1901-1945 religious makeup of population is hardly changed → predominately Anglo-Celtic Christian.
0.5 % profess non-Christian religions.
Migration to Australia after WWII drastically alters religious landscape.
Contemporary Aboriginal Spirituality
Aboriginal Spirituality as determined by the Dreaming
Complex network of relationships defining identity, rights, obligations.
Defines and individuals place, role and responsibility in the community.
Vary across communities but serve same function of social order, meaning, and continued well-being of group.
Determines education of children, system of moral and financial support, intermarriage issues.
Relationships evolve in context of extended family
Harshest penalty for breaking customary law often exclusion or banishment from kin.
Relationship with the Dreaming: Kinship groups established by ancestor beings in dreamtime, along with other laws
It is the tangible expression of Dreaming in everyday life.
The way the individual experiences the Dreaming (ceremonies, sacred sites etc.) is entirely determined by the connection of the kinship group.
Roles, rights, responsibilities of kinship group are defined and explained through Dreaming stories.
Includes rites of passage, initiation, burial ceremonies etc.
Purposes: celebrate life-cycle; promote well-being, provision of needs, passing on information.
Often gender specific Balance rites:
No immediate control over food supplies so most rituals celebrate wildlife and continuation of food supply.
Spirit of species inhabits certain sites: responsible groups must perform proper rights to ensure spirits emerge and give life.
Death and burial rituals:
Death is only the last ceremony in the present life as spirits return to original Dreaming places as part of eternal transition of Dreaming life force.
Burial grounds are feared
Buried in own country
Reflected in the Dreaming:
Ceremonial life acknowledges the Dreaming as a fundamental aspect of human life while practice sustains it as a vital part of spirituality.
Ceremonies commonly pertain to sacred sites where, as revealed in the Dreaming, ancestor beings are said to inhabit.
Burial rites acknowledge the intrinsic spiritual link of the individual with the life force of the Dreaming
Obligations to land and people
Indigenous people don’t own land; they are custodians
Mutual dependence: both provider of food and water and place of the ancestor beings.
Land used as a food-source is often separate from sacred sites.
When outside of estate care is taken not to break laws of people or approach their sacred sites.
Ownership based on ritual responsibility.
Elders responsible to properly perform rites
Totem (symbolic and real link to land, kin, and dreaming) : brings responsibility to totem and links to ancestor spirits. Reflected in the Dreaming:
Land holds sacred places for all people.
Land is context of dreaming, inhabited by the ancestor spirits whom the people maintain a strong link with.
Responsibility to land physically and tangibly derives from and preserves the Dreaming as living religion.
Effect of Dispossession on Aboriginal Spirituality
Separation from the land
Settlement in 1788 caused competing interests for land
50 years after settlement Protectionist policy established, moving Indigenous people to missions which caused isolation and segregation
Deprivation of land results in a loss of independence, culture, identity and spiritual world.
Separation from kinship groups
Some missions ban culture, ceremonies are banned, and kin cannot visit.
Virtual destruction of kinship groups undermines basis of culture.
Without numbers to remain self-sufficient and sustain religious and cultural practices, identity suffers.
1930s : Assimilation - forced removal (stolen generations)
1965 : integration.
Present : Self-determination.
The Stolen Generations
Forced separation of indigenous children from