Glossary

This is a useful resource for students visiting Dandiiri Maiwar. Students can look up some of the words or terms that they will see at the Centre or hear when talking about Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.

Aboriginal English
Refers to the form of English used by Aboriginal people. Aboriginal English uses elements of Standard Australian English and Aboriginal languages.
Ailan kastom bilong Torres Strait
Torres Strait Islander culture.
Archaeology
The study of the past through material traces.
Artefact
Any product made by humans or caused to be made through human actions.
Assimilation
Assimilation became government policy in the 1930’s with the idea that Indigenous peoples should be ‘improved’ by being 'civilised’ and becoming Christians and learning how to work and live just like Europeans.
Bipo Taim
A Torres Strait Islander term that refers to the time before the arrival of missionaries.
Breastplate
Aboriginal breastplates, also known as king plates, gorgets and brass plates were given by Europeans to individual Aboriginal people during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Coming of the Light
Torres Strait Islanders celebrate July the 1st as The Coming of the Light, which commemorates the arrival of members of the London Missionary Society in 1871.
Country
A term used by Aboriginal people to refer to the land to which they are from/belong to and their place of Dreaming or Creation Time.
Culture
The usual and traditionally patterned ways of behaviour and a set of familiar values shared by members of a group or community. Includes land, language, ways of living and working artistic expression, relationships and identity.
Dhari/Dhoeri
The Dhari is the traditional dance and ceremonial headdress of the Torres Strait. It is the central motif on the region’s flag and symbolises the identity and unity of all Torres Strait Islanders. Dhari is the Meriam Mir word for ‘headdress’ and is used in the eastern islands. In the central and western islands where Kala Lagaw Ya is spoken, the headdress is called Dhoeri. Designs vary from island to island. Dharis/Dhoeris were traditionally made from Frigate Bird and Torres Strait Pigeon feathers, but are now often made from chicken feathers with cane for the frame.
Diverse
Made up of different things; very different or distinct from one another.
Elders
Leaders, holders of particular knowledge and key persons within a clan group or Aboriginal community.
Goori
A word that Aboriginal people of Southeast Queensland/Northern New South Wales use to describe themselves simply meaning "people".
Indigenous
Natural to a place or area. Originating from a particular place. This could include plants, animals, etc.
Indigenous People
The first peoples of a land.
Kinship
Describes the ways that people are connected or relate to each other.
Land Rights
The process by which Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders have attempted to gain rights to their own lands/country.
Lore
The learning, keeping and passing on of a cultural heritage, which can include wisdom, tradition, teachings, knowledge and experience.
Macassans
The Macassans were people from Indonesia who had established a trade system with the Aboriginal people of northern Australia before European contact.
Magil (mogill)
An Aboriginal word from the Brisbane area for the eastern water dragon.
Missions
Indigenous peoples were forcibly removed from their homelands to live in church run communities called "missions".
Murri
A word that many Aboriginal people use to describe themselves in Queensland.
Native Title
A form of land title which recognises Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders as rightful owners of land they are connected to.
Reconciliation
A term used to describe the building of new and positive relationships between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.
Reserves
Government established and controlled areas. Indigenous peoples were placed in these areas under the "protection" of government authorities.
Social Justice
Being free to enjoy the same rights, privileges, responsibilities and services as all other citizens.
Terra Nullius
A term that means “a territory belonging to no-one” or "over which no-one claims ownership". The High Court decision of 1992 rejected terra nullius and recognises Indigenous native title.