Aboriginal History – Why Koori History?
The Koori History website has been produced primarily as an education resource for both the Aboriginal community and educators alike. Many of the articles found on this site are written with curriculum development in mind, for both primary and secondary level teachers. Koori History explores the cultures of Australia’s First Peoples via a range of key themes, including technology, culture, and language.
Much of what you will find on the site comes from the authors own experiences, knowledge, and ongoing research. Living and breathing Koori culture, having ties to many of the most pivotal figures in both Aboriginal and Australian political history, whilst being engaged with history on a daily basis, learning from Elders and community members. These are some of the driving forces behind the production of Koori History as a website.
Whilst Koori History is intended to be a constantly updated, growing resource, please keep in mind that it is a labour of passion, primarily managed by one author. In addition to running this website, I also teach Aboriginal culture and history full-time, have a family which includes three small children, and am also a practicing artist. As useful as I hope Koori History might be, it is but one resource, and should be examined in tandem with the other fine Aboriginal owned and managed education resources that are already available. Should you be looking specifically for a strong grounding in Aboriginal or Koori political history, then Dr. Gary Foley’s Kooriweb.org should be your first port of call. If you’re interested in learning about other aspects of Aboriginal/Koori culture, then your best option is to get off the internet, meet the community, and have a yarn! There are many Koori operated cultural experiences, education programs and associated resources available. These organisations and individuals need your support just as much as you might need theirs!
There are many resources available online that are operated by non-Indigenous people who have learnt a great deal about Aboriginal people and our cultures, but please be mindful of where that knowledge originates, particularly when noting that a number of such enterprises are commercial in nature, and are cashing in on 65,000 years of history, culture and experiences, with nothing returned to the communities from which that knowledge originally came from.
If you’ve still got questions, good. Because the thirst for knowledge should never be satisfied, and hopefully this site in some small way can help you on your journey!
John T. Patten is a Yorta Yorta and Bundjalung educator, multi-disciplined artist and historian who works at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. There he develops and delivers Koori themed community and education programs, teaching Aboriginal history, culture and traditional practices and technologies. John has lectured on Aboriginal history and cultural practices at La Trobe University and Melbourne University, and has delivered cultural workshops relating to traditional wood carving art practices in locations across New South Wales and Victoria. Much of the content of koorihistory.com is based on John’s own knowledge and research, and stories shared with him via his family, utilising their somewhat unique perspective as participants in key narratives within the history of Koori peoples in South Eastern Australia.
koorihistory.com was founded in early 2016, and is an extension of the earlier 2009 work ‘Remembering Jack Patten (1905 – 1957), which documents the story of the author’s grandfather. Remembering Jack Patten may now be found online, here at koorihistory.com, and archived for posterity by the AIATSIS Library in Canberra.
For the purpose of this website, ‘South Eastern Australia‘ refers primarily to New South Wales and Victoria. However, within the term’s broader meaning some articles may also provide a starting point for discussion relating to the cultures found in South Australia, and South Eastern Queensland. Koori is the primary term used for identifying Aboriginal history, people and cultures on this website when relating to both New South Wales and Victoria. Koori (Guri) is a word for man/people that comes from the languages of the Mid North Coast and Hunter regions of New South Wales. In some instances the community has chosen to spell the word ‘Koorie’, however this website follows the older, more widely accepted spelling. In coastal areas of far northern New South Wales the word is sometimes written and pronounced with a harder ‘g’ sound, and is written as ‘Goori’. Whilst not targeting a national or international audience per se, many articles found on this site may be of use outside of their intended scope, as may relate to the history and shared experiences of First Nations peoples around the World.
Every effort is made to ensure that all cultural sensitivities are considered when producing this web resource. This website is focused specifically on Koori culture, rather than the cultures of Aboriginal people from across Australia, hence there are no notices relating to the display of images, texts or audio of those who have since passed away. Whilst taboos relating to the deceased were traditionally practiced in some of the areas that now constitute South Eastern Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, today those taboos are no longer practiced. No objects or knowledge of cultural practices considered Secret/Sacred, or sensitive to a specific individual, family, Clan or Nation will be made available on this website.