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Flashcards in Contemporary Aboriginal Spiritualities Deck (15)
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Define 'kinship'

- system of relationships (biological & non), traditionally accepted by a particular culture. This defined a person's place in a community.
- rights & obligations involved
The Aboriginal children were educated in this; not unusual to have many mothers, fathers, uncles, etc.
Each kinship had own totems, sacred sites, etc. -> responsibilities


Define 'Ceremonial life' in terms of the Aboriginal spirituality and the Dreaming.
Outline some examples.
What were the roles of the Creation ceremonies?

Celebrating/commemorating something or someone
Included rites of passage, burial rituals, initiation, birth ceremonies, passing on of social information, spiritual, etc.
Gender specific ceremonies -> e.g. birth (women) & initiation (men)
Recreating the tribes -> creation story of a tribe is told. Creation stories are not just the past, the are the present also.
Kept the Dreaming alive


Describe birth ceremonies

The woman giving birth went outside the camp to a shelter, with another woman who had given birth another time. This second woman would assist with the delivery & perform the rituals.
The placenta was buried -> child's connection to the earth
Smoking ceremony -> small fire made of green leaves. The mother would sit over the fire -> assist cleansing & make sure of plenty of milk. The child was also held over it to make it strong & quiet. It was then rubbed with ashes to make it dark-skinned.
Only afterwards was the father allowed to see his child.


Describe the death ceremony. What were some beliefs held about death?

- believed that death was not the end of life. The spirit went back to the land, to the Dreaming sites. These spirits & sites were held in great respect.
Possessions were destroyed, the camp moved, & their names were not to be spoken again. One must be buried in one's own country & sung to rest.
Differed between tribes


What were some of the obligations to the land? Why were they so important

- attachment to land through Dreaming stories
- country is given by ancestor spirits -> very special
Must respect, nurture & maintain balance -> each tribes' responsibility.
-> protecting cultural sites, stories & song lines
-> seasonal harvesting
-> recording plants (modern)
-> remove seeds & weeds
-> teach others about land
-> perform rituals
-> Look after Dreaming sites, archaeological sites, waterholes, burial grounds
Ceremonies help renew spiritual connection to the land & sacred sites.


Quote 1

"We don't own the land, the land owns us."


Quote 2

"The Land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity."


Quote 3

"The land is my backbone… I only stand straight, happy, proud and not ashamed about my colour because I have land… the history of my nation."


Quote 4 - Jeffrey Lee

"When you dig holes in that country, you're killing me. Money don't mean nothing to me. Country is very important to me."


Quote 5

"Destruction is like ripping pages from our library books, it is like cutting the hearts of our people, cutting our identity and our cultural philosophy that sustains our spiritual connectedness to country."


What is the effect of dispossession in terms of separation from the land?

- loss of identity
- loss of culture -> no more Dreaming ceremonies
- spirituality mocked


What is the effect of dispossession from kinship -> Stolen Generations

- unused to white food -> health issues
- reduced life expectancy
- education disadvantages
- couldn't perform ceremonies -> lost
- totems, oral tradition, lifestyle lost


Describe the Mabo Case

Law case between Murray Islander Eddie 'Koiki' Mabo and the QLD government.
Labelled 'terra nullius' as legal fiction, that the land had never been empty, & that in this case, native title did still exist.


Define Native title

The Aboriginal people's right to own land.
Mabo found that it had existed pre-settlement and could still exist if not extinguished by government acts.
Land available to claim if the claimant could prove a continuing connection to the land.


Outline the Wik case

Law case between the government & the Wik people.
Found that native title could co-exist with leased land.