The magnificent Bunya Pine grows as a rainforest emergent in my local area. As a furniture maker it is too easy to become excited about the long lengths of easy working material they provide.

But these trees are of particular significance to the local indigenous people, and the Bunya’s story highlights many of the complexities of black white relationships in Australia. 

Reconciliation Week has just ended in Australia; its purpose is to celebrate and build relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians so it seems appropriate to tell some of the story here.

Bunya’s produce enormous cones, about 300mm in diameter (12 inches), and they weigh anywhere from 3-10 kg (6.6lb - 22lb). The seeds - both raw and cooked - are edible and are produced yearly, with bumper crops every 3 or so years. 

The local indigenous people, the Gubbi Gubbi or Kabi Kabi, held large gatherings to feast on the seasonal plenty. Individual clans were responsible for trees or groups of trees, with custodianship passed from father to son. People from other tribal groups travelled from many hundreds of kilometers away to these important occasions, to share in celebrations and ceremonial business.

When Europeans first arrived in this area, the colonial authorities recognised the importance of the Bunyas to the Gubbi Gubbi. In 1842 a statute was proclaimed by the colonial authorities in far away Sydney to preserve the trees against occupation of the lands where they occurred and against the cutting of the timber. 

As more white settlers arrived in the region, pressure on the available resources increased, resulting in territorial disputes,  resistance, and massacres of aboriginal people. In 1859 the new state of Queensland was formed, and in 1860 one of the very first acts of the new parliament was to overturn the previous proclamation, freeing the way for the exploitation of the trees and the land, and directly challenging the Gubbi Gubbi’s custodianship and culture.

The Gubbi Gubbi who were not direct victims of frontier violence or disease were forcibly removed from this area in the period 1880 -1920, and placed in government reservations with many other tribal and language groups, resulting in large scale cultural disruption and loss.

In 2007 Beverley Hand, a local woman of Gubbi Gubbi descent, reinvigorated the Bunya festivals as the Bunya Dreaming - a deliberate attempt to rebuild local culture and to share and celebrate it with indigenous and non-indigenous inhabitants of the region. I am proud to be her friend, and my family and I join the gathering each year to celebrate and support the survival and growth of local Aboriginal culture.

I still lust after the Bunya tree for its fine timber! But by knowing its history and sacred value, I only use it sparingly with great care and respect and we have planted many new Bunyas on our land.

Views: 574

Replies to This Discussion

Amazing story. Thank you VERY much!

RSS

2016 Crafthaus Project Grant

Every other year, crafthaus awards a micro grant to a craft artist regardless of their location, professional background, or chosen craft field.

2016 Deadline:

September 30, 2016.

Eligibility and additional information: https://is.gd/qhlXfz

Entry form

Latest Activity

Melissa Cameron posted a blog post

In today’s Seattle Times

Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of a section of Tanya’s lunch box and stainless steel.An article entitled:…See More
1 hour ago
Kathleen Janvier is now a member of crafthaus
9 hours ago
The Justified Sinner commented on The Justified Sinner's blog post Ommisions!
"Anne,  How wonderful to know that you are a member in the US! I am a member of SNAG too and I wish we had more cross-over members. Are you going to be entering our next "20:20" exhibition?"
16 hours ago
anne havel commented on The Justified Sinner's blog post Ommisions!
"thank you for posting this dauvit!!  i just joined ACJ this past week and i was excited to see the work featured in "choice".  i am excited to be a new member, despite being here in the u.s.!"
21 hours ago
Brigitte Martin posted photos
yesterday
Brigitte Martin liked Harriete Estel Berman's blog post Exhibition Issues Both Good and Bad Solutions
yesterday
Jessica Tolbert joined Brigitte Martin's group
Thumbnail

Crafthaus Project Grant 2016

Every other year, crafthaus awards a micro grant to a craft artist regardless of their location, professional background, or chosen craft field.The grant is unrestricted and intended to provide assistance for an interesting new personal or group…See More
Wednesday
Harriete Estel Berman commented on Harriete Estel Berman's blog post Exhibition Issues Both Good and Bad Solutions
"Thanks to 2Roses for your comment. I don't have any mannequins, but will  have to start looking.  "
Wednesday

Masthead Credits

Karen Lester,Warwickshire, UK

Brooch, Fluidity Series.

Cast bone china, glaze, slip, silver.

© 2016   Created by Brigitte Martin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service