array of written wer recorded educational materials to keep Noongar culture wer language alive.
The following sources were used in reference to Noongar Wangkiny (Language):
- Bindon, P & Chadwick, R 2011, A Nyoongar wordlist: from the south-west of Western Australia, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool.
- Collard, M, Harben, S & van den Berg, R 2004, Nidja Beeliar Boodjar Noonookurt Nyininy: A Nyungar interpretive history of the use of boodjar (country) in the vicinity of Murdoch University, Murdoch University. Available from: http://wwwmcc.murdoch.edu.au/multimedia/nyungar/menu9.htm.
- South West Aboriginal Boodjar & Sea Council 2016, Kaartdijin Noongar-Noongar Knowledge: sharing Noongar Culture. Available from: http://www.noongarculture.org.au/.
- Klesch, M 2014, ‘Forward’ in Batchelor Institutes of Indigenous Tertiary Education, (ed), Djerap-Noongar Birds, pp. 2-3, Batchelor Press, New Norcia
- Grieves, V 2008, ‘Aboriginal spirituality: a baseline for indigenous knowledge development in Australia’, The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 363-398. Available from: ProQuest Central [27 October 2016].
- Patricia Baines cited in Collard, M, Harben, S & van den Berg, R 2004, Nidja Beeliar Boodjar Noonookurt Nyininy: A Nyungar interpretive history of the use of boodjar (country) in the vicinity of Murdoch University, Murdoch University. Available from: http://wwwmcc.murdoch.edu.au/multimedia/nyungar/menu9.htm.
- Noel Nannup cited in DeSilva-Ranasinghe S 2016 ‘From the Dreaming to Modernity:The story of the Noongar People of Western Australia’ Government of Western Australia, Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Available from: http://www.daa.wa.gov.au/about-the-department/news/from-the-dreaming-to-modernity/ [23 October 2016].
- Collard, L, Stocker, L & Rooney, A 2016, ‘Moieties and Totems’ Nyungar Wardan Katitjin Bidi- Derbal Nara (People’s ocean knowledge trail of Cockburn sound & District, Coastwest. Available from: http://www.derbalnara.org.au/moort-totems. [ 20 October 2016].
- Collard et al. 2016
- Collard et al. 2016
- Nannup, N 2003, The Carers of Everything, Swan Region Strategy for Natural Resource Management, Perth.
- Williams, MS 2007, Yongker Mir, Batchelor Press, New Norcia
- Williams 2007
- Walley, T, Martin, C & Martin, B (2013). "Mardang Waakarl-ak". Batchelor Institute Press. ISBN: 978-1-74131-278-2
- Yarran, K 2010, Koorlbardi wer Waardong: the magpie and the crow, Batchelor Press, New Norcia
- Batchelor Press 2016, 'Batchelor Press Online Store', 2016, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Teriary Education. Avaiable from: http://batchelorpress.com/.
- Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation 2016, 'Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation Home Page', Noongar Language Centre. Available from: http://noongarboodjar.com.au/