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Australian Aborigines ( , Aboriginal Australians) are a class of people who are identified by Australian law as being members of a race indigenous to the Australian continentmarker.

In the High Court of Australiamarker, Australian Aborigines have been specifically identified as a group of people who share, in common, biological ancestry back to the original occupants of the continent.

Justice Deane of the High Court famously described and defined an Australian Aboriginal person as:

"..a person of Aboriginal descent, albeit mixed, who identifies himself as such and who is recognised by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal.."


From Australian Aborigines

Eve Fesl, a Gabi Gabi woman, wrote in the Aboriginal Law Bulletin describing how she and other Australian Aborigines preferred to be identified:

"The word 'aborigine' refers to an indigenous person of any country. If it is to be used to refer to us as a specific group of people, it should be spelt with a capital 'A', i.e. 'Aborigine'..."


More recently, Lowitja O'Donoghue AC, CBE, commenting on the prospect of possible amendments to Australia's constitution, is quoted in an article entitled 'Call us Aboriginal' as saying:

"I really can't tell you of a time when 'indigenous' became current, but I personally have an objection to it, and so do many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.... This has just really crept up on us ... like thieves in the night."


"We're very happy with our involvement with indigenous people around the world, on the international forum ... because they're our brothers and sisters...But we do object to it being used here in Australia."


From Australian academia

Dean of Indigenous Research and Education at Charles Darwin University, Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik, has publicly lectured on the ways Australian Aborigines have been categorised and labelled over time:

"Professor Bin-Sallik’s lecture offered a new perspective on the terms “urban” and “traditional” and “of Indigenous descent” as used to define and categorise Aboriginal Australians."


“Not only are these categories inappropriate, they serve to divide us,” Professor Bin-Sallik said.


“Government’s insistence on categorising us with modern words like ‘urban’, ‘traditional’ and ‘of Aboriginal descent’ are really only replacing old terms ‘half-caste’ and ‘full-blood’ – based on our colouring.”


"She called for a replacement of this terminology by the word: Aborigine ... “irrespective of hue”"


Peoples within the class

400 and more distinct Australian Aboriginal peoples have been identified across the Australian continent, each distinguished by unique names for groups of people's ancestral languages, dialects, or distinctive speech mannerisms.

References

  1. Plevitz, Loretta D & Croft, Larry (2003) "Aboriginality Under The Microscope: The Biological Descent Test In Australian Law" QUT Law & Justice Journal Number 7 Accessed 25 March 2008.
  2. Dean, J (1984) Tasmania v Commonwealth. 158 CLR. p. 243.
  3. Fesl, Eve (1986) "‘Aborigine’ and ‘Aboriginal’" Aboriginal Law Bulletin. Number 39. Accessed 25 March 2008.
  4. Salna, Karlis (2008) "Call us Aboriginal - ATSIC chair". The Australian. 1 May 2008 Accessed 2 May 2008.
  5. Charles Darwin University newsroom (12 May 2008) "First public lecture focuses on racist language" Accessed 13 May 2008.
  6. Horton, David (1994) The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History, Society, and Culture Aboriginal Studies Press. Canberra. ISBN 0-85575-234-3.



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