For Australia’s First Nations people, Country encompasses a harmonious relationship between me as an individual and my ancestral lands and water. Within our culture, the three core fundamentals are respect, responsibility and reciprocity. These fundamentals are linked to the land and water that the people use to channel the environment and cultural knowledge. As my Country is different to the other 249+ First Nations of Australia, every part of my identity is therefore different.
Palyku novelist and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina has this to say about the definition of Country to First Nations peoples:
“For Aboriginal peoples, Country is much more than a place. Rock, tree, river, hill, animal, human—all were formed of the same substance by the Ancestors who continue to live in land, water, sky. Country is filled with relations speaking language and following Law, no matter whether the shape of that relation is human, rock, crow, wattle. Country is loved, needed, and cared for, and Country loves, needs, and cares for her peoples in turn. Country is family, culture, identity. Country is self.”