8

I struggled a lot around this period.
The only real hard data I was getting came from Aboriginal rights research, not really from anything I had read on Aboriginal Dreaming. I was getting Aboriginal star charts that correlated with physical roads and highways, and Astrology diagrams, and then lots of Aboriginal artwork, however nothing that really generated raw data. The essence of dreamtime is that it was taught verbally, not written down, and was more so ‘felt’ and injected into painting.

So for a long while I was frozen up between doing something more straight foward which had the information to back it, or kind of blindly swim around this great pool of speculative information. Therefore my original proposals were somewhat confused in themslves.

1. Data visualisation that explores the way media in essence creates a trajectory for growth in young Aboriginal children, simply by influence and oversaturation of ideas alone. It would be a collection of portraits of children taken at the local Newtown public. Each child photographed would be asked to draw on paper what they would like to be in the future, on top of a generic human figure outline. This drawing would then be superimposed over the original photo, as if they’d drawn on themselves. The last transparent layer would be real headlines published by Australian news sources on the topic of Aboriginal youth,. revealing how similar the headlines/assumptions are, in direct contrast to the wild dreams and wishes these kids originally had.

2. Generative Design fixated on a similar concept of Aboriginal children being stunted in growth by discriminatory media agendas. An online children’s Dreamtime book would be constructed— visually being illustrated in a way that was joyful and upbeat, with the body copy being entirely generated by headlines, tweets and facebook comments, again placing Aboriginal children in boxes. The text would always refresh, drawing on a databank of key words. Therefore the book would always change, yet never evolve, unless popular opinion did.

3. Generative Design that constructs a twitter bot for a fake news agency. The twitter would be established as genuinely as possibly, using every graphic means to fake authenticity. The tweets would be randomly generated again, pulling words and phrases from other tweets of opinion on Aboriginal issues. The bot would evolve and grow an audience, and the audience would comment and interact back at the bot, essentially creating an infinite loop of intolerance, where the people who write inflammatory comments fuel the twitter bot which regurgitates their content back, and validates them one more. Then we the public sit back and see a working metaphor for the problem in our media.

4. Data Visualization of a living pot plant, representing youth and growth, slowly fed by an IV drip system. You can set these IV’s to administer doses at certain times. My proposal would be to intercept this feeding timer, and force it to feed the plant only when a tweet or headline was posted online, containing certain predefined key words or phrases. When the headline was positive and uplifting, the IV would administer nitrogen rich water. When the headline was negative, discriminatory, or touched an issue that was deemed over represented, the IV would administer a poisonous solution. I could physically make one of these, as my father is a vet, and they’re simple to operate. Writing a program to administer the doses would be hard, however it would be nice to physically display a representation of media interference with young minds maturation.

5. Lastly, after talking with Tom, he encouraged me to follow what I was passionate about, which was misunderstanding of amazing Aboriginal religious systems, and begun trying to find a way to form a system to reveal these passions.
The main problem is that understanding exists between two ‘walls’. Aboriginal Elders who have lived and still live the Dreaming, yet rarely wish to talk on the experiences (from fear of misrepresentation and misunderstanding), and on the other side, are scholars who interpret this information with somewhat of a synthetic, metallic form of analysis. My proposal is then to form a generative system, based around the already generative nature of Aboriginal artwork, that allows everyday Australians the chance to sit in that space between experience, and interpretation. A space which allows for some sort of spiritual interpretation of the land Aborigines preserved for 120,000 years, with assistance (or roadmap) generated from opposite, scholarly study side of The Dreaming.

My response to discovering this place, is by experiencing it. To form this design system, I’m going to spend 2 nights alone in traditional Aboriginal land. I’ll do this alone, with a sleeping bag, billy, knife, flint and some basic provisions. The decisions I make in designing the process will directly affect the journey. I’ll document this journey, and form it in a way so that it’s a process others can experience.

I’m really passionate about this. I’ve talked about it a great deal with my sister, and with friends from work (in NITV). My biggest concern was going about this process in a manner that would not be offensive or seem to be bastardising of traditional Aboriginal culture. I’m taking great care in forming something that provides insight and forms understanding, opposed to insensitive perversion.

7.0 Stakeholder mapping

Connecting our issues and stakeholders went like most other ‘butchers paper’ sessions went. Laura and I threw down as much content as we could in a matter that was free and flowing. By this stage, we have both established our main personal focal points for the issue. She’s associating herself with Aboriginal rights and relations within current day Australian society, whereas i’ve focused myself on the Aboriginal history of The Dreaming, and the Cosmology and philosophies underpinning system.

These maps tend to lean more toward Aboriginal issues adn stakeholders in modern society, as opposed to The Dreaming, however that in a sense illustrates the problem I’m attempting to address. That is, a lack of knowledge and education in Aboriginal history, (not to be confused with the history of Aboriginal people under commonwealth rule).

Connecting these stakeholders with Laura solidified some notions I’d been reflecting on since my data scrapes. That is, the media holds a great deal more power in moulding public opinion on Aboriginal matters than I was first aware of. Almost all of the news we receive on Aboriginal people, essentially  go through this filter of media. They control what we see. Due in large part to the fact that we have little other sources in our day to day lives. NAIDOC week is only once a year, and festivals like Garma are small and extremely localised. Schools and school curriculum do a poor job of teaching us proper Aboriginal history, and essentially fail in planting the seed of interest that motivates us to research things later on, for ourselves.

These maps revealed, that even when a platform is given to an esteemed Aboriginal figure, or pertinent Aboriginal issue, that it is immediately muddied by this ratings fuelled rush for counter opinions and often invalid alternate assessments. This perfectly reflects the difficulty faced by Aboriginal Elders in discussing or attempting to explain their spiritual past. It all goes through a filter of interpretation.  As Christine Nicholls explains in her introduction to the dreaming,

Unfortunately, since colonisation, this multiplicity of semantically rich, metaphysical word-concepts framing the epistemological, cosmological and ontological frameworks unique to Australian Aboriginal people’s systems of religious belief have been uniformly debased and dumbed-down”

Essentially, we do a similar thing with our media. Take a diverse and richly expansive culture, compress and compress and compress and compress it down to a few single issues, and frame it all into a single repetitive monologue of land rights, juvenile detention, remote aboriginal communities and general discrimination.

The issues may change with time, however the formula remains. Aboriginal culture gets stamped on and dumbed down by Australian media, which is consumed in great volume by the general public, thus continually driving the wheels in mis-education and intolerance.

Some interesting statistics from the creativespirits.info website.

9%  Proportion of Aboriginal people who believe the media presents a balanced view of Aboriginal Australians [1]

74% – Surveyed proportion of articles about Aboriginal health that were negative; that were neutral: 11%; that were positive: 15% [2].

81Page out of a total of 84 pages on which the Sun Herald reported about “critically endangered” Aboriginal languages [3].

16%  Proportion of non-Aboriginal Australians who believe the media presents a balanced view of Aboriginal people [1].

Interestingly, we somewhat see the problem in the situation, we just failure to act on it. I believe the problem is buried somewhere inside a proper understanding, and consequently appreciation for richness of Aboriginal history.


 

[1] Reconciliation Barometer 2010, Key Findings Fact Sheet
[2] ‘Portraying Positive Stories In Aboriginal Health’, Right Now 15/9/2014
[3] ‘Light is fading for indigenous languages’, Sun Herald 23/9/2012

6.0 Web Scrape

I ignored Twitter and decided to dig through google analytics, comparing the data to news trends within Australia, in attempt to find any interesting trends or patterns within our media services or general public opinion.

This graph relates to keyword searches for /Aboriginal and /rights over the last 5 years.

Keydates.png

There’s very clear peaks and valleys within the graph. They seem somewhat cyclical also. I noticed clear peaks around the October and may periods for the last two years, so I decided to investigate popular news clusters from that period.
This function searches for online news articles from sources that are exclusively publically traded (publically owned/traded shares) by Australian law, within a defined date period, and organises them in order of ascending popularity (click throughs, time spent on page, times the link has been shared. The reasons for exclusively Public owned sources is the following,

– News media with ownership dispersed through public traded shares must meet predetermined (extremely high) budget figures to be traded on the exchange. Companies that meet these expectations hold their power because they own majority of viewership/readership within Australia. These companies include Fairfax and the ABC for instance— both at differing ends of the political spectrum, though both Publically traded. Therefore the search function, I feel, is incredibly objective, while at the same time eliminates little read/known publications which would affect the interpretation of data. The idea here, is to gauge insight into the general public consensus of thought, which means sourcing data from popular nationally read news only.

October 20 – Nov 20 [2014]
So, starting at the far left red dot, the most popular news issues between concerning /Aboriginal /Aboriginals were.

Proposed laws to Aboriginal heritage act preventing Aboriginal groups from making any land rights claims, in conjunction with heavy proposals to close increasing number of Remote communities. Inside of that are many articles discussing trends in remote Aboriginal health and welfare. 

Aboriginal man dies in custody at Casuarina Prison. It’s the 2nd time in 3 months that there has been an Aboriginal death in custody, after a 22yo Aboriginal woman passed away at South Hedland Police Station after being detained for overdue fines. 

May 1st – June 30 [2015]

Story on 3 year old Samara Muir makes national news, as she attempted to ‘scrub her skin white’ while dressing up as a cahracter from Disney film, ‘Frozen’. All major national news sources provide at least one piece + lots of discussion columns. Also breaks international news interest, being covered in United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States and New Zealand.
 
Continued discussion on forced closure of Aboriginal communities. Woven through that is once again a great of discussion of Aboriginal wellbeing, specifically alcoholism and youth detention rates (with no article showing comparison figures to other demographics)


Oct 1 – Dec 1 [2015]

Federal inquiry into previously mentioned case on Ms Dhu dying in police custody, reignites national discussion on treatment of Aboriginals in detainment/Police brutality. There is a great deal of reporting on that.

Further articles on Aboriginal Community closures spark a small pocket of coverage on an isolated fight in the NT which left two men dead. The articles merely reference the Aboriginal community the situation occurred in, along with mention of ‘spears’, then deal almost exclusively with Police interviews and opinions on the matter. Small event, however it was obviously shared considerably. 

Canadian news event contaminated the data slightly. Lots of hits pertaining to Canadian elections boosted the popularity figures for this period, and affected the height of the peak marginally. Sadly, something that is unavoidable if I also wish to explore international news trend relations, such as the case was with Samara Muir.


June 3 – Aug 5 [2016]

The major peak here was the recent events and inquiry at Don Dale detention centre. This is a national news story, and all publication write a multitude of content on the events. There is no real ‘take’ from international agencies. 

There’s a bizzare bump around Bill Shortens appearance on ABC’s Q&A, and his comments that Australia did not “handle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people well”. Lots of agencies comment on this, and lots of people read/shared the articles. It’s strange. A great deal of the information is published by traditional Right wing agencies such as newscorp/fairfax, and the articles are more concerned with belittling shorten and treating his comments as borderline treasonous, opposed to discussing perhaps the reason by the comments. 

A breakthrough in DNA technology leads to Aboriginal people definitively being the continent’s first Australians. This is the first popular news issue that does not concern itself with Aboriginal land rights, mistreatment, or health and well being. Finally. 


Therefore, all these peaks relate to national news which more-often-than-not concerns itself with Aboriginal violence, violence toward Aboriginals, community closures and Aboriginal mental and physical health. Almost never does a trend peak form from the  promotion of a positive Aboriginal figure, or Aboriginal event. Now of course, there’s plenty of news agencies which covers these positive topics, however they are rarely read, viewed or considered popular by objective data, stemming from public opinion.

Also, remember, the graph was formed using /Aboriginal /rights, to reveal peaks of news on aboriginal rights. And those peaks were explored with only /Aboriginal /Aboriginals, therefore all the articles shown above that happened to be concerned with Aboriginal rights (almost all of them) were there purealy because Aboriginal rights discussion is the most popular form of discussion among Australians. Which stinks.

now, PLEASE, I’m not saying discussion on Aboriginal rights is a bad thing, I feel that it becomes a bad thing when it’s almost EXCLUSIVELY what Australians consider important when discussing Aboriginal people. Can we not have popular news that lifts the Aboriginal community, become popular news in Australia?

I kinda wanted to explore this further.
I used an SEO scraper to examine search trends inside of google products (including youtube). This process explores direct Keyword searches for the use of ‘Aboriginal’, In relation to the click through content for these pages (the click through is the url you select after the initial search) and the content including _Aboriginal.
Search engines use a ‘spider’ program to automatically ‘crawl’ through webpages and index its information based on text content inside the site. Therefore, there’s somewhat of a hidden index which exists on the internet. This process  of SEO scraping was engineered and is traditionally used for, ‘Search Engine Optimization’— to find where you website ranks in internet searches, and allows you to go back and alter your content so that you have a more enveloping index, and consequently sit higher on  google searches.

All that aside, you can kinda reverse use SEO scrapers to access information on this index. It won’t give you figures, however it will show you trends.

Here are the trends for Aboriginal_Rights (54-78)  _Aboriginal (81-105)

(Apologies for screenshot. This SEO scraper only exported to google drive spreadsheet, and I didn’t want to grant it access to my drive)

The interesting list is for _Aborginal, which pretty much all, from 1-25 concern themselves with Aboriginal rights, whether it be by topic, or Aboriginal rights activist. Once again the sole narrative surrounding Aboriginal people is rights. Not community, not art, not spirituality, rarely history. It’s as if, for something to become popular, or even published, they HAVE TO concern themselves with the plight of Aboriginal people. Again, I truly believe we should always be discussing the rights of Aboriginal people, but as I’ve mentioned before, when all you hear about something or someone is chained to violence, sadness, mistreatment, abuse, no matter what bias is placed on it, your opinion of that thing becomes poisoned. It’s toxic. Whyyyyy the fuck are we constantly  under-valuing and ignoring the amazing culture of spirituality and ecological preservation that existed in this continent for tens of thousands of years. It has to be so so so so difficult growing up Aboriginal and constantly having your culture empowerment brushed aside in place of constant and never ending narratives on why you’ve been mistreated, then opposing opinions on whether you have or have not been mistreated, then crappy opinons on how the mistreatment can end.

If you want something crazy to end on, this graph is created from the search term /Aboriginal, and the plots marked in Yellow are the exact centres of NAIDOC week. A special annual celebration for the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There are obvious depressions where you would consider spikes to be. For this I have no explanation, however my reaction is pretty dismal. It’s just saddening. So so so saddening.

Naidoc.png

And the most popular search term related to /Aboriginal during last NAIDOC week? (Jul 3-10/2016)

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-5-16-46-pm

So happy I asked…

4.0 HINT.FM

HINT.FM is not so much a design agency, but a male/female duo of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, analytic and data visualisation artists who work for Google’s data visualisation group. They have also both previously worked for IBM’s visual communication lab, and have ran their own company ‘Flowing Media’. They’re committed to the act of understanding and simplifying visualisations founded in academic research— to extract insights from raw data.

Martin describes their work as ‘a [visual] technology developed by computer scientists to extract insights from raw numbers. This technique is ideal for investigating a world represented by digital traces, where truth is hidden in masses of information,” The resulting studies take the form of web sites, prints, and videos.

The specific work of theirs that I love, is a piece called ‘Wind Map’, which ended up being exhibited at MoMA in 2012.

The site pulls analytics from the National Digital Forecast Database, and presents the precise wind data in a visual manner over the top of a geological map of North America. The gorgeous aspect of this data is how it’s presented, with each wind value being represented by a single pixel sprite, with a ghosting tail effect to indicate direction and speed of that particular wind data.

Wind1.png

What follows is a lively and moving map of North America, where the trails and undulating flow of patterns displayed almost give the data a real sense of sentience. Numbers and wind speed figures gives way to something that almost breathes as nature would. The concept is rather simple, but the execution is so delicately handled, that you truly do get the sense that only this duo could handle immense code and data visualisation in such a way. After looking at the map, you really can’t think of a better more efficient way of displaying wind data, with the added bonus that it looks fantastic. I think that data visualisations grounded in actual efficiency is the strongest.

The design of the website or UI is lovely as well. It’s rather white and arad, which allows the maps themselves to become one large generative artwork.

wind2

3.1 Images

bitchleak

Bill Leeks released this cartoon nationally in The Australian following the leaked videos from Don Dale Detention centre. It’s a prime example of how not to react to a horrific, racially motivated situation. The simple fact that ‘The Australian’ stood by this image, (and his previous equally discriminatory cartoons) reveals how pretty fucked up their newsroom, chief of staff and ethics really are. Worse still is the actual national popularity of the publication.


IndigenousDad.png

In response to the Bill Leaks cartoon, Aboriginal fathers took to twitter under the hashtag #indigenousdads, to visually show their opposition to the views expressed in The Australian. Twitter is great, because it allows these organic movements of ‘real imagery’ to circulate throughout society (showing Aboriginal men are obviously good fathers), opposed to all the grossly incorrect sampling a lot of media outlets in Australia hide their news behind.


garma

This is a great photo from Garma Festival in the NT. The festival runs parallel to other major festivals like splendour in the grass, revealing a nice cross section of Australian Y generations interest in amazing local culture, against a bullshit pinger fest. This picture is great, because it shows all ‘types’ of people being embraced and immersed inside of a really organic, ambient genuine aboriginal environment.


thomasdick1923

This is from a series of photographs taken by farmer Thomas Dick in the 1920’s, and found in a rusted old tin on his property. It’s a very earnest portrayal of Port Macquarie/Coastal Aboriginal communities still living in a mostly undisturbed environment. The photo is brilliant in revealing the unique synergy even recent Aboriginals had with the environment around here. A bark canoe sits in a natural appropriated dock caused by a lightning strike on a tree. Thomas lets the scene speak for itself, and gives a voice to early aboriginals when they had none, during the tumultuous early stages of modern Australian life.


thomasdick1923iiindigenous-photographs-data

This is an extension of Thomas Dicks previous photo, however with the added context of a modern landscape underlaid behind the original. I really adore this photo, because in essence it’s revealing of an Aboriginal tribe living within a particular area, being forcibly removed, and that area still looking exactly the same as it had 80 years earlier— one again indicative of the close union Aboriginal people had with the land.
Show a before and after photo of any european inhabited area 80 years apart and the difference would be immense.


goodesykillinit

This gif is taken from the HIGHLY [OVERLY] PUBLICISED celebration by iconic sportsman Adam Goodes after kicking a important mark in a 2015 AFL game. Within hours of this happening live, countless novice and reputable news sources alike plastered social media with the video and their uneducated interpretation of the aggresive nature of Goodess cultural ‘Spear dance’. It was only when finally, Aboroginal communities themselves were consulted about the ‘incident’, which is when they pointed out it was a ficticious boomerang he was holding, not an aggressive spear— immediately identifying how fucking stupid and brash a great deal of our media is. Furthermore, the Maori tradition of performing the Haka before representing their nation is considered patriotic, and heavily respected by Australian people, whereas this very similarly tribal cultural celebration was accepted with heavy backlash, despite characterising a fraction of the aggression of the Haka. Ummmmmm??????


THE BOY.jpg
Iconic photo of Patrick Mills hitting a go-ahead 3 pointer which would eventually lead to the victory of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Championship. Patty Mills in an Aboriginal Australia who is currently in his 7th season in the American national basketball league. Playing in the NBA is an incredible achievement (about three in every 10,000 or .003% players who play competative HS basketball will continue on the NBA), more incredible is the fact most people know much about him, short of every 4 years when channel 7 hypes him up for their olympics broadcasts. Andrew Gaze, a household name in Aus basketball, also played with the spurs, averaging less than HALF patty’s points per game, and 1/4 of his assists and minutes. I’m a big Patrick fan, and I get frustrated when people comment that we have no good ball players in Aus, while a guy who averages 9ppg in the most athletic league in the world gets ignored largely because he is not marketable to Aus. A large part of that I feel, being his cultural background.


6ef59539-6136-471b-bd6d-9cc06a9f28db_1469163387

This is Truganini, an Aboriginal woman from Tasmania who at a young age was already special due to her role in educating others in her tribe (a role normally kept for elder villagers). Post european invasion, after witnessing horrific crimes against humanity, Truganini continued her work in education, this time urging her people to dissect and understand the white invaders, to earn empathy, and fight back for their independance more effectively. As a young ‘classically’ uneducated woman, she showed more diplomacy in the face of horror than anyone in a patriarchal european system.


MoniqueHurleyTweet.png

Working at SBS during NAIDOC week means that a part of my job is trawling through twitter for NAIDOC content to repost. I came across and liked this picture for the simple fact that it shows a typical young Australian genuinely seeking out and enjoying Aboriginal culture in the NT.
Twitter has become a large part of news broadcasts, and despite that you never see regular, communal stuff like this make on the 7 news bulletin, however they will repost a Tweet from Robbo35 in Stradbroke Island who reckons there’s “too many burkas on the beach” there and that they “must get pretty hot in that ‘ay.”


levicraig

This is a photo from American born Levi-Craig Murray’s photographic essay ‘Modern indigenous Australia’. I thought this was a really interesting project— an offshore artist coming to Australia to document the landscape of Aboriginal people away from the embedded discriminations existing in the country. “The media seems to flood, inundate people with very raw photography, and it’s all images of people in northern or central parts of our country,” But he says there are many and varied faces of Indigenous people, right across the continent. “The Indigenous people that are living in the city – I wanted to show that those people still have a deep connection to their country and culture too.”
It’s an interesting simple concept, that you somewhat rarely consider.

1. Bill Leak
Leek, B. 2016, The crucial role of fathers, ABC, viewed 22nd August 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-04/scullion-condemns-‘racist’-cartoon-in-the-australian/7692234&gt;

2. #IndigenousDad
John Paul Janke, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://twitter.com/jpjanke?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw [Accessed 30 August 2016].

3. Garma
Unknown – Garma Fest, (2016), Garma [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/garma2016/photos

4. Thomas Dick Photo
Thomas Dick, (1923), Untitled [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/uncovering-australias-indigenous-past-with-new-photographs/6969778 [Accessed 31 August 2016].

5. Thomas Dick Photo II
Thomas Dick, (1923), Untitled [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/uncovering-australias-indigenous-past-with-new-photographs/6969778 [Accessed 31 August 2016].

6. Goodes
FOX Sports. (2015). Buddy sinks blues with seven goals. [Online Video]. 30 May 2015. Available from: http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans/sydney-swans-adam-goodes-celebrates-goal-with-indigenous-war-dance-ruffles-feathers-20150529-ghczbr.html. [Accessed: 30 August 2016].

7. Patty The Kid
NBA getty images, (2014), getty [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.nba.com/spurs/video/channel/highlights [Accessed 30 August 2016].ty-mills-plays-key-role-as-san-antonio-spurs-defeat-the-heat-to-claim-nba-title/story-fni2u9cl-1226955592692?nk=f032352c036646272506e6d9c6adca95-1473222350

8. Truganini
NITV provided, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2015/03/06/20-inspiring-black-women-who-have-changed-australia [Accessed 30 August 2016].

9. Hurley Tweet
Monique Hurley, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://twitter.com/monique_hurley/status/751240544597078017/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw [Accessed 30 August 2016].

10. Levi Craig
Levi-Craig Murray, (2016), – [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/modernindigenousaustralia/photos

3.0 Stakeholders

Map of stakeholder surrounding Aboriginal Rights.

Laura was a great partner to fill this out with. We have similar outlooks on societal constructs; moreso, a similar understanding of the interaction between media, government and public conventions.

It’s interesting however, we were laying down names and agencies on the butchers paper through a ‘stream of consciousness’ sort of application. And near every name had some affiliation with media, or popular opinion. It was as if most everything we knew or understood of Aboriginal rights has passed through a filter of media, like— It had to represented in news (good or bad) or  be a part of some national discussion before we were aware of it. Very few if any names we put down were local or personal sources, and very little had any to do with Aboriginal heritage or ancestry.

It’s practically all Aboriginal figures in rights issues, the politicians affecting those issues, and the media agencies trafficking the information. There was a lack of Aboriginal figureheads beyond sports stars, and all around greatest man on earth, Ernie Dingo. Does the problem stem from our own lack of awareness, motivation to seek Aboriginal news in our own means, or what (lack of) selected Aboriginal news is actually presented to us, or a mixture of all.

stakeholders

2.1 Skydome

Ok,wow, where the hell was this in our textbooks.

I remember being taught about dreamtime. About the collaboration Aboriginal people had with the earth, and spirits in the sky. However I never new the entire system had deep roots in social-cultural astrology— furthermore, grounded in a DEEP understanding of astrology well before any other european, asian or african nation. In fact they’re considered the first beings to name celestial objects in the sky.

“when Europeans made first contact they labelled the Aborigines as primitive. Later in the 19th and early 20th centuries, ethnologists, anthropologists and scholars found that the Aborigines in fact had a complex socio-cultural religious system which was used to conduct their daily lives and the life cycle of birth, growth and death.”

What strikes me about this, is that in essence, the ‘religion’ of aboriginal people was born from astrology. Key religious figures from the culture were born in or eventually made their way to the stars, where they resided in constellations, looking over the people below. Opposed to other forms of religion which based themselves on figurative messiahs, or messiahs of human flesh and appearance, the Aboriginal people based their social system on specific and solid aspects of nature. There exists a true synergy between man and the environment, moreso than any religion or even societal culture I can think of (in my limited knowledge) today.

Even more outstanding, is the fact that their education system was based on this deep understanding of astrology. Of such importance is a knowledge of the stars to the Aborigines in their night journeys and of their positions denoting particular seasons of the year, that astronomy, and reflecting on the sky and movements of the stars above is considered one of the principal branches of education.

Facts-about-Aboriginal-Dance.jpegAboriginals get all the cool homework

 

By watching the movement of the stars the Aborigines of central Australia discerned for themselves that certain stars neither rise nor set, i.e. they are circumpolar

The system was based on absolute laws of astrology.  Celestial patterns would note a certain fish were in season in the north, or that Dingo’s would be breeding in central Australia. And based on these laws, they would seek food or supplies for their language groups. Again, this is absolute synergy with nature.

dingo.jpg

Stars: Natures first porn search engine 

Furthermore, astrology provided grounds for culture laws and morals (morals of which have ALWAYS been attributed to conservative religions such as christianity and the bible)

“The Aboriginal people use the celestial objects in the sky as a moral book to inform their people of how to conduct themselves. The rules they enact on land are transposed into the sky for all to read. For example, the star Aldebaran referred to above also serves to illustrate a story about what happens to people who are adulterers. According to the Aborigines of the Clarence River region in New South Wales, Karambal (Aldebaran) stole the wife of another man and hid her in a tree. The husband set fire to the tree and the flames carried Karambal into the sky where he is easily seen and pointed out as the red star which is still burning (Mathews 1905). It serves as a constant reminder to anyone who is contemplating committing adultery. “

Another interesting note, is that this education of nature and the stars above were passed on and taught in an oral nature. Stories and laws were taught by word of mouth, and taught in the sand on in basic carvings. Things were never ‘written down’ in the historical english sense of the term. There you have an education that is constantly evolving and growing based on human interpretation. – opposed to something such as the 2nd amendment, which because it is written formally, has little chance of receiving a further amendment, despite the societal demand and need.

This oral fixation on information has of course led to problems in todays society under traditional english law— “ Their law had been passed down from one generation to another in their oral tradition. However, within the Australian legal system of common law, oral testimony may be classified as hearsay and it is therefore inadmissible as evidence.” Therefore a great deal of the ‘religious’ aspect of aboriginal dreamtime (which should be protected) is lost in courts.

Large areas of land with very acute cultural significance is lost, because the elders cannot ‘truly justify’ their historical relevance.

Bhathal, Dr Ragbir Bhathal. “Astronomy In Aboriginal Culture”. A&G 2006: 27-30. Print.