Conversation Starter: Who Are the Aboriginal People?

Native Americans are the United States’ first people but did you know that far away in Australia, the first people are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?

For 50,000 years before European settlement, the Aboriginal people lived off the land, hunting for food and moving around within their family group’s land boundaries. They are a very spiritual people whose culture centers around their connection to the earth and family. According to Aboriginal belief, Dreamtime was the time of all Creation, and stories about this period are passed down throughout the years by word of mouth, music and dance ceremonies, and through artwork.

Resourceful People

The Australian climate can be very harsh but the Aboriginals were resourceful people with a lot of creativity. Using stones, they were able to trap fish and even keep entire fish farms! They kept drinking water cool by storing it in sacks made from wallaby skin and designed a hunting spear called a woomera which could be thrown three times further than the average spear. Even the boomerang is an Aboriginal invention; its curved shape ensures it flies back to the person who threw it.

Aboriginal Boomerang

The land was also used for foraging fruits and nutritious insects such as witchetty grubs and for finding ingredients needed to make bush medicines. Some of these ingredients are commonly used in our medicines today, such as when we use a eucalyptus rub or vapor to clear a stuffy nose or dab a drop of tea-tree oil upon a sore! 

What Can We Learn?

In the same way that the Native Americans respected nature, living in harmony with the earth was key to the Aboriginal way of life. They understood that they must take good care of the environment in which they lived, so that it could continue to provide them with the things needed for survival – shelter, healthy food, clean drinking water, and medicines.

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This article and its images were first published on, a website that helps parents to explain the world to kids, to inspire them to make a difference and to raise true global citizens.

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