The importance of identity for many Indigenous people seems to be recognised on a broader scale than in recent years. The negative media images which drew a direct line between Indigenous people and violence and alcohol have been replaced with more realistic images, depicting vibrant and diverse people and cultures.As well, the importance of'place' would appear to be slowly acknowledged as critical to Indigenous people's sense of identity.Place is used here to describe a belonging to and knowledge of country and kinship to its people.
This was denied to many Indigenous people due to the assimilation policies introduced in the 1940's. Indigenous people lost contact with their families, with their land, with their very essence.Children were taken from their families to be institutionalised or fostered with Anglo Australians.Indigenous people were forced from their country and moved onto reserves. (Heiss & McCormack, 2002)Anglo Australians made all decisions for Indigenous people, including who was or was not Indigenous.'From the time of thefirst settlement, …there have been no less than 67 identifiable classifications, descriptions or definitions used by governments to determine who was an Aboriginal person.' (Elliot, J. 1991) The connection between Indigenous people and their country seemed to be beyond the understanding of Anglo Australians, for whom identity appeared to be simply a matter of skin colour.
It would seem, however, that for those Indigenous People who live traditional lives in their country, identity is straightforward, without confusion.
'"I know who I am.I have my identity. I'm Ngarinyin man.My Dreaming is hibiscus.That's my symbol, a beautiful flower.And this too, is my identity."He pulled open his shirt to reveal a chestful of raised tribal scars."These scars are my brand, my identity…Another Aboriginal looks at …

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