Imagine there’s no money….

Australia has a newly-designed 50 cent coin adorned with 14 indigenous words for “money”.

Except…..

Money, or an object which abstractly represented the value of goods and services, did not exist in Australia before European colonisation. Trade occurred, but it was between items deemed to be of similar worth, for example, pearl shell, quartz, food or songs. With the entry of money into the Indigenous economy, new words were needed to refer to coins and later, notes.
Most Indigenous words for money come from words for “stone”, “rock” or “pebble”, no doubt in reference to the size and shape of coins.

Right. So the new 50c coin has 14 indigenous words for “pebble”.

What’s the Aborginal translation for the adjective “fungible”?

Bill’s Opinion

This epitomises the very modern desire to retro-fit the current definitions of civilisation on a culture that had nothing even close to these features.

Other versions of this delusion include universities offering courses on “Aboriginal science” and primary schools teaching “Aboriginal sports”; what was observed and documented (by Europeans!) might have prima facia appeared to have been similar to science or sport but really had nothing tangible in common with the European definitions of these things.

The concept of the noble savage was a retrospective re-writing of history to salve Western guilt.

2 Replies to “Imagine there’s no money….”

  1. “Aboriginal sports”

    I remember reading long ago about a 19th Century Native American who said that he couldn’t understand the concept of “sport” which white men were trying to get him interested in. If he thought it worth while to compete with another man, then he could see no reason to be bound by rules, and would fight to the death.

    Probably apocryphal, but I liked the idea.

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