Indigenous Peoples the world over have always educated the non-Indigenous young people of their society to learn those things considered important. Socialisation of non-Indigenous young children is a complex matter, and the relationship between socialisation and formal schooling requires that educators think about the ways that Indigenous Japanese and Australian families and communities might have educated their non-Indigenous young prior to the formation of the nations of Japan and Australia. In this chapter, we examine the period prior to and including the imperial era in both nations when the lands and waterways of Indigenous Peoples were territorially colonised and also the time of formal enactment of a national constitution that moved both nations into the post-imperial phase. Here, we focus somewhat unconventionally on an Indigenous history of education rather than the more conventional approach of describing the history of Indigenous education in both nations (Price, 2015).

There are some differences and some similarities to note. Japan developed its imperial system through a prolonged period of consolidation of many feudal fiefdoms. This process swept up Japanese Indigenous tribal groups such as the Ainu whose claims to land pre-existed many arrangements made subsequently under fiefdoms and annulled any a priori claims and arrangements that had been recognised before the imperial process of consolidation. Unlike the situation in Japan, the Australian landmass was territorially colonised by the English Crown and the education system was transplanted to the new colony and grew from there. We argue that for both Japan and Australia, there is an undertone of an imperial/colonial centralist mindset still embedded in contemporary education practices towards Indigenous children and about Indigenous lifeways.