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Tenterfield Shire was first inhabited by the Jukembal (Yukambul) people with their territory straddling the Great Dividing Range from near Glen Innes to Stanthorpe. The name Jukembal means “the people who say “jogom” (jogom meaning no). The Jukembal Aborigines reputedly called the area “Moombillen’, meaning ‘place of wild honey’.
Today the Aboriginal community in Tenterfield Shire has two main language groups:
The Kamilaroi(Gamilaraay, Gamilaroi) people and the Bundjalung (Bunjalung, Badjalang & Bandjalang) people.
Several generations of both Kamilaroi and Bundjalung people have been born and raised in Tenterfield. It is thought that the Binge and Daly families arrived in the district in the 1950’s.
Tenterfield Shire is rich in Aboriginal history with many significant sites including bora rings, scar trees and Bluff Rock.
Australian Aboriginal culture varies throughout the continent and people from different regions have different Ancestral Beings, different tools, weapons, basketry and different art styles. For example, the two great icons of Aboriginal culture, the curved returning boomerang and the didgeridoo, were not very widespread. The returning boomerang was limited to south-eastern Australia, and the didgeridoo was used in ceremonies only along the very northern part.
It is thought that clapsticks and emu callers were used by the Bundjalung and Kamilaroi peoples.
Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts Museum has a collection of Aboriginal artefacts on display. A local historian, Norman Crawford, collected a large number of these artefacts during the mid – 1900s. The artefacts include stone axe heads and grinding implements as well as wooden boomerangs, clubs, shield and spearthrower as well as a fire drill set.
In the main Banquet Hall at the Tenterfield School of Arts there is a commemorative display about the first official Welcome to Country in Tenterfield that happened in October 2008.