Just some Facts
What is the difference between a Welcome to Country and an Acknowledgement of Country?
A Welcome to Country is a formal welcome onto Traditional Aboriginal Land given by an elder or person of that land. (just like welcoming someone to your house and blessing them with safe passage)
An Acknowledgement of Country is a statement of recognition of the traditional owners of the land. An Acknowledgement of Country can be given by any person, Indigenous Australian or non-Indigenous. (just like acknowledging the owners of the house that you are gathering in for whatever reason)
Why do we do an Acknowledgment?
Today it is a sign of respect based on Australia’s history of not acknowledging the spirit of the land and its people. The acknowledgment in itself is twofold, it actually is an opportunity to stop and look around and notice where we are (to take a breath), where we are standing/sitting and noting that there is a history of place, that beneath the concrete is a landscape of ancient history and this history is alive and written in the people that are of the land. And on another note, as we acknowledge the land and the people we in turn become more connected to where we walk, live and breathe.
As Aboriginal peoples we do acknowledgement as protocol, it’s our Lore, a part of our being. For those deeply immersed in their lineage and Aboriginal psychology and spiritual connection; we do an acknowledgement before we even step foot on another’s country/house, we acknowledge the spirits within our own landscape and the spirits of our ancestors..... In this way our presence is felt before arrival and the landscape, the spirit and the people can be in relation to our presence accordingly.
Welcome to country was a long ceremony that may have gone from a few days to months, it all depended on the nature of those entering onto country and what needed to be cleansed or initiated so the people could then be safe on country and in harmony with the landscape and the spirits of the land.
Acknowledgment in essence isn't about a debt that needs to be paid, it’s about enrichment, conscious connection and it is the most respectful and mature action a person or groups of people can hold as their practice in life.
Acknowledgment in itself contributes to well being and healing. It also contributes to feeling where we are standing.
If you step up to or find yourself doing an acknowledgement, best to take a moment to breath, become present and speak from the heart.
Rachel Shields - Nainiouman Coya Coya
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