What is a traditional custodian?
A traditional custodian (or traditional owner) is an Indigenous person that is descended from people that were living in a particular place at the time the first Europeans arrived in that area. Even if an Indigenous family has lived in an area for several generations, they may not be traditional.
Who is an Elder?
Elder is a term used by Indigenous community members to describe someone they defer to culturally, typically someone senior in years. Eldership is a personal matter. If I refer to someone as MY Elder, it means I defer to them. If I refer to them as AN Elder, it means someone defers to them, not necessarily me. For example, "While I respect that you need to seek YOUR Elders advice, I need to respect my OWN Elder's advice". Problems arise when people use the word Elder for someone who is simply old. Worse, they mistakenly assume everyone else present will regard the person as an Elder, because they have just anointed them to do so.
Do I say Aunty or Uncle?
The term Aunty or Uncle is often used to show respect to an Elder for an Indigenous community. However, non-Indigenous people sometimes don't feel comfortable using the term, especially if they are older than the Indigenous person they are meeting or they have not met them before. Similarly not all older Indigenous people are comfortable being called Uncle or Aunty.
There are no hard and fast rules on whether they use the term or not. But her are some guidelines that you might find handy. If you are part of a large audience and the person has already been introduced as Aunty or Uncle, it probably indicates that they are comfortable with it and you can use the term if you meet them in close conversation.
If you meet someone in a small group environment, feel free to ask them directly "Would you like me to call you Mary or Aunty Mary?" Often the person will appreciate you asking.
However, if later you had to introduce Mary to a large group, you might ask the question again. For example, "Would you like to be introduced as Mary or Aunty Mary?"
A Welcome to Country VS Acknowledgement of Country
A Welcome to Country ceremony has its genesis in traditional times when strict protocols were observed while travelling through neighbouring lands. The welcome from the host is to say "We know you are here in peace, you are welcome/
A Welcome to Country can only be performed by a traditional owner, welcoming you to this or her own country. An Acknowledgement of Country can be performed by anyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, as a way to acknowledge that you respect the traditional people of that space.
Who is Indigenous?
Under Australian law, a person is Indigenous if they have a direct bloodline to Indigenous families, identify themselves as Indigenous and are in return recognised by Indigenous people as Indigenous. Some people who could identify as Indigenous don't, as they consider it their own private business.
The colour of someone's skin is no longer an accurate indication of Indigenality. So if you are unsure if someone is Indigenous and you need to know for you job, don't be afraid to politely ask, "Are you Indigenous?".
Torres Strait Islander Vs Aboriginal
Indigenous Australians are either an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander. Aboriginal people are from mainland Australia, Tasmania and islands generally regarded as Australian ( Palm Island, Mornington Island etc) The term Torres Strait Islander refers only to those people from the islands of the Torres Strait, the stretch of water between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea. Torres Strait Islanders are Queenslanders. Torres Strait Islanders recognise their own flag, distinct from the Aboriginal flag. It is impolite to refer to a Torres Strait Islander as Aboriginal and vice versa. Torres Strait Islanders live in all parts of Australia and are often active members of the local Indigenous communities.
Where can I find Yugambeh Dreaming stories?
A few examples of Yugambeh dreaming are presented in the Museum's Gaureima (Story) performance programme, such as Nightbird Dreaming, the Bird Corroboree and others. These performances can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Yugambeh Museum have worked with National Parks to produce signage at Burleigh Heads, Tamborine, Springbrook and Lamington National Parks, with mentions and tellings of the Bird Corroboree, the Dog Dreaming, and the Dreaming of Jellurgal and Jabreen.
Independent researchers have also re-written and contributed to the Yugambeh People wikipedia article - with historical references for some Dreaming cited. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugambeh_people
Yugambeh totems are bestowed upon Yugambeh families only! Totems are like family, we consider our totems as our blood relations. We are their voice for as long as we live. They guide us through life and we are committed to look after them and never kill them, not even for food.
Personal and family totems are assigned at birth, but can be designated later in life during special ceremonies like initiations.
This respect for totems goes back over hundreds of generations to ensure the sustainability of our environment. Imagine if all Australians shared a spiritual and personal responsibility for the creatures, plants and landscape within our country. Our country's ecological systems and networks would be sustained for all future jahjum (children)!
Some Yugambeh totems include Wajin (platypus), Miban (wedge tail eagle), Geebung (geebung), Bin'gin (freshwater turtle), Buneen (echidna), Gumbara (macadamia nut), Junggara (pelican), Coochin-Coochin (ochre hill), Borobi (koala).
About local connections
Yugambeh people are connected to jagun (country) and everything on it. The plants and animals, the mountains and valleys, the rivers and ocean. The language remains in the land, carried by people and is used today in place and suburb names. Local language names - Jalubay-ngagam - (Tallebudgera Creek: dingo urine), Nyirang -(Nerang:shovelnose shark), Majeribah (Mudgeeraba:place of sticky mud), Kooralbyn (copper snake), Gumbubah (Coombabah: Place of the gumbu cobra worm), Bimbimbah (Pimpama: Place of soldier bird), Jambreen (Tamborine Mountain: place of the finger lime and yam in a cliff)