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

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

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 Languages 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.

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.  


Aunty Lesley Williams speaking at the launch of Our Sporting Greats showcase, 2018, with former kuril dhagun team member, Willie Prince, watching on.

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. 


Map showing the distribution of Aboriginal tribes of Australia (Norman. B. Tindale, 1940). View in the Collection here.

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.


A Night by the fire with Professor Anita Heiss during National Reconciliation Week, 2018. Watch this event and more here.

Blogs, exhibitions and recordings

View our collection of blogs, exhibitions and recordings.


Participants of the Indigenous Languages Research Discovery Workshop, June 2018.


Showcases highlight community stories and related collections. Developed through a philosophy of co-curation and co-creation, they seek to share rarely heard stories. Explore the current showcase below.

Family history

State Library assists Queenslanders with Family History through collections access, research, comprehensive resources, and workshops. Discover how to start your journey.


The histories and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland are diverse, rich and alive. 

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.