Indigenous peoples of Australia

Indigenous peoples of Australia

:"For a more complete list of Indigenous peoples of Australia (groups, kinship groups, communities and other collective designations) see List of Indigenous Australian group names"There are several hundred Indigenous peoples of Australia, many are groupings that existed before the British annexation of Australia in 1788. Before Europeans, the number was over 400.

Indigenous Australian peoples or groups will generally talk of their "people" and their "country". These countries [] are ethnographic areas, usually the size of an average European country, with around two hundred on the Australian continent at the time of White arrival.

Within each country, people lived in clan groups – extended families defined by the various forms Australian Aboriginal kinship. Inter-clan contact was common, as was inter-country contact, but there were strict protocols around this contact.

The largest Aboriginal people today is the Pitjantjatjara who live in the area around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and south into the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara in South Australia, while the second largest Aboriginal community are the Arrernte people who live in and around Alice Springs. The third largest are the Luritja, who live in the lands between the two largest just mentioned. The Aboriginal languages with the largest number of speakers today are the Pitjantjatjara, Warlpiri and Arrernte.

Australian Capital Territory

*Ngunnawal people or Ngunnawal people were the first inhabitants of the area which is now occupied by the city of Canberra, Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. They spoke the Ngunnawal language. The city of Canberra is named after the Ngunnawal word 'Kambera'. Many other place names around Canberra are given Ngunnawal names, such as Tuggeranong, Ginninderra, Murrumbidgee, the suburb Ngunnawal and many road names.

New South Wales

*The Cammeraygal (also called Awakabal) were people that inhabited the Lower North Shore area of the present day North Sydney Council in Sydney, Australia. The name 'Cammeraygal' is ensigned on the North Sydney Municipal Emblem and also gave name to the suburb of Cammeray. The Awakabal also lived in the area of present day Newcastle

*The Eora people were the aboriginal occupants of the Sydney region in 1788 when the first European colonists arrived. Some of the words of aboriginal provenance still in use today in Australian English are from the Eora language: dingo, woomera, wallaby, wombat, waratah, boobook owl, wallaroo. Bennelong was a senior member of the Eora people, who served as an interlocutor between the British and Eora people, and travelled to England, and later returned to Australia in 1795. He died at Kissing Point (known now as Ryde) on 3 January 1813. Bennelong Point, where the Sydney Opera House now stands, is named after him. He lived there after he persuaded New South Wales Governor Arthur Phillip to build a brick hut for him on the point.

* Kamilaroi is an Australian Aboriginal people who are from the area between Tamworth and Goondiwindi, west to Narrabri and Lightning Ridge, in northern New South Wales. Kamilaroi mythology includes Baiame, the ancestor or patron god. He was married to Birrahgnooloo, with whom he was the father of Daramulum. The Kamilaroi Highway was named after them.

*The Turuwal people were an Aboriginal sub-group of the Dharug language nation in the area around Wollongong, south of Sydney. They are famous for the name of the boomerang coming from their language.

* Wiradjuri, or Wiradhuri, speak the language of the same name. They occupied a large area of central New South Wales, from the Blue Mountains in the east, to Hay in the west, north to Nyngan and south to Albury. This area includes the towns of Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Dubbo.

*The Wonnarua people (‘people of the hills and plains’) have territory located in the upper Hunter Valley.

Northern Territory

* Alyawarre who live north-east of Alice Springs. In 1980 they lodged a land claim, which was handed back to them on 22 October 1992. The size of the land was 2065 km².
* Anmatjera from an area near Mount Leichhardt, Hann and Reynolds Ranges, and northeast to Central Mount Stuart. Artist Clifford Possum is an Anmatjera man. Emily Kngwarreye was also an Anmatjera woman.
* Arrernte is a language, a group of people, and also an area of land in Central Australia. The population of Arrernte people living on Arrernte land (including Alice Springs) is estimated at 25,000, making it the 2nd largest of all Central Australian Aboriginal countries, after Pitjantjatjara. In most primary schools in Alice Springs, students (of all races and nationalities) are taught Arrernte (or in some cases Western Arrernte) as a compulsory language, often alongside French or Indonesian languages. Additionally, most Alice Springs High Schools give the option to study Arrernte language throughout High School as a separate subject, and it can also be learned at Centralian College as part of a TAFE course. Future plans are that it will be included as a university subject. Approximately 25% of Alice Springs residents speak Arrernte as their first language.

*The Gunivugi people live by the Liverpool River in Arnhem Land. They are Aboriginal people and speak the Ndjébbana language. They hunt dugong, turtle and fish.

* Gurindji, who from 1966 to 1975 at Wave Hill Cattle Station had a strike known as The Gurindji Strike. In 1975, the Australian Labor Party government of Gough Whitlam finally negotiated with the Vesteys to give the Gurindji back a portion of their land. This was a landmark in the land rights movement in Australia for Australian Aborigines to be given rights to their traditional lands.

* Luritja is a name used to refer to several dialects of the Western Desert Language, and thereby also to the people who speak these varieties, and their traditional lands. The Luritja lands include areas to the west and south of Alice Springs, extending around the edge of Arrernte country, which lie roughly between Alice Springs and Uluru. The total population of Luritja people (including Papunya Luritja) is probably in the thousands making them the 3rd largest of the Central Australian Aboriginal populations. It includes the town of Papunya.

*The Murrinh-Patha are a small group, living inland from the settlement of Wadeye, between the rivers Moyle and Fitzmaurice. Their language, also called Murrinh-Patha, is still spoken by about 900. The Murrinh-Patha culture is characterized by typical Native Australian social structure, including a complex kinship system with elaborate behavioral norms for interactions between the different kinship groups.

* Pitjantjatjara is the name of both an Aboriginal people (or Anangu) of the Central Australian desert and their language. Their influence extends from the area near Uluru in the Northern Territory to the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia. Their language is one of the most widely spoken Aboriginal languages.

*Nearly 2,500 Tiwi people live in the Bathurst and Melville Islands, which make up the Tiwi Islands.

* Warlpiri is a large group in the Northern Territory. There are 5,000–6,000 Warlpiri, living mostly in a few towns and settlements scattered through their traditional land, north and west of Alice Springs. Their largest community is at Yuendumu. Many Warlpiri, unlike people from other Aboriginal language and community groups, do not speak even a word of English. Warlpiri are famous for their tribal dances. Many Warlpiri have toured England, Japan, and most recently Russia, performing their dances.

*The Yolngu inhabit north-eastern Arnhem Land in Australia. Some Yolngu communities of Arnhem land re-figured their economies from being largely land-based to largely sea-based with the introduction of Macassan technologies such as dug-out canoes, after the Macassan contact with Australia. These seaworthy boats, unlike their traditional bark canoes, allowed Yolngu to fish the ocean for dugongs and turtles. Some Aboriginal workers willingly accompanied the Macassans back to their homeland across the Arafura Sea. The Yolngu people also remember with grief the abductions and trading of Yolngu women, and the introduction of smallpox, which was epidemic in the islands east of Java at the time.


* The Guugu Yimithirr are another language group. There are still several hundred speakers of the language, mostly living in and around Hopevale, Cooktown, and Wujal Wujal on Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland. The site of modern Cooktown was a meeting place of two vastly different cultures when, in June 1770, the local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr people cautiously watched James Cook's crippled sailing vessel – HM Bark Endeavour – limp up the coast of their territory seeking a safe harbour. kangaroo was to be entered into the English language, coming from the local Guugu-Yimidhirr name for a Grey Kangaroo, which was "gangaroo".
* The Kalkadoon people live in the area around Mount Isa in Western Queensland. There was fighting between the Kalkadoon and police in the nineteenth century; in 1884, 200 of them were massacred at "Battle Mountain", in a fight against police.
*There are a number of Torres Strait Islanders groups inhabiting the Torres Strait Islands between mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea.

South Australia

*The Dieri is an Australian Aboriginal group and (now extinct) language from the South Australian desert -- specifically Cooper and Leigh Creek, Lake Howitt, and Lake Hope, Lake Gregory and Clayton River and low country north of Mount Freeling. The Dieri protested the Marree Man geoglyph, saying that it had caused them harm and was exploiting their Dreamtime stories.

*The Kaurna people have traditional lands in and around the Adelaide Plains. The Kaurna people lived in independent family structures in defined territories called pangkarra. The Kuarna performed circumcision as an initiatory right and were the southernmost community to do so. Sadly, the last surviving speaker of Kuarna as a mother-tongue died in 1931; her name was Ivaritji .

*The Maralinga Tjarutja inhabit the remote western areas of South Australia. They are a Southern Pitjantjatjara people. The Maralinga Tjarutja native title land was handed back to the Maralinga people in January 1985 under legislation passed by both houses of the South Australian Parliament in December 1984 and proclaimed in January 1985. Maralinga people resettled on the land in 1995 and named the place Oak Valley Community. The local Aboriginal people were not warned effectively of the explosions from 1950s nuclear testing and many suffered terrible after-effects from fallout, although the 1984/1985 Royal Commission could find no evidence of this for the Maralinga Tjarutja.

*The Ngarrindjeri is the language and traditional Aboriginal people of the lower Murray River and western Fleurieu Peninsula. The traditional areas extend from Mannum downstream through Murray Bridge and Goolwa and along the coast through Victor Harbor to Cape Jervis to the southwest and around Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert and the Coorong to around Kingston SE. The Ngarrindjeri achieved a great deal of publicity in the 1990s due to their opposition to the construction of a bridge from Goolwa to Hindmarsh Island, including a Royal Commission and a High Court case in 1996. There was an Aboriginal legend about a sea creature called the Muldjewangk which inhabitated the Murray River, particularly Lake Alexendrina.


*20th century historians previously held that Tasmanian Aborigines had become extinct with the death of Truganini in 1873, but this is no longer the accepted view. The original population, estimated at 8,000 people was reduced to a population of around 300 between 1802 and 1833 mainly due to the actions of white settlers who came to Australia from the United Kingdom, combined with disease and cultural disruption. The Black War and subsequent Black Line were turning points in the relationship with European settlers. Even though the various managed to avoid capture during these events, they were shaken by the size of the campaigns against them. Mannalargenna was the leader of the Ben Lomond people (Plangermaireener).


*The Gunai or Kurnai nation live in the area of south eastern Victoria, around Wilson's Promontory, Sale, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Snowy River and Mallacoota. The Gunai people resisted the European invasion of their land. Many were killed in fighting between 1840 and 1850. In 1863 Reverend Friedrich Hagenauer established Rahahyuck Mission on the banks of the Avon River near Lake Wellington to house the Gunai survivors from west and central Victoria.
*The Kulin alliance is one of the indigenous nations of Australia who lived in central Victoria, around Port Phillip where Melbourne now stands, and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys. It included the Wurundjeri and Bunurong clans. On 6 June 1835yutyu where he purported to buy 2,000 km² of land around Melbourne and another 400 km² around Geelong, on Corio Bay to the south-west. In exchange he gave the eight elders, whose marks he acquired on his treaty, a quantity of "blankets, knives, tomahawks, scissors, looking-glasses, flour, handkerchiefs and shirts." By 1863 the surviving members of the Wurundjeri and other Woiwurrung speakers were given 'permissive occupancy' of Coranderrk Station, near Healesville. William Barak was the last ngurungaeta of the Wurundjeri-willam clan. Bunjil is seen as the culture-hero or god of the Kulin people. The Bunurong were referred to by Europeans as the Western Port or Port Philip group.

Western Australia

*The Noongar (alternate spellings: Nyungar/Nyoongar) [1] , are a group of Australian Aboriginal people who live in the south west of Western Australia from Geraldton in the mid west to Esperance on the south coast. The population of the Noongar at the time of European arrival was estimated between 6000 and 10000. The population in the 2001 census was 21000. Yagan was the head of the Beeliar group of Nyungar people when English settlers first arrived in and established the Swan River Colony in 1829. Captain James Stirling declared that the local peoples were British subjects.Fact|date=February 2008 Although the Nyungar at first traded amicably with the settlers, as time wore on, rifts and misunderstandings developed, and attacks and reprisal attacks grew. Yagan was eventually beheaded and is now seen by many as one of the first Indigenous resistance fighters. Yagan's head was taken to Britain by Ensign Robert Dale, where in 1834 it was displayed throughout the country as the head of the "Chief of the Swan River". Many placenames in Western Australia are named after Noongar words, especially ending in "up" or "in/ing" (both meaning "place of" in different dialects) such as Joondalup, Manjimup, Narrogin and Merredin.

*The Spinifex people, or Pila Nguru, have their traditional lands situated in the Great Victoria Desert, in the Australian state of Western Australia, adjoining the border with South Australia, to the north of the Nullarbor Plain. They maintain in large part their traditional hunter-gatherer existence within the territory, over which their claims to Native title and associated collective rights were recognised by a November 28, 2000 Federal Court decision. The Australian Royal Commission was unable to determine if Pila Nguru people had been exposed to damaging levels of radiation from fallout after the nuclear testing near Maralinga in the 1950s.

*The Jarrakan are one of several groups in the north of the state.

External links

* [ Journeys in Time - Australian Aboriginal Tribes] A joint project between Macquarie University and the State Library of New South Wales retrieved 16 January 2007

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