About the Indigenous seasonal calendars
Sharing and learning about Indigenous knowledge and management of Country
How can we tell what season it is? The Western four-season calendar, which divides the year into roughly four equal sequential phases (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring) is not a particular informative way of engaging with the weather and climate in Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australia’s First Scientists, have always held a deep understanding of the seasons, and of how to tell when seasons are changing.
Seasonal understanding of Country underpins many activities on Country. Recording this knowledge provides a powerful tool for Indigenous knowledge holders to demonstrate and communicate their connection to, use and management of Country.
Over the past fifteen years CSIRO has co-designed, refined and tested the application of a season calendar methodology with our Indigenous partners as a way of documenting and presenting seasonal understanding of Country.
The co-produced seasonal calendars have proven to be powerful tools in representing Indigenous understanding of, and connection to Country.
Respecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property
It's important to know that the Indigenous seasonal calendars are the Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) of the people and communities or Indigenous knowledge holders who shared them.
The calendars have been published with the permission of their ICIP owners and with certain conditions on their use. This is in order to assert the ownership, authority and control of their owners over their ICIP. These rights to ICIP are embedded in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – Article 31.
ICIP is essentially the knowledge and cultural heritage of Indigenous people and can also include artwork, music, stories, language, and cultural objects and practices. Under Australian intellectual property laws, ICIP isn't always fully recognised as ‘intellectual property’, because it is a western system of ownership and property. It is therefore important that steps are taken to protect ICIP and ensure that it is not misused or misappropriated or its cultural integrity harmed. This is why we have included some terms and conditions for the downloading and use of the calendar.
Calendars representing Indigenous seasonal ecological knowledge
The calendars demonstrate the wealth of knowledge that Indigenous peoples in Australia hold about the environment.
Ngan'gikurunggurr (Ngan'gi) knowledge holders from Nauiyu Nambiyu, Daly River, Northern Territory partnered with CSIRO to co-create a seasonal calendar.
Members of the Walmajarri language group from the Kimberley region of Western Australia worked with CSIRO to create a calendar using their seasonal knowledge.
Traditional Owners from Kunbarlanja (Gunbalanya) in western Arnhem Land have documented Kunwinjku knowledge of the seasons and the environment in a calendar.
Traditional Owners from the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin in the Northern Territory, worked with CSIRO to create two calendars representing Tiwi seasonal ecological knowledge.
Members of the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) language group, from the Darwin region in the Northern Territory, partnered with CSIRO to create a calendar showcasing their seasonal ecological knowledge.
Members of Muludja community from the Kimberley region in Western Australia worked with CSIRO to create a Gooniyandi seasons calendar. The calendar is a record of their seasonal ecological knowledge. It also supports teaching of Gooniyandi knowledge and language in the classroom.
Kakadu Traditional Owner, Violet Lawson, worked with CSIRO to create a calendar of Ngurrungurrudjba (Yellow Water) seasons.
The Ngadju (also known as the Marlpa) people of Western Australia retain a detailed knowledge about their Indigenous ‘calendar’ of times, seasons and indicators as it pertains to Ngadju Country.