Subsistence and Commercial Activities . The Aranda were originally hunters and gatherers. Large game animals included red kangaroos, euros (wallaroos), and emus; smaller game animals included various marsupials, reptiles, and birds. Many insects, fruits, and vegetables were gathered, including grass seeds that were ground into a flour to make bread. Dingoes were sometimes domesticated and would occasionally act as hunting dogs. As White settlement increasingly restricted traditional hunting and gathering grounds, the Aranda became increasingly reliant on Western foodstuffs, particularly white flour, sugar, and tea. Today, some hunting and a little gathering take place, but people mainly rely on the meat, jam, bread, etc. that can be bought from supermarkets and local stores. Government funding of social security payments and community development projects is now of considerable economic importance.
Industrial Arts. In their hunting and gathering days the Aranda, like all Aborigines, had a fairly simple tool kit, consisting mainly of spears, spear throwers, carrying trays, grinding stones, and digging sticks. There were no specialist professions, and any man or woman could make equipment to hunt and gather. Many men and women have now acquired European-style professional skills.
Trade. In one sense, trade was, and still is, endemic to Aranda social life, since family members and groups are bound to each other through various kinds of gift and service exchange. In precontact times, long-distance trade extending far outside the Aranda-speaking area was carried out for Certain specialty goods, like ochers and pituri (native tobacco). Today the Aranda produce arts and crafts for the local and national tourist and art markets.
Division of Labor. Adult men are the main hunters of large game, while women and children, sometimes with men, hunt smaller game and gather fruits and vegetables. Women are the primary care givers to children up to adolescence, but men tend to take a good deal of interest in the training of adolescent boys. In the contemporary environment women tend to take care of most domestic work, while men often seek work on pastoral stations and the like. Many educated Aranda now live and work in bureaucratic organizations and some are beginning to question the ideology of the sexual division of labor.
Land Tenure. As individuals, Aranda people have rights in land through all four grandparents and may acquire rights by other means as well. There is a strong belief that one belongs to or owns the country of one's paternal grandfather and that one has a very strong connection to the country of one's maternal grandfather. Ultimately, land is managed and owned by rights to ritual property and this property is distributed through a complexly negotiable political framework. In precontact times, bands would wander over the territories of a local alliance network and be more or less economically self-sufficient. Today, these territorial alliance networks still exist, but the extent to which Aranda people can dispose of their own countries is made problematic by White settlement. The bulk of Aranda territory is occupied by White pastoralists, although a small amount is owned and managed (as recognized in Australian law) by Aranda people.