Appendix 2 - More Background to Australian Indigenous Culture


The Australian Indigenous culture pivots around LORE, ie care, share and respect the land, the people and the environment.

Linked with this is the basic protocol that all points of view need to be heard and respected, irrespective of your thoughts on them.

Need to encourage

"...the basic social contracts of reciprocity (which allow people to build a reputation of generosity based on sharing to ensure on going connectedness and support..."
Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

Otherwise you could shatter these frameworks of harmony by repeating even just a few words of nasty gossip; this then erodes the system of 'give and take' so that members of the social group become isolated and lost in the struggle for power and dwindling resources that destroys everything.

"...In the Indigenous world, you cannot push people to share knowledge - you just accept what they're ready for..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

Usually knowledge-keepers will withdraw if they feel that the recipient is not ready to receive the knowledge.

Most conversations begin with a story

People's Laws (1st & 2nd)

i) First People's Law - constant state of motion

"...because of the infinite and regenerative connections between systems......nothing is created or destroyed; it just moves and changes......therefore time is non-linear and regenerates creation in endless cycles..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

NB This is similar to the first law of thermodynamics, ie energy is neither created nor destroyed, it only changes and moves to another system

ii) Second People's Law -

" must be isolated and exist in a vacuum of individual creation, beginning in complexity......and breaking down until they meet their end. Therefore, time is linear, because all things must have a beginning, middle and end..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

There is a conflict between the first and second law; with the second law stressing a closed system with a loss of energy, the illusion of infinite growth and experiencing time in a straight line.

NB This is similar to the second law of thermodynamics, ie entropy or decay increases in a complex system breaks down, but only in a closed system.

Indigenous cultures work within the framework of the First Law, not the Second Law, as systems are not closed.

Few simple operating guidelines: connect, diversify, interaction and adapt

Part of this involves starting with an understanding of a dynamic, self-organising system like solar system, river system, family, community, etc. It will have its own particular meanings, stories, connections, etc. Then select and form an image of 4 elements/protocols from the system that represent protocols of complexity agent. Each has 3 parts

i) connectedness (pairs, network of pairs and networks of networks. This involves

"...forming pairs with multiple other agents who also pair with others. The next step is creating a expanding networks of these connections. The final step is making sure these networks are interacting with the networks of other agents, both within your system and in others..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019)

ii) diversity (similar to you, different from you and systems beyond you. This

"...compels you to maintain your individual difference particularly from other agents that are similar to you. You must also seek out and interact with a wide variety of agents that are completely dissimilar to you. Finally, you must interact with other systems beyond your own, keeping your system open and therefore sustainable..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019)

iii) interaction (continuously transferring knowledge, energy and resources. This involves

"...passing on these three things to as many other agents as possible, rather than trying to store them individually..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019)

iv) adaption (transformation, feedback loops and strange attractors. In this part

"...must allow yourself to be transformed through interaction with other agents. Knowledge and energy will flow through the entire system in feedback loops and you must be prepared to change so that those feedback loops are not blocked. If you are truly adaptive and changing you are open to sudden eruptions of transformation, in which you may temporarily take on the role of strange attractor to facilitate chain reactions of creative events within the system..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019)

NB connectedness + diversity + interaction + adaption = harmony

Branding and rebranding of Indigenous knowledge

"...decolonising movements that have been so intent on rejecting Western systems of thought that they have focused too much on the ways of knowing rather than ways of being, causing a lot of Indigenous Knowledge to be lost in theory rather than embedded in daily life. On the other hand, a recent obsession with 'ontology' has swung the pendulum back the other way, as people seek authenticity.....for traditional knowledge......Indigenous Knowledge is constantly under threat from......amendments and misinterpretations, from within and without..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

"...the most remarkable thing about Western civilisation is its ability to absorb any object or idea, alter it, sanitise it, rebrand it and market it..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

New knowledge

When a person learns new knowledge, there is a neurological spark in the brain caused by the release of pleasure chemicals that can be linked with the creation of new neural pathways.

"...a knowledge-keeper mawillwithy will share knowledge because she or he is a custodian of miniature creation events that must continually take place in the minds of people coming into knowledge..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

Some examples of ideas coming together in a new way are jokes, puns, rhymes, double meanings, unusual circumstances, accidents, exposed delusions, contextually inappropriate content, etc.
Joy and humour are important tools in learning.

"...If people are laughing they are learning. True learning is a joy because it's an act of creation..."

Current world

An Australian Indigenous understanding of the current world, ie

"...Sprouting from an ancient seed of narcissism that has flourished due to an imbalance in human societies......the war between good and evil is in reality an imposition of stupidity and simplicity over wisdom and to this imbalance, based in community and a sense of respect for and belonging to the land-values.....Aboriginal culture ways of being associated with.....Anglosphere..."

Tyson Yunkaporta as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

Harmony versus exploitation et al

In general terms, Indigenous cultures are more about living in harmony; while Non-Indigenous cultures are more about exploitative or manipulative practices. The Non- Indigenous approach to Indigenous knowledge is that it is a resource to be plundered rather than a source of knowledge processes, ie not interested in the level of "how", only interested in the level of "what".

There is a clash in value systems between the Non-Indigenous and the Indigenous societies. For example, Non-Indigenous arithmetic

"...this is the tool of measuring and quantifying used by people who believe in manipulating nature through science and technology..."

Stephen Harris 1992

Non-Indigenous superiority mindset

One of Non-Indigenous culture's main problems revolves around,

"...humans are forever fighting an egotistical impulse to be "greater than something" - each other, the land......and this unchecked impulse is leading us to cultural and ecological disaster. Aboriginal culture was designed over thousands of years to deal with this problem. This behaviour needs massive checks and balances to contain the damage it can do..."

Tyson Yunkaporta as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

Need to be very careful of the mindset that suggests "I am greater the you", ie

" are special. You are greater than other people and things. You are more important than everything and everyone. All things and all people exist to serve you..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

Need massive checks and balances to change this mindset of superiority.

"...Aboriginal parents have been frequently reported as wanting their children to be successful in the 3Rs and to grow up Aboriginal.."

Stephen Harris 1992

Social fragmentation

The de-contextualising and individualistic approach of Non-Indigenous culture results in social fragmentation, ie divide and rule. This is further complicated by today's lightning-fast communications.

"...isolates everybody and it breaks down the complexity of the system. There are short-term gains to be made economically by a few people from breaking society down into just individuals who are quite uniform and all speaking the same language. If people aren't able to organise in communities and groups, they're not able to support each other, it's a lot easier to extract things from those communities and the land they live on. It is easier to frack in a rural community and destroy their water, if those people are a series of individuals rather than a series of cooperatives that are interlinked..."

Tyson Yunkaporta 2019

Changing Non-Indigenous mindsets

The starting point is changing Non-Indigenous mindsets, ie how we think, and how we interact with each other, ie communications. Need to understand and appreciate the interconnectedness of everything.

NB Non-Indigenous civilisation is based on the individualistic mindset that is built into our economic and socio-political institutions.

An example is agriculture

"...agricultural practices that include Indigenous and local knowledge can contribute to overcoming the combined challenge of climate change, food security, biodiversity conservation, and combating desertification and land degradation..."

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

 In the Australian context, Indigenous culture has been through a lot of apocalypses.

"...We have them in all in our stories. The volcanoes. There are massive floods. There are meteorite impacts. All these things are in our oral history..."

Tyson Yunkaporta as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

Other clan-based communities (Chinese)

There is commonality, ie clan-based communities, between the Chinese community and the Indigenous community.

"...lot of the Chinese community came over for the gold rush, and they were really successful on the goldfields because they were operating in clan groups. They were in these really supportive clan-based economies, so they were saving a lot of money, they had informal welfare systems where they'd be welcoming newcomers......if someone got sick there were people to look after them, they were really healthy, their hygiene was very good..."

Tyson Yunkaporta as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

In contrast, the other nationalities coming to the goldfields were

"...rugged individuals coming from all around the world and all around Australia, they were dying in droves..."

Tyson Yunkaporta as quoted by James Fernyhough 2019

(sources: Tyson Yunkaporta 2019; James Fernyhough 2019; Stephen Harris, 1992; Jennie Teasdale et al, 1992)


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