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Geek-Haven888 OP t1_j890lt7 wrote

The discovery of a trove of long-forgotten, black-and-white photographs in an Italian library has proven that a group of Indigenous Australians formed a community in South East Asia 150 years ago.


aneille t1_j8b9w7w wrote

They weren't long-forgotten, I personally handled a few from a contemporary batch. It's probably that the archivist didn't know that information was new.


rikashiku t1_j8cgkzw wrote

Iirc it was the Makassan people from Indonesia who made contact with First Nation Australians and formed trade pacts with the nearby nations.

Before them, the Treasure Fleet from the Ming Dynasty would chart the West, north, and East coast.

Edit: I can't open the link. So I was going off memory here.


YourphobiaMyfetish t1_j8d5qq1 wrote

I feel like people always have this stereotype of native Australians as being some long lost forgotten people who had less contact with the outside world than the Americas. In reality they were well connected with other continents. When the first European "discovered" Australia, there was already a native man there who spoke English because he had worked as a ship hand in Indonesia.


[deleted] t1_j8drl0v wrote

you know this stereotype was packaged like this on purpose, right? certain types of people needed to make sure that the natives were seen as barbaric/uncivilized so their colonisation would seem like a good thing.


Schedulator t1_j8d9d4t wrote

English or Dutch?


YourphobiaMyfetish t1_j8dfcem wrote

When I heard the story I remember it being English, but I'm not sure now.


Schedulator t1_j8f4qyb wrote

There are cases of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia with Dutch words mixed into their languages. The theory is that Dutch ships travelling to Batavia (Jakarta) crashed into the WA coast, and survivors became part of those communities.


rikashiku t1_j8dogbo wrote

Recently I've started learning more about the First Nations people and I'm shocked that they were actually very sophisticated and adaptable than I expected at the time. edit: because i didn't know anything about them.

The British made the awful misjudgment of considering them to be a less than human people, because some of the tribes didn't understand trade and negotiation that the British are used to.


[deleted] t1_j8ds3jw wrote

>I'm shocked that they were actually very sophisticated and adaptable.

oh yikes. so many groups were 'sophisticated' already, it's just that the Europeans didn't see them as being up to their standards. recently saw a clip of a Zimbabwean woman going off on a Cecil Rhodes fanboy...her ancestors had a perfectly fine way of life, yet Rhodes decided they were barbaric. ugh.


rikashiku t1_j8dtgu7 wrote

>it's just that the Europeans didn't see them as being up to their standards

Exactly. What I mean in my case was that I didn't know anything about them, and to have learned that many of the different cultures in Australia were very adaptive people who took great care of the land and its creatures, but the Western point of view I grew up with didn't even consider them to be a history worth mentioning.

Like I didn't know they migrated farming zones every few years, making the soil fertile, and ensuring animals keep to their own regions away from the settlements.


YourphobiaMyfetish t1_j8e6304 wrote

>because some of the tribes didn't understand trade and negotiation that the British are used to.

I'm 90% sure they all did trade.


rikashiku t1_j8e7cn4 wrote

Not the way the British wanted. It was one of the reasons they didn't consider them to be an intelligent people compared to others, and they did that a lot even between tribes.

The likes of Maori and Tongans were easier and more "human" because they had similar understanding of trade and communication.


quokkafarts t1_j8q8rwe wrote

>When the first European "discovered" Australia, there was already a native man there who spoke English because he had worked as a ship hand in Indonesia.

Do you have a source for this? It would be fascinating to read more about this bloke.


Blakut t1_j89vpqi wrote

ok first i read it as Indonesians and Australians living in the Italian library


IndieComic-Man t1_j8ayhv3 wrote

They sustained themselves on what leftovers of garlic bread and pizzas they could scavenge.


jeshwesh t1_j8b18my wrote

Yeah, I had to read it twice because the first read through left me wondering how they even got to that Italian library


astrobuck9 t1_j8bfr4c wrote

My first thought was "But why Italy?"

That's far by either land or sea.


Asgarus t1_j8cy1ot wrote

In the depths of the library, deep between long forgotten rows of long forgotten bookshelves...


aneille t1_j8b61i5 wrote

Nice to see that more people are studying this wonderful archive (not a library lol) and it's proving useful! There's a lot of beautiful photographs, I used a few when I wrote about the historical basis for Sandokan. Also, it's not a random archive, it's part of Italy's national anthropology museum in Rome.


TheGuv69 t1_j8cb1io wrote

Thanks for your first-hand response!


ClosetedImperialist t1_j8chuyo wrote

You must have so much to talk about - I’m intrigued in what you have to say about many things


[deleted] t1_j8dquy7 wrote

thank you so much for clarifying! I'm both an archivist and librarian and it can be a bit while when people use the terms interchangeably. also, I live when researchers/historians credit institutions 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾


aneille t1_j8e9vr0 wrote

The article actually credits the museum once, under the photographs, but with an incomplete name based on what it was called until 2016. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Their current correct name is Museum of Civilizations.


yapji t1_j8akcqa wrote

Wow, it's incredible that they found visual evidence and were even able to identify the specific tribe! That rock painting is a great historical record too. I wonder how many more oral traditions will be confirmed as time goes by...


[deleted] t1_j8b9htz wrote



jb32647 t1_j8ba006 wrote

Some tribes have a taboo against speaking the names of the dead, which extends to photographs. By bringing up the dead you're disturbing their spirits.


waltonics t1_j8c9drm wrote

Just to add to this, Archie Roach, an iconic First Nations singer recently died. His family gave permission to use his first name in press.

In contrast, another iconic singer by last name Yunupingu died a few years ago as well. He was known by his first name in life, but not in death.


rikashiku t1_j8cgpjx wrote

I forgot Archie Roach had passed. What a wonderful musician.


Rots5 t1_j8bfaex wrote

It's a warning out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI).

They are a nation of many communities and with varying cultural protocols. A widespread part of their culture is that it's disrespectful to mention names and share images or recordings of those who have passed, especially during a period of mourning. It is believed that in doing so, it will disturb the spirit of the deceased.

It can also be very distressful.

These warnings are provided for those who are a part of the ATSI community. It allows them to choose before watching a program or reading an article.


Pt_Zero t1_j8c89d4 wrote

Very interesting. I was curious about this too as an American who’s never seen a warning like that before. I assumed it was something along those lines, but context is always nice to have.


PaigePossum t1_j8cj0e0 wrote

Yep, our welfare agency keeps an Indigenous funeral register and does their best to specify which people belonged to groups where speaking the name of the dead is taboo. It's to help staff when dealing with family members who are asking for money to travel for funerals


tolocdn t1_j8dbajq wrote

Interesting! It does however make me wonder if every person in the tribe has a unique name, do names never pass down through families and how do they handle potentially having a twin show up in a photo and the other still alive?


[deleted] t1_j8cvt2c wrote



Mikisstuff t1_j8d1bag wrote

It really started with less specific media and now it's standard practice. No one is doing it for show or signalling - it's just routine.


irish_loser t1_j8cqcai wrote

Lived in Gove / Yirrkala in Arnhem Land for a while as a backpacker. Very cool place.


rikashiku t1_j8cgmmh wrote

I want to read this article, but access is blocked where I am(at work). I love learning things like this, especially about the First Nations Australians.


Timelymanner t1_j8fldn5 wrote

Goes to show you peoples of all backgrounds were explorers.


jakart3 t1_j8cv9jw wrote

Makassar and Bugis sailor are well known far reached (they reach Madagascar). Maybe the aborigin came with them


nixcamic t1_j8dd4tc wrote

Is there a specific Aboriginal belief about photographs of the dead, cause the disclaimer seems a little odd. Most 100 year old photographs contain pictures of people who have since died.


Nadinegeorgiax t1_j8vj9nb wrote

traditionally Australian First Nations people don’t use the names of those who have died out of respect. This also extends to photographs/electronic images of those who have died.

We have that warning come up on TV programs/news reports here in Aus whenever they mention or show a photo of a First Nations person who has passed away.

There’s a Wikipedia article about the practice here


CaucusInferredBulk t1_j8dp7ix wrote

I don't get the warning

>WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images of people who have died.

Its about people who lived 150 years ago, and from as far as I can see didn't have anything bad happen to them. Why does this need a warning?

Is there an aboriginal taboo about seeing photos of people? dead people? (The camera steals your soul?)


Nadinegeorgiax t1_j8vj7lb wrote

traditionally Australian First Nations people don’t use the names of those who have died out of respect. This also extends to photographs/electronic images of those who have died.

We have that warning come up on TV programs/news reports here in Aus whenever they mention or show a photo of a First Nations person who has passed away.

There’s a Wikipedia article about the practice here


Wheelsinthesky23 t1_j8hcuyx wrote

Why in an Italian library... that's very interesting


Awkward-Gate-6594 t1_j8i3ui0 wrote

If the terms "Aborigines" and "natives" is deemed offensive, what are the correct terms?


Smiths_fan137 t1_j8clnsk wrote

The same country that has a palace with frescos depicting a victory against cherokee native tribes obtained together with the French in Canada...this evidence is completely true however and it's very interesting that you shared it.


Robsta3 t1_j8cnu08 wrote

What is the point you’re trying to make here? I’m not sure I understand


Smiths_fan137 t1_j8cnzes wrote

That I found it a little strange this was found in Italy of all places when the Savoys much as I enjoy them as royals have a sort of tradition with being intolerant for minorities they found in other countries. Usually they studied them before trying to bargain a peaceful exodus (aka leaving) of those tribes and if that didn't work out they'd conquer the places. Don't blame them or Italy though. Colonialism was a thing and all European powers practiced it not just Italy.


belokas t1_j8d6t7j wrote

You find strange the fact that an entire population doesn't match your stereotype based on the behaviour of a royal family? You understand that not only greed and desire to exploit minorities moved European (including Italian) explorers to foreign lands but also a genuine scientific interest? Whether this interest was funded and used for colonial purposes is another story, but there were plenty of men just spending and risking their life to learn obscure languages and cultures. By the way, this was the same interest that made anthropologists and ethnographers start studying rural populations from their own country. Ethnic museums in Italy are full of material from both Italian regions and overseas territories. Even if you wanted to label all of these people under the racist category (and you could do it to an extent), it shouldn't be surprising that people wanted to learn and understand different kinds of humans.


Smiths_fan137 t1_j8d71wv wrote

My comment wasn't trying to imply anyone was racist but simply a friendly reminder of something called colonialism, may that be whatever you consider of it, happened. The article itself the OP posted was fascinating.


peteroh9 t1_j8d7ujm wrote

Where should it have been found where there isn't that kind of history?


[deleted] t1_j8al1vc wrote



ChrisTinnef t1_j8alx41 wrote

It's not "ultra sensitive", it's a cultural thing. For american readers, you would have warnings for images of nudity, and for european readers warnings for images of violence.


rivershimmer t1_j8amamf wrote

Because some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures have taboos about seeing images of the dead. These are modern adaptations of older taboos against saying the first names of the dead.


trowzerss t1_j8aoe76 wrote

Are you an Aboriginal or Torres Strait reader? if not, then the warning doesn't apply for you and you can go about your day, or you can do two seconds research and find out why, if you're curious.

Others have already answered, but I will add that it varies from tribe to tribe, but also includes that it's not just out of respect, but some tribes believe if you mention a deceased persons name too much or show their voice or image, they will not be able to properly rest, and it may call someone back from the dead, and that's how you get ghosts and unquiet spirits. Yes, not everybody literally believes that in modern times, but they still follow it out of respect. For some tribes though, this ban expires after a certain period of time (like a month or a year), others it does not. Other times family may waive this ban, especially if they were a prominent person, like a singer or political figure. But yeah, I have relatives who are only referred to by their relationship to others (e.g. his grandmother, their aunty) and not their actual name.


Armyfazer11 t1_j8au193 wrote

Thank you for the education on this. I had no idea. Always learning.


Stegasaurus_Wrecks t1_j8avcxv wrote

Is there something similar with people from Myanmar? A lady from there was murdered in Ireland recently and there was lots of people upset at media coverage mentioning her name for the same reason or one very similar.


Taleya t1_j8awz2x wrote

it's actually common on a lot of cultures. Some others go the complete opposite, up to and including dressing remains up and celebrating with them. We're a rich and varied species.


CaravelClerihew t1_j8am7td wrote

It's a cultural practice, where Indigenous Australians are not allowed to refer to a dead person as a mark of respect. This includes sharing electronic images of said people, hence the warning.


Breadfail t1_j8amtob wrote

The disclaimer is there for cultural reasons for Native Australian peoples and not for whatever reason you think it is.


shadow_pico t1_j8c0i1u wrote

When I think of Aborigines, I think of the natives from "Crocodile Dundee".


iTriedSpinning t1_j8cieji wrote

In case the down votes have you confused, “Aborigines” and “Natives” is found to be offensive. The world steps forward everyday but not all of us can keep up at the same pace. 🙂


shadow_pico t1_j8f0ey6 wrote

I had no idea this was offensive. So sorry that it came off as such. Thank you for correcting me. I used the word "Aborigines" because a friend of mine moved to Australia many years ago and uses that word to describe certain people in her area. Anyone familiar with Alice Springs?


Velvet_moth t1_j8fublb wrote

Your friend is likely racist.


shadow_pico t1_j8ghg15 wrote

She is far from racist. She has bi-racial children and grandchildren.


Idyldo t1_j8ael2o wrote

Wow!? The history that we're never taught in school!? 🇨🇦


CaravelClerihew t1_j8ahqwt wrote

The Makassan trade with Indigenous Australians is actually fairly common knowledge here in Australia. And Indigenous Australians going to Makassar has always been assumed and in oral histories but there's never been pictures of it until now.


jrak193 t1_j8b2iij wrote

Makes sense. Australians are more likely to learn something that relates to Australia than non-Australians are. The sentiment of not being taught something in school has always bugged me because school has too many limits to be able to cover everything everywhere and at the end of the day they have to prioritize.

Rather than being upset that I didn't learn this in school (I'm American btw) I'm just grateful that I have the opportunity to learn it now. It's super interesting.


yor_ur t1_j8cbif9 wrote

As an Australian we learned a bit about indigenous Australians but I went down the path of educating myself on the topic and it’s fascinating, terrible in some parts but fascinating


ooluu t1_j8b35kb wrote

It's not so much fitting it in due to time limits that infuriated me. It was the blatant lies.... ie Christopher Columbus.


jrak193 t1_j8b5fhc wrote

I think calling them "blatant lies" is counter productive, although I can definitely see where it can seem that way especially with Christopher Columbus. I'd say it's a combination of various biases that heavily distort the truth. One bias, as an example, would be idolization, where people have a tendancy to idolize people (like Columbus) who achieved something ("Discovering" America). Don't blame underpaid elementary or secondary teachers for not being able to fully see through these biases, it's just not something that everybody spends a lot of time thinking about.

I think it's good that we are able to talk about Christopher Columbus in a more balanced way now that some of his flaws have become more known, and I wish people would continue talking about it without blowing it out of proportion.


ooluu t1_j8l02pp wrote

Have you ever read "Lies my Teacher taught me"? It was interesting and infuriating. Granted I didn't read all of it as I'm not much into non-fiction. But. It wasn't accidental.


jrak193 t1_j8n0vzr wrote

I have not, but that does sound like a subject I would be interested in. I'll look into it.


throwawayforyouzzz t1_j8cedh7 wrote

This is so interesting. I’m from Singapore and I’ve never known about the trade between indigenous Australians and Indonesians