Honouring the Matriarch or Desecrating her Country: Teaching of D’harawal Sustainability and the ‘Mermaid’ of the Bargo River

Year: 2021

Author: Bodkin-Andrews, Gawaian, Foster, Shannon

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Worldwide, Indigenous Storytelling and Storywork methodologies are becoming increasingly recognised as not only an effective tool for research, teaching, and critical inquiry within academia, but also as a key source of strength for resisting dominant and oppressive colonial narratives and practices that distort (and erase) traditional and contemporary Indigenous Knowledges and values. Drawing on research emanating from the ARC Indigenous Discovery project Shielding our Futures: Storytelling with Ancestral and Living Knowledges (and in partnership with the D’harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledge Holders Circle) this presentation will focus on the overarching foundations of Indigenous Storywork (Archibald, 2008) and its interface with a developing Tribal Research Methodology (Kovach, 2009) of D’harawal Garuwanga Waduguda (D’harawal Ancestral Storytelling – Bodkin, 2013). In doing so, the D’harawal Story of the Migadan (River Spirit) of the Barrago (Bargo) River will be centred within this presentation, as will 15 key themes that emerged from in-depth Circle Yarning discussions with the D’harawal Elders Circle.  With the Circle’s permission, some of the secrets of the Migadan Sory will be shared, and the presentation will discuss the emerging themes in light of the importance of Galumban (Home Country) as a teacher. From this, the urgent need for sustainable educational practices to help protect Country herself will be explored, particularly when considering the colonial forces that continue to threaten the Bargo River today (e.g., development, mining, recreational activities, vandalism, and waste products).