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SECTION 7 INDIGENOUS CULTURAL SERVICES
See the glossary for a full description of these terms.
Indigenous cultural services present in the GBR Region can be categorised according to relevant Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES). It should be noted that there is overlap of services between different classes.
1. Cultural heritage services
Custodial responsibilities, which tie Indigenous people to their country, ensure maintenance of spiritual, cultural, biological and other values of such sites, fall under the classes of 'aesthetic' and 'bequest'. Part of these custodial responsibilities include 'educational' and 'symbolic' services. These can be the passing on of skills and knowledge so that different resources are exploited at different times of the year, for example hunting and fishing depend on which species are fat at a given time. The Yuibera Traditional Owners near Mackay use the head of cycads as a vegetable when ripe, and recognise that the plant signifies the presence of water which has implications for fire regimes.
Cultural heritage services can also include totems of animals, plants or objects which are important to the cultural identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sea animals are common totem animals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the GBR Region. For example, the Wuthathi tribe from Shelbourne Bay has the diamond stingray as its totem. Such totems can be used in song, dance and music and on cultural implements. Another service under the cultural heritage is 'scientific', which recognises Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices.
2. Spiritual and religious services
Spiritual and religious services fall under the 'sacred and/or religious' class. This includes sacred sites which may be creation or resting places for ancestral spirits, places that contain healing water and medicinal plants, burial grounds, traditional tracks, or sites associated with special events. Many Indigenous communities are unable to separate reasons for protecting the spiritual connection between people and Earth from reasons for conserving biodiversity. The Yuibera Traditional Owners have burial grounds and a sacred place for Indigenous spirits at Cape Hillsborough National Park and mangrove areas that they still use for men's ceremonies in the early wet season.
3. Educational services
The stories, songs, dance, dress, art and language of Indigenous people connect them to a place and/or time, and these services can be classed as 'entertainment', 'educational' and 'aesthetic'. For example for the Dingaal/Dingiil people, Lizard Island (Jiigurru/Dyiigurra) is sacred because during the Dreamtime, a stingray formed the Lizard Island group, with Lizard Island being the body and the other islands forming the tail.
4. Knowledge services
Archaeology is an important knowledge service in the GBR Region, reflecting the continuous presence of homo sapiens over several thousand years. Archaeological services are in scope of the CICES classes, 'heritage, cultural' and 'sacred and/or religious'. They are also inclusive of a provisional section dealing with cultural settings that are dependent on abiotic structures (class = 'by type'). Archaeological sites may include:
The archaeological record is the body of physical evidence about the past. This record can consist of both ancient and contemporary artifacts. Important evidence has been discovered throughout the GBR Region, documenting the traditional trade links between the coastal and hinterland peoples of Queensland. For example, implements such as tools reflect the geographic location of each group and interactions between groups. The Nyawaygi people have found ancient stone axes and grinding stones in recent years. These implements were once traded with neighbouring tribes from the mountains where the stones originated.
Rock art provides another insight into the chronicle heritage of Indigenous people. The Bindal people have documented the presence of rock art at Cape Ferguson, citing drawings of circles representing shields, initiation and bora rings. Oral histories are transferred through time from one generation to another, delivering traditional knowledge and understanding about tools or technology. For example, Worrungu Bay near Cape Upstart is a significant area for the Juru (or Yuru) people as the bay is a long-standing meeting area for women, who collect and cook shellfish nearby.
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