The First Knowledges series offers an introduction to Indigenous knowledges in vital areas and their application to the present day and the future. Exploring practices such as architecture and design, land management, botany, astronomy and law, this series brings together two very different ways of understanding the natural world: one ancient, the other modern. The fifth book focuses on the uses and cultural significance of plants.
What do you need to know to prosper as a people for at least 65,000 years? The First Knowledges series provides a deeper understanding of the expertise and ingenuity of Indigenous Australians.
Plants are the foundation of life on Earth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always known this to be true.
For millennia, reciprocal relationships with plants have provided both sustenance to Indigenous communities and many of the materials needed to produce a complex array of technologies. Managed through fire and selective harvesting and replanting, the longevity and intricacy of these partnerships are testament to the ingenuity and depth of Indigenous first knowledges. Plants: Past, Present and Future celebrates the deep cultural significance of plants and shows how engaging with this heritage could be the key to a healthier, more sustainable future.
‘Plants: Past, Present and Future calls for new ways of understanding and engaging with Country, and reveals the power and possibility of Indigenous ecological expertise.’
– BILLY GRIFFITHS
‘An enlightening read on the power of plants and the management practices of Indigenous people.’
– TERRI JANKE
Zena Cumpston is a Barkandji researcher, writer and storyteller who also sometimes works as a curator and consultant. She is passionate about plants, and particularly about the many ways they elucidate the ingenuity and scientific knowledge of her people.
Associate Professor Michael-Shawn Fletcher is a Wiradjuri geographer and scientist, and Director of Research at the Indigenous Knowledge Institute, University of Melbourne. His research concerns the long-term interactions between humans, climate, environmental disturbance and vegetation at local, regional and global scales.
Lesley Head is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Melbourne, and President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She is a geographer who researches the cultural dimensions of environmental issues, including climate change.