Aboriginal Dreaming Paths and Trading Routes: The Colonisation of the Australian Economic Landscape

Aboriginal Dreaming Paths and Trading Routes: The Colonisation of the Australian Economic Landscape

by Dale Kerwin


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The dreaming paths of Aboriginal nations - paths that crossed the Australian landscape - formed major ceremonial routes along which goods and knowledge flowed. These became the trade routes that crisscrossed Australia and transported religion and cultural values. This book highlights the valuable contribution Aboriginal people made in assisting European explorers, surveyors, and stockmen to open the country for colonization, and it explores the interface between Aboriginal possession of the Australian continent and European colonization and appropriation. Instead of positing a radical disjunction between cultural competencies, the book considers how European colonization of Australia appropriated Aboriginal competence in terms of the landscape: by tapping into culinary and medicinal knowledge, water and resource knowledge, hunting, food collecting, and path-finding. As a consequence of this assistance, Aboriginal dreaming paths and trading routes also became the routes and roads of the colonizers. Indeed, the European colonization of Australia owes much of its success to the deliberate process of Aboriginal land management practices. The book provides a social science context for the broader study of Aboriginal trading routes by providing an historic interpretation of the Aboriginal/European contact period. It scrutinizes arguments about nomadic and primitive societies, as well as romantic views of culture and affluence. These circumstances and outcomes are juxtaposed with evidence that indicates that Aboriginal societies are substantially sedentary and highly developed, capable of functional differentiation and foresight - attributes previously only granted to the European settlers. The hunter-gatherer image of Aboriginal society is rejected by providing evidence of crop cultivation and land management, as well as social arrangements that made best use of a hostile environment. Aboriginal Dreaming Paths and Trading Routes is essential reading for all those who seek to have a better knowledge of Australia and its first people. It inscribes Aboriginal people firmly in the body of Australian history. (Series: A Sussex Library of Study - First Nations and the Colonial Encounter)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845193386
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 11/01/2010
Series: First Nations and the Colonial Encounter
Pages: 230
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Dr. Dale Kerwin is Aboriginal Research Fellow at Griffith University. His academic career has been driven by the need for a proper conversation between the colonisers’ history and the first Australians’ history. He began his journey to university through correspondence courses, whilst at the same time being taught by his Elders to engage with non-Aboriginal people with a view to continuing that conversation for the benefit of both communities.

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