Indigenous Australia

6 Things You Should Know About Indigenous Australia

Please note: I am not an Indigenous person and this post does not and could not replace an Indigenous voice. I am writing this as a non-Indigenous person to other non-Indigenous people in response to an apparent lack of awareness amongst the general public.

“Instead of bragging about Vegemite and Sir Donald Bradman, let’s brag about achievements of Aboriginal people” – Bruce Pascoe, 2017.

  1. The pervasive perception of Aboriginal Australians as hunter gatherers is false. Many Aboriginal Australians could have told you this themselves – but it took Bruce Pascoe revisiting the written accounts of the colonisers to ‘prove’ that some Indigenous communities had towns of over 2,000 people, with surplus food resulting from agriculture and aquaculture.
  2. This evidence of permanent occupation did not bode well for England’s mandate to only colonise unused land through ‘Terra Nullius’ – and the evidence of these settlements were destroyed in many cases.
  3. Aboriginal Australians were grinding grains into flour and baking about 12,000 years before the Egyptians.

    The Stony Rises of Victoria are claimed to have previously been Indigenous settlements. Click on image for more info.
  4. In their diaries, colonial ‘explorers’ write of native grains which were ground into flour and baked into delicious cakes.
  5. Aboriginal communities farmed the land with native grains and yams. The ‘nature’s park’ that first attracted invaders’ stock animals was quickly ruined by the hooves of those animals which compacted the top soil. Australia now depends upon grains which aren’t native to the area. As a consequence of soil degradation and non-native grains – accounts of colonial ‘explorers’ in the archives indicate that Australia’s wheat belt is much smaller now than it was prior to colonisation.
  6. Over at least 60,000 years, Indigenous Australians ensured genetic diversity within their nations through a complicated system of moieties and skin groups. Prince Charles reportedly received tips on genetic diversity from a Pilbara man during his visit in the 1980s.
  7. The Aboriginal Australian culture is the longest known continuing civilisation on this world. This was achieved through sophisticated sets of lores (sometimes referred to as laws) to create a balance between the people and the land in order to ensure the longevity of both.

In my opinion, Indigenous Australian culture is a more advanced culture than the one we have today. If you are puzzled by this, consider the following: What is ‘advanced’ or ‘sophisticated’ about killing the very world that we depend on for our own survival?

There is so much to celebrate about Indigenous Australian culture – so do celebrate this amazing culture, open your eyes and be open to new knowledge.

To learn more, I suggest starting with Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu or Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia. Pascoe’s book revisits archival material from the time of colonisation to disabuse us of the notion of Aboriginal Australians as hunter gatherers.

Bill Gammage’s book explores the landscape paintings from the time of colonisation and argues that the ‘nature’s park’ which was portrayed was not a romanticisation of the environment, but a reflection of active Indigenous land management.

Have a read of my next post “Is Your Collecting Institution Culturally Appropriate?” because.. it probably isn’t.

3 thoughts on “6 Things You Should Know About Indigenous Australia

  1. Good post Annelie. I was especially pleased to follow your links to the stereotype-shattering material on Indigenous farming and fishing and stone housing. Important counter to the stuff we were taught in school.

    1. Isn’t it incredible how pervasive some myths are. I posted this fully expecting negative comments from people who have never heard anything of this sort before

  2. […] Within this space it is problematic to adopt a one size fits all approach. What is deemed appropriate in one community may offend another. Australia is thought to have had upwards of 500 Indigenous language groups prior to colonisation. If you’d like to learn a few more things about why I admire our Indigenous community so much – read my post about 6 Things You Should Know About Indigenous Australia. […]

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