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The Features Of Indigenous Spirituality

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Kanyini is our connectedness to our tjukurrpa, our ngura, our walytja and our kurunpa. Kanyini is nurtured through caring and practicing responsibility for all things. Ngura is a reference to our home and our home is wherever we are at any moment in time. It is our responsibility to get to know that place and to care for it. Many traditional sites throughout Australia are sacred as described by tjukurrpa. It is our responsibility to honour those sites with great care. It encapsulates the way we should live and the harmony in all things.

Walytja encompasses the four lines of relationship, not just the biological family. The first line is their bloodline, the second line is their ceremonial line (those who undertake ceremony together). Another is their totemic line which connects all people who share the same totem. And lastly there is the line that links all people who speak the same language. If any of those lines are broken you are weakened as a person, if you are removed from your walytja you are not whole. Kurunpa is the connection to your soul and is affected by our thoughts and actions. It is weakened through poor choices that causes a physical response as well as a sickness of spirit.

European occupation and government policies has had a largely negative impact on Indigenous spirituality and religious practices. The history of forced resettlement of Indigenous Australians from their land to reserves, placing an astronomical number of children in institutions and the loss of land and culture are evident in the strife experienced by many Aboriginal people today.

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Whilst the movement towards granting Indigenous land rights are aspects of what has been perceived as a rebirth of Aboriginal traditions and culture, it remains a fact that the European often tended to undermine Aboriginal laws, society, culture and religion. The destruction of Indigenous culture has forcefully thrusted into European culture which has left many Indigenous Australians in a disadvantaged state. The forceful destruction of land rendered many traditional practices redundant, an example of this is the many food sources that were no longer viable. This was made worse by the fact that Indigenous Australians weren’t able to fully integrate into European culture either, causing many Indigenous Australians to be plagued by poverty.

Catholic spirituality and Indigenous spirituality may seem completely different but share many similarities. A major example of this is the strong connection between the catholic sacrament of baptism and the smoking ceremony. The smoking ceremony is an ancient custom among some Aboriginal Australians that involves smouldering various native plants. This herbal smoke is believed to have cleansing properties which perfectly mirrors the baptisms ability to cleanse a person of their sins and the ability to ward off bad spirits. The smoking ceremonies are traditionally performed while the child is an infant which is another point of similarity between Catholic spirituality and Indigenous spirituality.

It is vital for Non-Indigenous Australians to learn more about Indigenous spirituality as it allows Australians to understand and relate to Indigenous culture. This will allow Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to come together in a unified future. As the Australian people continue to learn more about Indigenous culture, we can begin to relate to their struggles and recognise the cultural history of this land and value the ongoing, rich cultural legacy. As Australian’s celebrate, value and take pride in Indigenous culture, we’ll be supporting and strengthening Indigenous peoples’ sense of value in the process. Understanding Indigenous culture can help reduce misconceptions and stereotypes regarding Indigenous people that result from a misunderstanding which serves to perpetuate disadvantage and discrimination. As a society, there’s much we can learn from Indigenous culture, if we can open ourselves to learning about Indigenous spirituality then we can grow in our understanding of ourselves and be enriched by another way of thinking about the world.

Non-Indigenous Australians can aid Indigenous Australian’s in rebuilding their spirituality. Many indigenous people have been plagued by cultural dislocation, dispossession, loss of autonomy, social exclusion, racism, and marginalisation. At the core of their issues is the fact that the Indigenous Australian’s Kanyini has been violated and it’s importance has been undermined. Restoring Indigenous Australian’s Kanyini can only be achieved through the restoration of the four key aspects. Indigenous Australian’s Ngura will be restored when they are able to reconnect with their native land and traditional lifestyle. Once the Indigenous Australians are home they can begin restoring their tjukurrpa by honoring their sacred sites and returning to the harmony of all things. Additionally, the Indigenous Australian’s will rekindle relationships with their all their kin therefore restoring their Walytja. After all the above has been accomplished the Indigenous Australian’s Kurunpa will return, as their spirit’s heal.



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The Features Of Indigenous Spirituality. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“The Features Of Indigenous Spirituality.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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