In order to gain access to natural resources and manufactured items from distant regions, Aboriginal people entered into exchange and exchange relationships with their neighbors as part of the traditional culture of Aboriginal Australians. Extensive trade networks formed, and some items, such as pearl shell ornaments, passed from group to group across the entire continent. These networks linked people, indirectly, across Australia and thus helped maintain a degree of cultural similarity among all Aboriginal groups. In addition to material goods, people also exchanged songs and ceremonies. The Torres Strait Islanders were intermediaries between Australia and New Guinea in these exchange networks, introducing outrigger canoes, fishing equipment, ceremonies with elaborate headdresses, drums, and other items to Cape York. In exchange, they received spears, spear throwers, dugong (sea cow) harpoons, and natural ochre pigments.
From the early 1700s to 1907, Indonesian fishermen from Makassar (in what is now Sulawesi) arrived on the northern Australian coast in December with the coming of the wet season and stayed until March to gather sea cucumbers. They exported these marine animals to China, where they were a popular food. The fishermen gave Aboriginal people tobacco, iron, glass, and some technological know-how in exchange for turtle shell, labor, and other things they needed. Occasionally, young Aboriginal men would travel back to Makassar with the fishermen, returning to Australia with them in the following wet season. Today, Aboriginal groups in Arnhem Land still commemorate the visits from Indonesian fishermen in song, ceremony, and art, and many words from the Makassarese language remain in Arnhem Land dialects. Traditional Culture of Aboriginal Australians: Trade and Exchange was an important part of their cultural survival instincts.
- Clothing and Ornamentation of Aboriginal Australians (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Social Organization of Aboriginal Australians (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Traditional Culture of Aboriginal Australians (egrejeen.wordpress.com)