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Online Communities: Crossing Boundaries Aboriginal


Sometimes we think we are doing the right thing in online communities and real life networks but are we? The first thing I thought of when I saw this article about an Aboriginal Elder’s face being placed on the side of, or into, a highrise was… “but I thought depiction of the deceased was a no-no”? I’m pretty sure SBS TV starts some programs with a caution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

highrise elder online communities

This is what Uncle Google served up:

Should you name a dead Aboriginal person?

Many Aboriginal films, books or websites warn Aboriginal people that they might show images of Indigenous people who have passed away. But some don’t. Why is this so?

The tradition not to depict dead people or voice their (first) names is very old [11]. Traditional law across Australia said that a dead person’s name could not be said because you would recall and disturb their spirit. After the invasion this law was adapted to images as well.

Today these strict laws are generally not followed where colonisation first happened, like on Australia’s east coast and in the southern parts of the country.

Naming the dead in the media. While The Australian newspaper published the full name of a deceased Aboriginal person (top) the National Indigenous Times newspaper followed traditional protocol and withheld the name (below) [13,14]. Naming protocols. Before media uses the first name of a deceased Indigenous person they have to seek permission from the family [22].

In the Northern Territory, where traditional Aboriginal life is stronger and left more intact, the tradition of not naming the dead is still more prevalent.

Today naming protocols differ from place to place, community to community [12] and it is often a personal decision if names and images of a deceased Aboriginal person can be spoken or published. Even in places where, traditionally, the names of deceased people are not spoken or written, families and communities may sometimes decide that circumstances permit the names of their deceased loved ones to be used.

In some areas, families may determine that a substitute name such as ‘Kumantjayi’ or ‘Kunmanara’ may be used instead of a deceased person’s first name for a period. For example, ‘Kumantjayi Perkins’ is now increasingly referred to once again as the late ‘Charles Perkins’ [12]. from CreativeSpirits

What do you think?

Time and time again I see people approach online communities with their own value systems and the best will in the world only to be rejected.  People outside of the online community will sometimes approach with a different value system, wanting to make friends, yet simply fail on many levels to understand the complexity of what happens when many people come together. Others seem to waltz in and “get” the rituals and rites of each social network very quickly.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

13 thoughts on “Online Communities: Crossing Boundaries Aboriginal

  1. I grew up in semi-outback areas and counted local Aboriginal children among my closest friends. I find this building …. disturbing. But, I am not Aboriginal and, therefore, can not speak for those who are.

  2. “Ms Garvey-Wandin said the depiction of dead indigenous people did not concern people of the Wurundjeri tribe, unlike in northern Australia, where Aborigines believe mentioning a dead person’s name could disturb their spirit.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/victoria/new-face-of-melbourne-rises-32-storeys-20100914-15axh.html

    I guess we shouldn’t just stereotype one cultural tradition as being generic across all aboriginals. 🙂

    1. Do you mean I’m not allowed to ask ? *puzzled* I’m pretty sure I was clear in the article that I didn’t know if it was ok or not.
      Please tell me that we are not so politically correct now that we can’t even ask if something causes offence? 😛

  3. also, apparently barak is the face on our $2 coin

    http://www.google.com.au/images?q=australia+$2+coin&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=0W2YTNT3L4vJcYeB6YcP&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQsAQwAA&biw=1280&bih=939

  4. Howdy! I coulod have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after looking at some of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m certainly pleased I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  5. Why do aborigines want to be warned if deceased aborigines are on a program, but not if deceased white people are on the program?

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