Year 11 States of Origin
Year 11 returned from their Central Australia trip with some experience of the aboriginal children at Yipirinya School, just outside of Alice Springs.
Year 11 returned from their Central Australia trip with some experience of the aboriginal children at Yipirinya School, just outside of Alice Springs. Then they began a Main Lesson called States of Origin: Australia’s First Nations, Then and Now. It’s a pure coincidence that a well- known game with a similar name happens to be on around the same time. This particular title expresses the fact that Australia’s indigenous people are the longest continuous surviving culture on the face of the earth. Therefore there is a good chance their culture contains a picture of humanity’s original or primal consciousness, our state of origin. We open this Main Lesson with an appreciation of all that aborigines traditionally meant in their concept of The Dreaming, a rich complex of ideas, stories, ceremonies and practices that is fundamental to all aboriginal nations, and which still today can have an impact on how aborigines live.
One important aspect of aboriginal social life is the role of “skin names” or the section system of marriage and family relationships. This system divides an aboriginal nation in up to 8 different groups, with very specific rules regarding which groups could marry, where children belonged, and specifying how each group should behave to each other.
It’s very challenging to non-aboriginal eyes, and for Year 11 to understand this many-layered system, we had to go down to the oval and lay out the patterns of this complex social life. The students were divided into 8 groups, and each wore a sign for being a male and female version of each one. We then walked through the marriage rules, the allocation of the generations of children, and even looked at “Avoidance relationships”, where the rules specify that a man must not have contact with his “mother-in-law” group, but avoid them.
The rules combine to make a virtual Geometry of social relationships which looks like this!
(Can you drop in the picture from the powerpoint?)
Fascinating material, and while we did not fully understand every last nuance, the experience is one that leaves a lasting impression of great respect and reverence for the richness of this civilization that stewarded the Australian continent for generations before us.