Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is considered the oldest continuing culture in the world with estimates dating back to between forty and sixty thousand years ago, long before Europeans ever stepped foot on Australian soil. The 5th – 12th July 2015 is NAIDOC Week; a week to celebrate the rich and diverse history, culture and achievements of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
Every year a theme is chosen to encompass the celebrations as well as to commemorate and pay respect to events of the past. This years theme is We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate and a number of events and celebrations will take place around Australia. The year’s theme was chosen specifically to celebrate and highlight the anniversary of the ‘Handback’ of Uluru to its traditional owners 30 years ago on 26 October, 1985. This was an important step in the recognition of Aboriginal rights and a growing awareness of Aboriginal traditional law and land ownership, cumulating in the 1993 Native Title Act, which was passed by Federal Parliament.
The 2015 theme further highlights the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong cultural and spiritual connection to the land and sea; honouring those who work to preserve land, sea and culture and to tell the stories of significant, sacred sites. Through honouring and understanding the traditional names of various sacred sites, whether it be a geographic feature, a ceremonial ground or rock art galleries, we’re able to see the timeless and ongoing relationship between the people and the land. These sacred locations are often connected to the Dreaming stories or reflect the meaning of an area and are therefore highly important to begin to understand the long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.