" Our story is in the land it is written in those sacred places.
My children will look after those places, that's the law. "
For many thousands of years, our ancestors have been travelling across
our country.. Now also, you can share this experience with us. And
there's no better place to start than Australia 's Northern Territory.
For Aboriginal people, "country" does not just mean the
creeks, rock outcrops, hills and waterholes. "Country includes
all living things. It incorporates people, plants and animals. It
embraces the seasons, stories and creation spirits. "country"
is both a place of belonging and a way of believing.
Through our travels we have sustained and celebrated our knowledge
of our "country". It is an experience vividly expressed
in our traditional songs, stories, dance and art.
We are proud to share many aspects of our land, art and culture with
visitors. Indeed there has never been a better time to make your own
journey to our " country". From desert dunes to tropical
shores, there are astonishing contrasts in the landscape. Aboriginal
cultures reflect this diversity. More than 40 indigenous languages
are still spoken in the Territory.
The cultures encompass many different responses to history and homelands.
And they include traditions both old and new.
This diversity is what makes the experience of travelling Australia's
Northern Territory so rewarding. The power of the land endures. And
to appreciate "country", you need to live it and feel it.
By sharing a campfire, witnessing art and listening our language and
stories, it becomes possible to see our land and its people in a new
ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
Aboriginal people comprise 25 % of the Northern Territory's population
and own nearly 50 % of the land. Nowhere else in Australia do Indigenous
people have a stronger presence. Our strength is embedded in ties
to our country. These ties have ensured the resilience of our people
and their traditions for thousands of years. Aboriginal people believe
we have been here "forever". According to current scientific
theories, it is thought that Aborigines have occupied Australia
for over 60,000 years - and possibly more than 100,000 years.
Over this immense span of time, waves of cultural changes have kept
across our continent, reflected in new tools and implements, social
structures and ceremonial practices and myths. Some of these shifts
were caused by changes in climate and natural resources. In the
process Aboriginal groups developed effective solutions for living
off the land, including the use of seasonal moves and fire to sustain
Other changes may have been prompted by a long history of contact,
particularly in the Top End, with Melanesian and Indonesian cultures.
However, the most upheavals resulted from European settlement. The
removal of our land meant we lost the heart of our religious life
and the basis for our economic survival. In recent decades, however,
the gradual return of lands to traditional custodians has helped
us reaffirm the practices and beliefs tied to "country".
Aboriginal cultures have many faces and a multitude of voices. Every
stretch of country possesses its own creation ancestors, sacred
places, languages, ceremonies, totems, art, clan groupings and law.
There are desert people like us and saltwater people, people of
the stone country and people of the islands. And there are many
people who live in "town" but who still call these places
For all this phenomenal diversity there remain similarities. Among
different clan groups there are mutual responsibilities and common
values. These links have been maintained through generations of
working together on trade routes, ceremonial sites and the dreaming
tracks that cross borders - and the continent itself. In the Northern
Territory you travel a land of contrasts, where people have also
long celebrated their common ground.