Identity of Aboriginal people

Reading 4.3 The chapter on Indigenous Identity by Dudgeon, (2000) states:

a) Issues of identity are of great importance to Indigenous people.

b) At some levels, there is much confusion about being Aboriginal.

Working with Indigenous Australians: A Handbook for Psychologists (2000) p.43


1) Choose ONE of these questions and discuss and analyze.

Why do you think this is the case?

Answer in the context of the course materials presented and incorporate perspectives and issues that have been raised.


At some levels, there is much confusion about being Aboriginal (Dudgeon, et. al. 2000).

Identity of Aboriginal people is a charged subject in Australia. This is can be attributed to the colonial efforts that targeted erosion of Aboriginal cultural aspects during colonialism. The socio-cultural legacies of this history are experienced today. There lacks a standard to recognize aboriginality.   Despite the commonwealth definition of indigenous Australians, the matter of aboriginality is decided using superficial traits – that is body color, person’s face, and general appearance. Due to the increase in mixed marriages, such explanations are incorrect because the physical appearance of some indigenous people may indicate that they are non-indigenous aboriginals (Pickett, Dudgeon, & Garvey, 2000).

 Identity is crucial because it is our link to our nation and also to the natural world. In my perspective, the identity confusion arises when westerners start pointing out what is defective about aboriginals, and what does not match their standards. Most of the indigenous Australian cultural practices were considered as absurd by the early European settlers. This prompted most indigenous people to ditch their culture in exchange of what was believed to be civilized and sophisticated.  These internal conflicts led to the loss of cultural practices and this was largely due to the lack of connectedness. This is the source of confusion as most people lack knowledge of these cultural practices.  Despite the various explanations on aboriginality identity, it is important to understand that the true nature or identity of aboriginal people is not by their color, but they are identified based on their history, culture, and spirituality (Pickett et al, 2000).


Pickett, H. et al (2000). Working with indigenous Australians. Perth, W.A.: Gunada Press, Curtin Indigenous Research Centre, Curtin University of Technology.