Today’s Exploring Geography post comes from Boy Mama Teacher Mama, a blog where parents and teachers can come to learn, share, and find common ground with others who are living life from a boy’s point of view. I especially like this blog’s Word Family Practice Tube, Condensed Milk Painting, and Alphabet Hop Game.
We have been living in Australia for a very short time, only a little over a year in fact, but in that time, I have tried my best to expose my boys to every aspect of Australian culture today and yesterday.
For those of you who are unsure or just don’t know, the original inhabitants of Australia are called the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders people (called simply Aboriginals from here on with no offense intended to the Torres Strait Islanders People). The Aboriginal people have lived in Australia and its islands for over sixty thousand years – long before the Europeans came and settled here. The Aboriginals have a long and interesting history. Their story is very similar to the Native Americans in the United States and the First People of Canada. They were here, established and thriving until their land was stolen from them. Fortunately, much of the Aboriginal culture is still alive today because of the members of their community, and because of their unwillingness to give up and give in.
One of the most fascinating things about the Aboriginal culture, in my opinion, is their stories. I have always been fascinated by Pourquoi tales, or stories that tell of how or why something came to be. As a teacher, one of my favorite things to do was to share stories and traditions with my students to give them a broader understanding of the world, and to hopefully instill in them a greater respect for others. So, before moving to Australia, I immersed my sons in everything Australian I could find, including books (fiction and non-fiction), photographs, music, maps, and websites. And, once again I fell in love. This time, it was with the stories of the Dreaming. These are the stories told over and over for thousands of years by the Aboriginal people. These stories that explain why things are the way they are and that teach one how to behave.
What is the Dreaming? The Dreaming was a time long, long ago when animals, plants and insects behaved like humans. Before the Dreaming, the earth was flat and grey. There were no mountains, rivers, birds or animals. Nothing was living. During the Dreaming, giant creatures rose from the ground where they had been sleeping for ages. These creatures or “Beings” looked like animals, plants and insects, but behaved like humans. They wandered the land looking for food, water and shelter, and as they did, they made huge ravines and rivers in the land and the world took on the shape it has today. The Aboriginal people believe that the traditional way of life was established by these Beings and that these Beings taught their ancestors about their native land and taught them how to behave.
There are so many stories from the Dreaming, but Lyrebird the Mimic (a little over halfway down the site) is by far my favorite. Before reading the story, you should know a little about the Lyrebird. This is one talented bird! It can mimic ANY sound from the calls of other birds to man-made noises such as a jack-hammer or a camera shutter. If you want to know more about the Lyrebird- and I know you do – check out this video from the BBC Wildlife: Lyrebird.
• How Birds Got their Colors: An Aboriginal Story told by Mary Albert
• How the Kangaroos got their Tails by George Mung Mung Lirrmiyarri
• Stories from the Billabong by James Vance Marshall
Other Pourquoi Tales From Around the World:
• How the Animals Got Their Colors: Animal Myths from Around the World by Michael Rosen and Marcia Rosen
• Misoso: Once Upon a Time Tales from Africa by Verna Aardema
• When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquoi Tales by Margaret Mayo
• Joan Resture’s Oceania Page: Australian Dreamtime Stories– A great website about Dreamtime and Dreamtime stories.
Written by Boy Mama Teacher Mama 2012
Thank you for this post, Boy Mama Teacher Mama! I’m excited to read some of those dreamtime stories and Pourquoi tales with my kids!
Email mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com if you are interested in contributing to this series. You can find all of the Exploring Geography posts listed by country (including two more posts about Australia!) on the Exploring Geography page.