NAIDOC Week is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and a chance to acknowledge our history, culture and achievements.
The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal country, heal our nation - calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
For over 60,000 years, the area comprising present day Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug, who first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River. Parramatta has always been an important meeting place for saltwater and fresh water Aboriginal people.
The Burramattagal have a close connection with the river, from which they caught fish, crabs and other food. Their stable bark canoes often held a central small fire, built on a mound of soil, to cook up their fresh catch. “Fire-stick farming”, employed to burn vegetation to facilitate hunting and land management this was practiced by the Burramattagal people and is still practiced in other Aboriginal Language groups.
In early colonial times, many Aboriginal people were brought to Sydney and Parramatta as an underpaid workforce in domestic service and building infrastructure. This migration resulted in a large Aboriginal population in inner-city Sydney and Western Sydney. Western Sydney has the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) population of any region in Australia.
The Darug people still populate the areas of Parramatta, Greater Western Sydney, La Perouse and the Blue Mountains. There are a number of Darug organisations and advisory committees that include active Darug people, as well as prominent Darug artists.
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader, Parramatta Heritage Centre, City of Parramatta, 2021