Thu 1 Oct 2009
This Chapter gives some early history of the involvement of Europeans with the Aboriginals, their experiences with the early prospectors, and the effect that the creation of the Township of Katoomba had on them.
Some recollections of the Establishment of the racing Circuit and some photos of the remnants. Click here: Catalina Racing Circuit
We received one quite irate letter from a reader who objected to the use of ‘Aboriginals’ as opposed to ‘Aboriginies’. The claim was that the word aboriginal is an adjective and not a noun. Philip Pells, who wrote Chapter 12, replied to the criticism by the following e-mail:
The words aboriginal and aborigine are words of the English language. They are not words created by the original inhabitants of the land now called Australia. The Oxford Dictionary states that the word aboriginal is both an adjective and a noun. Its definition is “Indigenous,existing in a land at the dawn of history, or before arrival of colonists”
The word aboriginal has been in use in the English language since the 17th century. It is derived from Latin “ab” meaning from, and “origio”. It was used to describe the people who occupied this land as early as 1789.
When I wrote the Chapter in the book that you seem to find offensive, I did so with humility and sadness for all that happened in the past. I read widely on the subject and concluded that the word Aboriginal showed greater respect than Aborigine, because it was the word that was originally used. Where possible I have referred to the people by their tribal name – but that is difficult because there is no clearcut evidence as to the tribes who moved in the Katoomba area. I could have taken the route of Eva Glendenning and called those people “Australians”, but I think that is just being cute.
You referred me to a page by Eve Fesi. I am afraid that I find it difficult to take that page as a definitive statement as to the use of the English language, particulary as it includes at least three odd spellings of the matter under discussion, namely :”Abdoginals” and “Aborigirals”, plus some other words such as “otthetime”. Eve Fasi may well have valid anger about how her people were treated in the past but that is a different issue.
It should also be noted that the full Macquarie Dictionary states that the official Government position is that Aboriginal (as a noun) should be used in preference to Aborigine.