Excerpt from Introduction
THIS BOOK STARTED BACK IN 1999 when Karl-Erik asked Tex: 'What is the word for knowledge in your Aboriginal language?' 'We don't have a word for it,' Tex replied. He must have felt Karl-Erik's disbelieving look. Struggling to find the words he continued: 'Our land is our knowledge, we walk on the knowledge, we dwell in the knowledge, we live in our thesaurus, we walk in our Bible every day of our lives. Everything is knowledge. We don't need a word for knowledge, I guess. Maybe that's why.'
There was in particular one issue that gradually took hold of Karl-Erik and which in the end became the topic of this book: Australian Aboriginal society's model for sustainability has the longest proven track record on earth. While societies outside Australia emerged, prospered and went under, Aboriginal society withstood and proved its sustainability over tens of thousands of years of dramatic events, until the Europeans' arrival in 1788. It is an extraordinary achievement, especially considering that this is something humanity is now struggling with: the way to build a truly sustainable society on this earth. How did the Aborigines do it? How did they organise for sustainability? What type of leadership did it require? They must have had a 'recipe for success'. What was it? Could we reconstruct it?
But how does one reconstruct something that was lost 200 years ago and where practically all sources and written reports are from a younger date? It would be an impossible task were it not for a unique source: the Nhunggabarra stories. Tex's role is to learn, record and teach the traditional stories that contain the Nhunggabarra Law. Our book is, as far as we know, the first serious attempt to use Aboriginal traditional stories for their original purpose: to convey knowledge from one generation to another, about the world, the law, society and the life and death of people.