Crossing Cultures Glossary

Australian states and capitals:
New South Wales, Sydney
Queensland, Brisbane
South Australia, Adelaide
Tasmania, Hobart
Victoria, Melbourne
Western Australia, Perth
Australian territories and capitals:
Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Northern Territory, Darwin
acrylic: The preferred painting medium for many
Aboriginal communities in the Western and Central Desert
regions and parts of the Kimberley.
Ahalpere (Utopia): Aboriginal homeland of the Sandover
Ancestral Beings: Spiritual beings whose epic journeys in
the Dreaming created and named the land and passed down
its laws. Their power still resides in the land.
Arnhem Land: Region in the northeast of the Northern
Territory. Declared an Aboriginal reserve in 1931, it is
home to a large proportion of the Northern Territory’s
Aboriginal population.
Art of Australia: Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in 1941, this was the first comprehensive exhibition of
Australian art in the United States; the exhibition
comprised over seventy paintings and sculptures and
featured the work of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Aurukun: A community on the western cape of the Cape
York Peninsula, Queensland, that is known for its
figurative sculpture.
Australian Human Rights Commission: Formerly known
as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission,
this commission was established in 1986 by an act of
parliament. Its statutory responsibilities include education
and public awareness initiatives, discrimination and human
rights complaints, human rights compliance, and policy and
legislative development.
Balgo (Wirrimanu): Community in the Great Sandy and
Tanami Deserts that is home to Warlayirti Artists, an art
and cultural center known for its use of vibrant color.
bir’yun: A Yolgnu word referring to the shimmering
brilliance that visually animates the ancestral power within
a work of art.
Central Desert: Desert region of central Australia in the
Northern Territory.
clan estates: Areas of country belonging to distinct clan
Creation Period: The time when the ancestors were
transforming the landscape and becoming part of it. See
also Dreaming.
crosshatching: Thin parallel-line work that crosses at an
angle to create a meshlike pattern. It can be used to infill
clan designs or figurative representations. See also rarrk.
Dreaming (Dreamings, Dreamtime): Term for
ancestral/creation narratives that encompass the eternal
nature of Aboriginal cosmology and belief systems. It
incorporates the ancestral beings, the creation of the
universe, and the laws of social and religious behavior. The
Dreaming is known by various local terms in different
Aboriginal communities: Tjukurrpa (Warlpiri language),
Altjirra (Arrernte language), Wangarr (Yolngu-matha
language), Djang (western Arnhem Land languages,
including the Kuninjku/Kunwinjku), Tywerrenge (Central
Desert languages, including the Arrernte),
Ngarranggarni/Ngarrangkarni (the languages of the East
Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia: An
influential exhibition held at the Asia Society, New York,
in 1988.
history wars: The ongoing cultural and academic debates
over contested interpretations of post-contact histories.
Indigenous people: Inclusive term that denotes both
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are
descended from the original inhabitants of Australia.
Intervention: Colloquial term for the Northern Territory
National Emergency Response Act (2007), a controversial
Australian federal government policy to deploy extra
police, restrict the sale of alcohol and access to
pornography, and suspend government benefits to parents
who neglected their children in the Northern Territory.
Indigenous leaders and other social commentators have
been divided in their support of the legislation, which some
see as another paternalistic attempt to control the lives of
Aboriginal people and undermine community aspirations of
self determination.
Land Rights: A political and cultural movement that seeks
to enshrine in law the recognition of Aboriginal systems of
land ownership that predate colonization. The Northern
Territory Land Rights Act (1976) was an important stage of
this process.
Lockhart River: A community on the eastern cape of Cape
York Peninsula, Queensland, that has become known for its
youth-driven and individualistic art practice.
native title: Form of land title that recognizes Indigenous
people from Australia as having certain rights in land that
they occupied prior to 1788. Formal federal legislation,
including the Native Title Act (1993) and the Native Title
Amendment Act (1998), was implemented as a result of the
historic Mabo and Wik decisions of the High Court of
Australia. See also terra nullius; Mabo decision.
National Apology: On behalf of the Australian
government and the Australian people, Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd formally apologized to Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people for the Stolen Generations and past
injustices on February 13, 2008.
National Sorry Day: An unofficial national day that began
in 1998 to recognize the historical mistreatment of
Indigenous people. It is held on May 28.
ochres: Earth pigments containing iron oxides, used in
contemporary and customary painting and body decoration.
Ochres are prized for their spiritual associations and as an
item of trade.
outstation: A small or medium-sized settlement of family
and cultural groupings that is situated on traditionally
owned land.
Papunya Tula Artists: A cooperative of artists formed at
Papunya in 1971 with the encouragement of Geoffrey
Bardon that gave rise to the Western and Central Desert art
rarrk: A Kunwinjku word meaning the overlaying of linear
clan designs that are found in bark and body painting in
western and central Arnhem Land to invoke ancestral
presence. See also crosshatching.
Racial Discrimination Act (1975): Landmark statute that
overrides all state and territory legislation in making all
forms of racial discrimination illegal; affirmed by the High
Court of Australia in Koowarta v. Bjelke-Petersen (1982).
stringybark tree: A Eucalyptus tree that is prized for its
thick, fibrous, and “stringy” bark. It is used by many
Indigenous artists in Arnhem Land.
Stolen Generations: Term used to refer to Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander children who were removed from
their families by Australian federal and state government
agencies and church missions, according to parliamentary
terra nullius: Latin meaning “land belonging to no one”;
legal concept used as justification for British claims to
Aboriginal land/Australia.
Tiwi Islands: Located off the Northern Territory coast, the
Tiwi Islands (comprising Bathurst and Melville Islands) are
home to the Tiwi people, who are culturally and artistically
distinct. The islands are also home to three art centers:
Munupi Arts and Crafts, Tiwi Design, and Jilamara Arts
and Crafts.
Warmun: Also known as Turkey Creek, a community in
the East Kimberley known for its minimalist paintings on
canvas in ochres.
Western Desert: A cultural region in Western Australia
and the Northern Territory that is home to the school of
Western Desert Artists, who primarily use acrylic paints for
the visualization of ancestral narratives for the public
Yuendumu: Indigenous community in the Central Desert
region of the Northern Territory created in 1948 and
predominantly in habited by Warlpiri people.