1. The Aboriginal flag was created in the 1970s during the land rights movement. The colours have special meanings. The black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia. The red represents the red earth and the spiritual relationship to the land. The yellow represents the sun the giver of life and protector.
2. The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by a young Thursday Island School student. It is a symbol of unity and identity. The green represents the land, the blue represents the sea, the white represents peace, and the black represents the Torres Strait islander people. The head dress represents the five major Island groups.
3. It is believed that prior to colonization there were about 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken (and approximately 500 different language varieties) in Australia. Since colonisation three quarter of the traditional languages have been lost.
4. There is evidence that aboriginal people have inhabited and cleared the land by use of fire for 120 000 years.
5.In 1876 Trugannini died in Hobart aged 73. The Tasmanian government claimed this was the last Tasmanian Aboriginal despite the surviving clans.
6. In the early 1900s the aboriginal people are excluded from the census and are ineligible for Social Security and agents.
7. It wasn't until 1962 that all aboriginal people were given the right to vote in Commonwealth elections.
8. In traditional Aboriginal life, every baby had two totems, one that their mother gave them and another inherited (bloodline connection). The totem is a symbol of the connection between people and the land and a spiritual link between all Aboriginal people. The totems could be animal, plant, place or condition. The clan then protects these.
9. NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Commemoration) is intended as a week of celebrations of Aboriginal history and rich culture.
10. There is an Australian Aboriginal anthem written by Hollis Maris (1934 to 1986).
Australian Aboriginal Anthem
I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this land, like a gnarled gum tree
I am the river softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea
My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages that dance on the plain
I'm the snow, the wind and the falling rain
I'm part of the rocks and the red desert earth
Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Through the rainforest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new
There was emu, wombat, kangaroo
No other man of different hue
I am this land
And this land is me
I am Australian.
Acknowledgement: The VACCA references has been a source of some of the information in this article.
Jeni, your article is great. It seems we have come a long way since the early days of white settlement, but there is a long, long way to go yet in terms of healing the pain and heartache inflicted particularly upon the "stolen generation", and honoring the unique Aboriginal cultures which remain.