I’ve been asked to compile a list of appropriate terms/words when referring to Indigenous Australians.. So here goes!
As a little bit of back-ground info on us.. Indigenous people in Australia have the longest continuing culture/s in the world. With many different language groups, culture groups, similarities with cultures in certain parts of Africa, Indonesia and nearby countries/nations, Aboriginal Australia is indeed diverse, to say the least.
Terms/words that are appropriate:
- Indigenous Australian/s
- Aboriginal people/s
- Torres Straight Islander person/s
- Torres Straight Islander people/s
- Native (though it’s not used as much here and more often heard to describe the Indigenous people of America, some will use the term)
- Black (yes, we ARE Black.. the white settlers used the term “Blacks” which reduced us down to our skin color.. we’ve reclaimed that word and is often used like “Black-fella”)
- ATSI - Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander/s (umbrella term for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island peoples or for shorthand)
Terms/words that are NOT appropriate:
- Aborigine/Aborigines (a big no-no and sadly many still use these terms today)
- The Aborigines
- The Aboriginal people
- The Torres Straight Islanders
- The n word (pretty obvious, really)
Appropriate area-specific terms:
- Murri - Qld, north west NSW
- Nyoongah - WA
- Koori – NSW
- Goori - north coast NSW
- Koorie - Vic
- Yolngu - Arnhem Land
- Anangu - Central Australia
- Palawa - Tasmania
- Ngarrindjeri – SA - River Murray, Lakes, Coorong people
- Torres Strait Island Peoples
- Murray Island Peoples
- Mer Island Peoples
Also, words that are used to describe us as “less-advanced” when compared to European societies, are not acceptable. We are not less-advanced, or less-modern or a “primitive” people - we are just different. As is everyone.
Please direct any further questions to black-australia.
Also, Adelaide plains peoples are Kuarna people, but often self refer as ‘Nunga’ (which I believe is meant to specify living in an urban area, but I am not certain about this. I am not Indigenous, can anyone confirm this, or correct me?).