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Fire Country

by Victor Steffensen

  • Paperback
    $27.39
PUBLISHED: 18th February 2020
ISBN: 9781741177268
ANNOTATION:
Fire Country is a cry from the heart asking for change in how Australia cares for country.
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OTHER FORMATS:
  • Paperback
    $27.39
PUBLISHED: 18th February 2020
ISBN: 9781741177268
ANNOTATION:
Fire Country is a cry from the heart asking for change in how Australia cares for country.

Annotation

Fire Country is a cry from the heart asking for change in how Australia cares for country.

Publisher Description

Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of Indigenous fire practices, including improved 'reading' of country and undertaking 'cool burns', could help to restore our nation. Victor developed a passion for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge from a young age, but it was after leaving high school that Victor met two Elders who became his mentors, particularly to revive cultural burning. Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire - with burning done in a controlled manner - for land care and healing.

Victor's story is unassuming and honest, written in a way that reflects the nature of yarning. And while some of the knowledge shared in his book may be unclear to western world views, there is much evidence that, if adopted, it could benefit all Australians.

For every copy sold, Hardie Grant will donate $1 to Firesticks, which empowers Indigenous fire management practitioners to revive cultural burning.

Author Biography

Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician and consultant applying traditional knowledge values in a contemporary context, through workshops and artistic projects. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka people through his mother's connections from the Gulf Country of north Queensland. Much of Victor's work over the past 27 years has been based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values - particularly traditional burning - through mentoring and leadership, as well as on-ground training with Aboriginal communities and many non-Indigenous Australians. He is also the co-founder of the National Indigenous Fire Workshops, which have so far been hosted in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Victor has also connected with First Nations communities in California, Canada and the Sami people of Scandinavia, sharing cultural knowledge practices related to caring for country.

Review

In Fire Country, Victor Steffensen has written a detailed and elegant account of Aboriginal traditional knowledge that he learnt from the Elders in Cape York. The wisdom of the Elders shines on every page. Of all the explanations of Aboriginal knowledge systems as science, this is the one I would turn to. Victor has dedicated his life to this task of understanding the knowledge of the Elders and their land management practices. He has rescued a treasure trove of ancient knowledge that would otherwise be lost.

This book is essential reading for Australians who care about the future of our country. The catastrophic fires that destroyed vast Australian ecosystems and more than a billion wild animals, took human lives, properties and livelihoods in the summer of 2019-2 020 struck me as the tipping point in our postcolonial history of destructive land management and environmental loss. Many Indigenous people turned to our own knowledge of fire to understand this conflagration, as we heard the news during these terrible months. The fires occurred where Indigenous people had been prevented from caring for country.

Our knowledge about caring for country has been developed by Aboriginal people over more than six millennia, and managing fire with fire was a key strategy in a toolkit of highly complex ecological strategies and profound understanding of them. Even our best scientists acknowledge that we must reinstate Aboriginal environmental knowledge and what was once a continent-wide system of land management, using fire as a friend not an enemy. Victor's book will be a fundamental text for all of us involved in trying to prevent such fire disasters in the future. -- Professor Marcia Langton AM, Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne, author of Welcome to Country This turns the conventional thinking upside down, a must-read for all of those involved in land management. -- Barry J. Hunter, land management practitioner, Djabugay Aboriginal Corporation For anyone interested in understanding ancient Indigenous fire knowledge as a transformative practice for survival. Fire Country is the true voice of the land singing out for healing and action at a moment when all life on this planet is under threat. A grassroots visionary, Victor poetically leads with the 'right fire' story for future generations - a profound journey of hope and wisdom for all. -- Dr Jason De Santolo, Associate Professor, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney Victor's work and wisdom is the knowledge our land needs right now. An important reminder of our responsibility to country and the need to respect our Aboriginal knowledge systems, it is essential reading for all Australians. -- Professor Larissa Behrendt, Jumbunna Institute, University of Technology Sydney This important book is a story of determination and commitment to restore the knowledge of cultural responsibilities and practices of cultural fire in the Australian landscape. Victor Steffensen offers understandings of Indigenous cultural practices, the relation of people to country, the healing potential of cultural fire, and the way the practices have grown over twenty years. This on-ground Indigenous movement initiated by two Kuku-Thaypan Elders is supported by a growing network of cultural fire practitioners reclaiming their cultural rights, and is now garnering serious recognition from scientists, agencies and land management organisations. In Fire Story, Victor Steffensen demonstrates the ecological and social benefits for all Australians when Indigenous cultural knowledge through Indigenous leadership is given respect and recognition in contemporary land management. -- Dr Jacqueline Gothe, Associate Professor, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney Fire Country is a book about spiritual awakenings and Victor has captured this from his learnings from all of our Elders past and present. Biri (fire) holds great spiritual meaning, with many stories, memories and dance being passed down from countless biri practitioners. To have clean water, you need a healthy landscape. To have a healthy landscape, you need biri. In our ceremonies we were taught that being a fireman is a position of great honour. Non-Indigenous people have a fireman who puts the fires out - whereas we light the fires. May the Eternal Flame burn forever with Fire Country. -- Uncle (Dr) David Dahwurr Hudson, Ewamian and Westen Yalanji Traditional Owner Given the current dire situation of Australia's bushfires, it is paramount that now, more than ever, the stories in Fire Country are heard and enacted upon for the betterment of all Australians, our wildlife and our sustainable ecosystems. Our ancient ways must become our new ways. -- Nova Peris, Olympian, former federal senator, 1997 Young Australian of The Year Fire Country is without a doubt the most important book I've worked on in my twenty-five-year career as an editor. The knowledge it contains is astounding - and urgently needed in today's Australia: the knowledge of how to heal the land with fire. -- Tricia Dearborn, editor and author of Autobiochemistry, The Ringing World Fire is one of our major tools for cleaning country, not just for walking through but also for the animals. Like this book, fire is a communicator to let people know the right fire for the right place and the right times of the year. Everyone should know about Aboriginal fire knowledge, and keeping the land clean to protect the environment and their homes. -- Uncle Russell Butler, Bandjin and Tagalaka Elder Victor Steffensen has a strong love of country and an important way of interpreting it that Australians need to know about, now more than ever. -- Tim Low

Review Quote

Victor's work and wisdom is the knowledge our land needs right now. An important reminder of our responsibility to country and the need to respect our Aboriginal knowledge systems, it is essential reading for all Australians.

Product Details

Year
2020
ISBN-10
174117726X
ISBN-13
9781741177268
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
2020-05-14
Pages
224
Country of Publication
Australia
Illustrations
Black & white pages with 8pp colour insert
Author
Victor Steffensen
Publisher
Explore Australia
Subtitle
How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia
Short Title
Fire Country
Language
English
Audience
General/Trade