Aboriginal Spirituality - an Atheist View
Lecture given to the Atheist Society on 13 September 2022 by John Perkins.
Aboriginal people have survived in our land for thousands of years. Since white settlement they have suffered violence, injustice and dispossession. That was tragic.
I have a high regard and respect for Aboriginal people. It is not my intention to propose anything that may be detrimental to their welfare. As will be clear later, I would like to suggest that certain policy proposals may be a product of wishful thinking rather than rational analysis.
Over the years, I have travelled around Australia, in the outback, camping out in the desert. I love the bush and still go there often. I have a special affection for the outback. The big skies, the colours, the terrain, and especially the remoteness, combine to give it an almost magical quality. I can understand how people can have an emotional attachment to the land. I share it.
On a recent trip in 2019, I went to Alice Springs via the Oodnadatta Track, passing through Broken Hill, Arkaroola. Leigh Creek, Marree, William Creek and Oodnadatta. I try to make contact with Aboriginal people where possible. I will recount an incident that happened on this trip.
After reaching the Stuart Highway and heading north towards the NT border, it was starting to get dark and we were looking for a place to camp for the night, when we came across an Aboriginal man standing in the middle of the road and waving his arms. His car was pulled up on the side of the road.
I stopped and asked what was the matter. He said he could not start his car and asked if I had jumper leads. He said he had been waiting all day for someone to stop and help him. I tried, but his car still would not start. Then another car stopped, a single lady, who ended up taking him to the next town to get help. If I had not stopped she would not have. A week or so later when we were heading back south, I saw him and his car again, then mobile.
I will say more about my recent experiences in the Northern Territory later. I recount the incident on the road as evidence that I mean well, and that I am not racist.
What is Aboriginal Spirituality?
For this I would like to quote from the 2009 Discussion Paper, "Aboriginal Spirituality: Aboriginal Philosophy" by Vicki Grieves, who identifies as indigenous.
So here it is described as myth.
Aboriginal spirituality is defined as at the core of Aboriginal being, their very identity. It gives meaning to all aspects of life including relationships with one another and the environment. All objects are living and share the same soul and spirit as Aboriginals.
The basis of this philosophy is the idea of creation, the time when powerful creator spirits or spirit ancestors made sense out of chaos and produced the life forms and landscapes as we know them.
The time and events of creation and the laws laid down at the time, is called the Dreaming or the Law
Perhaps one of the best known (of the creation ancestors) is the Rainbow Serpent. Another powerful creator, .. , is Baiame, sometimes referred to as a Sky God or a Supreme Being.
There is no heaven or hell in this Spirituality, only this world and the Dreaming.
P21 (customary law)
On occasions when differences are such that they lead to fighting, there are understandings about the degree of bloodletting that will allow the dispute to finish.
Thus Spirituality, the essence of personhood, inimical to Westernisation, and central to Indigenous identity, remains the last frontier of colonisation and, in a sense, the enduring last stand of Indigenous people in their resistance to the colonisation of their worlds.
The reasons for the debasement of Aboriginal philosophy-its relegation to the category of quaint myths and legends, suitable only for reproduction as children's stories-lie deep within settler colonial constructions of Aboriginal society as primitive, stone age and inherently backward, with nothing to offer the modern, progressive ideals of the colonial project.
Western, colonialist approaches to health, relying wholly on the philosophy of scientism, have devalued traditional forms of health maintenance and healing that are implicit in spiritual belief and practice.
So that is, or was, Vicki Grieves' view of Aboriginal Spirituality. What she first acknowledged as being myths and creation stories, by the end of the paper, are held to be indispensable, essential "truths", that must be upheld defended and preserved. Thus tribalism triumphs over truth. Dr Grieves, was at that time a Research Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney.
Aboriginal Land Justice
Terra nullius was a terrible fiction, the injustice of which has been to some extent redressed by the granting of land rights. On this matter, a lecture was given to the Humanist Society of Victoria by Uncle Graham Atkinson in March 2021. It was titled "The struggle for land justice in Victoria - the Dja Dja Wurrung journey to recognition as traditional owners". I would like to make some comments.
Mr Atkinson, a Dja Dja Wurrung elder, said that many sites were associated with ancestral spirits. He said they believe that all things have a spirit, including water, plants, birds, animals, rocks and mountains. Their health and well being is underpinned by their culture.
The Dja Dja Wurrung lands consist of a large area just to the north of Ballarat, which includes many goldfields. After colonial settlement, the Dja Dja Wurrung were dispossessed of the land and suffered many massacres. These were mainly perpetrated by settlers and not as a result of government policy. However the actions of the Aboriginal Protection Society in Victoria were shameful. Despite the heroic efforts of William Barak, Aboriginal people were effectively wiped out by the organisation that was supposed to protect them.
In 2013, a Recognition and Settlement Agreement was reached between the Victorian State Government and the Dja Dja Wurrung people. They now manage about three percent of the land, much of it in National Parks.
The Joint Management Plan sets out the role of the Dja Dja Wurrung people in management of their land and its resources. They have the right to camp on their land without a permit. There is an aspiration for self-determination. This is part of a wider process in Victoria of developing Aboriginal representation and truth-telling. There is no plan for the people to recreate their traditional lifestyle on the land. Thus the situation here is different from other states.
The Dja Dja Wurrung refer to the gold diggings as the upside-down country. I am familiar with camping in the Castlemaine Diggings heritage area, where the forest has regrown to its natural state, but the evidence of thousands of man-hours of human labour with pick and shovel, is clearly etched into the landscape. Evidence of prior Aboriginal occupation is also still visible there, if you know what to look for.
Dystopia in Remote Aboriginal Communities.
The Melbourne Atheists have a pub night on the first Friday of the month, which has been going for about twenty years. About ten years ago a man joined us who had spent a lot of time working in a remote Aboriginal community. I was keen to talk to him to learn of his experiences.
He had spent about two years in a remote community in Western Australia, just west of the SA/NT border area. He was respectful of Aboriginal people and culture, but at the same time quite despondent about his experiences and about the future of the community there. I wondered if his atheism gave him any particular insights. He said it was a complicated issue to explain. I suggested he should write something down about it, as sharing his knowledge would be valuable.
A year or more later he contacted me and said he had written a book. It was "The Dystopia in the Desert: the Silent Culture of Australia's remotest Aboriginal communities", by Tadhgh Purtill. The book describes the fractured nature of the relationship between the Aboriginal community that needs support, and the government service providers. It is an erudite exposé. The frank nature of Purtills's disclosures do not make comfortable reading. It was reviewed in the Australian but has, I suggest, since been ignored.
In the chapter on Dependencies he says:
Aboriginal culture is attuned to harshness and severity, to basic survival. It does not aspire to material development. The welfare regime meets their needs as they see them. They don't see the service regime as conditional, they see it at as their right.
Perceptions of empowerment differ. The service regime sees development as empowerment. The communities see the right to demand things as empowerment.
here is no motivation to improvement, as this would jeopardise funding. Aboriginal dependency can be seen not as an aspect of dysfunction but as a type of bargain. There is a dependency on dependency.
In the chapter on Regional Truth:
There is an Orwellian dualism regarding truth and what constitutes a fact. In the communities there is a body of facts and a responsive body of pseudo-facts. Presiding bodies, agencies and departments also require the facts to be other than what they are.
Many of the people involved are not pretending. They actually believe that one thing is really another in an alternative knowledge system. This is not merely a habit of reflexive dissimulation: it is an ontological reification of make-believe.
As examples, the traditional world of the Western Desert was one in which: sorcery was a valid method and a convincing explanation for unfortunate events; the investigation of a crime involves looking for the shape of the smoke of a fire; missing items had obviously been stolen by featherfoot men rather than human tribe members; a coincidental occurrence was taken to be an intended sign from ancestral beings; and rock formations came to exist through the actions of men and women during the Dreaming.
False imaginings as opposed to consciously false claims are actually part of the facts with which staff must deal. Falsity is not merely a means of social transaction but the very thing that is being transacted.
The moral value of truth and truth-telling are replaced with something of comparable morality, namely, the promotion of the interests of disadvantaged Aborigines.
The review of Purtill's book, published in the Australian, in part stated:
His experiences there, and more broadly through the lands, were exorbitant: he reports that violence and bullying were endemic. Advisers like him were regularly abused, threatened and on occasion assaulted by Aboriginal community members seeking money or protesting against local regulations and rules: "Most staff have witnessed violence among community members, or have dealt with its immediate aftermath, and perceive that threats made against them are not idle."
In his 19 months at Tjirrkarli, a place with fewer than 25 residents, he saw a community member bashed outside his office, a man attacked with a machete, and a woman assaulted with rocks and projectiles by a group of eight or 10 assailants. He saw an older woman threatened with a brick by her own son after she refused him money; he found a man wandering about the community with a deep cranial gash and a piece of stick protruding from his forehead after an attack by a petrol sniffer. Death threats came his way from time to time. Sometimes tensions ran so high, he felt it best to spend his nights away from his house in the community.
In the Afterword of the book Purtill reflects:
When I arrived in the desert in 2010, I was a robust advocate of strong self-determination, and a full supporter of the homelands. I believed that remote Aboriginal people had every right to place themselves at a distance from mainstream Australian society, even to opt out of it, and their cultural interests and rights might best be preserved, by such a situation. Those fantasies, which were not consistent with the facts I found in the Ngannyatjarra communities, were eventually discarded. What has replaced them in my thinking is not an ideological prescription but a general attitude, including a set of rejections: a rejection of lies, a rejection of self-delusion, a rejection of myth, and the consequent rejection of any theory not grounded in the facts. If there's one thing that strikes through the play of subjectivity it is intelligent scepticism, for without it no attempt at objectivity can be meaningful.
This brings me closer to providing some of my own observations, but first I would say something about kinship relations and describe an extraordinary early ethnographical study that I recently encountered in my research.
Customs and Kinship
The Central Land Council of the Northern Territory explains on their website that a complex kinship system exists across Central Australia. It determines how people relate to each other and their social, ceremonial and land-related roles, rights, responsibilities and obligations and it determines suitable marriage partners.
There is also a moiety system (i.e. division into two groups: 'sun side' and 'shade side'), and most language groups also adhere to a section or subsection system with four to eight 'skins' or 'skin names', skins being Aboriginal English for the sections/subsections. Marriage rules are determined within these.
The website says that today, there are increasing numbers of 'wrong skin' marriages, but other rules of the system are more strongly enduring, such as avoidance relationships, especially that between mother-in-law and son-in-law. This in-law relationship requires a social distance, such that whole categories of people are not permitted in the same room or car, for instance.
While Aboriginal people suffered violence and dispossession in the colonial period, there were people amongst the settlers who took the time to liaise with the indigenous population, learn their languages and study their culture.
Walter Roth was a doctor who first came to Australia in 1887. In 1894 he practised medicine in north-west Queensland. During this time he learnt the Aboriginal languages of western Queensland, and then recorded all his observations of their culture. His book, "Ethnographical Studies among the North West-Central Queensland Aborigines" was published in 1897. This was the first publication of its kind in Australia. Roth had a sympathetic attitude toward the Aboriginal people and was appointed Aboriginal Protector. The book is an outstanding resource.
In abbreviated form, the chapter headings in the book are as follows:
I Languages, words and grammar
II Comparison between districts
III Social structure
IV Sign language
V The search for food
VI Implements, utensils, fire sticks, huts and shelter.
VII Personal ornamentation and decoration.
VIII Recreation, corroborees, sports and games (inc. tales and fables)
IX Travel, trade and barter.
X Laws, fighting, weapons
XI Disease, accident, death
XII Rain making
The book gives a detailed account of the languages, vocabulary and grammar: a dictionary. The illustrations give details of the numerous hand signals also used for communication: a sign language. This was particularly useful when hunting and silence was required.
Roth provides a detailed description of what he calls the social structure, rather than kinship. Everyone is "related" even if they are not biologically related. Every male is someone's "brother" and every female someone's "sister". Everyone in the tribe belongs to one of two groups. People in one group can only marry someone in the other group. The offspring belong to the group of the mother.
As described above for the Northern Territory, each group has a further two subgroups. Each subgroup has defined foods that they cannot eat. All these groups have names, designated by Roth paedo-matronyms, defined as "the name particularising the blood-mother from
her offspring". These are the skin names, as per the Central Land Council terminology.
To explain the complexity of the marriage situation, I will simplify it using mnemonics. Let's designate the two main groups as A and B, each with a subgroup 1 and 2. So the four groups are A1, A2, B1 and B2. The marriage rules are as follows:
Roughly speaking, the marriage pool for each quarter of the population is restricted to that of another distinct quarter.
Failure to comply with these marriage rules meant punishment by death. The paedo-matromyn was a person's primary identity within the tribe. Neighbouring tribes had similar paedo-matromyms. Inter-tribal marriages were allowed, provided the marriage rules were followed.
As described for the Northern Territory, there was a distance requirement between sons-in-law and mothers-in-law. Note that because of the food rules, a child could not always eat the same food as either parent. Child rearing was therefore far removed from a nuclear family situation. Women and men had different roles, with men dominating in decision making and in ceremonials.
The book by Roth described all aspects of day-to-day life including seed-gathering, hunting, cooking, how shelters were made, where people slept, urination, defecation, copulation, how women gave birth, how the dead were buried, ceremonies, recreation and travel. There were violent punishments for rule infringements.
Roth only fleetingly mentions the role of "spirits" or "ghosts", describing it as superstition. The term "spirituality" had not then been invented. There is no mention of the Dreamtime but Roth refers to a traditional superstition held throughout all the districts, of "an extremely remote time when all the birds and animals were blackfellows". Nothing was attributed to natural causes and all deaths were blamed on someone. Bone-pointing was particularly feared.
The final chapter, titled Ethno-pornography, deals mainly with initiation ceremonies and rites of passage. Roth makes no mention of "secret men's business" or "secret women's business" and it seems reasonable to assume that he had so gained the confidence and trust of the people that he was privy to all their practices. Women were banned from many of the things he witnessed. Most, but not all men, were banned from women's practices.
The details in this chapter are excruciating to read, but Roth was a surgeon and he reports them in a matter-of-fact way without judgement. Initiation takes place at the onset of puberty. The victim is restrained by a person holding down each arm and each leg. For a female, the vagina and perineum are cut open with a sharp rock. A group of young males then copulate with the victim. For boys, the foreskin is pulled forward and cut off with a sharp rock. The wounds are dressed with goanna fat and ashes. With men there is a later second initiation. In this, the under side of the penis is cut lengthways to expose the urethra.
There is a further later ceremonial rite for men, in which the two front teeth are knocked out. Roth reports that abortions were performed by impact and compression, and that half-caste babies were killed and eaten. There are many other details that do not bear elaboration. He said he never witnessed any masturbation or homosexuality.
Roth reported his observations faithfully and in the interests of truth and honesty I have briefly recounted some of them here. We can see that what he reports regarding the kinship relations also pertain in the Northern Territory today. The Central Land Council says that customs vary between regions, but that "there are more similarities than differences." The practices that Roth reported in 1897 may have been widespread across Australia. We do not know to what extent, if any, these practises still persist. What we can say is that the myths and superstitions are broadly similar across Australia and that they do persist.
What we can say from the evidence is that traditional Aboriginal societies were well attuned to their geographical circumstances, but also engaged in violent and brutal behaviour, sometimes routinely. These behaviours would now be regarded as murder, grievous bodily harm and child sex abuse. These aspects of their culture are not something that should be replicated in the modern day. Unfortunately however, observations of the dysfunctional nature of some remote communities would seem to suggest that they are being replicated.
The Universal Declaration of 1948 sets out 30 Articles defining personal rights and freedoms. The exception clause, Article 29 (2) specifies when the rights may be limited, basically for the common good. Some traditional practices violate some of these rights, such as the right to personal security and the right to free choice in marriage.
The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, proclaimed on 13 September 2007, (fifteen years ago today), sets out 46 Articles, which may apply to indigenous people and/or to indigenous individuals. These include rights to equality, self-determination, autonomy, community, improvement and redress.
Article 18 specifies the right to participate in a decision-making process in matters that affect them (a voice). Article 25 specifies the right to maintain a spiritual relationship with traditional land. Article 33 specifies the right of indigenous peoples to determine structures and membership according to their own procedures.
The Declaration involves laudable sentiments indeed, and as we can see, the language and rhetoric expressed in it has achieved a popular currency in Australia. It is proposed that the rights be enacted in Australia by an Act of Parliament. The enactment of these rights would appear to involve numerous complications.
As with the Universal Declaration, the Declaration of Indigenous Rights has an exception clause. Article 46 (2) states:
The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law, and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.
So, irrespective of Indigenous Rights, other laws and human rights remain in place. The rights and freedoms of others, and democracy, must be maintained.
I now come to the point of expressing some opinions, from an atheist and secular perspective, on the above preceding statement of evidence. It is clear that Aboriginal Spirituality and Dreamtime concepts are a type of religious belief. All religions derive from creation myths and superstitions. All religions are cultural.
There is no rational basis for religious belief, and all creation myths, including the Dreamtime have been refuted by scientific and historical evidence. They are false. To suggest that they are true is dishonest. It is a lie.
There is no evidence for the existence of any spirits. That is because, as far as we know, there are no spirits: not in rocks, not in animals, not in people. The concept has persisted in human culture for a long time, but it is a mirage. It is not a concept that should form the basis of political demands.
People are entitled to hold false beliefs if they wish, but they should not be imposed on others. Children should be free to make up their own minds. False religious beliefs should not be promoted and subsidised by governments. We are far from this situation in Australia, and getting further away.
It is the truth that must be respected, not religious belief. The pandemic has shown that we must rely on science for our health and well-being. We cannot afford to be distracted by right-wing fanatics, anti-vaxers, climate change deniers and other peddlers of untruth including creationists Our survival depends on our ability to think rationally and act collectively on that basis.
The definitive statement on reason and human welfare has been made by Steven Pinker in his book "Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress". All improvements to human welfare arise from the diligent application of reason and science. This has provided monumental increases in our standard of living of about two percent per year (compound) for the last 200 years. In all places and in all times the enemies of progress have been religion and tribalism. Now in Australia, the policy with respect to Aboriginal people seems to be to entrench both.
How does a person's belief in a religion affect their worldview? If religions were true they would not be religions. So a person who believes in a religion must necessarily banish contradictions from their mind. Their sense of truth and honesty is diluted or corrupted. Despite this, their religion can give them a sense of moral superiority.
Belief in a religion can underpin a person's opinions, statements and actions in ways that may not seem overtly religious. They may seek to disguise and obscure their religious motivation. For example, it would seem that Scott Morrison's fundamentalist religious beliefs may have given him the idea that a "higher power" had authorised him to appoint himself to five different ministries.
In a similar way, literal belief in the Aboriginal creationism, the Dreamtime, can motivate behaviours that may seem unrelated to it. It can justify the adherence to traditional practices that would not otherwise seem warranted: practices that are detrimental to Aboriginal health and well-being.
There is no doubt that Dreamtime creationist beliefs are held to be literally true by many. This leads to the desire to maintain traditional lifestyles. As Purtill says, not going to school can be an act of defiance. Or it may just be that school is seen as less important than traditional beliefs and practices. Hence, the maintenance of traditional beliefs and practices may be detrimental to the achievement of social and economic goals.
I therefore put forward the following proposition: the maintenance of traditional Aboriginal beliefs is the major obstacle to Closing the Gap. In a rational world one would think that would be a rather obvious statement, but that is not where we live.
The gap between health and socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and the attempts to narrow it, is a decades-old issue. One view is that the sole cause of the gap is racism. It can't be just that. Reports of child sexual abuse led to the army being sent in to Mutitjulu in 2007, the so-called Howard Intervention. It was an excessive response, and achieved little, but it was an attempt to deal with chronic issues that were real.
Despite the welfare provision to remote communities, and the best efforts of many, the welfare gap remains. Racism exists, but it is not the main cause of the gap.
In the latest iteration, it is assumed that giving more representation and responsibly to Aboriginal groups will solve the problem. In July 2020 a National Agreement was formed on Closing the Gap. The agreement was between all Australian governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations.
As well as delegating responsibility to Aboriginal groups the Agreement commits all parties to "promote cultural safety", and not to "diminish in any way" the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I think we can assume that truth-telling with respect to Aboriginal creationism is not only not on the agenda, but is actually prohibited. This will not end well.
Australia has the oldest rocks in the world and the oldest fossils in the world. The rocks of central Australia are somewhat younger but derive from rocks almost a billion years old. Around 500 million years ago mountains of granite had eroded and laid down horizontal layers of sand. Some time over the next hundred million years, unimaginable forces of nature turned these layers into hard rock and rotated them into an almost vertical position. Some of these layers now protrude from the central plain. That is Ayers Rock. The Rock may extend five kilometres into the ground.
The site has UNESCO World Heritage Listing because of its unique geology. Australia is an ancient continent and nothing symbolises this more dramatically than Ayres Rock - Uluru. Here is what I found on a recent visit.
On arrival at Uluru, inside the National Park, I expected to find a Visitor Centre. There is none. There is only a Cultural Centre. The main purpose of this is to present Dreamtime creation stories as if they are fact. Everything is explained in terms of the mythology. The tail of the Rainbow Serpent shaped the Rock. There is scant mention of the geology and it is stated that scientists have "another viewpoint". There is a fact sheet on the geology, which is kept under the counter, and can be obtained on request.
I found this quite shocking that in such an important geological location, science should be so denigrated, and falsehood presented as truth. In other words, lies. I found it Orwellian and oppressive, making the whole experience unpleasant. The Rock used to belong to everyone. Now it belongs to the people of Mutijulu. That town does not appear on the tourist map and the road that goes there is closed to visitors.
No damage to the Rock was done by people climbing it. Old photos show that Aboriginal people climbed it. Charles and Diana climbed it in 1983. It is held to be sacred according to the Creationist Aboriginal belief. This religious belief is now imposed on everyone, whether they like it or not, in a National Park. This is a violation of the principle of secularism. Mt Gillen near Alice Springs has now also been closed.
Further north in the Northern Territory, at the entrance to Kakadu National Park, Dreamtime mythology is again stated as historical fact. In Katherine Gorge National Park the mythology is again glorified, but is first described as myth. By contrast, in Litchfield National Park, west of the Stuart Highway south of Darwin, the information signs do not mention the Dreamtime and provide information on the botany and geology in scientific terms. What a relief.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an emotional and poetic statement. It is also a creationist religious document that makes political claims on the basis of this religion. The authors say that their ancestors possessed the land from the Creation. They say that their sovereignty is a spiritual notion. They say they were born from the land and will return there to meet their ancestors. This is a sacred link, they say.
The Statement then says that Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated on earth, and that they are not an innately criminal people. That may be true, but the crime rates are exceedingly high. All houses in the suburbs of Darwin are surrounded by high cyclone wire fences with locked gates and have guard dogs for protection.
Being provided with a greater voice will not solve this problem while reality is denied and "cultural safety" is demanded. Criminality is not innate, but it is fostered by creationist beliefs, which motivate adherence to ancient traditions and behaviours, which, in the modern context, can violate the law.
Having a Treaty is a good and welcome thing to achieve. Having a Voice is also a good idea. Having a Voice enshrined in the Constitution is not. It is beset with problems, the selection criteria in particular. Marcia Langdon and Tom Calma have specified how it might work in a discussion paper, which says that "a number of challenges would exist if there was a need to confirm Indigeneity of voters as part of a national election process." So the Voice would be race-based in an unverified way and undemocratic.
The Voice will not solve the problem of the Gap. It will likely make religious demands, which cannot reasonably be met, but if they were, could make thinks worse. It will be controversial and divisive. It will likely do more harm than good for Aboriginal people.
The Voice does not need to be in the Constitution. A Voice can already be legislated. There is already a voice, as seen in the "Coalition of Peaks".
John Howard abolished ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission). If the Voice is in the Constitution then it can't be abolished. That is why they want to put it in the Constitution. But why was ATSIC abolished? Surely there are many issues to be resolved before we take such a significant step.
We oppose Christian creationism being taught in schools, but Aboriginal creationism is somehow seen as our salvation. Do we prefer science or superstition? Do we prefer truth or state-sponsored lies?
In Australia today we do not even ask these questions. Until we do, the situation will never improve. I despair for the future.
"Aboriginal Spirituality: Aboriginal Philosophy - The Basis of Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing", Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health Discussion Paper Series: No. 9, Vicki Grieves 2009.
Australian Dictionary of Biography - Roth, Walter Edmund (1861-1933)
Indigenous Voice Discussion Paper: National Indigenous Australians Agency
Kinship Systems, Central Land Council. https://www.clc.org.au/our-kinship-systems/
National Agreement on Closing the Gap, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Dystopia in the Desert: the Silent Culture of Australia's Remotest Aboriginal Communities, by Tadhgh Purtill, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2017. Notes
"Ethnographical Studies among the North West-Central Queensland Aborigines", by W. E. Roth, Queensland Government Press, 1897.
Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Uluru Dialogue is based at the Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW Sydney.
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. United Nations