Aboriginal Awareness, a look at the culture of Australian aboriginals.

Essay by candyapples April 2003

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Growing Awareness of

Aboriginal Culture

Culture, according to the Macquarie Dictionary, is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings which is transmitted from one generation to another.

At contact there was no single, homogeneous Aboriginal society, groups differed in aspects of their cultural and social organisations.

Existence of widespread social networks meant that people had to be multilingual to communicate, like wise music and dance, kinship systems, art forms and ceremonies differed dramatically between regions. Yet these differences were probably less important then the underlying similarities which brought groups together for ceremonies, trade, to intermarry and which allowed the maintenance of myths, song lines and exchange cycles that extended over hundreds of kilometres.

The Dreamtime, or Aboriginal Dreaming, refers to stories about the creation period. It is part of a complex system of beliefs and spirituality governing the whole lifestyle of the Aboriginal people.

Religious and spiritual beliefs affected all aspects of Aboriginal life, including which foods people were permitted to eat, marriage laws, and the designs that were carved or painted on implements and weapons.

Knowledge of the law and of religion and of the Dreaming stories was acquired progressively. The elders in each group possessed the traditional knowledge and passed it on to the younger generation at particular ceremonies.

Today much detailed religious knowledge has been lost due to the effects of white settlement.

Terms such as tribes, clans, clusters and so on, are used somewhat loosely in English but for Aboriginal society there were very clear laws and kinship systems which determined the society structure of any group.

The Aboriginal people used the resources of the land with expertise. Their movements in search of food were not random but in response to seasonal availability of resources. The waterways,