This guide may contain references to names and works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died. External links may also include names and images of those who have died.

The information and resources in this guide help teachers and educators embed important ideas around reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions in Mathematics subjects. 

This guide is not prescriptive or exhaustive. You should consult your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and always critically evaluate resources when using this guide.

Introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics

‘In Australia, mathematical systems have been developed over tens of thousands of years to create intricate kinship systems ensuring genetic vigor...Weight systems were based not on numbers, but on patterns of natural objects such as shells…Geometry was used in calculating time according to the angles and position of the sun, moon and stars at different times, governing predictions about seasons and weather…Although in many Australian Indigenous cultures numbers had no names beyond three, large-scale quantifying was still used in records and calculations through patterns and diagrams on rocks, trees, bark and message sticks…Many language groups in New South Wales developed base five number systems. Calculators for this were developed based on one-to-one correspondence, using materials such as honky nuts (like a disposable abacus system), and served to perform calculations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.’

– Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, Senior Lecturer.

Background and Timeline of key dates in the contemporary history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mathematics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematicians, Programs, and Other Events