top of page

Theme 3 - Aboriginal Society

Building on the discussions of Aboriginal thought systems in second theme, the eight articles in the third theme of ‘Aboriginal Society’, show how these concepts and principles apply in practice.
As is warned in the first article of this section, students may be put at risk of brain hemorrhage when reading these articles. This is particularly so in the second and third articles on totemic kinship. This is partly because the cyclical Aboriginal systems are so different to the linear systems of western thought.
However gaining even a faint grasp of these concepts will hopefully enrich your practical understanding of the Aboriginal mindset, as outlined in the five final articles of this section.


  1. Are your granddaughters only girls and your nephews only boys?

  2. If you are group C and your marital partner is D, to what group would your children belong?

  3. Is war part of human nature or just a product of economics?

  4. Is the level of a civilization measured by the degree of technological advancement or by the degree of civil cohesion?

  5. Have the assumptions of Terra Nullius affected you own knowledge of Australian history?

AH 3.1

Australian sovereignty - past, present and future

The structure of traditional Aboriginal society is equated with the three levels of government in modern Australia, plus international diplomacy.

AH 3.2

The complex world of Aboriginal kinship

The Aboriginal concepts behind the use of terms such as cousin, uncle aunt, niece, nephew, grandson and granddaughter are explained.

AH 3.3

Understanding totemic kinship

The basic traditional structure across Australia of two halves and four quarters, called skin groups, is explained.

AH 3.4

Kulin Nation Skin Groups

Using the available fragmentary evidence, the basic structure of Kulin Nation tribes in central Victoria is reconstructed.

AH 3.5

The training of Elders

The process for identifying gifted children and grooming them for leadership roles is explained.

AH 3.6

A government of professors

The traditional justice system is explained, within which civil and criminal matters were determined and any escalations in payback were ritually controlled.

AH 3.7

Law and order in traditional Aboriginal society

Techniques for identifying ancient Songlines in your local area are explained.

AH 3.8

Just imagine - a society without war

In traditional Aboriginal society, there were never any wars of conquest or invasion because there was no economic motive and payback was ritually controlled.

AH 3.9

The lingering infection of Terra Nullius

How the legal fiction of Terra Nullius still unconsciously affects Australian attitudes to Aboriginal history and heritage is discussed.

bottom of page