The Aboriginal Elders of Australia are the teachers of traditions, knowledge of life and dream time . They are not elected or designated leaders, they are because of their competencies. There are both female and male elders side by side in an Aboriginal tribe .
The Elders are not actually kings or tribal leaders, the Aborigines are not eligible in the traditional sense. The Aborigines, who lived nomadically in small tribes or clan groups, had an elder-man and sometimes an elder-woman with the elders . Elder became those who distinguished themselves by dreamtime knowledge , age, experience, and wisdom. An elder became a tribal leader through social recognition. Nor did they wear the insignia of power. The male elder was not necessarily the best hunter or warrior. The Elders had different names in the tribes such as Arweed or Ngurungaeta .
How decisive the importance of the Elder was can be measured by the so-called conclusion of the Batman's Treaty on June 6, 1835. When the contract was signed, eight elders were present to sign. It is controversial in historical studies whether a contract was concluded that is valid in the legal sense and the meaning and consequence of this decision is interpreted differently, because the Elder were u. a. not able to write and read and not be aware of the nature of a contract - and above all of its meaning and effect. Still, they were present when a decision was made about the interests of the Aboriginal tribes .
By being appointed king of the tribe and being awarded the king plates , British colonial policy turned against the traditional social structure of the Aborigines. Since the British colonial power was keen on the direct exercise of power, wanted to divide up the tribes and looked for contacts to enforce its colonial policy, the governor Lachlan Macquarie of New South Wales introduced a symbol of rule around 1815: the King Plate . This instrument of rule was an indirect means of colonial policy. In the 'Native Institution' of Macquarie in Parramatta his instruction reads: “ That the Natives should be divided into District Tribes and that each Tribe should elect its own chief, who the Governor will distinguish by some honorary badge. “(German: The indigenous peoples should split up territorial tribes and each tribe should choose its own leader, whom the governor emphasizes with a plaque of honor.)
His instruction to bestow this distinction can also be understood as a control instrument, as a dictum that tribal leaders are no longer appointed according to tribal rules, but rather to elect and subject them to his influence. According to the British, tribal leaders could only be the bearer of the plaque that he received from the governor and no longer according to the traditional rules of the Aboriginal tribe. The King Plates were metal crescent-shaped plates that were worn around the neck on a necklace.
In the 19th century, King Plates were awarded to numerous Aboriginal communities in various Australian states. The practice of presenting oneself with these plaques declined in the post-federal years in Australia and was no longer recognized from the late 1930s.
It is assumed that the King Plates were also worn by women. There is no proof of this. However, the women were often called "Queen", who were usually elder women in their tribe or kin. There are speculations that showing or not showing the King Plates was also helpful in showing the other person how highly regarded or respected you are among the white Australian community.
Elders are still understood today (2010) as the teachers of the traditions, the knowledge of the life and the dream time of the Aborigines. The Elders should convey this to the young Aborigines and explain their role and task.
If tribes visit each other, groups are formed by the elders, who then get to know each other. This serves for communication and the avoidance of conflicts. These encounters take place after a prescribed ceremony, the tanderrum , which is still sometimes held today by the Wurundjeri elders as part of a welcoming protocol.
They also influence cultural events, such as the installation of a sculpture, which they believe contradicts the life of the Aborigines. They also instruct adolescents in the power of medicinal plants.
The Elders also exert political influence, for example one elder campaigned for a ban on alcohol in the area around Jarra .
Much has been researched about the Elders, but much is unknown. Here are some well-known Elder:
- William Barak
- Bilin bilin
- Billy Jagar
- Herb Patten
- Roseina Boston , a woman
- Simon Wonga
- Gulumbu Yunupingu († 2012), a woman
- Illustration of the contract text ( Memento of the original from July 16, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved July 22, 2010
- Comments by Governor Macquarie . Retrieved July 22, 2010
- The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Councilare ( Memento of the original from February 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved July 22, 2010
- Katoomba sculpture inappropriate Aboriginal elder. ( Memento of the original from November 2, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Blue Mountain Gazette, March 24, 2010. Retrieved July 22, 2010
- Generation to generation: When aboriginal elders speak, youth listen ( page no longer available , search in web archives ) Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved July 22, 2010
- Aboriginal elder calls for ban on street drinking on Melbourne Leader from July 20, 2009 ( Memento of the original from February 20, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved July 22, 2010