Thursday, 22 August 2013

My take on my Culture, Aboriginal Culture

So when ever I tell people I am Aboriginal they look a little confused. They see me...
And I can see the confusion on their face. The way I look contradicts their views on what an Aboriginal person looks like and what Aboriginal Culture is.
Aboriginal Culture is so varied and yet holds us all together. From my perspective, as an urban Aboriginal woman, Culture is; Cultural practises, family, community responsibility and a connection to country. It's our way of doing business, through respect, community engagement and Cultural protocol. It's respecting the wisdom and knowledge of our elders. It's my history, pre and post invasion. Culture is a long list of variables, which our mob share but no one person embodies all of them.

There are many Aboriginal Cultures; with similarities and difference. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one size fits all. Our diversity is our strength, yet is often over looked because people assume that because the singular word "Aboriginal" is used, we must be all the same. I however liken the word Aboriginal, to saying European. Make more sense now?

There is also traditional Culture, which is our Cultural practise's, beliefs, lore. But no culture is static. Every Cultural practise, story and dance had a beginning. Often Aboriginal Culture is seen as static; frozen in time, pre-invasion. One static interpretation is the romantic notion of Aboriginal Culture. People hold the notion of the "noble savage". When they see how we are negatively promoted in the media and it doesn't fit with the “noble savage” imagery, they draw the conclusion that our Culture is lost. So far from the truth.

People also often confuse “Culture” and “culture”. "Culture" with a capital "C" refers to the Cultural practises which make us who we are. "culture" can refer to specific behaviours like "drinking culture", which are not part of Cultural practise and does not make us who we are. Yet the terms are often used interchangeably, to the detriment of our mob. We are not the sum of our issues.

It has taken me a long time to articulate what Aboriginal Culture means to me, so it is no surprise that outsiders have a hard time too. It is no more difficult to articulate, than it would be to articulate Australian Culture, however Australian Culture is rarely under the spotlight in quite the same way as Aboriginal Culture.

I shall finish off with saying, that if you do not yet fully grasp Aboriginal Culture, don’t be surprised. It will take me a lifetime to understand what it means to be an Aboriginal woman. How is anyone else mean to get it in just a few words such as this?