Some coastal activities and uses in the Region are affecting stories, songlines, totems and languages.
all living species, places or objects in a sustainable manner is passed down the generations through these mediums. Stories, songs, dance, dress, art and language connect people to a place or time. They provide history, learning and perspective. Examples of places in the Region that have important stories associated with them include: • The Kuku Yalanji people believe the Low Islets and Snapper Island (Minya Gambyi), the mouth of the Daintree (Binda) and Cape Kimberley (Baku) were once part of a united landmass that became separated during the Dreamtime. These three sites would be visited regularly by Traditional Owners to maintain contact with important Dreaming sites and stories.11 This significance to Traditional Owners as part of their Dreaming is recognised by the inclusion of traditional values in the listing of Low Island and Low Islets Lightstation on the Commonwealth Heritage List. • Lizard Island is a sacred place, known as Jiigurru (or Dyiigurra), to the Dingaal (or Dingiil) Aboriginal people of Cape York Peninsula. The group of islands was formed during the Dingaal Dreamtime. The group of islands is thought to be a stingray, with Jiigurru being the body and the other islands forming the tail.12 Story, language, and songlines are affected by a range of activities that disrupt flow and connections between areas. For example, Clump Point near Mission Beach is a culturally important story place with part of the story involving the shape of the bay and headland. Changes due to coastal development mean the storyline is now broken.13 Also, ship groundings are likely to have affected the cultural heritage of Piper Reef, an important story place for its Kuuku Y’au Traditional Owners. Some plants and animals of particular significance — referred to as ‘cultural keystone species’ — play a fundamental role in Traditional Owner culture, including through diet, materials, medicine, totems and stories.14 Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be identified by their totems, which can be any animal, plant or object. Examples include birds, marine turtles, dugongs, sharks, crocodiles and fishes.15 Totems are an important part of cultural identity and they can be incorporated in song, dance, music and on cultural implements.15 Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s customs forbid eating the animal that is their totem, while some make exceptions for special occasions such as ceremonies.15 For other groups and individuals, their totems are their favoured form of sustenance. In the Region, populations of many cultural keystone species have been significantly reduced and are under pressure, especially in areas south of Cooktown — examples include dugongs, green turtles, some sharks and some bony fish (see Chapter 2). This in turn affects the Region’s Indigenous heritage values. When Jajikal Warra Traditional Owner Marie Shipton was asked about seeing marine turtles nesting along the beaches of her sea country between Cedar Bay and Cape Tribulation, she replied “... no we don’t anymore... we used to have a lot of turtle and dugong but it’s very few now, but we don’t know where they’re gone”.16
4.2.4 Indigenous structures, technology, tools and archaeology