Australia & Torres Straits Islands

What subject headings are used for materials about the indigenous peoples of Australia, the Torres Straits Islands?

The Library of Congress uses various headings for the indigenous peoples of this region. The broadest term is “Indigenous peoples—Australia.” This subject heading is used for books on many or all of the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Torres Straits Islands.
The term used for many or all of the indigenous peoples of Australia, excluding the Torres Straits Islands, is “Aboriginal Australians.” This subject heading was originally “Australian aborigines” but it was changed to “Aboriginal Australians” in the early 2000s because the former term was considered derogatory.

For materials on individual groups of aboriginals the subject headings are set up for each of the individual aboriginal groups. Some examples are:

  • Anmatyerre (Australian people)
  • Batjamal (Australian people)
  • Dharug (Australian people)
  • Kamberri (Australian people)
  • Pitjantjatjara (Australian people)
  • Yandruwandha (Australian people)

All of these individual peoples can be further subdivided by place to bring out the location of the group covered in the book.
Although there are over 100 such subject headings established for the individual groups, these subject headings are established as materials are published on this group. Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH) are not comprehensive and are created as needed.

If you ever come across material on a certain group that is not established yet, please contact the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee as we can establish the subject heading in LCSH.

Finally, there are two terms for two geographical groups: Aboriginal Tasmanians and Torres Strait Islanders. Both can be further subdivided by place, however there are no subject headings established for any individual groups on either of these islands.
There are also many subdivisions that can be used under all ethnic groups including all the individual groups listed here. Subdivisions include “—Food,” “—Employment,” “—Criminal justice system,” etc. For a full list, consult the Library of Congress subject headings.
Finally, there are many headings qualified by “Aboriginal Australian.” For example:

  • Children, Aboriginal Australian
  • Councils, Aboriginal Australian
  • Families, Aboriginal Australian
  • Mythology, Aboriginal Australian
  • Women, Aboriginal Australian

And some headings based on “Aboriginal Australian” such as:

  • Aboriginal Australians in medicine
  • Aboriginal Australians in popular culture
  • Aboriginal Australians with disabilities

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