Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Close encounters in Aboriginal culture" Part two.

This post continues a look at Eirik Saethre's 2007 paper "Close encounters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal community."

Non-Aboriginal community members:

The forty non-Aboriginal residents "...often engaged in discussions regarding UFOs, sharing their own beliefs and experiences..." (p908.) Their own observations (from four people) matched those of the Warlpiri in terms of their UFOs being large, disc-shaped and fast moving.


"Aboriginal people stated that while the aliens never harmed them, UFOs could abduct 'white' people..." (p908.) Saethre was warned of this danger on a number of occasions. "Although non-Aboriginal people recounted anecdotes of UFO sightings, they never circulated tales of alien abductions. Instead it was Warlpiri residents who related these stories." (p909.)

"When I asked why non-Aboriginal people were invariably the victims of abductions, I was told that the aliens were able to recognise Aboriginal people as belonging in the area." (p909.)

Not isolated:

Although the community was geographically isolated, the community as a whole was aware of and watched television programs such as The X-files; Stargate; Star Trek and movies such as Independence Day. "Narratives of Warlpiri ideas on UFOs were drawn from TV but also incorporated involvement with the environment, local cosmological themes..." (p910.)

"For instance, visits to water holes can be punctuated with stories of both their formation by ancestral forces and their depletion by the aliens." (p910.)


"Warlpiri narratives of aliens from outer space are not simply a faithful restatement of ideas gleaned from Hollywood movies but are situated in, and reflect the close encounters between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people." (p912.)


This is a fascinating piece of anthropological research, and reveals some new pieces of data re Aboriginal beliefs on UFOs - at least from the point of view of one remote locality.

Are readers familiar with any other academic studies of this nature?


  1. Hiya Pauline, I only read Saethre's paper a couple of months ago and it's nice to see you guys have already 'been there.'

    I found the paper quite fascinating and it shows how difficult it is to differentiate the anomalous from the imaginary and that from the mundane. All grey shades it would seem...

    In reply to your question - Saethre also wrote another paper involving UFOs and you can find it at the following link >

  2. Hi Kandinsky,

    Thank you for your comments on this post. I will take a look at Saethre's other paper.

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