The traditional sarcotesta eaters of southwestern Australia

Introduction  Why did Noongar people ferment Macrozamia sarcotesta? Was it to detoxify it? It is our contention that over many thousands of years of trial-and-error and empirical scientific observations, the Noongar developed their own unique and sustainable food processing techniques, in particular the controlled anaerobic fermentation of the fruit (seed covering, outer rind) of Macrozamia to … Continued

Pre-contact indigenous Fremantle

Consultations were held between Noongar Elders and Fremantle Ports’ representatives in 2009.  Numerous ideas were generated as a result of workshops facilitated by consulting anthropologists Ken Macintyre and Barb Dobson at Fremantle Ports. All the Elders agreed that a map of pre-contact indigenous Fremantle should be created which showed the original topographic and vegetation features … Continued

Some notes on Banksia useage in traditional Noongar culture

Cultural knowledge determines what we eat, the timing of eating and how food is prepared.  Probably in the distant past when the original inhabitants of this land were adapting to their new environment, they ate certain plant products (roots, berries, gums and fruits) that made them ill or even killed them.  From these trial-and-error experiments … Continued

Day time reckoning: “Light time” in traditional Noongar culture

“Light time” could be described as a Noongar way of time reckoning using a system of daily categories based on the intensity of light from dawn to dusk.  ‘Wanting to know the ideas of the blacks of the origin of mankind, I got him [Mokare] this evening after some difficulty to understand my questions, when … Continued

Toodyay – A Little Bird’s Song

History is highly dependent on how we interpret the past and what we want to believe now.  As long as we can remember there has been a controversy over the meaning and origin of the name Toodyay.  We have been led to believe by our local Council that the name derives from a Ballardong term … Continued

Typha root: an ancient nutritious food in Noongar culture

In our paper on bardi grubs we mooted the possibility that indigenous people of southwestern Australia practised the earliest known form of insect husbandry. It is not hard to imagine that these same people also practised a type of incipient agriculture, as noted by Grey (1841: 294) with his reference to the cultivation of yunjeedie … Continued

The conveyor of souls: the Pied Cormorant

“… in the Faroe Islands, Siberia, and among the Ipiutak of Alaska, for example, diving birds are thought to ferry spirits of the dead to the next world, situated under water rather than in the heavens”

The Puzzle of the Bardi Grub in Nyungar Culture

As anthropologists we have often been confused by the use of the indigenous terms bardi and witchetty used to describe edible grubs in Australia.  These terms are often used interchangeably to the point where bardi becomes defined as a witjuti grub and vice versa.  How confusing is that?

Root Bark Eating in Southwestern Australia

Root bark is a little understood bush tucker that was once consumed by the indigenous Nyoongar people of inland southwestern Australia.1 The bark was collected to extract nutritious plant sugars found in the inner bark and vascular cambium of the roots of certain species of Eucalyptus trees.  The living inner bark and vascular tissue forms … Continued

Report on the “Owl stone” Aboriginal site at Red Hill, northeast of Perth

‘Aboriginal culture and tradition is inseparable from the land. When land and its natural features are destroyed, a large part of Aboriginal history and culture is destroyed. The reality is that not only are Aboriginal people losing their physical space but they are losing the physical manifestations of their history, culture and identity – and … Continued

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