Map image: This map is NOT SUITABLE FOR USE IN NATIVE TITLE AND OTHER LAND CLAIMS. David R Horton, creator, © Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS and Auslig/Sinclair, Knight, Merz, 1996. No reproduction allowed without permission.
The words ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘Indigenous’ simplify – at times over-simplify – the true nature of our languages and culture.
Before the arrival of British colonisers in 1788, Australia was inhabited by the Indigenous peoples - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Our First Australians. There were over 500 different nations around the continent, all with distinctive cultures, beliefs and languages. Many were as geographically close to each other as the French are to the Italians - and are just as different, if not more so.
LANGUAGE & CULTURE
Clues to the special nuances of a particular Aboriginal culture – ‘a way of being’ that intrinsically connects to Country – can be found in language. This is why saving language is so important. If we save the language, then we save culture. If we save culture, then we have greater connection to Country. Connection to Country is not just connecting to land. It is connecting to all things. Like the difference in our cultures, each geographic area has its own particular systems and requirements. Every area has to be learnt and understood. This knowledge is kept in language. By knowing our language of this place, we then have an opportunity to connect to Country so we can live healthy and peaceful lives.
A LIVING CULTURE
Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders collectively make up 2.4 per cent of the total Australian population. This is approximately 460,000 out of 22 million people*. We are still here. Our cultures are still living. Our culture resides in the past, present and future. So language revitalisation is not just about understanding the past. It is about living our culture today and into the future.