Always Was, Always Will Be: it's a shining reminder that the lands we live and work on have always belonged to the Aboriginal people of Australia, and this year's theme for NAIDOC Week. But do you know whose land you are on? Indigenous culture is not homogenous; in fact, there were once over 500 different language groups across Australia, so acknowledging the true owners of the country you're on can be the most basic sign of respect. Here are four ways to discover more about the Traditional Owners of where you live.
AIATSIS MAP OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA
Created by the A ustralian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), their map of Indigenous Australia breaks down the country by language groups using published resources from the 18th century all the way until 1994. Zoom in and find out not just where you live, but also every region from around the country. While the map covers general language group, you'll have to go elsewhere to discover the smaller sub-groups, but it's a great starting point.
The 50 Words Project is a new digital interactive map revamped this NAIDOC Week with the addition of its 60th language, by the innovative minds of The University of Melbourne's Research Unit for Indigenous Language. The project aims to preserve at least 50 words from each Aboriginal language; they've yet to complete the whole map but you can still see the variety of language groups, and maybe add a few new Aboriginal words to your vocabulary!
Gambay, run by First Languages Australia, is another site where you can explore diversity of Aboriginal groups and their languages. Meaning "together" in the Butchulla language of the Hervey Bay, Queensland region, the interactive map is the result of collaboration with language centres from all over the country. Once you've clicked on a group, recordings will pop up, from resources such as educational snippets from ABC Radio's Word Up program.
YOUR COUNCIL WEBSITE
Much of the information about Traditional Owners of your area is readily available and accessible on your council's website. Knowing the name of the owners is one thing; discovering the history and culture behind them is another. Once you've discovered whose land you're on, make the time to search for their Aboriginal Corporation. For example, Collarts is located on the country of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and through the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, you can learn about ancestors, significant places, and engage in their events and services.