More Than Just a Didgeridoo

When most people think of the Aborigines of Australia, they probably think of boomerangs, didgeridoos, and maybe Ayers Rock. It’s difficult to describe the Aborigines all at once because their traditions and culture vary from region to region. The returning boomerang was only used in south-eastern Australia and the didgeridoo was used along the northern coast. Before the British started colonizing Australia in 1788, there were more than 400 tribes. The groups that lived in the arid interior of the continent were untouched by European influence until the 1940’s.

aboriginalsSome say the Aboriginal culture is one of the oldest surviving cultures because the people have kept up with many of their traditions without being influenced by the incoming European cultures. Up until the 1960’s, the majority of the Aborigines were still using the old methods of using sharpened stone to create necessary products. They have also maintained their religions, which vary from region to region but have the same basic structure. The landscape plays a very important part in Aboriginal religious beliefs and prominent landmarks either represent a deity or something the deity did during the Creation Period. This Creation Period is important to their beliefs because it is the foundation for everything. They also call it the Dreamtime and they believe that dreams are a way of seeing back into the Creation Period.

The culture of the Aborigines is important to Australia because it represents the foundation of their country. Their flag is one of the

Australian Aboriginal Flag

Australian Aboriginal Flag

Official Flags of Australia. They are proud of their culture and they want the world to be aware of it, but they want to try to keep as much of their ceremony and ritual as secret as possible to preserve their tradition.

20% of the land in Australia belongs to the Aborigines. How would things be different in America if 20% of the land belonged to the Native Americans? Do you think Australia did a better job at preserving the culture of the Aborigines than America did at preserving the culture of the Native Americans? Should the Aborigines be left to their own devices or should they be more integrated into modern life in order to make their lives “easier”?

–Katie Mixer



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2 responses to “More Than Just a Didgeridoo”

  1. Will Leonard says :

    I like the way Australia had set aside land for the Aborigines. I’m not sure if such a system would have worked in the U.S. or not. I do think that they have done a much better job at preserving their local ways than here. I’m not sure if they should be left alone or not though, as the country grows they are going to further encroach on the land that has been set aside. This seems to be an inevitability. I’m not sure of the best way to introduce modern society to these people either. I assume it would be a system similar to the Amish in which they have their own areas and don’t pay taxes. I wonder if there is any kind of statute of limitations on how long the arrangement will go?

  2. Jen Diehl (@WhtstheDiehlio) says :

    I actually really enjoyed reading this blog post! I think Australia has done a great job of preserving this culture and I wish that the U.S. had done as good a job as them at preserving the culture of Native Americans. Unfortunately, now we know Native American culture as gift shops and reservations out West. I think it would be very different if 20% of our land still belonged to Native Americans. They were cruelly kicked off their own land and were forced onto reservations. I personally think it is important to have knowledge of history and everything that came before us. About 10 years ago, I took a trip to South Dakota with my Dad and got to see some really amazing sites. At one particular tourist attraction, there was an exhibit featuring Native American dancers. 10 years ago, I thought this was cool. Looking back, it kind of makes me sad. Americans know so little about the Native American culture that they will actually pay to see exhibits such as these while on vacation.

    I think the Aborigines should be left to their own devices and should not be pressured by modern technology, if that is how they chose to live. They are not bothering anyone by preserving their heritage, so why should they stop or change? In my one class this semester, we learned about a small country by the Himalayas called Bhutan. This small country only lets in a small number of visitors each year in order to preserve their culture. I think this is fascinating as well as what the Aborigines are trying to do because American historic sites have become so over-commercialized that we sometimes lose sight of its origins.

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