The Australian Aboriginal or Koori

The word "aboriginal" simply means: "Having existed in a region from the beginning". Even so this is an English word, and considering Australia's history, the word is offensive to some. On the East coast of Australia including New South Wales and Victoria the name Koori is preferred. It may also be written as Coorie, Kory, Kuri, Kooli, or Koole and mean 'person' or 'people'.

Some believe that the Koori people arrived in Australia as recently as 50,000 years ago, having originated in Africa. Whereas the Koori people do not accept that, and believe that they have always been in Australia since creation and the "dreamtime". The idea that Koori people could have evolved quite independently in Australia is shared by some non-Koori people. The theory is often referred to as "Multiregional Evolution" and is supported by Wolpoff and others. See: Wolpoff and Multiregional Evolution.

Regardless of their origin, it can be said without doubt that the Koori people have been in Australia for a very long time, and at the time of the European invasion, had evolved independent of outside intervention and interaction longer than any other race.

When white man arrived they wrongfully concluded that the Koori people had not "evolved", and were somehow inferior. This conclusion was based upon observations, and interpretations from the white man's perspective. For example the people hadn't developed sophisticated buildings and technology. To understand why, it is important to look more closely at their belief systems and laws.

The Koori social structure has no place for personal greed. The individual is unimportant, whereas the community is all important and takes into account all forms of life, the earth, and ancestors. Precepts preserving the environment and the mother earth, are firmly embedded within the Koori belief systems, and philosophies.

To say that the people lacked a written language is also somewhat na´ve. Painting and rock engravings are use to record events and teachings. Story telling, with or without the such visuals aids is important for the passing on of knowledge, both theological, philosophical, and legal. Story telling is an effective way of imparting knowledge to the young, particularly where safety and survival are concerned. Because of its significance, the Koori people had evolved the art of story telling way beyond that of the typical Eoropean. Many stories have multiple levels of meaning, depending on the level of understanding or learning of the observer.

In Koori society, learning continues throughout life, where the level attained is over to the individual, much as in other societies. Respect is shown for the elders in the community by applying the title of "uncle" or "auntie". There are many Koori languages through Australia, and all have words for men and women that have reached a pinnacle of learning and understanding: the wise people. (quote from Gallery Curator