Indigenous Traditions Essay

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Indigenous Traditions - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Origins Australia has two indigenous peoples – Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. It is not possible to speak of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander religion, as there were many. There are, however, shared cultural traits, economic and ceremonial dealings, and a customary system of land-tenure law. It is misleading to try to separate Australian indigenous religious experience from other aspects of their life, culture and history. It is also difficult to speak of origins, because an indigenous conception of time connects past actions and people with present and future generations. Time is circular, not linear, as each generation relives the Dreaming activities. Australia’s indigenous peoples arrived about 40,000 years ago, when Asia and Australia were still connected by a land bridge. As the land masses separated, the population adapted itself to the various environmental and climatic conditions of this continent. Aborigines were nomadic, moving through the land in cycles, sometimes meeting with and sharing stories with other clan-groups. Torres Strait Islanders, who are Melanesian by ethnic origin, were seafaring and trading peoples based on the islands between far North Queensland and Papua New Guinea, and their spirituality and customs reflected their dependence on the sea. Although indigenous beliefs and cultural practices vary according to region, all groups share in a common world-view that the land and other natural phenomena possess living souls. The collection of stories of these powerful beings and the repository of knowledge represented in these stories shapes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law, both its history and future. The Dreaming or Dreamtime is the English name given to the intimately connected but distinct strands of Aboriginal belief; they

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