Indigenous identity as Country: the "Ing" within Connecting, Caring, and Belonging

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Within the Australian Indigenous community, it is often said that Aboriginality is a verb. It is a “doing” word, not a noun. As such, identifying actively is at the heart of being Australian Aboriginal. Doing identification, rather than owning a label of identification, is critical to understanding the relationality that underpins Indigenous identity. It is the ‘Ing’ of relationality which acts as an interconnected web of presences (including people), places, and practices. When this web is ancestral, it marks our belonging. For Dharug, this is our “Country”, our Dharug Ngurra. It is physical and metaphysical. It is also known as most of the Sydney basin, Australia. The agency that connects us, strengthens our caring, and generates our belonging helps us co-become as a Country. This paper engages the author’s “Ing” as Ngurra through her connections to three sites, their presences, places and practices, that activate her belonging to/with the Dharug community: Brown’s Waterhole, Blacktown Native Institution, and Yallomundee. Using undergraduate teaching experiences and a current post-doctoral research project for specific context, questions around the ‘Ing’ of being Indigenous as Country-in-the-city are raised, while the significance of changing relationships for custodial caring in a climate challenging reality are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number48
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Dharug
  • Australian Aboriginal
  • Indigenous
  • Country
  • identity


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