Since the dawn of time, Aboriginal groups across Australia have been governed by a succession of elders who used personal experience in life and knowledge that had been handed down to him from generations before to make life pleasant for the others in the group. Each in turn became respected for the wisdom that would fall from him to the next. The following is a legend from the Djauan people who lived in Central Australia about an elder who was especially loved by his people.
One group, quite large and widespread, had an elder who had done more than any other to help them.
He had taught them--
good hunting techniques...
to share their food and help each other in every way possible...
to be peaceful and the ways to avoid warfare in times of dispute...
not to complain and allow difficult times to cause depression.
He taught them to not take for granted the good in life and the riches in nature but to appreciate the warm sun
and the rain
, the plants and animals they had for food as well as those they saw around them--to notice their beauty
It was his belief and teaching that if people would think deeply, work hard and help each other, whatever troubles present would soon pass.
The good people of his group, believing in his wisdom, followed his advise in all that they did. They prospered and were happy.
As their beloved elder realized his life was coming to a close, he made the decision to travel to every campsite of his people. He wanted, once more, to remind them of all that he had taught them. He left each group with a goodnight song which would be remembered always and handed on through the generations. He sang in the language of the Djauan people but this is the best translation of what the song meant:
While I lived on earth, I had very special people around me.
There were always animals, birds, and water creatures in abundance.
I felt that the sun and the moon and the stars were mine.
While I lived on earth I had everything I ever needed.
I will be going away from this world soon, very soon.
I will be leaving you forever, leaving this land that I love.
You will not see me again.
You will not see me again but I will be watching over you always.
I will be watching over you all forever.
The people at each campsite listened in to this song in silence, imagining sadly a life without their wise and greatly loved leader.
Soon after visiting the last of all the campsites, the man quietly died.
The Djauan were deeply saddened but knew that they must have a leader. They soon chose the right man--old enough for wisdom but young enough to lead them for many years. They knew, though, that their past leader would never--could never--be forgotten.
Time passed and after a while, the people began to believe that the hazy part of the sky, known today as the Milky Way, was the smoke from his sky world camp fire.
"There he is," they would say, "up there in the sky watching over us just as he promised in his song."
And--they were happy knowing that he was there, in the sky world, guiding and guarding his people throughout their days.