First, it should not be confused with the term “Elders” because a person can be an Elder but not hold Cultural Authority. It specifically relates to Aboriginal lore/law and the hierarchy that is created by this lore/law. Where I am from, we call our lore/law, “Gahlarra”, pronounced Gar-lar-dar. One important part of this lore is the practice of men’s ceremony. It is within this ancient practice that Aboriginal Peoples recognise and respect the “Cultural Authority”, which hold the highest position among the Aboriginal People from a specific region (not all Aboriginal People, collectively).
Our “Cultural Authority” in the Pilbara consists of Senior Men and Women that have been active participants of practising Aboriginal lore. Within this Cultural Authority, there is a recognition of “Men’s Lore” and “Women’s Lore” of which only those specific genders may make decisions relevant to them and their lore. To compare to the Mainstream Western Hierarchies, the Cultural Authority are those Men and Women who are recognised as “experts” in their fields for a lifetime of learning and commitment such as Professors and Doctors of Philosophy that have at least 30 years of experience. They have also been legally compliant and carried out all obligations and responsibilities of them within their chosen field of expertise.