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Five amazing facts about Indigenous Australians

The majority of recommendations from an inquiry into the Stolen Generation haven't been implemented. (AAP)

Australia has a rich Indigenous history that in many ways influences modern Australian values and culture.

1.    Oldest living culture in the world  

Abriginal traditonal dancers at Uluru

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander go back to at least 50,000 years. Some argue that it is longer than that and closer to 65,000 years.

 2.    More than 250 Australian Indigenous languages exist

Noeleen Lumby teaches Aboriginal languages to children at St Johns High School, Sydney
Noeleen Lumby teaches Aboriginal languages to children at St Johns High School, Sydney

Today less than 20 languages are spoken by all Indigenous groups. The precise number of Australian Indigenous languages is unknown, but according to the National Indigenous Languages Survey, it was thought that when colonists arrived, there were over 250 languages. In recent times, 100 of those languages became unspoken, and the rest are highly endangered.

3.    Australian English borrows more than 400 words from Aboriginal languages

Aboriginal maps
Aboriginal language map
Australian Geographic

Most of the words borrowed from the Indigenous languages are nouns. Some of these words are koala, wombat, barramundi, kookaburra, boomerang, yakka and bung - which is an adjective for bad or diseased.

View a condensed list here.

Also, the word kangaroo comes from an Aboriginal word. The word originated from Captain James Cook's visit to what is now called Cooktown to do some repairs on his ship.

4.    Avoidance practices

Indigenous gallery warning, NITV

Many cultural protocols govern Indigenous communities. When it comes to death, members of some cultures refrain from mentioning the name of, or viewing images of deceased persons as a sign of respect to the person as well to their grieving family.

The avoidance period may last anywhere from 12 months to several years, and the length of this time is determined by the community. This has been reflected in the Australian media, where journalists need to respect these practices and refrain from using names of deceased people.

5. Dream Time: Aboriginal cultural and spiritual identity

Aboriginal Art

Dream time refers to the Indigenous understanding of the world's creation. It is a continuing story that never ends. Unlike other religions, Aboriginal people do not put humans on a level higher than nature. They believe that some of their ancestors changed into nature, where they live spiritually.

Learn more about First Australian stories here.


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