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Koorie (or Koori)

'Koorie' derives from the word for 'people' in the indigenous languages of the coastal groups of central and northern New South Wales. It is the current group self-description of many people of indigenous descent living in Victoria and south-central New South Wales. Reverend L.E. Threlkeld first recorded the word as 'Ko-re' in his An Australian grammar (1834), after language research among the Awabakal people of the Newcastle region. The word drifted south around 1900 as Aboriginal people travelled more widely in their now colonial world or were shifted about by white authorities. However, it remained a semi-secret self-identification in Victoria until its first public use for an 'Aborigines only' association, the Koori Club formed in Fitzroy in 1969. Despite lacking universal acceptance among Australians, including those of Aboriginal descent, Koorie is now used widely by individuals and associations in Melbourne. Its use reflects the resurgence of indigenous identities and cultures among those previously and erroneously claimed to have lost their culture. 'Koorie' exists alongside other indigenous words that define specific indigenous groups such as the Wurundjeri, while the older terms 'Aborigine(s)/al(s)' still function as convenient pan-Australian names.

Richard Broome