Knowledge and use of traditional plants by Ngunnawal and Yuin peoples of Australia

Barriers to knowledge and transmission

  • Emily Heaney Australian National University
  • Stewart Sutherland Wiradjuri
  • Tyronne Bell Traditional Custodian of ACT region
  • Craig Moritz Australian National University
Keywords: Food, Medicinal plants, Traditional knowledge, Aboriginal Australians, Australia

Abstract

The study investigated the knowledge and current usage of traditional food and medicinal plants of the Ngunnawal and Yuin Elder in South Eastern, New South Wales (SE NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as located on the Australian National University (ANU) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Trail. Insights to barriers to passing on and retaining knowledge were also identified. Elders (3 males and 4 females) were selected through systematic, non-probabilistic and snowball sampling. Ethnographic methods and techniques included informal, semi-structured interviews, participant observation and field diaries. Interviews were conducted at the ANU campus and on South Coast of NSW. Elders reported knowledge of traditional food and medicinal plants, including uses and preparation of plants. Some use of traditional plants was maintained. Multiple plants were identified on ANU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Trail and had a variety of uses. Barriers to knowledge acquisition and dissemination to younger generation were reported. Challenges navigating Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal expectations of plant use and lack of young people’s engagement with traditional plant use was identified. This suggests that knowledge of traditional food and medicinal plants by the Ngunnawal and Yuin peoples is still present, but there are still significant barriers in maintaining and retaining this knowledge into the future.

Author Biography

Stewart Sutherland, Wiradjuri

Australian National University

References

Nakata M (2002) Indigenous Knowledge and the Cultural Interface: underlying issues at the intersection of knowledge and information systems. 68 28, 281-291.
2 Uprety Y, Asselin H, Dhakal A et al. (2012) Traditional use of medicinal plants in the boreal forest of Canada: review and perspectives. 08 8.
3 Elliott B, Jayatilaka D, Brown C et al. (2012) “We Are Not Being Heard”: Aboriginal Perspectives on Traditional Foods Access and Food Security. 62 2012, 1-9.
4 Oliver SJ (2013) The role of traditional medicine practice in primary health care within Aboriginal Australia: A review of the literature. 08 9.
5 Maher P (2002) A Review of “Traditional” Aboriginal Health Beliefs. 10 7.
6 Senior K & Chenhall R (2013) Health beliefs and behavior: the practicalities of "looking after yourself" in an Australian aboriginal community. 11 27, 155-174.
7 Packer J, Brouwer N, Harrington D et al. (2012) An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Yaegl Aboriginal community in northern New South Wales, Australia. J Ethnopharmacol 139, 244-255.
8 Gaikwad J, Khanna V, Vemulpad S et al. (2008) CMKb: a web-based prototype for integrating Australian Aboriginal customary medicinal plant knowledge. BMC Bioinformatics 9 Suppl 12, S25.
9 Palombo EA & Semple SJ (2001) Antibacterial activity of traditional Australian medicinal plants. 04 77, 151-157.
10 Peam J (2005) The world’s longest surviving paediatric practices: Some themes of Aboriginal medical ethnobotnay in Australia. 07 41, 284-290.
11 Tucci J, & Wilkens S. (2016) A brief review of the application and pharmacology of ethnomedicines of Indigenous Australians. 10 24, 156-169.
12 Prober S, O'Connor, M., & Walsh, F. (2011) Australian Aboriginal Peoples’ Seasonal Knowledge: A Potential Basis for Shared Understanding in Environmental Management. 14 16.
13 Singab AN, Youssef, F. S., Ashour M. L., & Wink, M. (2013) The genus Eremophlia (Scrophulariaceae): an ethnobotanical, biological and phytochemical review. 32 65, 1239-1279.
14 Nobakht M, Trueman, S. J., Wallace, H. M., Brooks, P. R., Streeter, K. J., & Katouli, M. (2017) Antibacterial Properties of Flavonoids from Kino of the Eucalypt Tree. 30 6.
15 Naz T, Packer, J., Yin, P., Brophy, J. J., Wohlmuth, H., Renshaw, D. E., Smith, J., Elders, Y. C., Vemulpad, S. R., & Jamie, J. F. (2016) Bioactivity and chemical characterisation of Lophostemon suaveolens--an endemic Australian Aboriginal traditional medicinal plant. 29 30, 693-696.
16 Packer J, Naz, T., Yaegl Community Elders, Harrington, D., Jamie, J. F., & Vemulpad, S. R. (2015) Antimicrobial activity of customary medicinal plants of the Yaegl Aboriginal community of northern New South Wales, Australia: a preliminary study. 28 8.
17 Cock IE, Winnett, V., Sirdaarta, J., & Matthews, B. (2015) The potential of selected Australian medicinal plants with anti-Proteus activity for the treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. 19 11, 190-208.
18 Akhtar MA, Raju, R., Beattie, K. D., Bodkin, F., & Münch, G (2016) Medicinal Plants of the Australian Aboriginal Dharawal People Exhibiting Anti-Inflammatory Activity. 17 1-8.
19 Jaeger D, Ndi CP, Crocoll C et al. (2017) Isolation and Structural Characterization of Echinocystic Acid Triterpenoid Saponins from the Australian Medicinal and Food Plant Acacia ligulata. 15 80, 2692-2698.
20 Brouwer N, Liu, Q., Harrington, D., Kohen J., Vemulpad, S., Jamie, J., Randall, M., & Randall, D. (2005) An ethnopharmacological study of medicinal plants in New South Wales. 12 10, 1252-1262.
21 Tan AC, Konczak, I., Sze, D. M., & Ramzan, I. (2010) Towards the discovery of novel phytochemicals for disease prevention from native Australian plants: an ethnobotanical approach. 34 19, 330-334.
22 ACT Government Canberra (2014) Ngunnawal Plant Use: A Traditional Aboriginal Plant Use Guide for the ACT Region. Canberra: ACT Government.
23 The Australian National University (2017) ANU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Trail. Canberra, Australia: The Australian National University,.
24 Horneber M, Bueschel, G., Dennert, G., Less, Danuta, Ritter, E., & Zwalen, M. (2012) How Many Cancer Patients Use Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Systematic Review and Metaanalysis. 46 11, 187-203.
25 Gall A, Leske, S., Adams, J., Matthews, V., Anderson, K., Lawler, S., & Garvey, G. (2018) Traditional and Complementary Medicine Use Among Indigenous Cancer Patients in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States: A Systematic Review. . 25 17, 568-581.
26 Barnes J, McLachlan AJ, Sherwin CM et al. (2016) Herbal medicines: challenges in the modern world. Part 1. Australia and New Zealand. 18 9, 905-915.
27 Zeppel H (1999) Hidden histories: Aboriginal cultures in NSW regional tourism brochures. CAUTHE 1999: Delighting the Senses; Proceedings from the Ninth Australian Tourism and Hospitality Research Conference, 86.
28 The Living Knowledge Project (2008) Welcome to the Koori Coast ... [Internet]. http://livingknowledge.anu.edu.au/learningsites/kooricoast/01_welcome.htm (accessed 2019 August 4)
29 ACT Government Canberra (2019) Ngunnawal Country: Welcome to Ngunnawal Country. https://www.act.gov.au/ngunnawal-country (accessed 2019 August 4)
30 Kingsley J, Townsend M, Henderson-Wilson C et al. (2013) Developing an exploratory framework linking Australian Aboriginal peoples' connection to country and concepts of wellbeing. 63 10, 678-698.
31 Gee G, Dudgeon P, Schultz C et al. (2014) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing. In Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice, 2nd ed., pp. 55-67 [P Dudgeon, H Milroy and R Walker, editors]. Canberra: Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
32 Lutschini M (2015) Engaging with holism in Australian Aboriginal health policy: a review. 24 2.
33 Saerthre EJ (2007) Conflicting Traditions, Concurrent Treatment: Medical Pluralism in Remote Aboriginal Australia. 23 77, 95-110.
34 McGrath PD (2006) "The biggest worry...": research findings on pain management for Aboriginal peoples in Northern Territory, Australia. 41 6.
35 Laws TA & Bradley H (2014) Transmission of health knowledge and health practices from men to boys among Aboriginal communities and non-Indigenous Australians: Searching for evidence. 13 15, 249-261.
36 Gupta SS, Aroni R Teede H (2017) Experiences and Perceptions of Physical Activity Among South Asian and Anglo-Australians With Type 2 Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease: Implications for Clinical Practice. Structure Ref 27, 391-405.
37 Pope C & Mays N (1995) Qualitative Research: Reaching the parts other methods cannot reach: an introduction to qualitative methods in health and health services research. 311, 42-45.
38 Starks H & Trinidad SB (2007) Choose Your Method: A Comparison of Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis, and Grounded Theory. 72 17, 1372-1380.
39 Sutherland S (2017) Reconciliation: The Effects of Reconciliation Initiatives (Apologies) on the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of People Affected by Past Forced Removal Policies - A Transnational Comparative Study (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand). Doctor of Philosophy dissertation, Australian National University,.
40 Mays N & Pope C (1995) Qualitative Research: Rigour and qualitative research. BMJ 311, 109-112.
41 Minichiello V, Aroni R Hays TN (2008) In-depth Interviewing: Principles, Techniques, Analysis, 3 ed. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
42 (2004) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, California.
43 Bessarab D & Ng'andu BJ (2010) Yarning about yarning as a legitimate method in Indigenous research. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 3, 37-50.
44 Shahid S, Bleam R, D. B et al. (2010) "If you don't believe it, it won't help you": use of bush medicine in treating cancer among Aboriginal people in Western Australia. 08 6.
45 Browne J, Adams K Atkinson P (2016) Food and Nutrition programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: what works to keep people healthy and strong? Canberra: Deeble Institute.
46 Weuffen SL, Cahir F Pickford AM (2016) The centrality of Aboriginal cultural workshops and experiential learning in a pre-service teacher education course: a regional Victorian University case study. 65 36, 838-851.
Published
2020-10-05