In this report the Indigenous Australian/Aborigine culture was studied over a course of three weeks to learn the significance of the Sun and astronomy to those people. Covered in this report is the indigenous perspectives on the Sun and Moon, the Australian Aborigine creation myth, and the story of the Aboriginal Flag with the Sun as its symbol. Each point will be thoroughly explained. The Aborigine people of Australia have unique perspectives on the Sun and the Moon. The stories explained will be from the Central Victoria tribe and the Northern Territory tribe.
In some aboriginal groups the Moon as seen as male or female, but it depends on which story is told. The Sun according to the Central Victoria tribe, was a young woman who ran away because she could not be with her lover, but because she still loved her tribe so she built up her fire so large that it would warm the people below, then she let it die down. When she saw how happy it made her people she made the fire a new each day. As stated by the Aussie Space Portal, “Soon her people began to look each morning for her sky-world fire.
They were very grateful for the warmth it gave them and they called it ‘The Sun’ (How the Sun Came to Be Section). This is how the Sun was explained and passed on to generations later. This became a large part of this tribe’s background. The Moon according to the Northern Territory tribe, was a man named Japara who was an excellent hunter and had a wife and son, whom he loved dearly. While Japara was out hunting a man by the name of Parukapoli decided to visit Japara’s wife to tell stories instead of hunting, Japara’s wife so consumed with the stories that she failed to hear her son leave the house and drowning, so the child died.
Japara found his wife by the river and became angry with her and killed her. He also killed Parukapoli. Japara was told by his tribe that he should not have killed his wife, he began to listen to his people and spoke to the spirit world. They let him leave to the spirit world but as his punishment he must search the sky world for his family. According to the Aussie Space Portal, “The story tellers say that the moon is the reflection of Japara’s camp fire. The lines that are visible on the moon are the reminder of his scars.
Some say the moon changes because Japara is forever changing camp as he moves across the dark sky world still searching for his family. Others believe that he has now found his wife and son and that they are exploring the mysterious sky world together (How the Moon Came to Be Section). This explains how the Moon waxes and wanes over time as well why it moves across the sky. This is significant because these people began to see and try to understand the early sky. This shows how early astronomy was started. Both the Sun and the Moon stories show an early understanding that the aborigine people had.
The aborigine people even give the Sun credit for their creation. The Aborigine creation myth talks of a great Father of All Spirits being the first one awake, he then awakes Sun Mother. As she awakes and her eyes open, rays of sunlight spread to the Earth. The Father asks Mother to awake the spirits while giving them bodies, she does so by letting her light reach every crevice of the Earth. Even the insects, fish, lizards, and other animals began to form. All living things then began to watch in awe as she swept towards the west.
She then went beneath the horizon, which frightened the creatures, they waited patiently for her to come back. When she did, she let them choose their own forms, however she was not pleased by their choices and found one very peculiar, this form is what we know as the platypus today. As explained by Lindsey Murtagh, “The Sun Mother looked down upon the Earth and thought to herself that she must create new creatures less the Father of All Spirits be angered by what she now saw. She gave birth to two children. The god was the Morning Star and the goddess was the moon. Two children were born to them and these she sent to Earth.
They became our ancestors. She made them superior to the animals because they had part of her mind and would never want to change their shape” (Australian Aborigine Creation Myth). This shows how the Aborigine people understood how the Sun came and went with the day and which direction. They saw the Sun as the impetus of their creation as well as the “Mother” so she controlled the day. This could be why the Sun is so significant to the Aborigine people that they chose to make it the central symbol of their flag. The story of the Aboriginal Flag with the Sun as its symbol is one of historic value.
The flag was designed in 1971 by one Harold Thomas. According to NAIDOC, “The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by artist Harold Thomas and first flown at Victoria Square in Adelaide, South Australia, on National Aborigines Day, 12 July 1971. It became the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after it was first flown there in 1972. Since then, it has become a widely recognized symbol of the unity and identity of Aboriginal people. In view of the flag’s wide acceptance and importance in Australian society, the Commonwealth took steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition.
After a period of public consultation, in July 1995 the Aboriginal flag was proclaimed a ‘Flag of Australia’ under the Flags Act 1953” (Indigenous Australian Flags). This is how the flag became a recognized part of Australian history with its ties to the Aborigine people as a sign of their heritage. The symbolism surrounding the flag is as follows, the black symbolizes the Aborigine people themselves, the yellow circle represents the Sun who is the giver of life and mother to the people, and the red represents the red dirt of the Australian terrain, it also represents red ochre which has large cultural significance to the Aborigine people.
This shows just how important the Sun is to the culture of the Indigenous Australian people. In conclusion, the indigenous perspectives on the Sun and Moon are reflected in the folklore and how the Sun and Moon is represented and interpreted by the people, the Australian Aborigine creation myth which shows how the Sun is the creator and Mother to the Aborigines, and the story of the Aboriginal Flag with the Sun as its symbol showing just how culturally significant it is. These all show just how much the Sun and astronomy has impacted the culture of the Indigenous Australian people, also known as Aborigines.