Historical Society Research
Preserving and recording the past
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"Footscray's historians, struggling to establish significance of their City, and to articulate the peculiar sense of local pride, invoked 'Aboriginal' history to lend their story drama... 'Footscray' was not of course a tribal clan or territory, but the meeting place of the lands of the Yalukit-willan, the Marin-balluk and the Wurundjeri. Koori men stalked game, and women and children collected food and fished along the river junction, estuaries, swamps and lagoons." John Lack, A History of Footscray, 1991.
Koori Tribal and clan boundaries, Port Phillip region
In researching indigenous histories it is important to understand that cultural background and the influence of time can alter perspectives and interpretations. Archaeological research indicates that Australia's indigenous people have occupied this continent for 40-60,000 years. This is a European understanding of time and space, and for Aboriginal cultures this is understood in terms of the dreaming - a spiritual time that created all the land and people that is infinite in time and connection with the present. Before European arrival there were approximately 250-500 separate Aboriginal language groups in Australia, each speaking distinctly different languages as European languages.
The indigenous people who occupied the area now referred to as Footscray and the City of Maribyrnong obviously did not conform to these boundaries. Within Melbourne's western region, the Marin-balug and Kurung-jand-balug clans of the Woiwurrung cultural group, and the Yalukit willam clan of the Boonwurrung cultural group shared the luscious resources around the Maribyrnong Valley.
Many Aboriginal people reside in Melbourne's western region and the Society welcomes research in this area.
Although not conducted by the society, the recent Towards Reconciliation 1998 - 2000, Maribyrnong City Council Oral History Project, recorded the stories of influential people from the Yorta Yorta community who have contributed to advancing the rights of Aboriginal people. This was inspired by Melbourne's Living Museum of the West Still Here exhibition which presented indigenous histories in the western region. A very valuable and interesting resource of indigenous history pertaining to the area that the Society records.
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