What are scarred trees?
‘Scarred trees’ are just trees that have some proof of scarring as a consequence of individuals in the past evacuating bark or wood, imprinting outlines or themes or cutting into trees for different reasons, including to gather nourishment. In Australia, scarred trees have regularly been made by Indigenous people groups. South eastern Australia is surely understood for the regularly expansive and forcing kayak scars precisely cut into the trunks of grand stream gums, and which are a typical sight close conduits and wetlands. Nonetheless, it is less surely understood that scarred trees are found in numerous parts of Australia and to be sure, in numerous different parts of the world incorporating into North America and Europe.
Scarred trees are a physical indication of how Indigenous people groups in the past lived and are regularly of high significance to Indigenous groups in Australia today: they give a connection to the past and are for the most part a kind of legacy place that groups attempt to safeguard and ensure where conceivable. Scarred trees are exceedingly helpless against devastation by means of normal rot and fire while advancement is likewise a noteworthy danger as mining, urban development thus on see far reaching freedom of generally undisturbed zones of backwoods and forest the nation over. This is especially the case in western Cape York Peninsula where mining impactsly affects the neighborhood environment and where the not so distant is one that is commanded by continuous mine extension.
Scarred trees on Western Cape York
Numerous a great many scarred trees happen on Aboriginal grounds around Weipa, with well more than 1,500 recorded on the Weipa Peninsula alone (1, 2). They are routinely found by archeologists and Traditional Owners finishing appraisals before mining clearances and are as often as possible chop down and moved to clear a path for mining advancement. In the previous couple of years, some Traditional Owners have picked scarred trees of unique significance and have put these into landmarks in the neighborhood, part to keep them from mining so as to be wrecked (3).
Scarred tree landmark at Ruchook Cultural Ground, Weipa
As indicated by neighborhood Elders, there are a few unique sorts of scar tree. A few scars were made by individuals slicing timber to make lance hurlers or woomera and additionally different instruments (4). The scar tree that is most normally found in the Weipa range are “sugarbag” scars which were made by individuals slicing into trees to gather the nectar and wax of the stingless local honey bees. In the good ‘ol days, a stone hatchet was utilized to make a little gap close to a sugarbag hive and after that a meager, elastic branch was embedded into this opening to splash up the nectar. These gaps would then be fixed up again with the goal that individuals could return at a later time to gather a greater amount of the nectar or wax. We’ve as of late recommended this methodology was a type of asset administration or ‘domiculture’, or an arrangement of financial practices and morals that were — and still are — a noteworthy component of Aboriginal social customs in the area (5).
In the late 1800s Europeans purchased iron axes and tomahawks and these were additionally utilized as a part of the accumulation of sugarbag directly through the 1900s. For sure, Napranum Elders who experienced childhood in the Weipa Mission recollect their guardians gathering nectar and trading this with the Missionaries who might put it into a tank underneath the Mission Superintendent’s home. It was blended with water as an agreeable like drink, and was eaten on porridge and damper consistently. Sugarbag is still gathered routinely by nearby group individuals today, utilizing comparative systems to those utilized by their guardians and grandparents.
How old are scar trees?
On western Cape York Peninsula, scars for the most part happen on one types of tree — the Cooktown ironwood — which as the name proposes is a tree whose timber is greatly thick and hard and is understood to be very hard to cut. This tree is additionally very moderate developing, with one study recommending that a tree that was around 35 cm in breadth at mid-section stature had taken somewhere around 180 and 300 years to develop, with development rates of around 0.12 cm every year (6). This means normal measured ironwoods are liable to be no less than a few hundred years of age and that the huge trees with 60 cm or more in width might truth be told be much more seasoned than we had already thought. Scars have been recorded on ironwoods of all shapes and sizes, and even found on ironwoods that have since a long time ago kicked the bucket, so it is likely that some scarred trees date to the period before Europeans touched base in the locale.
There have been no past endeavors to find the period of scarred trees in the district and stand out other study in Australia that has endeavored to do as such (7), however this was exceedingly dangerous and required that the tree be felled — which is not generally an alternative with regards to overseeing Indigenous legacy locales.
The vicinity or nonappearance of iron hatchet imprints gives us a general evaluation of the age of a scar and it is likely that scars with sharp and unmistakable hatchet imprints were made after the late 1880s. On the other hand, numerous scars don’t have clear hatchet imprints recommending they may be more established than this. The methods we are utilizing possibly permit us to place scarring occasions into a 5-10 year time section permitting both group individuals and us to place particular trees into a specific chronicled connection.
There are various reasons we are keen on adding to a procedure to adequately date scarred trees:
- Having data about the plausible age of a scarred tree will better deal with these locales when troublesome choices about advancement are being made. For instance, Traditional Owners may wish to oversee scarred trees made in the 1960s, 1920s or 1850s in altogether different ways.
- It will give chronicled data that can nourish into a scope of group legacy work including instructive and interpretive activities.
- It will add to more scholarly research questions about the historical backdrop of the district, especially regarding understanding what life was similar to for Indigenous individuals between the mid 1800s and the mid 1900s and the courses in which the entry of pilgrim intruders affected Indigenous wellbeing.
Along these lines, this week we’re attempting to migrate scarred trees on Alngith Country that have been recorded in the course of the last 8-10 years. One week from now, we’ll be selecting those trees that Alngith People need to center. Over the coming week I’ll post more data on the system we’re utilizing and a few pictures and video from the field.