Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Living Country (2005)

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clip Honey ant education content clip 1, 3

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

A group of women sitting on the ground digging with digging sticks. One of the women speaks about how the poison that will be dumped by the government will destroy their bush foods – honey ants, goannas, kangaroo, emu, bush bananas, yams and wild honey to name a few. A child holds up a honey ant before eating it. We see the group of women walking through the land, the grey hills rise above them in the background.

Curator’s notes

The land gives physical, philosophical and narrative support to Indigenous peoples. The Dreaming stories for example, are stories about how the land was created. Bush tucker for example, is not comprised of arbitrary meaningless consumable objects in the environment, but creatures like the honey ant also have their own Dreaming story. In other words, in Indigenous belief all things in the environment are connected, and these connections are what is maintained through Indigenous Dreaming stories. The depth of tradition that sustains Indigenous people within the landscape is what will be harmed with the dumping of nuclear waste. And this is what is being expressed when the Indigenous subjects talk about how they will no longer be able to hunt and gather food in their own country.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows a group of Aboriginal women from the central desert region using a crowbar to dig for honey ants and demonstrating to children how to find and eat this delicacy. One of the women refers to the nuclear waste dump proposed for the area and says it will poison their bush foods. She says: 'Everybody has to speak up and say no’. In the final scene the women and children walk across a landscape backed by grey hills to the sound of a lyrical acoustic guitar. The women speak their own language, which is subtitled.

Educational value points

  • Finding honey ants and digging them out of the ground requires traditional knowledge, and the clip shows the women passing the knowledge on to the children. Honey ants are considered a delicacy by the Warlpiri for their sweet taste. The ants have a small yellow stripe on their backs and dig deep underground tunnels in areas where mulga trees grow. The ants, full of nectar, hang from the ceilings of the underground chambers.
  • The women in the clip raise concerns about the effect on their bush tucker of a proposed radioactive waste dump in their area. However, the potential effect of radioactive waste on the honey ants has far greater implications on the communities than the poisoning of a food source. The Honey ant Dreaming is the Dreaming of the Warlpiri people in central Australia. Any effect on the honey ants would have significant cultural and spiritual ramifications.
  • In 2005 federal legislation was passed to allow an underground repository for low-level nuclear waste in the Northern Territory, raising concerns that seepage could potentially contaminate traditional food sources. The legislation was controversial, in that it outlawed the use of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and the Native Title Act 1993 in appealing decisions about the location of the dump.
  • Living Country is part of a documentary series produced by Central Australia Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) Productions. The program is recorded in local languages, focuses on local Aboriginal cultural life and aims to preserve traditional Aboriginal knowledge. It is broadcast by Imparja Television across central Australia.

This clip starts approximately 13 minutes into the documentary.

This clip shows a group of Aboriginal women from the central desert region using a crowbar to dig for honey ants and demonstrating to children how to find and eat this delicacy. The dialogue is subtitled.
Woman In the early days our people taught us how to get the honey ant and eat it. Now our little kids are watching us and learning how to get honey from ants and eat them. That poison that they made is coming our way and it will destroy our bush foods. In the early days we lived with our bush tucker. Eating honey ants, goanna, kangaroos, bush bananas, yams and wild honey. We just want to continue living and continue eating our bush tucker. We get honey ants then look around for kangaroos and goannas and dig for witchetty grubs. Tell them to take their bad thing back. If we keep quiet they will do it. Everyone has to speak up and say no.

She continues digging.
Woman Hey all you kids come over here. Come here. Come and see the honey ants. It’s good.

In the final scene the women and children walk across a landscape backed by grey hills to the sound of a lyrical acoustic guitar.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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