Indigenous

The Library's collection holds a diverse range of material, offering a rich interpretation of Australia's past and contemporary Indigenous culture.

Australia has a long and proud Indigenous history spanning over 50 000 years, told in stories, ceremonies and art, as well as being recorded in many documentary forms.

The Library collects and preserves material recording Indigenous history, experience and culture, placing a strong emphasis on building these collections. Our collections are in a wide range of formats, including archived websites, photographs, maps, oral histories, manuscripts pictures and all types of publications in English and language.

The National Library’s published collections also include copies of all Indigenous Australian language dictionaries, word lists and lexicons published to date, covering hundreds of languages and dialects. This includes a significant number of interactive dictionaries.

Highlights

  • Bringing Them Home Oral History Project - over 300 interviews collected between 1998 and 2002 with Indigenous people and others, such as missionaries, police and administrators involved in or affected by the process of child removals. Listen online to a selection of interviews.
  • Mura Gadi - an annotated bibliography of materials in the manuscripts, pictures and oral history collections related to Australian Indigenous people. This bibliography is current to 1999.
  • Eddie Koiki Mabo's papers - the history of the campaign for native title documented in this manuscript collection comprises litigation records from the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia. The records include much rich material about the history, genealogy and land ownership of Mabo and other Torres Strait Islanders families.
  • Tommy McRae drawings - record of traditional life, hunting, fishing, dancing and conflicts by an Aboriginal of the Wahgunyah tribe on the River Murray, 1880.
  • Contemporary and historic photographs of Ernabella, South Australia. Ernabella was built as a Presbyterian Mission in 1938 on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, and was later renamed Pukatja. It is unusual in that the mission respected Anangu culture and traditions, offering education and medical assistance. It is the home of Ernabella Arts, one of the longest continuously running Aboriginal arts organisations.

The Library wishes to acknowledge that some material in the collections relating to Indigenous people may be considered culturally sensitive. Our collections may contain images of deceased persons or depict distressing incidents.