Family is one of the most unifying bonds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families consist of grandparents, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, cousins and complex extended families of in-laws and cultural kin.
Family ties Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to one another, and is an important element in the relationship between people, land and water.
Prior to colonisation, Aboriginal families had a system of social identification which recognised a family’s connection to land, water and people. Elements of these systems survive to varying degrees among all families. Some Aboriginal families continue to link specific totems with social kinship rights and rights to country.
Aboriginal families have adapted significantly, while still maintaining their connection to land and water. Storytelling in families is an important way to maintain these connections. Elders play an important role in Aboriginal societies and are essential in family structures. They continue the knowledge of social, economic, political and physical relationships of land seas and people from the past, in the present and for the future.
Sing me the song of the sky by Jane Hill
Tell me that story once again Nan…
how that creek was made
And the world began when that snake lay down
and pushed up the land,
to make all this country
of water and sand.
Tell me once more of all our Old People,
of creatures and birds that can’t fly!
Tell me my history, my culture,
and sing me the song of the sky.
Tell me while Gillen the Moon looks down
and smiles her light on our land
and when I grow up I’ll pass on the stories,
the history and songs of my clan.
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