What follows is a transcript for the podcast HomeGrown Humans - Tyson Yunkaporta - Indigenous Culture - Hosted by Jamie Wheal.
Topics within the interview include the following:
- Defining shame in Aboriginal culture
- How gender impacts violence
- How we can use Indigenous wisdom to overcome systemic violence
Defining Shame in Aboriginal Culture
Jamie Wheal: Welcome to our next guest. This is somebody I've been looking forward to jamming with since our paths first crossed earlier this year, Tyson Yunkaporta, who is an Australian, an indigenous scholar, and human, and also writer of the book Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, and a generally all around funny-as-shit, interesting fellow. So, Tyson, welcome-
Tyson Yunkaporta: Thanks for calling me human there, Jamie.
Jamie Wheal: It's the least I could do. Absolutely. I delightfully and deliberately did not have an agenda for our conversation. I know there's some themes that I'm absolutely curious to pick your brain on, but other than that, I mean, we've read each other's books, so we have a sense of the commonalities and the divergences there.
I've found myself referencing you in podcasts about the stuff I've written, as much, or more often than any other writer and thinker out there, especially because you're holding such a unique perspective in the, kind of, chattering classes conversation. I've noticed that, for sure, one of the examples that's popped to mind several times is, just your discussion of gender and violence, and the idea of public violence versus private violence. I had just never even heard remotely that concept before, and it also feels strangely relevant as we're also engaging in a lot of... and you've made the case of, public violence is healthy, it's mediated and buffered, we get it out, right? It's private violence that can fester, and that can obviously, you know, into domestic violence and other things. On the other hand, we're seeing wildly unhealthy public violence, flame wars, canceling, grievance culture, all of these kinds of things.
So can we just kind of wade into that, and try starting to tease apart, when is violence healthy, vital, necessary, a means of discharging trauma? And when is violence, public or private, unhealthy and destructive, and emotive, instilling trauma? What are your thoughts there?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Well, it's a stumbling block for everybody, and I get a lot of shit for the stuff I say about violence, but in this space everybody's talking about distributing everything. People are talking up complexity, systems thinking, complexity science, all this sort of stuff. Everybody, blockchain, Bitcoin, all the tech nerds, all the tech utopians, or the regenerative villages, intentional community people, all the... I'm just trying to define the space here. The chemically-assisted sort of [crosstalk 00:05:53] expansion-
Jamie Wheal: I think, "[inaudible 00:05:55] your weight folks," is a decent placeholder.
Tyson Yunkaporta: No, because there's a real niche here, that you belong to, and I'm sort of barking around the edges of, that I'm really interested in that sort of [inaudible 00:06:14], Daniel Schmachtenberger kind of thing. I don't know, it sort of blurs across into the edges of the intellectual dark web mob, and all the sense-making crew, and all these ones. People looking, basically, for a way to make Western civilization work, basically. Like, "Hey, what could this look like if it worked?" And doing some really good thinking, and amazing stuff, to figure out how it would all work. And within this, there's a general agreement right across the board, that power has to be distributed, that permanent hierarchies are corruptible and no good, so you have to have a distributed economic system, distributed power dynamics. Everything in a complex system has to be distributed evenly throughout the system. But everybody's still stuck in this, "Violence is bad," sort of paradigm, and, "Peace is good," kind of thing.
I guess my argument is that violence itself is a part of the system, whether you like it or not, and needs to be distributed throughout it. When it is distributed throughout a system, like a human community, or an ecosystem, or anything else, it does very little damage. You know, you don't get a lot of casualties, and you certainly don't get collateral damage and things like this. But when violence is concentrated into a few privileged groups, or a handful of people, or people who do it as a profession, that's when it's no good. This goes along gender lines as well. So, before this, I've offered a lot of our Australian Aboriginal, basic original frameworks of how all these violence domain dynamics work. Yeah, I talk a fair bit about how that's still working in the places where it's still working, which it's not working like that everywhere. There's a lot of really bad fallout, and asymmetrical violence that happens in our communities now, but you can still see all the original protocols and the ritualization of the violence, and a lot of the rule-governed stuff around that.
Jamie Wheal: So would you say that that sort of fits into the notion of honor societies, honor-shame societies versus dignity societies? Like, the dignities would be the appeal to the structures, and the due process, and authorities, and honor-shame, or, eye for an eye, or, "If you've dishonored me, it's on me to write the wrong."
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. I've sort of tried to look in into that, but it doesn't really fit with our idea of shame. I know there's this shame versus guilt, sort of thing, so that happens. In your weird, Western educated, industrialized, rich democratic societies, guilt is something that people are encouraged to do individually, to sort of keep punishing themselves and self-regulate. I guess that makes people good neoliberal subjects as well. It just transfers across nicely to be self-monitoring, self-managing, self-regulating. But outside of the weird, and prior to, I guess, Martin Luther banging his note up on the door, most of those communities were the same as everyone else in the world, and you didn't have the guilt, so you had shame, and shame was something that you did as a collective. Shame is something that comes from the group.
Jamie Wheal: Yeah, like the transgression of shared norms and values.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah, and we have that same thing, but it's a... In Aboriginal English, it's different, the word's there, but it means something different. I mean, it's something that prevents you from transgressing, and then it's a kind of punishment that happens when you have transgressed. It's really hard to convey the meaning of that. So we'll say, like, "How are you?" So you'll be like, "Oh, that's shame." "That's shame," or, "I'm shame."
Jamie Wheal: "I am shame," intransitive, I am?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. "I'm shame," or, "That's shame."
Yeah, so, "I am shame," is like it's a state that you're in. It's weird, it's somewhere in between guilt and shame. Because I guess everything in our society, indigenous society in Australia, it's all on this sort of constant tension of balance between your autonomy and your relatedness. Because on the one hand you're asserting yourself as an individual, but on the other hand, you're bound within all of these obligations. So your identity isn't just subsumed into the collective. I guess it's the same way that we experience shame. It's like something that's not quite guilt and it’s not quite shame in the Western sense either. It just prevents you from transgressing, and it goes through everything. So in our knowledge transmission, so in our pedagogies, for example, you observe.
We don't have trial and error. So in our methods of inquiry as well, trial and error is, no, that's not on. You don't learn from mistakes in our cultures. You're not supposed to make mistakes. You're supposed to observe, and join in for small parts of an activity until you know it. When you know it, and you can definitely do it for the first time, when you can do it perfectly, that's when you're allowed to do it. So you're not allowed to know something until you know it perfectly.
Jamie Wheal: That reminds me of traditions in Ghana, like drum traditions. You're not given a djembe until you've apprenticed for three years, and you can sing all the rhythms, and you can tap all the rhythms, before you're actually given an instrument to make a sound on.
Tyson Yunkaporta: That's it. You can't just be banging away on a drum for a thousand hours until you get it right, because that's a thousand hours of shame. You couldn't do that. That's shame? Yes, so to try and fail on something, it's shame. I mean, technically you could take off on your own and just do it in secret, but that's not something we're allowed to do either. So in our community-
Jamie Wheal: Really? Is that seen as like, poaching the teaching?
Tyson Yunkaporta: No, you can't be on your own. Anybody who walks off on their own anywhere, everyone in town will know about it. It's like, "Hey, he's walking on his own. What's he up to?" So suspicion will fall on you immediately, that you're up to no good.
Jamie Wheal: The shady loner.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah, you're looking to do something terrible to somebody, or people will accuse you of sorcery, or something like that. You can't be alone. So you can't be alone, you can't make mistakes. It's funny, it's quite strict, while at the same time it's very free, because at the same time, you know, "Nobody boss [inaudible 00:14:54] me." Nobody can boss anyone else. You can't interrogate people, you can't force people to do anything. Everybody has complete autonomy, but that's within a network of obligations and relations, and mechanisms like shame, that completely regulate your behavior at the same time.
Jamie Wheal: Well, and help me tease that apart, because I think in reading your book, it definitely doesn't sound like the, "You're not allowed to make mistakes," is the same as Calvinist, Protestant work ethic, perfectionism. So help unpack that, because I think I'm tracking what you're saying, but I would imagine that maybe a listener might be like, "Wait a tick, are those the same?"
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Well, I mean, work ethic's a completely different thing. You don't just practice. It's not practice makes perfect. It's observation and relationship makes perfect. I guess people would call it a kind of empathy, where you're observing somebody, and you're in such close relation with them that you're inhabiting their practice while you're observing them as a master doing something. Then, eventually, you can just do it, and that's when you have the knowledge. You know what I mean? You're not supposed to even attempt it before then. Yeah, it's weird. I guess when I'm trying to talk to somebody about it, then... I don't know, because I just am that, and be that, and then when you try to abstract it and translate that, I guess it just sounds weird.
Jamie Wheal: No, I'm not done, and I've had my head handed to me in the last couple of years attempting to say, "Hey, I think we've got a bunch of shameless behavior going on right now in society." You know, Joe McCarthy, the horrible senator of McCarthyism in the '50s, right?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah.
Jamie Wheal: I mean, the thing that undid him was, finally someone stood up in Congress and said, "Senator McCarthy, have you no shame sir?" Right?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Mm.
Jamie Wheal: You see it on Instagram, you see it on digital self-promotional marketers, you see all that, you're like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Like, "You should be embarrassed and you're not." I think Brené Brown has coined the language, and I think it's the exact opposite of what we're discussing. I think she talks about shame being a bad thing, not a social good. I've gone back to the dictionary because people said, "You've got it backwards," and I was like, "Oh, shit, did I really?" I went back and looked, and the actual dictionary definitions are completely useless. They're just ambiguous. But to me at least, guilt is more individual, and it's often a sense of, "I am not worthy," and that might not be a healthy thing, but shame, "I've transgressed my community's norms, and it's on me to atone," is actually something that feels like a critical cultural nutrient. Does that track for you?
Tyson Yunkaporta: It really does, and the whole time I'm just thinking about Trump over the last few years, because we've all done the workshop, and basically he taught the world. So he's the most watched most famous person on the planet, that guy, and everybody's watched him, and everyone's done the workshop.
Jamie Wheal: That's horrifying.
Tyson Yunkaporta: So everybody knows that if you do something shameful, then you can dodge all that. You can dodge the bad feelings that you have internally, but you can also dodge the relational fallout from that. All you have to do is, if you do something shameful, then very quickly do 10 other shameful things and throw them all out at once. Then, as people start to go-
Jamie Wheal: "Try and pin any of these on me, I'm just going to keep on going."
Tyson Yunkaporta: Oh yeah, and how you keep moving, as each one is pinned on you, you do that kind of jujitsu, of saying, "No, I didn't do that, you did that." No matter how insane that is.
Jamie Wheal: "Fake news," "You're fake news."
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah, and then you flick it around. "You're victimizing me. You're bullying me. This isn't a safe space. I don't feel safe." So you can dodge anything now, and then, if they keep pressing, then you just do 10 more shameful things and give them a bigger list to work through. Then people just give up, I guess. So I think that's part of the shamelessness, but this all comes back to violence as well. Because usually the shameful acts that people are being shamed over, or are feeling shame for, usually these are acts of non-righteous violence.
Jamie Wheal: Non-righteous. Okay.
Protocols Surrounding Unrighteous Violence
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. That's from that Western sort of way of looking at things, non-righteous, but I guess from our way we think of it as unregulated, or outside of protocol, because we have protocols for violence. All violence has to be witnessed by many people, it has to be public, it has to be transparent, and there are rules. Even just simple rules of combat, you can't pull anybody's hair, you can't hit anybody or continue the fight when they're on the ground.
Jamie Wheal: So it's upright striking?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Upright striking. Traditionally, often this would be done with weapons, and it's evenly distributed across all the groups of people. So with regard to age, gender, anything else you can think of, any other dimension of social space. The violence is distributed right through, so kids will be doing this. Everybody has the capacity for violence, and everybody has decent skills of violence, at least. I guess there's that Western idea of honor, or, no, it sort of comes down to that Roman idea, I guess, of dignitas. I guess it's similar to that but not quite, because we have a real fluid self-other boundary. So all the people that you're connected to and related to, you're part of that. So, if you're doing the right thing, or you're doing something exceptional, that reflects on everybody. That's everybody's pride, and if you're shame, then that's everybody's shame too.
So yeah, you're not allowed to break any of the protocols, and if you do then the crowd will regulate you. And the idea of any violence occurring behind closed doors, that's just anathema. That's not to say that isn't happening now, because there's a lot of disruption to the law, traditional law, but yeah. As I was saying, it's distributed. So women... I mean, if you look up indigenous YouTube fight videos in Australia, you'll see that the majority of the fights are women.
Jamie Wheal: That's a category? Like, you could punch that into YouTube and you'd get hits?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah, I've written a paper on it. We did a whole research project on that, but it was funny because it was non-indigenous researchers who were looking into these YouTube fights on behalf of a community that remains unnamed, because they wanted to find out more about that and how much YouTube was exacerbating the problems, and interfering with the sort of ritual dynamics of that, and all that kind of thing.
With the sort of ritual dynamics of that and all that kind of thing. Yeah. So we, we looked, looked into that quite deeply. Yeah, it's funny. But so immediately after that though, because that was a non-indigenous led project and I was kind of the token black fellow on the, on the research team, there, there were a lot of other things I wanted to look at and I don't know, so I put an indigenous team together and then we did our own one, but we were looking at settler Street fighter videos on YouTube. So we, so we took those rules, like our protocols of combat and violence. We looked at that as the rubric, by which we judge all the settler fight videos. What did he say? [crosstalk 00:25:57].
Jamie Wheal: We'll put you under the magnifying glass, but we'll use the same rubrics that you were scrutinizing.
Tyson Yunkaporta: She could get a reverse anthropology. It's been like nearly two years. We've been doing it. I mean the actual, we looked at a hundred, a hundred YouTube videos of street fights from colonies, from settlements, sort of street fights. And we were looking for the, to see, you know, where our indigenous protocols, how often there was a rule violation in those. And we were actually, we were actually quite surprised to see that the pattern was there.
Jamie Wheal: As far as there was some normative [crosstalk 00:26:44].
Tyson Yunkaporta: There is a human pattern there and there were a lot of rule violations, like collateral damage is just, is just not a thing. You're not allowed to have that in our way. So you can't, knock somebody into the crowd and people get knocked over or something like that.
Then, there were several protocols like that and we evaluated all these things and we were quite surprised to see that there was a fair bit of enforcement of those protocols in what of the ... So the settlements we looked at, we looked at United States, of course, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Israel. I think that was it. Yeah. So we were looking at all those and, and we saw that pattern was there of people trying to regulate the violence, but the people who were regulating the violence where women. We could, we could find almost no street fights that were, that involved women as combatants.
Jamie Wheal: Outside of Aboriginal communities. Yeah.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Outside of Aboriginal communities. So in the settler street fight videos, women were not combatants. And, but that they ... you could tell they were itching to join in all these ones. So, but the role that the women were playing was in trying to regulate the fights. To try to bring those protocols into the fight? So, and yeah. Making sure things didn't get too dirty or anything like that.
Jamie Wheal: Did you look at all the urban African-American women?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Well, we didn't, we weren't going on ... So, we went quite deeply into this and, and sort of just melanin content in your skin and the fact of being an involuntary settler, we decided, well, these are still fit settlers. Yeah. So we did. Basically, we weren't just going, oh, white people, we were going settlers, so of course, so there were in the fight videos in Australia, there was, sometimes Arabs, sometimes Greeks sometimes, all different kinds of people, but they're settlers, so yeah, we basically looked at everything.
Jamie Wheal: And what surprised you?
Refugees and Rule Governed Violence
Tyson Yunkaporta: Well, the involuntary settlers had more rule governed violence.
Jamie Wheal: When you say involuntary settlers, would that be sort of Indians into Australia, anybody who has perhaps a labor force or something else that wasn't just dominant ...
Tyson Yunkaporta: People who are either, refugees who really didn't want to leave home or, people like, so African-Americans who kind of, didn't really have a choice as to whether or not they'd be brought to America. So the, you know, involuntary colonists, yeah, they, they scored higher on the, on the rule, governed violence. They were more likely to follow rules, pause and wait for someone to get up, our protect onlookers, from collateral damage, et cetera, et cetera.
Yeah. And so, for example, so in our way, there's no kicking or, or striking someone on the ground. With you, your voluntary settlers, there was a lot of kicking people on the ground, a lot of like stomping on people's heads while they were unconscious on the ground and stuff like that. But the reaction of the crowd to that was seldom positive. You know, the reaction of the crowd to that was to try and regulate and and prevent that behavior.
So we kind of saw this human pattern come through that a lot of the indigenous protocols for violence, was trying, struggling to assert itself in these settler videos. It was, full-on.
Jamie Wheal: And did you guys infer or directly link what you perceived as the lack of checks and balances in settler violence, particularly, I forget your terminology into the elective, colonialists settler violence with intergenerational impunity of externalized violence. Like the fact that the cut by nature of being the dominant hierarchy, you're used to pulling cheap shots and getting away with it.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Well, that was our null hypothesis. Like we assumed that's what we'd find, and it wasn't. So we found quite a bit of governance happening in street fights and settler street fights quite a bit, not as, I mean, not even half what you see in our communities, even where we're really dysfunctional, it's still, isn't as much governance around the violence.
Yes. So we found that and it was, but we also found the, it was quite, it was fairly dysfunctional, but what we found was people trying to reassert those things, trying to reassert the protocols of, sort of relatively safe and fair violence.
You know, it, it's obviously something that humans need and football's not enough. Spectator sports is not enough. So, yeah, and you could see that they were just trying to enact something that's just patent within them as human beings.
Gender’s Role in Violence
Tyson Yunkaporta: What we saw, what we saw as the biggest problem though, is the gendered nature of the violence, which was not where we were expecting the study to go. But the exclusion of women like, oh, universally, like from Taiwan to Israel, to Australia, the exclusion of women from the violence, that active exclusion of women from the violence was that was the worst part.
It was amazing of what we did see a lot of was this kind of chivalry of no matter how out of control the men were, they were very, very careful not to bump into a woman or, if a woman was standing in between, they wouldn't push her out of the way. Yeah. We found this, like this amazing sort of chivalry, everything we found in there was unexpected and yeah.
Jamie Wheal: Yeah. It's fascinating. I mean, cause at a glance you'd think, oh, the violence is wheels off the absence of governors and regulation, but you're actually finding that, that it's actually subtly and sometimes probably explicitly highly regulated. There's all sorts of norms and customs that go with violence, even though it feels like it's an ungovernable situation.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. And here's where I get canceled in a lot of places on a regular basis is that I believe that excluding women from the agency of violence ... from violence as agents, that that's the most horrendously violent act.
Gender imbalance, I believe it's what causes pretty much everything. This idea is that women are soft and nurturing and sort of weak and don't have that in them. And that, that they're these sort of cowering soft things and that they need to be protected. So the chivalry that we saw was lovely, but at the same time it was profoundly disempowering for the women, and you could see the frustration because they wanted to get in there. They wanted to punch someone in the face. They were trying to punch someone in the face and nobody would let them, there was too much chivalry going on. And I believe that that's the most horrendous act of violence towards 50% of the population.
Jamie Wheal: That would be one of the more memorable passages in your book was just you describing the absolute glory of two indigenous women just squaring off, just slugging it.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. And so, I mean, you're looking at someone who's half your size and you're watching them fight and thinking, I couldn't beat her. She would flog the hell out me. You know what I mean? everybody always cites these biological differences, you know that, so men are obviously supposed to fight because we're bigger. But I guess any martial artist you talk to will tell you, it's fairly irrelevant that the size of the person that's fighting, it's about how they can move and what they can do with it.
And yeah, in my motto, like women traditionally would fight each other with two sticks. They have a stick in each hand and sort of legs, really wide apart and, and sort of swaying doing this swaying motion. And then all the movement would come out of that swaying. It was like this amazing martial art that's gone. I mean, it's gone. It was like the first thing in every mission, like when the missionaries came in. But also the, the settlements, the police, the military, everything else, the first thing banned was ... well actually the first thing bad was homosexuality and transgenderism. The second thing that was banned was martial arts, and then the language, these are the things.
And basically you can see that that's the basic building blocks of how you civilize, how you domesticate a human being as first, you have to let them know what their, here's the narrow range of gender roles that you have to fulfill. And these are the two kinds of people you can be. And here's how they have to relate to each other. That's a really narrow range of options. And yeah, you can't, you can't have martial arts, you can't have violence, good violence is bad. Violence is something that authority does to you. It's not something that you do, you know.
The Shift Towards Less Functional Privatizations of Violence
Jamie Wheal: There's a half a dozen branches in this, in what you've laid out so far that I'm sort of fascinated to pursue. One of which is you alluded a couple of times, and this actually leads to a bigger point from when I first read Sand Talk, that I wanted to ask you about, but you alluded to, Hey, here is effectively some version indigenous continuity, as far as public violence. You said things have been shifting lately, there are some less functional privatizations of violence, that kind of thing. And it made me think of like the Navajo reservation here in the states, which has an exceptionally high murder rate, but one of the sort of really grim statistics is, I think over half our death by bludgeoning, it's beaten to death with blunt instruments.
And so it's impossible for any of us to rewind the clock back to pre-settlement pre colonization. Right? And so everybody is in the midst of mish-mash living traditions. What your sense as both a member of a community, but also a scholar observing it ... we're not in a steady state, there's not idyllic original condition to get back to you. And we're all just dealing with what we've got. What are your thoughts on that, the intersection of conquest, removal, reservation, boarding schools, indoctrination ...
Tyson Yunkaporta: It's not a line, it's not a line like that. So, all these abuses and disruptions, they're not something that just happened in the past. You know, colonization is an act of ...is a violent act, is still happening right now. And arguably it's happening worse than ever.
So on those Navajo reservations there are lots of women and girls going missing all the time, and lots of women and girls being raped all the time and not by their own community, that's happening from outside the community. There's also a lot of pressure happening. So the colony will introduce institutions that are extensively there to help, but they're not helping, they're actually there to regulate.
So, a welfare kind of thing will be set up and then it's there to sort of help people manage their lives and budget and all that sort of thing. But, you know, you have to check in with them two or three times a week, or you lose your payment and you can't eat. So that therefore forces you to live a sedentary life in a village with several clans who normally would be spread out or several, even different tribes who normally would not be cramped together in one place. And so you're all there. And nobody really can go very far out into the land to do the things that you have to do. Nobody can move around because you have to stay around this hub or you lose what you need to eat. This happens worse and worse. The closer you get to a mine, the racism gets worse. Everything gets worse, but the violence particularly gets worse, the state violence.
So we've had in the north of Australia over the last decade, we've had what was called the intervention. So that was actually sending the military in to indigenous communities. They basically did Q Anon. I th I think Q Anon just borrowed the blueprint from there, but, they basically, they did this whole thing. Like we were the Clintons Aboriginal people were the Clintons. We were trafficking children, pedophile networks, all this sort of stuff. So they, they built up this moral panic around Aboriginal pedophilia and child abuse and sent the military into our communities to intervene to save the children. But they didn't actually do anything for children, what they did was for example, So the first thing they did was forced all the communities that had one native title to sign their land over as 99 year leases for mining. Because they had to, the Australian economy wasn't doing too great. So they had to increase the amount of oil production. So you see things like that. So Australia got through the GFC pretty well because they exponentially increased oil production.
Jamie Wheal: Wow.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Production
Jamie Wheal: Wow.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Which involves absolutely destroying Aboriginal communities, because that's where the oil is? So, I don't know if you... People wouldn't have heard of the stolen generations there. But that's, basically, the practice of removing Aboriginal children from families and placing them with settler families or more often, actually, just placing them in big wards, dormitories, big state facilities like that. And those kids being raised there and then being trained to be criminals, basically, and then let loose on the world. So, that's something that's been happening for... That's something that's been seen to be... Seen as something that happened in the past. Because back to this idea, that colonization is not something that happened before. Because basically that was something everybody in Australia was denying, ever happened. And then finally they admitted it happened and the prime minister apologized for it. He did the apology for the stolen generations and it was a really big moment.
And so, Australia closed the book on that then. And so, now apparently we're all reconciled because they apologized for that past colonization, that theft of children. But the fact is that more children... Right now today, more children are removed from Aboriginal families than at any other point in Australian history.
So, right now we're having...
Jamie Wheal: Today? Right now?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Right now, more children are being removed than at any other point in Australia's history.
Jamie Wheal: Under what rationalization or program? What's happening?
Tyson Yunkaporta: I don't think it's called a program. There are lots of programs that are like, "Little children are sacred and protect the children and don't remove the children." These are all the programs, but the reality is that that more than ever are being removed. And that's just generally Children's Services. And that [inaudible 00:52:11]
Jamie Wheal: Wasn't there a film that, kind of, went fairly big? Like it was Rabbit-Proof Fence or something along those lines?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Oh, yeah. That one. Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's everybody's images of the stolen generations. That it's just evil British police kind of thing doing something to people a long time ago. But it wasn't a long time ago. That stuff wasn't that long ago. But... It's not long time ago because it's still happening now.
Growth Based Economy and Inequality
Tyson Yunkaporta: It's... Colonization is a process. And, I guess, in the study I was talking about before some of the places we started to look at, like for example, Brazil. We looked at five videos in Brazil and we saw a completely different pattern. We saw the same, kind of, street violence and regulated violence. But more importantly, we saw the same equal gender participation in street violence in Brazil, in the Brazil fight videos that we have in indigenous communities. And we've gone, "Oh, so what's different here? They... That's a colony." And then we, sort of, looked at and went, "Oh. No, they're decolonized. The settlers left."
So, somewhere like Brazil is... Yeah. It's, sort of... It has a different patterning. Patterning for violence. Arguably, they didn't leave. It's just the power left. The power just was no longer held by a foreign state. The colonial power... But... Not by a state but by the foreign market instead. Business interests. So, you find that in most places that claim to be decolonized, it's just there isn't a foreign administration anymore. There's... But there are corporations that pretty much call the shots and superpowers elsewhere that will ensure that the right government is in place and all that sort of thing. Yeah. Anyway, I'm getting off track.
Jamie Wheal: Well, I mean this is... We're just, sort of pulling, on the ball of string. This is a mass... I mean part of the reason I appreciate listening to you and talking to you is just... You just come in orthogonally to pretty much any contemporary topic and you're... But you're... It's not just, "Hey, I'm a contrarian. I like to think nifty thoughts." It's based on generations of radically different perspectives on being humans on this earth. And that there're several things. I mean we've got this notion of sort of honor-shame cultures, right. Which we've been exploring and the role of socially mediated, healthy shame. And it occurs to me, based on your study, that there's something along the lines of either we choose to do this ourselves, which is arguably the only ethical thing, or we create externalities of our shame.
If we are going to be shameless, right. Somebody else has to hold the bag. I mean, even if you think of, sort of, pro-life evangelical Christians in the United States, you're basically... Who get very much into the moral stance of, "We're protecting unborn lives." But it's fundamentally, "Our unborn lives." If you think of like the city-states of Sparta and Athens or any other situation, if you don't engage in birth control... Right? Up to and including infanticide you are basically saying, "We refuse to kill our children. So, we will have to go and kill yours." Right?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah.
Jamie Wheal: Through population expansion. Right. They may have grown up, they may be holding guns or swords. Right. And, in fact, a friend of ours was-
Tyson Yunkaporta: It's all externalities. Anything good that you try and do on these big scales... On these scales of great nations and global markets, anything good that you try and do, even in your activism or anything else they're producing externalities. What I refer to in Sand Talk is outsourcing your entropy. That's particularly said that about violence. That if you... If you're living in peace, that means you're outsourcing your violence somewhere else. You're just outsourcing that entropy to someone else.
Jamie Wheal: Well... And the United States, right? And this is from 2000... From 2001 until now the sort of 20 years of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, everywhere else, we've outsourced it twice over. Not only did we export our conflict overseas, but then we literally privatized the war effort. So, we didn't even have the accountability of a Vietnam era draft. Right? I mean, I think the ratio of private military contractors to actually service people was four to one. So, we literally bled the coffers via a bunch of D.C. Beltway bandits like Blackwater and others. Having the government and the taxpayers pay to train soldiers and technicians, anybody else. Have them leave the military, then hire them and then charge the government quadruple for the services again. And because there was never a pressure on civilians to say, "Oh, my number came up and I have to go and risk my life. Do I sign off on this? Is this a, is this a just war?" We outsourced it twice over it.
Tyson Yunkaporta: There's more private soldiers than bloody public ones in the world right now. It's terrific. So, you got Joe Biden getting lots of standing ovations for ending wars and pulling out of the occupation of countries, various countries at the moment. They're still leaving the private... The mercenaries, basically. They're still leaving the mercenaries there. And also, all of these withdrawals... They withdraw to the border, just over the border in the next country. And they sit up there and then they just crossed the border whenever they want to go in and do an incursion. And they still bomb the shit out of the place. You know what I mean? But they say, "Oh, look, we're withdrawing all the troops. We're ending the war. We're ending the military application occupation of this country." Then they do it 10 times worse.
And that's pretty much... I don't know. Most of the things I see, most of the activism I see is basically just sanitizing spaces to make them feel more peaceful. Even to make them feel more equal. So, you look at everything around equality and all this, sort of, thing. It's about making sanitized spaces that seem more diverse, that seem more equal, that have good feels to them but usually, that inequity is being outsourced to somewhere else. Basically you can't have a growth based economy without inequality. It's not possible to have economic growth and equality. You can't have both. You're not allowed. You... I mean, it's just, it's a law of economics. With growth based economy your demand needs to exceed supply. And so, think it through. Yeah, there has to be more demand than supply. There has to be more people missing out on shit than there are people getting... Than there is people getting shit.
In order to do... To have that you need to have a caste system. And whatever caste system you need to have identified outsider of groups. And those things need to be policed by the groups that have more privilege and they have to be policed by police, military, all these things as well. I mean, you just have to have that. Or you can't have economic growth. So, all these people who are, sort of, being activists from this liberal, sort of, liberal stance... They need to rethink things. They need to sit down and think, "Okay, so how do we change the economic system so that we're not dependent on growth? How can we make sure that everything doesn't collapse, if we develop a de-growth economy?"
Because, that's what you need to start. Because, otherwise you're in the shower trying to dry yourself from the feet up and you haven't dried your hair yet. Those feet are still going to keep getting wet and you can bloody give someone a nice new towel and say, "Oh look dry feet." But, no. It's not going to happen.
Jamie Wheal: I mean, it makes me think... A very visceral example was a friend had just come out of 20 years in the rainforest, down in the Amazon. And had mentioned that a lot of the folks in Columbia, Brazil, et cetera, had been talking... Actually, maybe not dissimilar to your experience when you said the, sort of, QAnon of Australia... That there was a sense of like, "Oh, the Yanomami, they are savages. They kill their own children." And he was describing... Actually, interviewing a mother and she's like, "Look, if I have three children and our enemies come in or the rubber barons or the timber guys... Any threat to us. I can't carry all three of my kids, which means all four of us die. If I accidentally have an additional child beyond two, we do actually as lovingly and compassionate as possible end their life. So, that I can save my other two children's lives." And so, it's an entirely different ethic of concern.
Tyson Yunkaporta: And I hear that story... I hear that story. And I see a woman who belongs to a culture that's been so radically disrupted that her women's business of regulating her fertility is no longer available to her. I see a disrupted culture. If I see a culture where a woman can't regulate her fertility, in a thousands year old tradition, using the medicine plants and using the all of the techniques that women use and have used forever to do that very effectively... Then I just see a culture that's been disrupted.
It's just... I just find it staggering. Oh, it's. So, now women have been... Just in the last few decades for the first time in a million years, women are finally able to be equal because they can regulate their fertility. And it's just bullshit. Absolute bullshit. It's a lie. The whole thing is a lie. This myth of progress.
Women have been... The process of domestication of women over the last few centuries in these civilizations has just been absolutely horrendous. And part of that has been denying access to the affordances of violence as an agent. Women are confined, women are limited. Women are confined by their clothing, by the spaces they're supposed to inhabit so that they become soft and they diminish and they become weak. And, I guess, this is where I get canceled.
Jamie Wheal: In what direction do you get canceled?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Quite a bit. Because it's it like, "Oh, he's suggesting that it's women's own fault that violence against women is their own fault because they're not learning martial arts or something." And, no. That's obviously not what I'm saying." But I guess people are really trying to escape from having to, to really look at this and go, oh, hang on a second. There is this domestication process going on.
And that has been going on for a long time. And pretty much most of the stories... The when we were caveman stories that are the foundation of every discipline is a fabrication, is pseudo science and perhaps things weren't so terrible. Perhaps our pasts weren't lives of brutish, misery, et cetera. And there's some stuff that we can learn from that if we actually look at it properly.
Jamie Wheal: Well... So, speaking of that, I was just reading this fellow David Reich. He's at Harvard, he's a geneticist. And I forget his book. It's a very friendly title, is something like How We Got To Now or something along those lines. Or Where We Came From. Something along. And it's... His lab has been responsible for a ton of the Neanderthal and homosapien stuff. Migrations of Europe, but also into the Western hemisphere. And you probably already know this one, but I did not and it blew my mind. Was he said... He was... They were tracking north American and South American migrations over Beringia. A number of them actually happened earlier, while it was all still iced up. But he said, there's a random migratory strain and the only place it still exists is in the depths of the Amazon. And it's 7% of the genetic material. So, all those papers came out like, "Hey, you might be two to 5% in Neanderthal for European ancestry." The 7% is actually Andaman Sea, New Guinea and Australia genetics in the Amazon.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yep. So,
Jamie Wheal: So, now I'm going to pop [inaudible 01:07:15] blew my mind. Whoa! How on earth do we even begin to map what that was? Because, it wasn't even Polynesian Islanders. You could be like, "Oh, the sailors that made it to Hawaii went a little... Kept on tracking..." Aboriginal Australian?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Well, the the oldest depiction of an ocean going vessel is here. It's in Western Australia. On the planet. Yeah. That's worth looking up...
Jamie Wheal: What does it look like?
Tyson Yunkaporta: I got to. I got a good friend. Oh, so it's a very... It appears to be a really large dugout canoe. But you couldn't call it a canoe. It's, obviously, a boat. You're looking at the size of the figures, the amount of people that are in it, the big paraw that's obviously for getting through waves, et cetera. There are also in that... In those cave paintings, there are pictures of deer. Which aren't native to Australia, of course. Yeah.
So, look, it's... I don't know. This is something that's in our stories. Is that... Not a lot of people know about the trade that was ended by the British between Australia and Asia. That was going strong before the British arrived. So, we'd had a long longstanding trade happening, going up into Indonesia and through Asia there. And we had gone back and forth. There's lots of Aboriginal people who've gone up there and married in, over the years. And vice versa down here. This is Makassan people who've married in... Traditionally, into Aboriginal Australia. That isn't talked about very often. And also the trade with new Guinea but beyond as well. I do have a friend who's working on this right now. But it's a very... It's a highly contested area. And he pretty much has to fight his way through it the whole time. Because it doesn't really fit with everybody's picture of what indigenous Australia is and was. But yeah... His family has a story of visiting Hawaii and native Hawaiian words... And the Hawaiians also had the same story of being visited by us.
We were the ones that... Interestingly enough, what we passed on to them... What we traded to them was the rule governed violence that you and I were talking about earlier.
Jamie Wheal: Wow.
Tyson Yunkaporta: That was what we traded to Polynesians.
Jamie Wheal: Yeah. I mean, to me it's just... Our past collectively is far more... Far less, certain and far more interesting than any of the identity politics or even academic models would suggest. So, now talk to me... And as I said, feel free to shoot this to ribbons. But my sense was, probably... I mean... Other than science and technology in its healthy expressions, with tons of collateral damage and tons of overshoots... But other than that, I would argue that the most valuable evolution or innovation or whatever you want to call it... We don't even need to presume it's never been done before, but let's just say it's a thing. Which was that notion French enlightenment of, sort of, extension of rights and privilege to everyone. Regardless of race, color, or creed, right.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Inalienable rights of the individual. Now, shitty execution, total bill of goods emerged at the same time as colonial market-based capitalism, militarization, hegemonic Christianity, you name it... Wrapped in a pile of steaming poo. But potentially a beautiful thing that could lead us to a go global... A shared global humanity, right? Not delivered on, even close. Used as a stalking horse for all, sorts of, injustices and dominator extractive. But on the other hand, would you say, "Yes, that is a good idea and worthwhile." Or would you take a sort of a healthy, tribalist... A bio-regional tribalism of like, "Stop trying to square the circle. That creates..." Because I remember in your book, you were like, "Hey, stop trying to fix things-"
Jamie Wheal: Neither of those things.
Tyson Yunkaporta: ... Solve things, figure things out.
Jamie Wheal: Yep.
Tyson Yunkaporta: What would...? How would you respond?
Jamie Wheal: Just get you baseline data, right first. Get the story right. Is what I'd say. And then go from there. Because we are where we are. But, yeah. Look, it's just... And here's where people get cranky [inaudible 01:14:32]. Here's where people get a bit upset and they get a bit incandescent. They can't really express themselves. But it's so disingenuous of civilizations to, basically, plant themselves on top of a system that's already doing that. That's already doing the relationality.
Tyson Yunkaporta: ... the relationality. And I guess I can get back into that a bit better later with a bit more proofs, et cetera. To completely destroy that, to kill a bunch of people, steal a bunch of land, destroy that land, exponentially grow, create these hierarchies, create caste systems that didn't exist before, basically map this on top of everything else, and then turn around and invent the idea of human rights or something. It's like a turd wrapped in silk. It's like, "Here, we're going to give you these human rights." It's like no, no. "The Western enlightenment is so cool because we're developing this idea of the equality of the rights of man." I don't know. I think people get pissed about the hypocrisy of that and the arrogance of it.
And I think that's why there is so much resistance and kind of just ... I don't know. It's just we're all doing the Trump workshop, like I said, so nobody's listened to anybody before. Nobody's listened to women before, nobody's listened to any of these groups that have been completely annihilated and smashed by these civilizations. They've never been listened to before so it's like, "Fuck it, we'll use our Trump WMDs and we'll just act like complete idiots." You know what I mean?
You see all those YouTube videos of SJWs making no sense and getting owned by someone who's using logic or whatever. It's just like nobody's listened to logic before. We've done so much indigenous scholarship here; there have been so many reports, and reports, and reports; and, God damn it, so much research, so much data, so many recommendations, so many ... Actually everything. And they're never followed. Policy doesn't follow that. So to then just turn around and go, "Yeah, but this colony's bringing you human rights for the first time, you should be really grateful for this. We're bringing you equality." Fuck off! We had that-
Jamie Wheal: Well we're not even bringing you equality. We're giving you a ticket to stand in line, and it's a long line, and we just want you to calm the fuck down. Yeah-
Tyson Yunkaporta: Anybody who's celebrating how fucking ... You know what I mean? It's like, "Yes, yes, yes, this. There were a lot of mistakes made but the enlightenment it did bring about equality for the first time." No. It either ... It didn't bring it about. You created the inequality. Even in your own society you created that inequality and then you provided a few things to throw to people as window dressing to give them hope or a sense of protection. Or you provided these rights' frameworks in order to externalize. We've talked about this before, to externalize the damage from your system, from your caste system that you need to have or you're economy can't grow. And your economy needs to grow or your civilization will collapse. It's just bullshit.
And, look, here's where a lot of the people, like the really good thinkers ... There's still that little germ in there. The really good thinkers who are trying to change things; who are trying to create a game B, a different way of being in the world, the new systems of government and economies that will actually be sustainable, and will be good for everybody. Really good project, nobody else I know or nothing I've seen is even getting close, but I think-
Jamie Wheal: Nor me.
Tyson Yunkaporta: ... it's a blind spot. It's a blind spot to still be trying to put the enlightenment, et cetera, on a pedestal. And I feel like, for some people ... Some people are attracted to that kind of movement, I think, just out of a sense of, "Okay, so how can we change things in a way that I get to keep my shit?" So a lot of people have-
Jamie Wheal: I think a lot of Silicon Valley Libertarians-
Tyson Yunkaporta: Intellectual ...
Jamie Wheal: ... are all about that. Yeah.
Tyson Yunkaporta: And this isn't just material capital. It's like, "Yes, of course I'll keep my material capital," just like all the white South Africans have kept all of theirs. "We'll do truth and reconciliation." Whereby, as long as you talk about ... You tell how many people you murdered to make that money we'll let you keep the fucking money. It's the same thing. So when I talk about capital I'm not just talking about wealth, or material wealth, I'm talking about people's intellectual and culture capital. So people who have status through those things, they're sort of starting to go, "Oh people don't like this anymore. Everything's falling apart, it's anarchy. We're going to have to ... How am I going to keep all my shit? How will I keep my capital?"
Tyson Yunkaporta: So I can certainly understand why people would be looking to do that. But at the same time I'm right there with them because I have this ... I've just come in with a different motivation, because I have a sense of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There's good stuff in there and you don't want to lose that.
Jamie Wheal: Well good stuff in where? In the enlightened experiment or-
Tyson Yunkaporta: In the Western enlightenment, the Renaissance, the whole thing. I quite like Dante and I wouldn't like to see a world without him in it. You know what I mean?
Jamie Wheal: Yeah. Well, I mean, I'm curious. I mean, for me, I have put a bit of a ... Stake in the ground is far too melodramatic but, I mean, the notion that there is something in the seeds of the enlightenment, of extension of rights and values beyond peasants, and serfs, and feudalism, and that kind of thing, that was valuable. It sounds like you're saying, "Hey, there was a fork in the road earlier, where you guys jumped the shark," right?
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yep.
Jamie Wheal: So the question is if the way out is through, we can't wind back clocks, at least in that branch yes.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah.
Jamie Wheal: What I'm hearing you saying is saying for a time immemorial indigenous societies had more egalitarianism, had greater gender balance, had functioning-
Tyson Yunkaporta: And, look, at the same time ...
Jamie Wheal: ... ecologies of being.
Tyson Yunkaporta: We've experimented with unequal systems the same way. That rears its ugly head every now and then but it doesn't last long. The law of the land takes care of that. Look I keep seeing ... There are a lot of scholars who are kind of proving that, "No, no, indigenous people were just as hierarchical, and just as tyrannical, and just as caste system based, et cetera, et cetera." And I just get sick of reading through. I'm like, "When's this chapter going to end?" Because I've lost interest right from the start, when it says, "When did this happen? This tribe that you're studying, you're recounting the history?" "Oh, yeah, in the 1800s. In the 1800s these tribes started amalgamating into one big kingdom and developing a caste system, and all this stuff." Like in New Guinea, in ... There's heaps of them. But it always seems to happen just at the moment when colonists arrive. Like just innocently and walking around in their pith helmets going, "Hello. Hello. Nice to meet you. Lovely. What"-
Jamie Wheal: [crosstalk 01:23:21] "Terribly sorry, we're going to take away all your things."
Tyson Yunkaporta: ... "your kingdom. Oh you've made a pyramid, you're chopping off the head." It's like come on man. Can you not see that that's a variable? That your arrival is a variable and that you didn't just arrive, like you took a massive piece of the coastline and displaced like eight tribes, and killed a bunch of people. Then the refugees from that are fleeing into the interior, where there's no fucking space for them. And that completely disrupts everything, everybody's got to try and take these people in, everything's disrupted, everything's mixed up, and somebody realizes, "We're going to need to be able to have a large standing army like these invading pricks have, so we're going to have to band together and form a different kind of civilization."
Then these fucking early amateur anthropologists come in and take all that data down, and go, "Oh look, see? They're doing the same thing as we're doing"-
Jamie Wheal: In their state of nature ... Yeah, this is how it-
Tyson Yunkaporta: "They're doing the same things we're doing they're just not doing it as well because they're primitives, they have smaller brains, blah di blah. Oh my God." So I'm actually sick of people putting those up as examples. And what's the point of that? Are you just trying to debunk these entire languages and cultures that are built on relationality?
I did an interview with a Samoan fella yesterday who was talking about the concept of vā. And that is the space in between two siblings, basically, at its smallest unit. So people ask me all the time, "Well so your indigenous models of a community, yet that's good and that works but it doesn't" ... They can't scale past the dumb bar number. How do you scale it because this is the dumb bar thing? Once you get more than 150 or 300 people then the transparency thing isn't there, so the trust isn't there and the system breaks down, and it doesn't work.
Well I usually show people on a fern leaf to show the basic units of that and then how they actually fractally repeat out. So basically you have a ... So you're an autonomous person but you are linked to this other autonomous person. And this is exactly the same as the Samoan idea of vā. You have that relation there. So you're a pair and then that actually comes out into this network of pairs. So each person is a completely autonomous entity that belongs to a collective. That collective itself is an autonomous entity that is linked to other collectives. And that cluster of collectives is an autonomous entity that is linked to others. You kind of see the fractal nature of it? So that-
Jamie Wheal: Not only do I see it, I quote you extensively on exactly this section. That there's kinship pairs finding other kinship pairs and then expanding into these-
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. So that's how it scales. That's how indigenous governance and economic models scale, they scale fractally. And it's always that relation and there's a mutually assured creation, not mutually assured destruction. There's a mutually assured creation because you are both bound within that relation to do that or you're both finished. So there's that vā, that space in between two siblings, and that's where all your knowledge as a pair sits. And you are bound, within your cultural obligations, to beautify that space; to basically increase the combinatorials in that space, to increase the complexity of knowledge in that space and then out to the next people that you're connected to. So all your relations ... And I'm talking even with non-human relations, your relationship to places, and to non-human animals, plants, et cetera. You're bound by those relations. All your knowledge sits there, it doesn't sit in your brain. Your mind is in those relational spaces and you're bound to do that.
So everything in your bioregion ... That's that one entity and that's autonomous, and has spirit. That networks across with the next bioregion or with a bioregion on the other side of Australia. These are all connected, on our continent, by songlines. So this is like an internal map, mapping, that's also in the landscape but you have it in your mind as a map. And it's in song form but it's also visual, it's narrative. But it's very accurate. So I was talking to an [Arni 01:28:21] the other night and her grandfather was a blind man who did the thousands kilometers walk. He did it six times in his life while he was blind.
Jamie Wheal: Wow!
Tyson Yunkaporta: On his own. He sang his way along those songline maps from Western Australia to Uluru at the center of Australia. And he did that trip six times because he was a senior man who had to go for ceremony.
Jamie Wheal: Whoa!
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. Just absolutely amazing. And just being able to have such relational connections with every entity of every animal, every plant, along that way that even blind you'd be able to forage enough food to do that. This is the kind of relationality that we're talking about.
So yeah, we had that. And, I guess, yeah we're very grateful that you're bringing us human rights. Thanks. That's awesome. Yeah, we'll keep that bit. We'll keep that part, we'll keep the human rights. That's a good idea. You invented that. We'll give you that. There you go, you can have that. We'll say you invented that, just please stop hitting us.
Jamie Wheal: Yeah. Yeah.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah.
Using Indigenous Wisdom For Greater Connetedness
Jamie Wheal: So this is one that we can ... This is ours, we can conclude with this, but it's ... In [Santoki 01:29:54] I think you talked about that. You talked about the busyness, the cleverness, the constant striving to solve things, fix things, build things, change things versus slowing down, listening, focusing on relatedness and connectedness. And yet, right?
And there have been, whether it's Chief Joseph saying, "I will fight no more forever," whether it's Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse; it's the Dalai Lama and his response to the Chinese, like maybe this is part of the process; all the way to David Reich and the genetic constant churn of migration, and settlement, and conquest, and assimilation, and all these things ... If indigenous thinking is to save the world, but it has been so violently out competed by dominator hierarchies, how do we create the space for it or how do we change the parameters of that contest?
I mean and I ... Even in languaging, and I'm collapsing it into certain thought forms, but how would we create space going forward for more of that bioregional, place-based, community-based, connectivity? Given that, in the last four or five hundred years, as maladaptive as it is, technologically-enabled colonialism and conquest has actually out competed other subtler, potentially more sustainable, life ways.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Well, look, we're surviving this and we're keeping all this for you. Yeah. For your future generations. We're keeping all this knowledge for you. And we'll still be here and it'll still be there. I don't know if the temperature will be conducive to life by that stage or anything, but yeah. No, we're here. And a lot of us are angry, and a lot of us are dysfunctional, but we're angry and dysfunctional as individuals. As communities ... Look, we don't really care what one individual knows or holds in their head, their expertise, or their knowledge, or anything like that. Like anything that I know that's community property, that belongs to my community. So that's known in the community and that's part of our community knowledge, and that will be passed onto the next generation. So our community still has all this knowledge. There's no single individual who knows it all but it still resides in our communities.
Basically engaging and belonging, in a community like that, and engaging an entire community of minds is the only way you can unlock that or access it. So, I guess, when you figure out how to come as a community to sit with a community then it's all there for you.
But, also, dialogue. So I was telling that Samoan fella yesterday that a lot of my clan, the women's dancers in ceremony, the same ceremonies we've done forever, but a lot of the dances have changed. The women's dancers are hula now. So in North Queensland, because of the amount of cultural exchange that's happened with Polynesia, women are now, over the last few decades, have started dancing the hula. And that that's the dance that most women do in ceremony.
Jamie Wheal: Hm. Wow.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah. So yeah, we have a lot of ... It's still the same culture but we have a lot of different exchanges happening with different technologies, different ways of being, all these kinds of things. These happen all the time. This is what we've always done, as human beings we do this, and communities interact there's amazing hybridities that emerge but they do emerge slowly and carefully. You can't just, "Oh I can do CRISPR, so let's make that, and then we'll figure out what kind of regulations we need to put in place to stop it from killing everything and everyone." You know? It's like before you make CRISPR you sit down, and everybody sits down for a long time. There's 10 years of yarns to be had before you even put that thing together, at least.
Jamie Wheal: Well I'm going to ... Go ahead.
Tyson Yunkaporta: You can't just make the thing. Yeah.
Jamie Wheal: Well I'm going to take some comfort in your story of hula but also how that connects to you said members of a clan going to South America and finding their long-lost cousins, and the sharing, and the crosspollination, and the making it to Hawaii, and the sharing of sanctioned community violence, and even just the fact that you're saying, "Hey, we're not going anywhere." I mean, we can have romantic stories of noble savages and reservations, or tragedy, whatever. That's still us all still telling more stories, but what can we do? Well just that you guys are still where you are and being who you are, keeping the stories alive and holding the wisdom in the aggregate, in the generations-
Tyson Yunkaporta: That's it.
Jamie Wheal: ... and perhaps we can keep on keeping on together.
Tyson Yunkaporta: Yeah.