“Aborigine” is the name that they were given by their occupiers, but they have many languages (200 distinct languages before 1788), many clans or tribes each with their own name. For example:
• Koori in the south east
• Nyungarin the south west
• Nangain the south
At the core of their core philosophy was to live in peace with the land, and its life forms. The land could be cultivated, animals hunted, and goods were the mutual responsibility of everyone. Everything was based on a balance between humans and nature. In this way greed was not an issue. To them, to be human was to share. It was a shock to the early European settlers that the native people felt no need to possess somebody else’s territory.
Speaking at the launch of Australia’s celebration of The International Year of World’s Indigenous People 2003 former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating said:
“It might help if we non-Aboriginal Australians imagined ourselves dispossessed of the land we lived on for 50,000 years, and then imagined ourselves told that it had never been ours. Imagine if ours was the oldest culture in the world, and we were told that it was worthless. Imagine if we had resisted this settlement, suffered and died in the defense of our land, and then were told in history books that we had given it up without a fight. Imagine if non-Aboriginal Australians had served their country in peace and war and were then ignored in history books. Imagine if our feats on the sporting field had inspired admiration and patriotism, and yet did nothing to diminish prejudice. Imagine if our spiritual life was denied and ridiculed. Imagine if we had suffered the injustice and then were blamed for it!”
No one knows precisely how long the Kooris have inhabited the land that is known as Australia, but archaeological records place their beginnings at 40,000 years in the south eastern region.
Remains as Museum Pieces
The skeletal remains of thousands of Kooris, became the focus of attention of the British Museums and institutions in the U.K. After 20 years of campaigning for the return of the remains by the Kooris, the British institutions agreed as recently as 2006 to return 10,000 sets of remains. The Indigenous Affairs Minister of Australia, Mal Borough is reported to have said:
“Over the past 100 years, bodies and body parts of Indigenous Australians, have been taken for several reasons, including scientific research.
“Some of the remains are the grandparents of people alive today. Returning these enables the communities to heal”.
Dreamtime.Net Indigenous Australia: Timeline – Pre-Contact
Karvelas, P “Aboriginal Skeletons Head Home”
Jagodzinska, K. Dreamtime
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