In every culture there’s a unique verbal and non-verbal way of communicating. I’m fascinated with the way the Indigenous people of Australia communicate. Perhaps that’s because I’m on a journey to know more about their culture. But knowing the culture also includes the important wording such as names, and how they refer to themselves. Using the right names shows respect.

For instance, the Introduction to Indigenous Australia course in my first University degree told us that using the term “Aboriginal” was derogatory as they were named this by the people who invaded their land. This is certainly not a name they gave to themselves. The term “Indigenous” is more of a scientific term and doesn’t acknowledge their culture or connection to the land – yet, it seems to be more acceptable.

Now, this is only from my experience and from the conversations I’ve had with a few of the mob so please feel free to share what you know.  (Only if you are, or have spoken to, an Elder or highly respected Indigenous person.)

When I hangout with John he refers to the local Indigenous as “Bama”. The local Bama refer to themselves this way too. It indicates which area they are from – and who they are connected to. (Connections are highly important).

  • The Bama people are from Northern Queensland.
  • The Murri people are from Southern Queensland.
  • Yolnga are from Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
  • The Koori people are from New South Wales and Victoria.

Those are the ones I’m currently familiar with.

It’s challenging to change my way of thinking and speaking. I often find myself saying ‘Indigenous’ instead of Bama. And the tricky part is to know the people more personally so you know if they are indeed Bama or perhaps visiting Koori or another mob. I suppose one way to know is to ask. 🙂

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I often use the word “mob”. Yes, I’ve got that one fluently in my language now. 😉 A mob is a referred to as a group of people. I find myself using it – mostly – to describe a group of Indigenous people, but occasionally  to refer to the people I know in my local community.

There is something else I’ve been interested to notice too, but it’s difficult to describe. There’s a particular way to finish a sentence such as “ay” when you want a response – and it comes with a slight head nod.

Oh, the juicy goodness of learning this amazing culture! Learning the verbal and non-verbal way of communicating really excites me.

Am I weird, or what?