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Aboriginal Spirituality. Definitions Aboriginal –original or earliest known; native; indigenous –May also refer to a group of people Native –of, pertaining.

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Presentation on theme: "Aboriginal Spirituality. Definitions Aboriginal –original or earliest known; native; indigenous –May also refer to a group of people Native –of, pertaining."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aboriginal Spirituality

2 Definitions Aboriginal –original or earliest known; native; indigenous –May also refer to a group of people Native –of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the indigenous inhabitants of a place or country Indigenous –originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country

3 Aboriginal Spirituality Though there is a wide variety of religious practice among the many different and culturally diverse indigenous groups around the world, there are some basic themes and characteristics of religion are shared

4 Aboriginal Religious Traditions No distinction between religion and their traditional way of life Strong sense of the sacred in various forms –Spirits, gods, ancestors, supreme impersonal power Influenced by their methods of acquiring food Rituals revolve around promoting, preserving and being one with their environment –Fertility Indigenous groups divided into three main cultural types according to this…

5 Hunters and Gatherers Ancestors of all humans from beginning of our history until agricultural revolution –Gatherers –Small game hunters –Big game herd hunters –Fishers Religious ideas focus on sacred powers of: –the sky –Gods associated with the life power of animals

6 Inuit

7 Australian Aborigines

8 Planters Those groups who cultivate the earth to raise food –Root plants – yam / potato (Maori) –Cereal and grains – wheat / rice / maize (Native Americans) Religious ideas focus on sacred powers of: –Mother earth as a life producing source –Gods associated with the life power of vegetation Planting and harvesting rituals

9 Maori – New Zealand Aztecs

10 Pastoralists or Herders Those who raise their own cattle, sheep, goats or camels –Nomadic – moving with their herds among pasturelands –Domestication of animals occurred as early as agriculture Religious ideas focus on sacred powers of: –Sky gods –Gods associated with the life power of large groups of animals –Rituals of sacrifice

11 Dinka Maasai

12 Central Themes –The attribution of a living soul to all natural objects –All things have a soul - both human and non- human »Plant, animal, inanimate objects and natural phenomenon –No separation of body and soul –Pantheistic in nature –believe they are connected and are one with the supernatural –Supreme being permeates everything Power is given over to less powerful beings – ie: spirits Animism

13 Dual Divinity Supreme being has 2 roles: Creator - responsible for the creation of the world recognized in religious ritual and prayers Mythical individual, a hero or trickster - teaches culture, proper behaviour and provides sustenance to the tribe

14 Creation Stories –Similar to other religions Help to answer questions of beginning, existence Why we are here? –Oral tradition provides an account of each group's origins, history, spirituality, lessons of morality, and life skills

15 Sacred Knowledge –Some tribes have complex forms of writing –Most tribes have preserved their spiritual beliefs as an oral tradition –Culture, prayer and tradition passed down this way –Oracy – ability to communicate (speak, listen and understand) through language –Effort is being made to record Aboriginal stories

16 Totems –Physical link to ancestors –Protective in nature, act as guides –Often identify with an animal or mythological being –A totem can be the symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual –Totem animal is with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world –Individual is connected with nine different animals accompanies each person through life

17 Totems


19 Totem Assignment Consider the characteristics and meaning of the Totemic animals on the back page to create a totem pole / symbol signifying who you are as a person. Native belief holds that 9 different animals guide you through life but for this assignment choose only 5. Write a brief paragraph at the bottom of the page describing your totem and outlining why you chose those particular animals. Evaluation: T5 Marks - Text –Clarity and originality of statement A5 Marks - Illustrations/Visuals –Varied, effective & meaningful C5 Marks - Writing Mechanics/Neatness –Spelling & grammar / visual clarity & colour Total 15 Marks

20 Some questions to ask yourself to help determine your animal totem: Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? (animal, including birds and insects) Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up. When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing? Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing? Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature? Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal? Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget? Are you drawn to figurines or paintings of a specific animal? The totem itself is a symbol that represents this animal. This could be any number of items - a crest, a totem pole, an emblem, a small figurine or anything else that depicts your animal guide.totem

21 What is the Dreaming or Dreamtime? “The Dreaming means our identity as people. The cultural teaching and everything, that's part of our lives here, you know. it's the understanding of what we have around us.” Merv Penrith - Elder, Wallaga Lake, 1996

22 Dreamtime

23 Network of knowledge, faith and practices that come from creation, and that dominates all spiritual and physical aspects of Aboriginal life.


25 1. Human World Body of Knowledge Structures of society, rules for social behaviour and the ceremonies performed in order to maintain the life of the land Governed the way people lived and how they should behave

26 2. Physical World Identity with relation to land, animals and sky Refer to where they came from or inhabited Identified with places and how they came to be at that location ie Kangaroo Dreaming, or Shark Dreaming

27 3. Sacred World Creation Time Stories describe the time when the earth and humans and animals were created During the Dreaming, ancestral spirits came to earth and created the landforms, the animals and plants Law of the land

28 Songlines or Dreaming tracks Complex pathways of spiritual, ecological, cultural and ontological knowledge across the land or sky Often mapped the presence and routes followed by a local 'creator-spirit' during the Dreamtime Aborigines can navigate across the land by singing The songlines describe the location of landmarks and other natural phenomena off their land Seven Sisters Songline, by Josephine Mick, Pipalyatjara, 1994.

29 Songlines or Dreaming tracks Dreaming tracks crossing the northern end of the Canning Stock Route.

30 Rabbit Proof Fence Directed by: Phillip Noyce Written by: Doris Pilkington Garimara Characters: (Cast) Molly Craig: (Everlyn Sampi) Gracie Fields:(Laura Monaghan) Daisy Craig: (Tianna Sansbury) A.O. Neville: (Kenneth Branagh) Moodoo: (David Gulpilil)

31 Historical Context White settlers arrive in Australia –interaction of two vastly different cultures with different attitudes to the land made conflict inevitable –By mid-19th century, European pastoralists and settlers had moved into Aboriginal lands interrupted traditional hunting and gathering depleted natural resources and grasslands polluted waterways damaged sacred sites

32 Historical Context Introduced European diseases – smallpox and the common cold decimated Indigenous populations Alcohol and money undermined traditional ways Europeans challenged structure of Aboriginal traditional society – authority of tribal elders was broken down By the 1930s, when the story of Rabbit-Proof Fence is set, many communities had become reliant on government handouts for food, clothing and other necessities, since their traditional ways of life had been eroded over time

33 Rabbit Proof Fence - True Story - 9 weeks - 2,400 km - Terms -Half-caste -Stolen Generation

34 ‘Half-caste’ term used to describe people of mixed race or ethnicity In Australia, historically used to describe the offspring of White colonists and the Aboriginal natives of the continent Half Caste Act - Australian government could seize such children in order to provide them with better homes and life than those afforded typical Aborigines –Official government ‘assimilationist’ policy – that took ‘half caste’ children from their kin and their land, in order to be ‘made white’

35 ‘Stolen Generation’ Australian Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their parents by various state governments –Residential schools in Canada These children were trained to be domestic servants (girls) and station workers (boys) Many of them never saw their parents again

36 Map of the Story

37 Rabbit Proof Fence Assignment How can Aboriginal people of Australia heal from the atrocity of forcible removal from their homes and loved ones and cruel treatment at the hands of those with power? How can aboriginal society as a whole recover from this? Choose one theme of Aboriginal spirituality and explain how it is presented in the film.

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