About Creative Spirits

Close this Cover of Aboriginal Culture Essentials

Wishing you knew more about Aboriginal culture? Search no more.

Get key foundational knowledge about Aboriginal culture in a fun and engaging way.

This is no ordinary resource: It includes a fictional story, quizzes, crosswords and even a treasure hunt.

Stop feeling bad about not knowing. Make it fun to know better.

Sold! Show me how No, thank you

Once upon a time… (How Creative Spirits started)

Many years ago, after I had finished my studies in Germany, I visited the Australian Embassy to apply for a visa because I wanted to go backpacking there.

“Visa?” asked the man behind the counter after he had gone through my paperwork. “You are going home, mate!” he exclaimed, seeing that I was born there. (I was two years old when my parents returned to Germany.)

After my travels I started Creative Spirits, initially to document my experiences and the places I had visited in Australia, especially those with an Aboriginal significance. Two more Aussie holidays followed until I decided to go back and live there. I felt a strong urge, a call of the land.

As I learned more and more about Aboriginal culture I wanted to share this information. A few paragraphs in each section slowly grew into the largest and most visited part of my website, so much so that I now dedicate Creative Spirits to help you learn about one of the most neglected topics in this country: Aboriginal culture.

Have hunger, need food

Many people like you are hungry for knowledge about Aboriginal culture. They are thirsty for in-depth quality information. But there’s a problem.

Where can you get it? Who can you trust?

The NSW Department of Education and Training has put this dilemma well:

“Teaching Aboriginal studies has special difficulties for non-Aboriginal people. Very little in their education or experience has prepared them for an in-depth knowledge of Aboriginal peoples and cultures. Knowledge about Aboriginal people is too often derived from popular myths or from a media which sensationalises, distorts or omits Aboriginal issues." [1]

In order to present the content of this website respectfully and culturally appropriately I follow the recommendations published by the Australian Council for the Arts [2] and Aboriginal writer Dr Anita Heiss. [3] Specifically, I

  • acknowledge country,
  • focus on a contemporary understanding of the complexities of Aboriginal culture and histories,
  • prefer to give voice to authentic Aboriginal points of view (e.g. via quotes and poems),
  • pay attention to cultural protocols and sensitivities (e.g. accepted terms),
  • list all my sources at the end of each article,
  • use only reputable sources,
  • actively combat stereotypes,
  • do not use any material that has not already been published, is confidential, personal or sacred, and
  • give back to Aboriginal communities via a donation program.

It is important to note that, as a member of the dominant culture, I am in a privileged position. As a human I make mistakes and have unconscious bias.

Aboriginal activist and historian Jackie Huggins advises "not to expect Aboriginal people and communities to welcome you openly into their world, for there is a long history of mistrust, violence, guilt and fear that cannot be forgotten easily". [4] I hope this site helps understand that quote.

Can I trust your content?

I hear you. Pixels are patient. You want proof. I’d like you to hear from some of those who’ve already assessed my content:

"An important site, illuminating, objective, educational and user friendly. Should be streamed into all educational institutions and libraries throughout Australia,” says for example John Lind, a film maker, writer, script editor and teacher.

"But he's a whitefella," I hear you say. Fair enough.

Aboriginal people are a diverse people just like any other group. And while the overwhelming majority of my Aboriginal visitors recognise my intention to work and support as a non-Aboriginal ally and help people learn about Aboriginal culture, some don't.

So I want to make it really clear: This site's purpose is to help anyone learn about Aboriginal culture so they can shed old stereotypes, know about contemporary challenges and victories, foster their appreciation of a culture that's so deep and inspirational. There is no communally-owned material on this site (e.g. ritual knowledge, creation stories, songs, or traditional or tribal communal designs).

I am not speaking on behalf of Aboriginal people, that's not my place. Nor am I making money "from" Aboriginal culture. The money I do charge is for information products that I've created to facilitate learning. You don't pay for culture, you pay for the time, effort and skill that it took to create the resource based on material that is already published (e.g. statistics from the ABS).

Here's what Aboriginal people who recognise my intentions have said:

"It is refreshing to see a website like yours, as it is indicative of how far other peoples interest (and yes curiosity) have come in terms of our own history, culture, language, spirituality and our place in the world," says Laura from the Wamba Wamba people. "Thanks for spreading the word—and thank you for your cultural sensitivity which I feel lately has been very lacking from the general public."

And Coralie, an Aboriginal poet, writes: "It has taken an overseas visitor to accomplish what many others have failed to do: acknowledge the fact that Australia was indeed occupied by thousands of Aboriginal tribes long before any kind of ‘discovery’ was made. As an Aborigine I thank you for your well researched contribution to Aboriginal culture. May your Creative Spirits linger forever more. Thank you.”

"Thank you for the deadly site – it is the one of the best most honest sites for info I reckon,” thinks Trevor Walker from the Walbunja and Brinja people, Yuin nation (south coast NSW).

"I think your website… is truthful and current and reflects the beauty and sacredness of my people's culture and history,” says Dave Sulter, a Gamilaraay man from Coonabarabran, northern NSW.

"Good looking site. Must confess I was initially nervous to see a non-indigenous created site but your information looks great and you show great respect,” admits Denise Freeman from koorikullas.com.

Craig Robertson from Melbourne shares: "I commend you on your work and understanding of our culture as l wish that many more people would take your lead and have understanding."

I would very much like to see through local government and civil society, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, a true process of national truth-telling. [It] is going to be so transformative for Australia, and I know that Australia wants it to happen.

— Linda Burney, Wiradjuri woman and Member of the Australian House of Representatives [5]

Giving back

An important part of being an ally is to give back to Aboriginal communities. Healing and learning are close to my heart and have informed my selection of Aboriginal organisations to give back to.

Creative Spirits currently supports the following organisations with donations:

  • Healing Foundation, an Aboriginal-owned and operated organisation that supports the healing of Stolen Generations survivors, families and communities by connecting them back to their culture and spirit.
  • Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training, Australia’s oldest not-for-profit independent Aboriginal education provider. It offers its program to Aboriginal adults from across Australia in a culturally supportive environment.
  • Yalari, a not-for-profit organisation that offers full boarding school scholarships for Aboriginal children from regional, rural and remote communities for their entire secondary education.

I've spent hundreds of dollars supporting Aboriginal events, artists, filmmakers and musicians by attending their performances or buying their products and artworks. From my critics I know that giving back is important, and I'm working on doing more in this area.

My content has been published elsewhere

Back in 2011 I received a surprising email from the National Library of Australia. They told me that they were going to periodically archive my content about Aboriginal culture in Pandora, Australia's web archive, because they consider it “to be an important component of the national documentary heritage”. Wow, that was a great acknowledgement!

Some of my content, both articles and images, have also been published in other works around the world.

A screenshot of the health section of this site printed in a textbook.
This website's health section was used as a source in a Year 10 textbook of Australian history.

To help you use or verify my articles I have referenced each with the sources that I’ve used. You’ll find each source acknowledged in square brackets, like so: [15]. You can click on it to see the source, or go to the summary of all sources at the end of each article.

I'm also answering questions on Quora for the topics of Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Peoples, Indigenous People and Indigenous Australians. Follow me there if you like.

"I really appreciate the thought-provoking reply you have given and am determined to re-examine my thought process," says Jacinta on Quora in a comment.

A note on terminology

There is no universally agreed upon term for referring to the many diverse groups who comprise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. For this website, and without intending to be disrespectful, I have decided to use the term ‘Aboriginal people’ to refer to all peoples and groups whose ancestors pre-date colonisation and who identify as such.

Go and have fun exploring!

Picture of Jens Korff, owner and author of Creative Spirits.
Jens Korff, owner and author of Creative Spirits.

I hope you feel confident now exploring Creative Spirits.

Enjoy this website.

Join my Smart Owls community and sign up below.

If you feel you should tell me something, just drop me an email to the address provided below. Be curious. Always. It’s a spice of life.

Thank you for listening.

Cheers,
Jens

Contact me

Please note:

  • I run Creative Spirits in my limited spare time. Please be patient when submitting a request as I often cannot answer quickly, and sometimes not at all.
  • For that reason, if your request is urgent, you might not get an answer in time.
  • Your question might already have an answer in the frequently asked questions.

Creative Spirits® is a registered trademark.

Thank you.

What do you want to contact me about?

Links

At present I use a variety of ways to help finance this website. One is via affiliate links, for example to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

References

View article sources (5)

[1] ‘Aboriginal education K–12 resource guide’, NSW Department of Education and Training, Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate, 2003, p.10
[2] 'Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Writing', Australia Council for the Arts, 2007
[3] 'Writing About Indigenous Australia—Some Issues to Consider and Protocols to Follow: A Discussion Paper', Dr Anita Heiss, Southerly (Vol. 62, Issue 2, pp.197), 2002
[4] 'Sister Girl: The Writings of Aboriginal Activist and Historian Jackie Huggins', Jackie Huggins, University of Queensland Press, 1996, p.12, quoted in [4]
[5] 'Walking Together: ABC News Special Coverage: Linda Burney Reflects on 20 Years of Reconciliation', ABC iView, viewed 3/6/2020

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2020, About Creative Spirits, <https://www.creativespirits.info/about/>, retrieved 25 October 2020

Join thousands of Smart Owls who know more!