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First Nations woman in the State Library Talking Circle instructing a group of people around her.
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First Nations cultures

State Library of Queensland collects, preserves and shares the documentary heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the State. Through consultation and collaboration, the State Library's collections serve as a central point of access and programming, including exhibitions and showcases, family history workshops, language research, and contemporary storytelling.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are storehouses of cultural knowledge and tradition, but sadly these languages are endangered to the point that many of them may disappear in the next few decades. In Queensland, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects were once spoken. Today around 50 of these remain spoken (in varying degrees), with less than 20 being used as first languages.

Language is intrinsically linked to Indigenous peoples’ way of life, cultures and identities. The use and expression of language brings meaning to cultural heritage and articulates the intricate relationships between Indigenous peoples and their connection to their land and community. In 2019 State Library celebrated the United Nations' International Year of Indigenous Languagesopen_in_new and we look forward to building on this legacy during the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-32.

Check out the Indigenous Languages blog or find out more below to explore the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language activities and resources.

Vicki McDonald, State Librarian and CEO with Indigenous Language researchers waving in the Talking Circle

Vicki McDonald, State Librarian and CEO attending the Indigenous Languages Research Discovery Workshop in the Talking Circle, kuril dhagun, June 2019.

Expo City Marching Band show at the Piazza
Connect with the uniquely Queensland stories shared in exhibitions past and present.
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Australian South Sea Islanders and their families exploring the Plantation Voices White Gloves Experience
The histories and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland are diverse, rich and alive.
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Annie Sibley, Palm Island, 7 November 1938, Tindale Genealogical Collection
Learn more about our collections through our latest blogs.
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Professor Anita Heiss talking about her book, Our Race to Reconciliation, at a Night by the fire event during National Reconciliation Week 2018.
Contemporary stories
Through programming and collection acquisitions, State Library records and shares contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, reawakening knowledge and keeping culture strong.
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indigenous language words
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages
Explore the interactive Queensland languages map and find language resources created during the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
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kuril dhagun, Joe Ruckli, 2022
kuril dhagun
kuril dhagun has been State Library’s centre for Queensland's unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures since 2006. kuril dhagun promotes and celebrates Queensland’s First Peoples' cultures, histories and stories. It is a gathering place for all people to engage, share, listen and learn through an ongoing public program of showcases and events.
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A map of Australia with black and green lines showing Aboriginal communities
Community history
Connection to country and community plays a central role in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Many communities have faced disruption and disconnection, affecting the very lives of the people who call them home.
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A woman in a colourful shirt plays with a cockatoo puppet in an Indigenous Knowledge Centre. The child she is playing with is out of frame.
Indigenous Knowledge Centres
IKCs communal hubs that combine traditional library services with a keeping place for recording, accessing and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures of Queensland.
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Researchers exploring the State Library collections
Family history
State Library assists Queenslanders with Family History through collections access, research, comprehensive resources, and workshops. Discover how to start your journey.
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