A review of Nyoongar responses to severe climate change and the threat of epidemic disease—Lessons from their past
Nyoongar people have lived in the South West of Western Australia for at least 50,000 years. During that time, they experienced significant climate change, including wide variations in temperature and rainfall, and hundreds of metres’ difference in sea levels. Nyoongar people have a long memory, and climate change is described in their stories and in the knowledge they hold about how life was lived in earlier times. There are artifacts and places that have been manipulated to be productive despite severe drought. COVID-19 disrupted the writing of this article, and the authors felt it appropriate to include Nyoongar responses to the threat of epidemic disease brought by Europeans early in their settlement of the area. This review collates existing material generated through Koodjal Jinnung (two-way seeing), a research method that incorporates traditional knowledge and contemporary social and natural sciences about Nyoongar history, to create a description of the resiliency of Nyoongar people under threat from climate change. The article identifies key values and resilience factors underpinning the successful implementation of behavioural and technological mechanisms to negotiate severe climate change and the threat of epidemic disease.