As we live in this fast pace society where technological advancements exist, we tend to neglect the things that are happening outside our community. If we only can see the world beyond our comfort zone, where we can realise that life never ends with the things that we already knew. There are more to be discovered in this world, just like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ways of living.
Aboriginal communities are known for following the ancient ways of living amid today’s modernisation. Focus on culture-centred and traditional living which has been practised over millennia is and will be a part of our communities for all of time.
For us to know more of this, let us first go deeper in understanding my communities and all Indigenous communities.
“To us, health is about so much more than simply not being sick. It’s about getting a balance between physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual health. Health and healing are interwoven, which means that one can’t be separated from the other.”
- Dr Tamara Maclean, Australia's First Female Aboriginal Doctor
Dr Tamara Mackean is known as a Walden woman of the Goldfields region of Western Australia. She is the Chairperson of the RACP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee. As a doctor, working in our communities she has a unique and immersive understanding of the tribal culture and traditions that we possess.
Through the quote, it highlights the need to balance the physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual health in our lives. Our faith drives our strong belief to the Great Spirit. This is always connected to our healing practices.
“At the Sunrise Ceremony, I meditate and ask the Great Spirit for direction. My hands fill with electricity. I touch you, and you feel it, too. I heal people this way. My Grandmother did that, too. I learned all about that when I was a young fellow… We learn to respect the elders who hand on the Law. The elder's guard The Lore and the Law guard the people. This is the Law that comes from the mountain. The mountain teaches the dreaming.”
-Guboo Ted Thomas, Australian Indigenous Elder
The quote reveals the Aboriginal tradition in meditation and seeking for the Great Spirit’s direction. However, the quote uses terms which are implied indirectly which needs to be decoded. For us to fully understand this, we can relate this to the historical background of different Aboriginal communities.
A term used in the quote is “Lore.” In consideration of our tribal history, we possess a strong urge of respecting and following of Indigenous wisdom. The Aboriginal society maintains a broad emphasis on our ancient beliefs which relate to the lore, and this is followed to this day by members of our communities.
“Being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders is not the colour of your skin or how broad your nose is. It is a spiritual feeling, an identity you know in your heart. ... It is a unique feeling that is difficult for non-Aboriginal people to fully understand."
- Australian Aboriginal saying
Unlike other spiritual beliefs, the Aboriginal community holds a unique perspective in dealing with a person’s Aboriginally though between the years of 1910 to the 1940s, sadly, our people were racially profiled by the Australian Government.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander populations were divided into four classifications. The “full-blood,” an indigenous Australian with two black parents. Then, “half-caste,” the aboriginals with one white parent. A “quadroon” or “quarter-caste,” has an Aboriginal grandparent. Lastly, the “octoroon,” where you have great grandparents as your aboriginal roots.
However, contrary to popular belief that most Aboriginals and/or Torres Strait Islanders are easily identified by how they look like, the true understanding of being Indigenous does not need any document to confirm his or her indigenous roots. Yes, an Aboriginal is somebody who is a direct descendant of an indigenous person. However, they may be people who “identify” as an Aboriginal. This means that he or she is a person who eats, lives and breathes the culture of the aboriginal race they are identifying with. Aboriginality may also mean being welcomed by the indigenous community that a person is associating with.
A saying within our communities that you have a "black heart" describes non-Indigenous people who intuitively and respectfully understand our culture. Analysis of the 2006 census reveals that 52% of Aboriginal men and 55% of Aboriginal women were married to non-Aboriginal Australians.
In Australia's larger east coast cities, the intermarriage rate was well above 70%; in Sydney, as many as nine out of 10 university-educated Aborigines had a non-indigenous partner.
Linda Burney, the first indigenous person elected to the New South Wales parliament, said: "It's not the way you look, it's not about the colour of your skin, it's about being accepted and understood as Aboriginal within the community."
Speaking with a non Indigenous women who is excepted into many aboriginal communities she stated "I grew up in rural NSW and had always felt a bond to the land where I grew up it is like an invisible bond that calls me back" I had many preconceived ideas growing up about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander though once I started working with these communities I felt I had come home. It was a mutually respectful relationship, Indigenous sense of time and space, strong bonds within family and acceptance of my wanting to learn culture and lore"
Today we are still engaging in our traditional lifeways which it is mainly focused on peaceful and quiet living. We are at a time in history where Australians are relating more and more to the harmonious life we try and live in, Australians and the world alike are turning towards Indigenous Australians to show then how to keep in tune with nature and their spiritual dimensions.
The Aboriginal community is a model for the world to look to as a way of living with simplicity without luxury. Family, friends, country and lore, the stalwarts of aboriginal communities is coming into its own with mainstream society.
The Aboriginal culture and communities have been a part of the Australis since the Dreamtime. No matter what differences of beliefs we hold, it is important for us to always respect and understand others. Be mindfull!