When we travel the globe on our anthropological expeditions and tourist infused treks, we often come to indigenous locations around the world said to be sacred. Rules such as “do not climb” or “do not photograph” can be instant downers for Instagram obsessed nomads.
It seems we now live in a world where photographs are more important than moments, and moments are not as authentic as they used to be. Our obsession with social media and sharing our “amazing adventures” with the world have certainly taken us down roads less traveled, but when we take that turn off the beaten track we need to remember that while it might just be a moment for us, it is an entire life for other people, one that we must respect.
As I plan my tickets and accommodation for a little place known by its Aboriginal name of Uluru –formally known as Ayers Rock—this is something that I have given some thought to.
Uluru is more than just a big red rock in the Australian outback; it is a sacred place to the Anangu people, and a place of great spiritual significance. The Aboriginal traditional owners of the land prefer visitors not to climb their sacred site; however, as this is not an Australian law, people are actually legally allowed to climb it, and many choose to do so.
As much as I would love to climb Uluru, and I somehow probably feel more entitled to climbing it –considering I grew up in Australia with many Aboriginal friends– the truth is, I will not. However, this does not mean that I would not love to. Hell, can you imagine how many Instagram likes I would get with some of those shots taken from above! The sad thing about all of this is that people are respecting the laws of the Australian Government, and not the laws of the Anangu people, and their laws have been around for a lot longer!
So, next time you are faced with such a dilemma, think first about the wishes of the traditional owners of the land, and consider other ways you can get to experience their culture and learn from them. For example, if you visit Uluru, there are plenty of cultural things to experience such as a ranger guided walk, a cultural tour or even a traditional dot painting workshop with local elders.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
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