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Indigenous Australian Maths for NAIDOC Week

Education methods Multiage


NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’.


a goofy photo of me at NAIDOC walk

I'm an ally of the Indigenous Australians, I think we have so much to learn from and respect to give their ancient culture. I wanted to share a couple of articles and resources I've found interesting about numeracy in Indigenous culture. 

Firstly: Aboriginal number system  

I found the above website when researching activities for a friend whilst they were travelling. The Australian Curriculum encourages us to teach about different number systems - and then provides no resources to do so! This was the only site I found, it claims to demonstrate an Australian Indigenous method of conveying number using hand gestures (and has images of the gestures). I'd love to know if you've come across this system before.

Secondly: Indigenous maths dance

This article is about doing maths through dance and indigenous story telling. Definitely inspired me, and is something I want to look into more in the future. We were at a workshop recently and an Aboriginal Uncle was telling us about how they use dance to teach about the land areas; and it makes so much sense to do the same with maths.

 Lastly: Kinship Diagrams

This blog post links to several different resources on understanding kinship  and demonstrates a kinship diagram. You need to follow the links, I feel this could be a really interesting thing to follow up. Perhaps take the relationships from the central land council and see if you can draw a kinship diagram. 

That is all I have for you this year for NAIDOC week. If you are interested in learning more about Indigenous Australian Culture; The Red Chief is a great historical "novel", written by a white man, Ion Idriess, he tells a story from the Gunnedah tribe.

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