Key facts about Aboriginal Australians
CULTURE AND IDENTITY
Aboriginal people have one of the oldest living cultures in the world. At the core of their culture is a very strong spiritual connection to the land. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, in Northern Territory, is one of the most impressive Aboriginal sacred sites. Indigenous spiritual beliefs, along with the local laws and history, are shared through the “Dreamtime” mythology. These “Dreamtime stories” were passed down from generation to generation through art, dance and song and tell the story of the creation of the landscape and its inhabitants.
WHO ARE THE “STOLEN GENERATIONS”?
The New York Times' article mentions that actor Uncle Jack Charles was taken from his family as a result of Australia's assimilation policy. He is one of the 100,000 Indigenous children – also known as the “Stolen Generations” – who were forcibly removed from their parents between 1910 and 1970. These children were often under 5 years old and were adopted by white families or brought up in institutions. They were particularly vulnerable to sexual assault, abuse and exploitation. In 2008, the Australian Parliament passed a motion of Apology and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd acknowledged that this policy had “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.” The apology included a proposal for a policy commission to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in “life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.”
Indigenous Australian art: Dot painting of Kangaroo.