The aboriginal people did not

Aboriginal clan names


This is not as easy to answer as you would think! There are many different language maps showing different boundaries and even different names.

Aboriginal people had a different language depending on the area where they lived. In this way the country was divided into small parts of land by the different language groups, tribes or nations. Through these different language groups artificial boundaries can be drawn. Additionally, the tribal groups were divided into clans.

Nowadays, the subject of language groups and clans is the cause for much debate because many different maps can be found and no map can said to be the true one.

For the Sydney region the following language groups can be found on most maps available today: Darug, Dharawal, Darginung, Guringai and Gundungurra. However, there are various ways of spelling the names and different names can be found referring to the same group. For northern Sydney the term Guringai has been used, however, it was originally invented by a researcher in 1892. The Aboriginal Heritage Office in its 2015 report, Filling a Void: A Review for the Historical Context for the use of the Word ‘Gurgingai’ provides the background to the word and some suggestions for moving forward:

It is not authentic to the area, it was coined by a non-Aboriginal person and it gives a misleading impression of the connectivity of some original clan boundaries … In the absence of a convenient single term for the whole of northern Sydney, the AHO would recommend the use of clan names for local areas, with the understanding that these too have their limitations and problems, and the acceptance of the truth of the lack of certainty as a feature of how Aboriginal history and heritage is portrayed here (AHO, 2015: 41).

Clan names which can be found on most maps for the northern Sydney region of the AHO partner Councils are the following: Gayamaygal, Gamaragal, Garigal, Darramurragal, Wallumedegal and many more. If you are interested in this subject you always have to be critical and try to find out if the sources are reliable for your research.



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