Aboriginal Australian culture is an incredibly rich and diverse set of beliefs and approaches to living that can look very different depending on where in Australia you might be looking. Regardless of where the tribe may be located, however, there are consistently a set of elements that connect these beliefs. In this article, we take a look at what these are to give you a much better understand of what Aboriginal culture in Australia can look like.
Family and land ownership
Although you might be looking to buy contemporary Aboriginal art to learn more about the culture of Aboriginal people, their beliefs are not always present in their artforms (despite their incredible beauty). Our first point is a great example of this – the kinship and family ties of Aboriginal tribes is one of the most important elements in all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, as these groups develop very strong and interrelated family values that are much more complex and intricate than most Western family structures. Families in Aboriginal culture often apply kinship terms that give every member of a society a ‘skin’ name to help them relate to the greater tribe – not just their immediate family – In a familial sense – think terms that we might also be used to, such as ‘mother’, ‘grandfather’, ‘sister’ and ‘nephew.’ Land is often treated in the same way, as tribes form very strong ties to specific lands and waters in Australia, and these ties form the foundations of identity. In areas deemed as traditional country, there are many sites that have been labelled as sacred due to events in the ancestral past, and this classification grows stronger as time passes. Land is also represented as native plants and animals that are present, as these must be tended to by traditional owners of the land.
Understanding language and ceremony
Although unknown by many, there is no single language in Aboriginal culture – languages changed with the tribe and are linked to specific geographical locations. Although there was no basic common language, neighbouring tribes could understand each other to some extent, but there was no sharing of these languages or unification of separate languages. This individuality contributes further to the understanding of identity in Aboriginal culture, and this is most effectively demonstrated through the caring for country with ceremony demanding the regular upkeep and maintenance of local languages. Ceremonies are also highly important means of expression for Aboriginal culture, just as they are for every other human culture to exist on earth. There exist a huge variety of these ceremonies that are linked to certain rites and ceremonies. These might include the caring for country with sacred songs and practices, and gender-specific initiations, with many of these ceremonies serving to reinforce the networks of responsibility within Aboriginal communities. It is also the belief of Aboriginal cultures that the improper maintenance of ceremonies will inevitably cause the country to suffer and lead to tis people become disorientated
The laws tying everything together
As with Western society, laws tie all of the above mentioned things together in Aboriginal society. These traditional laws are implemented across every possible way of life, including the management of relationships, initiation of ceremony, understanding flora and fauna and enacting any punishments when important laws are broken. As with our own culture, abiding by laws ensures harmony and the ability to live a carefree life.