The rainbow serpent and saltwater crocodile have been chosen as emblems for the first every Australian Masters Athletics Championship to be held in the Northern Territory, Darwin. These totems have been chosen as a representation of master athletes across Australia coming together in Darwin with respect for the sport and each other.
Aboriginal art is just one way of telling stories from the Dreamtime. Dreaming stories pass on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations. It can be done through song, dance, painting and story telling which express the dreaming stories, the Australian Aboriginal people have maintained a link with the dreaming from ancient times to the present day, creating a rich cultural heritage.
A totem is a natural object, plant or animal that is inherited by members of a clan or family as their spiritual emblem. Totems define people’s roles and responsibilities, and their relationship with each other and creation. Totems are believed to be the descendants of the dream time heroes or ancestors spirit. The ancestor’s spirits came to the earth in human form and as they moved through the land, they created the animals, plants, and landmarks. They also created the relationship between groups and individuals to the land, the animals and other people.
The Rainbow Serpent is to acknowledge all the indigenous groups in the Territory and across the land. The rainbow serpent is the protector of the land, its people, and the source of all life. Although, the rainbow serpent can be a destructive force if it is not properly respected.
The most common story of the the rainbow serpent tells that in the dreaming, the earth was bare, flat and cold. The Rainbow Serpent slept underground until she woke in the Dreaming and pushed her way to the surface. She than traveled the land, sleeping when she was tired, leaving behind her winding tracks and the imprint of her sleeping body. When she had travel the earth she returned and called to the frogs to come out, they were very slow because their tummy so were full of water. The rainbow serpent tickled their bellies making the frogs laugh, the water flowed out of their mouths and filled the tracks and hollows left by the rainbow serpent, creating rivers and lakes. This woke all of the other animals and plants, who then followed the rainbow serpent across the land.
The Saltwater Crocodile is to acknowledge the tradition owners of Darwin; the Larrakia people, whose main totem is the Saltwater Crocodile. Crocodiles are well know in the Territory for their fierceness and incredible strength. But to the larrakia people he is known as Dungalaba, a protector. As Dungalaba descendants, larrakia people have a great respect for the animal, it is out of respect that Crocodile is not traditionally eaten by Larrakia people.
Rochelle Fejo – Larakia woman – artist.