Our country, our healer: Aboriginal apothecaries of Burning Mountain

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For millennia, the First Australians manufactured, utilised and traded mineral medicines. This places Aboriginal people as the world’s first pharmacists in history and as the first ancient culture to have utilised both sulphur and alum medicinally. British colonisation resulted in the dispossession of traditional Aboriginal lands, which included many sacred Aboriginal healing sites. Aboriginal people shared the medical benefits of certain multi-use mineral medicines (lithotherapeutics) with the early settler colonists. The settler colonists readily utilised the healing benefits of these prescriptions, which were subsequently commercialised by several businesspersons and consortiums. Consequently, Aboriginal people were prevented from accessing areas containing these minerals, harshly obstructing the Aboriginal trade in these important prescriptions. Dispossession abruptly halted much of the lithotherapeutic pharmaceutical industry of New South Wales’s Aboriginal people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-107
Number of pages25
JournalAboriginal history
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aboriginal health
  • Aboriginal History
  • Australian History
  • Closing the Gap
  • traditional medicine


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