Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and indigenous people and people of colour around the world, we're praying that non-Indigenous people and white people will stay awake.
I’ve always had a love hate relationship or probably more a hate love relationship with wattle. Suffering from very bad childhood asthma, wattle was not always my best friend. But I love that wattle is green and gold - Australia’s national colours.
Those that know me well know I love Trivia and love hosting Trivia nights. Some trivia I learnt at about age 12 were the national, state, and territory floral, animal, and bird emblems - so if you ever come to a trivia night I’m hosting it’s not just NAIDOC Week themes you should study! Our national floral emblem is the wattle, the Golden Wattle or Acacia pycnantha or Mirnu (Kaurna name) to be exact.
There are 1,210 species of wattle in Australia. Over one hundred of these wattle species are important to Aboriginal peoples for food, medicine, and tools including the boomerang. And it isn’t just the flower that is useful but the whole plant - the gum, roots, bark, wood, ash, and seeds. The Witchetty Bush / Acacia kempeana / witjuti (Arabana name) is where the witchetty grubs can be found. For the Noongar peoples we come into the season of Djilba, the season of the blooms of yellow and cream flowers usually - August and September. For the Garigal peoples, when the wattle blooms it signals the mullet are running. For the coffee lovers, add 1 tablespoon of ground and roasted wattleseed, of the Elegant wattle / Acacia victoriae / Thambarli (Banyjima name) to a cup of steamed milk and you have a caffeine free, low GI, high protein alternative for your morning cup of coffee.
2020 has been a time like many of us have not seen in our lifetimes. In the face of a global pandemic, a global climate crisis, and the global black lives matter movement - many people have described the current times as turbulent or disrupted. But for me, as an Aboriginal person, these have been turbulent times for 250 years. As Christians passionate about Jesus and justice and creation and climate justice we know Aboriginal peoples have been fighting, sometimes with the loss of our lives, for a safe climate for all for over 250 years. I’m reminded of the book, “Blood on the wattle”, by Bruce Elder.
Today is National Wattle Day - Happy Wattle Day! 1 September was designated as a national day in 1992, although without a national public holiday, and this predates January 26 as a national public holiday in every State and Territory which was designated in 1994. Today as I look at the wattle blooming, as I reflect on National Wattle Day, and welcome Season of Creation 2020, I am reminded of survival - the wattle was here with Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years and is still here today. Wattle is resilient and can withstand drought, wind, and bushfires. Some say the wattle could be a sign of unity. As I say, unity is not sameness. You can’t have unity without diversity. Maybe if you look upon the wattle and understand its uses and versatility, its resilience and survival, and the many different species including the common name, botanical name, and Aboriginal nations name, we may be able to catch that glimpse of unity and the interconnectedness of all of creation.
Maybe this year the wattle will help us to build relationship, as we celebrate unity in diversity, as we understand Jubilee for the Earth holds together lament, grief, rest, healing and hope, and that we experience all creation held together on Country - Country being all lands, waters, sky, trees, plants, animals, birds, fish, mountains, rocks and all peoples. May the wattle call us to advocate and fight for God’s beautiful earth, to take action for creation and climate justice, and live out the teaching of many Aboriginal Elders to “Care for country and country will care for you”.
When you see the wattle - how will you respond?
Reflect & Share
Share your photo of wattle on the Common Grace facebook page @commongraceaus or use the #wattleday2020 on Instagram
Pray for creation and climate justice. Click here for a prayer by Monique Hughes: Jubilee for the Earth.
Read more about Wattle Day at www.wattleday.asn.au/. These ideas on how to celebrate come from the Wattle Day Association Inc.
- Wear a sprig of wattle or green and gold
- Greet each other with 'Happy Wattle Day'
- Go for a walk to enjoy wattles in flower around your garden, suburb, nearby bush or arboretum
Did you know?
Western Australia is home to the most species of wattle with about 450-500 different species.
Some wattle species like the Boree Wattle / Acacia pendula and Blackwood / Acacia melanoxylon can live to over 200 years old.
Not all wattle flowers are yellow. Most are but Acacia purpureopetala has mauve-pink flowers, Acacia gilbertii has white flowers, and Acacia leprosa has red flowers.
Green and gold were officially proclaimed as Australia’s national colours in 1984 by Sir Ninian Stevens, Governor-General.
Be inspired by the faithful action of Allison Dawn Waterhouse from Wattle Day 2019 www.commongrace.org.au/happy_wattle_day
Brooke Prentis is an Aboriginal Christian Leader and CEO of Common Grace. Brooke dreams of an Australia built on truth, justice, love, and hope.
Feature image: Rebecca