Steve Kinnane has been an active researcher and writer for more than 25 years in addition to lecturing and working on community cultural heritage and development projects. Steve is a Marda Marda from Miriwoong country in the East Kimberley. He Lectured at Murdoch University in Australian Indigenous Studies and Sustainability; completed a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Canberra, and was Senior Researcher for the Nulungu Research Institute of the University of Notre Dame Australia, Broome.
“Reconnecting with Country in the Age of the Anthropocene”
Geologists describe the Anthropocene as an emerging geological epoch in which human agency is inscribing the sediment layers of our planet with human-created geological evidence for eons to come. From an Indigenous perspective, the Anthropocene is evidence of cultural dislocation of people from country. In Kimberley lingo, it’s Kartiya – white man’s – way. Kimberley Aboriginal peoples have only recently emerged from almost a century of overt domination of colonialism, but not its intergenerational impacts on people and country. Our people did not count. Our country did not count. To count in the age of the Anthropocene, Kimberley elders and emerging cultural bosses have been drawing on foundations inherent rights, cultural governance and Indigenous Knowledge to develop successful ranger programs, protect cultural heritage, conserve biodiversity and attempt to develop sustainable enterprises. But, does this approach count under state and federal development policies? Do Indigenous interests and conservationist interests intersect? Can future generations realistically support their development needs while upholding rights and responsibilities to country? Drawing on Kimberley Aboriginal experiences the paper seeks to reveal the transformative possibilities of grappling with the Anthropocene, current tensions of resource exploitation and our future development needs, and the value of restoring old, or developing new connections with country.