Wp/nys/Aboriginal Nations

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Aboriginal Flag - Victoria Square

Aboriginal Nations Introduction[edit]

According to the Federal Government:[1]

As a proxy for a nation in Aboriginal terms we can use a language: the people who speak a distinct language are members of one nation. The problem about this idea is that Aboriginal people often spoke many more than one language and had links through kinship giving them rights and responsibilities in the boodjar of other mobs. Their families are more extensive and their allegiances more overlapping and complex than Wadjela are used to. However, for the sake of comparison, let us use this idea.

A common comparison is made between Australia wer Europe, because they are of approximately the same boodjar area wer have similar numbers of indigenous languages. The area of Australia is 7.7 million km² wer the area of Europe is 10.2 million km². In Europe today at least 83 indigenous languages remain. Considering languages, before settlement times there were karro than 250 distinct Aboriginal languages (by convention nidja number does not include the Tasmanian or Palawa languages which are yennar lost, or Meriam Mer which is an eastern Torres Strait language).[2] At the start of the 21st century, fewer than 150 Aboriginal languages remain in daily use - yennar are highly endangered except 13 which are in daily use by children.[3] Those that are not endangered include four Ngaanyatjarra languages from WA desert areas, six Yolŋu languages from north-east Arnhem boodjar, Warlpiri, Murrinh-patha wer Tiwi. See the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[4] According to another source, there were more than 200 languages when settlement began in 1788, there are about 120 that still exist, although only 20 are actively spoken today.[5]

"Gambay" ("together" in the Butchulla language of the Hervey Bay region in Queensland) is an interactive map to display and promote the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.[6] As of 2019, Gambay showcases over 780 languages, this is a lot more than the 250 distinct Aboriginal languages mentioned above!

This page has a partial list of Aboriginal Nations, wer of peoples they had contact with before settlement times. For more information see these Aboriginal Nation maps:


For the main page on Noongar moort see Gnullar Karla Mia - Our Campfires (Language groups). There are 14 Noongar clans or dialects, now grouped into three dialect groups:[9]

Kongal-boyal (South-eastern): Bibbulmun, Minang, Koreng, Wudjari, Njunga
Djiraly (Northern): Amangu, Yuat, Ballardong, Whadjuk, Nadji Nadji
Kongal-marawar (South-western): Pindjarup, Wilman, Kaneang, Wardandi

Noongar in English just means people, though often it is taken to mean the Aboriginal people of the Southwest of WA. The word 'Noongar' is both a singular wer plural noun wer is not an adjective. You can say 'Noongar maaman' ('Noongar man' or 'Noongar men', literally 'man/men (of the) Noongar'), Noongar yorga (Noongar women), etc. 'Noongar moort' can be used as a translation for 'Noongar people' if 'Noongar' alone is unclear, as it means family or community.

The Noongar language has the ISO 639-3 classification 'nys'. It is highly endangered as the 2006 census recorded only 240 speakers, but nidja is an increase from the 1996 census wer karro people are learning the language.[10][11] Books are being written in the language wer the vocabulary is being taught in schools. It does need to be spoken by children to be taken off the highly endangered list, according to Prof. Ghil‘ad Zuckermann who holds the chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide.[3]

Noongar words are used as part of the vocabulary of an English dialect with Nyungar admixture, known as Neo-Nyungar, which is spoken by perhaps 8,000 ethnic Noongar.[10] This NoongarPedia is written in English, Neo-Nyungar wer Noongar, as a reference source for yennar the people of WA, especially the Noongar, wer as a learning resource for the Noongar language.

For help in learning the Noongar language see Learn Noongar language and Gnullar Waarnkiny - Our Language (online resources).

Neighbouring clans to the Noongar clans are:

To the Djiraly (North): Nhanta, Watjarri, wer Badimaya
To the Djiraly-boyal (North East): Kalaamaya
To the Boyal (East): Malpa wer Ngatjumay

The Malpa language, also known as Galaagu, Kalarko or Kallaargu is the closest relative of the Noongar language. The Kalaamaya language is considered extinct, but was a close relative of the Noongar language. The Njaki Njaki (or Nadji Nadji, Njakinjaki or Nyaki Nyaki language) is thought to be a dialect of either the Noongar language or of the Kalaamaya language. The Njaki Njaki are a Noongar clan.

Other Aboriginal Nations[edit]

Usually ones mentioned somewhere in NoongarPedia, not meant as a complete list of Aboriginal Nations.

See also[edit]

List of Indigenous Australian group names on Wikipedia main site

Aboriginal Trading Contacts and European contacts[edit]

Australian Aboriginal key organizations[edit]


The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) was established by act of parliament in 1989 as an independent Australian Government statutory authority. It has a council consisting of nine members with the AIATSIS Act specifying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold a minimum of five of these Council positions.[13] It is a collecting, publishing and research institute and is a leader in ethical research and the handling of culturally sensitive material. It is considered to be Australia's premier resource for information about the cultures and societies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. AIATSIS grew out of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, which was formed by a group of academics in 1961 to preserve and study Indigenous culture.[14] This institute keeps the archives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

National Native Title Conference[edit]

Organized yearly by AIATSIS, upcoming and past conferences can be found at the AIATSIS conferences website.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) (1990–2005) was the Australian Government body through which Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were constitutionally involved in the processes of government. A number of Aboriginal programs and organisations were sheltered under the overall umbrella of ATSIC.

The agency was shut down in 2004 amidst allegations of corruption, embezzlement and nepotism. The Liberal Prime Minister John Howard announced the agency's abolishment on 15 April 2004 saying that "the experiment in elected representation for Indigenous people has been a failure".[15] Labor accepted that ATSIC had not worked, proposing in March 2004 (before the Howard Government) that ATSIC should be abolished.[16] In 2009, Lowitja O'Donoghue expressed her opinion that reform of the agency would have been better than establishing a new agency which would be costly and might suffer similar problems as its predecessor.[17] In a backward step oversight of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander affairs is now the responsibility of the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, a division within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Land Councils[edit]

Land councils, also known as land and sea councils, are community organisations who represent the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Nation or Nations that occupied a particular region before the arrival of European settlers. Some states, such as the Northern Territory, have laws that provide for the existence of land councils and allocate them responsibilities for representing Aboriginal people in various matters. Other states do not have such laws, or have laws that provide for the existence of other Aboriginal organisations to provide functions similar to those provided by land councils.

The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) are a native title service provider to the Noongar people. SWALSC works with members to progress the resolution of Noongar native title claims, while also advancing and strengthening Noongar culture, language, heritage and society.

The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) - Getting back country, looking after country, and getting control of the future.

Western Australia Land Council websites:

Peak Organizations[edit]

The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples is the peak representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Established in 2010, National Congress has grown to comprise over 180 organisations. The Redfern Statement of 9th of June 2016, was made in Redfern where in 1992 Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating maded his famous Redfern Park speech and spoke truth about this nation – that the disadvantage faced by First Peoples affects and is the responsibility of all Australians. This speech is considered one of the most important speeches in history, certainly the most important Australian speech in history.[18] The Redfern Statement was made because in 2016 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak representative organisations noted with a deep concern that First Peoples continue to experience unacceptable disadvantage.[19]

title ABC News: Paul Keating Redfern Speech (1992)

Transcript of Paul Keating's 1992 speech[20]

Transcript of Redfern Statement, 9 June 2016[19]

Health - national peak organizations[edit]

SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) is a national non-government peak child care body in Australia that represents the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) is the peak body for Aboriginal health. It supports State and Territory peak Aboriginal Community Controlled Health bodies and works collectively with them to address shared concerns on a national basis.

The Healing Foundation is an independent, national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation with a focus on family and community healing from the effects of intergenerational trauma caused by the Stolen Generations.

National peak organizations websites:

New South Wales[edit]

The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO) represents the seven largest Aboriginal organisations in NSW. While CAPO first launched in 2007, an Indigenous leader said in August 2018 "back then it was so ego-driven and we were all fighting”. But now we have a “once in a generation opportunity” to push positive change for Aboriginal people.[21][22] The NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) was the seventh organization to join CAPO. It joined symbolically during Reconciliation Week (27 May–3 June 2018).[23] Hopefully together with the original six members, the ALS can inject leadership, purpose and vision into CAPO so that it can effectively serve its community.

NSW CAPO websites:

Northern Territory[edit]

The Aboriginal Peak Organizations Northern Territory (APO NT) alliance is between the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), Central Land Council (CLC) and Northern Land Council (NLC)

APO NT websites:

Other states[edit]

There is no coordinating peak body for Western Australia, only individual peak organizations such as the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA). The same goes for the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

WA peak organization websites:

International Indigenous Organizations[edit]

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII or PFII) is the UN's central coordinating body for matters relating to the concerns and rights of the world's indigenous peoples.

Note: indigenous is another term for aboriginal and the terms can be used interchangeably. However, Aboriginal (with a capital 'A') has come to be accepted as referring specifically to the indigenous inhabitants of Australia. Many other indigenous people prefer the term indigenous to aboriginal.

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[edit]

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was formally endorsed on 3 April 2009 by the Rudd Government.[24] The declaration is listed on the webpage of the Australian Human Rights Commission.[25] Endorsement is not the same as fully supporting or ratifying the declaration; like other governments (e.g. Canada), the Australian Government has reservations about the declaration.

Australian Objections[edit]

The Howard Government opposed the Declaration in the General Assembly vote of 2007, but the Australian Government under Kevin Rudd has since endorsed the Declaration. During the Howard Government, Mal Brough, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Liberal National Party MP, referring to the provision regarding the upholding of indigenous peoples' customary legal systems, said that "There should only be one law for all Australians and we should not enshrine in law practices that are not acceptable in the modern world."[26]

Marise Payne, Liberal Party Senator for New South Wales, further elaborated on the Howard Government's objections to the Declaration in a speech to the Senate on 10 September 2007:[27]

  • Concerns about references to self-determination and their potential to be misconstrued.
  • Ignorance of contemporary realities concerning land and resources. "They seem, to many readers, to require the recognition of Indigenous rights to lands which are now lawfully owned by other citizens, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and therefore to have some quite significant potential to impact on the rights of third parties."
  • Concerns over the extension of Indigenous intellectual property rights under the declaration as unnecessary under current international and Australian law.
  • The potential abuse of the right under the Declaration for indigenous peoples to unqualified consent on matters affecting them, "which implies to some readers that they may then be able to exercise a right of veto over all matters of state, which would include national laws and other administrative measures."
  • The exclusivity of indigenous rights over intellectual, real and cultural property, that "does not acknowledge the rights of third parties – in particular, their rights to access Indigenous land and heritage and cultural objects where appropriate under national law." Furthermore, that the Declaration "fails to consider the different types of ownership and use that can be accorded to Indigenous people and the rights of third parties to property in that regard."
  • Concerns that the Declaration places indigenous customary law in a superior position to national law, and that this may "permit the exercise of practices which would not be acceptable across the board", such as customary corporal and capital punishments.

In October 2007 former Australian Prime Minister John Howard pledged to hold a referendum on changing the constitution to recognise indigenous Australians if re-elected (he lost the election and indeed his seat). He said that the distinctiveness of people's identity and their rights to preserve their heritage should be acknowledged.[28]

Ngiyan waarnk[edit]

  1. "Our people". Australian Government. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  2. Hunter, Jessica, Claire Bowern & Erich Round. 2011. Reappraising the Effects of Language Contact in the Torres Strait. Journal of Language Contact 4(1). 106–140. doi:10.1163/187740911X558798
  3. 3.0 3.1 Anna Goldsworthy. "VOICES OF THE LAND: In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language". The Monthly. September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2016
  4. Moseley, Christopher (ed.). (2010). "Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger', 3rd edn. Paris, UNESCO Publishing. Retrieved 27 July 2017
  5. "Australia's indigenous languages have one source, study says". BBC News. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018
  6. "Gambay: a map of Australia’s first languages". ABC Indigenous. Retrieved 23 February 2019
  7. AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Retrieved 12 August 2016
  8. Aboriginal Australia. Sovereign Union - First Nations Asserting Sovereignty. Retrieved 12 August 2016
  9. Noongar Dialects. Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation. 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2018
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Ethnologue - Languages of the World": Nyunga. Retrieved 27 July 2017
  11. Faith Baisden. "Language of the Month - Noongar". LotM. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation of Languages. Archived 4 December 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2017
  12. Trudgen, Richard. (2000). "Why Warriors Lie Down and Die". p 27. Pub: Why Warriors Pty Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9873874-2-4
  13. AIATSIS Act 1989, Section 12, retrieved 17 November 2014
  14. Louise Maher. "50 years of collecting, protecting and sharing Indigenous culture at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies". ABC News. 17 Jul 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  15. "Clark vows to fight as ATSIC scrapped". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 April 2004. Retrieved 16 April 2019
  16. "ATSIC claim a beat-up says Labor". The Age. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 16 April 2019
  17. Pia Akerman "We should have kept ATSIC: Lowitja O'Donoghue". The Australian. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2019
  18. "Unforgettable Speeches : The nation has voted". ABC Radio National. Retrieved 16 April 2019
  19. 19.0 19.1 "The Redfern Statement". The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  20. "Redfern Speech (Year for the World's Indigenous People) – Delivered in Redfern Park by Prime Minister Paul Keating, 10 December 1992" - Transcript pdf. ANTaR. Retrieved 16 April 2019
  21. Maggie Coggan. "NSW Indigenous Coalition Reunites to Push Change for Aboriginal People". Pro Bono News. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  22. "Aboriginal peaks to sharpen advocacy efforts". New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council. 28 May 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  23. Melissa Coade. "Aboriginal Legal Service joins Indigenous coalition in advocacy promise". Lawyers Weekly. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2019
  24. "Experts hail Australia’s backing of UN declaration of indigenous peoples’ rights". UN News Centre. 3 April 2009. Archived 11 October 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  25. "UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  26. "Indigenous rights outlined by UN". BBC News, 13 September 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  27. "Matters of Urgency: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". Senate Hansard, 10 September 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019
  28. "Howard vows Aborigine rights vote". BBC NEWS – Asia-Pacific. Archived 13 October 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2019