ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA ART & CULTURE
CENTRE - ALICE SPRINGS
100% Aboriginal owned & operated
According to Aboriginal belief, all life as it is today - Human,
Animal, Bird and Fish is part of one vast unchanging network of
relationships which can be traced to the great spirit ancestors
of the Dreamtime.
The Dreamtime continues as the "Dreaming" in the spiritual
lives of aboriginal people today. The events of the ancient era
of creation are enacted in ceremonies and danced in mime form.
Song chant incessantly to the accompaniment of the didgeridoo
or clap sticks relates the story of events of those early times
and brings to the power of the dreaming to bear of life today.
THE SACRED WORLD
The Dreamtime is the Aboriginal understanding
of the world, of it's creation, and it's great stories. The Dreamtime
is the beginning of knowledge, from which came the laws of existence.
For survival these laws must be observed.
The Dreaming world was the old time of the Ancestor Beings. They
emerged from the earth at the time of the creation. Time began
in the world the moment these supernatural beings were "born
out of their own Eternity".
The Earth was a flat surface, in darkness. A dead, silent world.
Unknown forms of life were asleep, below the surface of the land.
Then the supernatural Ancestor Beings broke through the crust
of the earth form below , with tumultuous force.
The sun rose out of the ground. The land received light for the
Dreamtime painting by Norbett Lynch
supernatural Beings, or Totemic Ancestors, resembled creatures or
plants, and were half human. They moved across the barren surface
of the world. They travelled hunted and fought, and changed the form
of the land. In their journeys, they created the landscape, the mountains,
the rivers, the trees, waterholes, plains and sandhills. They made
the people themselves, who are descendants of the Dreamtime ancestors.
They made the Ant, Grasshopper, Emu, Eagle, Crow, Parrot, Wallaby,
Kangaroo, Lizard, Snake, and all food plants. They made the natural
elements : Water, Air, Fire. They made all the celestial bodies :
the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. Then, wearied from all their activity,
the mythical creatures sank back into the earth and returned to their
state of sleep.
Sometimes their spirits turned into rocks or trees or a part of the
landscape. These became sacred places, to be seen only by initiated
men. These sites had special qualities.
" OUR LAND OUR LIFE "
'We don't own the land, the land owns us'
'The Land is my mother, my mother is the land'
'Land is the starting point to where it all began. It is like picking
up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is
where I will go'
'The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity'
'We don't have boundaries like fences, as farmers do. We have spiritual
means many things to many people. To a farmer, land is a means of
production and the source of a way of life. It is economic sustainability.
To a property developer, it is a bargaining chip and the means of
financial progress and success. To many Australians, land is something
they can own if they work hard enough and save enough money to buy
it. To Indigenous people land is not just something that they can
own or trade. Land has a spiritual value.
THE HUMAN WORLD
We are the Indigenous people of Australia. Aboriginal
people are those traditional cultures and lands lie on the mainland
and most of the islands, including Tasmania, Fraser Island, Palm
Island, Mornington Island, Groote Eylandt, Bathrust and Melville
Islands. The term "Aboriginal" has become one of the most
disputed in the Australian language.
The Commonwealth definition is social more than racial, in keeping
with the change in Australian attitudes away from racialistic thinking
about other people. An Aboriginal person is defined as a person
who is a descendant of an Indigenous inhabitant of Australia, identifies
as an Aboriginal, and is recognised as Aboriginal by members of
the community in which she or he lives.
This definition is preferred by the vast majority of our people
over the racial definitions of the assimilation era. Administration
of the definition, at least by the Commonwealth for the purposes
of providing grants or loans, requires that an applicant present
a certificate of Aboriginality issued by an incorporated Aboriginal
body under its common seal.
Sometimes non-Aboriginal people get confused by the great range
and variety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, from the traditional
hunter to the Doctor of Philosophy; from the dark-skinned to the
very fair; from the speaker of traditional languages to the radio
announcer who speaks the Queen's English. The lesson to be learned
from this is that we should not stereotype people ; that people
are different, regardless of race.
Our people, of course, did not use the word "Aborigene"
(from the latin ab, origin meaning "from the beginning"
to refer to ourselves before the coming of non-Aborigenes. Everyone
was simply a person.