Uluru was a place I didn’t realize I was searching for until I laid eyes on it for the first time. When I was a kid, I always associated the country of Australia with the red rock. I learned about Aboriginal people, the orginal caretakers of Australia, and that Uluru was a place of daily living.
The traditional landowners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. In their language, they call themselves Anangu.
Aboriginal people are the longest living civilization on Earth, at approximately sixty thousand years old! How unbelievable is that? The amount of resilience that longevity takes is incredible. What I wanted to do most while visiting Uluru is connect with the land and cultivate a better understanding of how Aboriginal people see the world.
Aborigines look at the land as something to humbly take care of instead of something to own. The land is as special as it is spiritual. The land doesn’t belong to the people, but the people belong to the land. One network of living organisms living peacefully side by side. Aborigional people believe their duty in life is to take care of and protect the land, animals, and people.
A spiritual history of creation time is passed down from one generation to the next through storytelling. The proof of what they say is written in the land, the rivers, the extraordinary wildlife, the colors on the stone, and the shapes of the terrain. It gives each generation an enormous responsibility to pass on their knowledge and guidance.
The way Uluru is sectioned off is based on the best way to utilize it. Each area had a specific purpose to house and support the community. It is a testament to the adaptability of the people. My favorites included:
the place where the elderly would rest out of the heat,
and the illustrations.
Even though the Anangu people have signs posted around the park asking visitors to please not climb the rock, many tourists still do. I think the question everyone needs to ask themselves while visiting is whether you want to connect with the red rock or conquer it.
If the natives do not want you to do the climb, that request should be met with respect and acceptance. The climb is culturally significant and a part of men’s sacred ceremony. Also, a great amount of pollution is caused by tourists who participate in the climb. People leave their garbage on the rock that bleeds in to natural environment. Aboriginal people are very honorable in the way that they feel personally responsible every time someone is hurt or killed from the climb.
On October 26th, 2019, the thrity-fourth anniversary of Kata Tjuta being handed back to the Anangu people, the climb will close for good. Strong willed and resilient as the people are, this upcoming land rights victory is well deserved.
It is only right that I take a moment to acknowledge the Aboriginal suffering from the past 500 years of European contact. The way they were and are still treated by the government is unjust. I have such a tremendous respect towards the people who recognized the inequalities in their society and fearlessly organized for equal rights.
TIP: If you want to learn more about the history of what happened to Aboriginal people once European colonists took the land I recommend a documentary series called The First Australians, produced by BlackFella Films. This series is about the first European contact to Australia from the Aboriginal people’s point of view. Warning: it is raw and the truth can be hard to hear. However, it is our responsibility to recognize the past and learn from it so we can be kinder to each other in the future.