Honors World Regional Geography 2017 – Blog #4 Posted on September 4, 2017 by saorsa2014 Discuss Australian aboriginal culture and the impact of western colonialism on this population. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
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Long before Western powers landed on the Shores of Australia to exert their influence over the continent, the Australian Aborigines had a rich culture with their own unique social structures that began far before any social structure of the West. As a side-effect of Western colonization, the peoples and cultures of the Aboriginal population of Australia have become drastically changed.
The Aboriginal people of Australia have been adversely affected by western influence after colonization occurred. The people who colonized Australia saw the Aborigines and their cultures as foreign and in need of assimilating more to the Western methods that the colonizers were used to. “State-sponsored discrimination and assimilation” has traditionally followed Westerners who engaged in colonization during the colonial era and the events in Australia are no different. Before colonization, there were many nations that composed Australia. The boundaries of these nations were not respected by Western powers. Colonial powers preferred to think of all these Aborigines as one group rather than a collection of diverse peoples. Also, the Aborigines of Australia were forced to move away from growing Western settlements in order for the colonizers to hoard natural resources and land for themselves. The Aborigines did not have the Western sense of ownership of land so this expedited the process of dispossession of the native population of Australia. As a result, the Aborigines were relegated to land that was less fertile and far less valuable than the land that the West claimed for itself. Today, there is serious issues with members of Aboriginal groups not having enough housing to house all of their people and a trend of poverty that persists through the generations. Often, the houses that they do have are overcrowded and in poor condition because they are too poor to build new houses or even update the ones they have. All of these issues can be attributed to the West’s complete and total disregard for the customary laws of the Aborigines. Like with most of the places misfortunate enough to be targeted by the West during the era of colonization, the West has undermined the laws, cultures, and religions of the Aborigines in Australia. In order to ensure that Aboriginal culture was not transferred to the next generation, Western powers would kidnap children in order to try to force them to become like Westerners. The hope was that this would force the Aborigines to become just like their colonizers. The reason that the Western government wanted this change was because the somehow came under the impression that people living in social structures that differed from their own were somehow uncivilized and in need of educating in the Western way. When the British arrived in Australia, they brought with them substances like alcohol, tobacco, and opium. These substances had a devastating effect of the Aborigines. The effect of the introduction of the substances continue to this day with a long tradition of substance abuse becoming the norm for the Aboriginal population. The British also brought with them disease. The Aboriginal population did not have the natural immunity to many diseases that the Europeans had. This resulted in the Aboriginal population being drastically affected by the deaths caused by disease.
The tradition of colonial powers adversely affecting the native population of the land continues to this day in Australia with the Aborigines. It is important to understand these issues and how they came about in order to find a way to remedy the problems that have arisen out of the ashes of the colonial era.
Very nice discussion.
Aboriginal people have the same origins as the New Guinea tribes and have lived in what is now Australia for the past 50,000 years. The Aboriginal people lived undisturbed for thousands of years practicing their animist faith, tribal systems, hunting and gathering, and beautiful art. The Aboriginals believe that “ancestral beings emerged from beneath the surface or from the sky, assumed the form of an animal or plant or human, and journeyed across the land, performing great deeds of creation.” (Finkel). This is why the Aboriginal population treats the land with such intention and is always listens to nature’s lessons. All Aboriginal groups had a tribal political structure which was competitive in close contact, this may have been why so many people left the island in search of new areas to settle. There were numerous clans and hundreds of different languages from a single language family. Aboriginal peoples also practice mouth blown art on cave walls and other objects. These often contained handprints that were like the artist’s signature. They also practice (and many people still do) intricate body art inspired by nature, such as flowers and animals. Everything changed when British prisoners arrived. They forced assimilation, alcoholism, war, and disease. The British used the lack of formal contracts and ownership of land as an excuse to force Aboriginal people off their homelands and into dry and infertile areas. Aboriginal people could not defeat the British because they did not have the same weapons and their population was made weaker by the disease that the British brought. Many British people started kidnapping Aboriginal children and forcing them to assimilate hoping to eliminate a culture that has endured for the past 50,000 years (Finkle). Methodist missionaries also took part in the assimilation of Aboriginal peoples. They did not believe animist faith was as righteous as Christianity and wanted to change the practices of the Aboriginal people. There are still graves with “Christian cross with the words “I Am the Way” written on it in English, evidence of the Methodist missionaries” (Fenkel). Alcoholism has hit the Aboriginal population particularly hard, especially because of their hunter-gatherer culture. This is because a “hallmark of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is immediate consumption…” (Fenkel) this immediate consumption is fine for fruits and meats but not for alcohol. In 1976 the Aboriginal Lands Rights act was implemented to give Aboriginal peoples their land again and some of these communities have outlawed alcohol. Although Aboriginal communities still exist, much of their culture has been forced from them and colonial rule has dwindled their population. One can only hope that Aboriginal culture persists for the next thousands of years despite the decreasing community size, they have survived this long and the Australian government must make sure the oppression of Aboriginal peoples ends.
Finkel, Michael. “First Australians.” National Geographic, Make It Out Alive, 18 Sept. 2017,
The Aborigine people have resided in Australia for more than 45,000 years and have maintained a rich, hunter-gatherer culture. However, since the arrival of Europeans in the late eighteenth century, Aboriginals have been increasingly oppressed. They have been forced onto reservations in northern Australia, losing most of their lands and much of their traditional culture. Despite this, they still persevere to keep their society and way of life alive.
Often regarded as the oldest surviving culture in the world, Aboriginal people are comprised of diverse communities and exhibit a rich culture, still present today in modern-day Australia. There are as many as 500 Aboriginal tribes and more than 200 Aboriginal languages are spoken (Britannica). For thousands of years, they utilized ancient stone tools to cut wood and bark from trees, to make weapons, and to grind and cut food largely until the 1960s. Aboriginal religion plays an important role in their society. Each tribe believes in their own, often overlapping, deities that are represented by landscape features, such as a particular rock or plant. Aborigines, however, do not practice animism, the belief that all natural objects possess a soul, but, instead, that the feature merely represents the deity rather than the object possessing the soul of the deity (Welch). Body adornment is also a substantial aspect of Aboriginal society. Scarification was used to created permanent body decorations by cutting lines and patterns into people’s skin in order to create raised scars. Body paint is also applied for ceremonies, typically bands of a white pigment in patterns significant to the tribe. Aboriginal societies are run by a council of elders that are made up of clan leaders and highly respected elders in the tribe. Their society also requires “boys and girls to undergo a series of ordeals leading to their acceptance as adults in their society” to gain sacred knowledge and complete an initiation to become a full adult member of their tribe (Welch). Aboriginal culture has been practiced for thousands of years and is still practiced today.
Since the first English settlement in Australia 1788 as a penal colony, the Aborigines have been subjugated by white Europeans. They immediately began to lose their territory, that maintained significant spiritual importance for the Aboriginal people, as the British regarded the land as “’waste and uncultivated,’ belonging to the whites, even if they had not yet occupied parts of it” (Resture). The Aborigines were forced onto reservations that the colonial government laid claim to. The colonists’ livestock ate the native grasses, driving away the game the Aboriginals hunted, greatly deteriorating the available food supply. The Europeans also introduced a number of diseases with major diseases, such as smallpox and tuberculosis, and minor diseases, such as the common cold and influenza, devastating the Aboriginal people with no previous contact with them. Tension between the Aboriginal population and the Australian government remain over Aboriginal land rights and the welfare of the indigenous population. Since the 1960s, numerous campaigns have argued for the return of the Aboriginal spiritual lands to the tribes, with some success, but are still largely opposed by many in the Australian government due mining and rural interests. The welfare of Aborigines on reservations is also a crucial issue as many essential resources, such as housing, education, and healthcare, are barley made available or not at all. There is a serious shortage of housing and many people have to live in cramped, small spaces together. Aborigine children still have limited opportunities to attend school or university. Aboriginal populations have numerous cases of leprosy, high mortality rates, and males only have a life expectancy of 57 years, while women have 65 years, significantly below Australia’s national life expectancy rates (Resture). Little is being done to fix this issues within the government. Aborigines have managed to keep their vibrant culture, but remain in constant tension with the Australian government.
Good discussion, good use of outside sources.
The Aborigines are the indigenous people of the Australian continent. They are likely remnants of early South Asian peoples that migrated to the continent, and have a culture that is highly ritualized and based in nature, and in one’s connection with the world around them. Although many cultures similar to theirs are competitive in nature, the Aborigines have no need to be because of the vastness of the Australian continent.
The culture of the Australian Aboriginal people is very ancestral and tribal based. Their culture revolves around a series of ancient ancestor, who they believe to have created the world through naming everything, and singing them into existence. At birth, each Aboriginal is assigned a specific Dreaming, and an Ancestor that goes along with this Dreaming. This defines their entire tribal life, as the Dreaming determines what they can and cannot do, and other important aspects of Aboriginal life. Another important facet of the Aborigine culture that goes along with one’s Dreaming is the Songlines they sing. Depending on their specific Ancestor, an Aborigine will sing a song which they believe to keep the creation of the world relevant. This connects them to their Ancestors, and to Aborigines in other parts of the continent who share their Ancestor but not their language, as all songs have the same underlying melody which they can easily pick up on. On the other hand, the Aborigine people put much of their faith in the songs, and to sing a song wrong is to unmake the creation of the world. This makes the singing of the Songlines highly important, and only the Aboriginals who are wisest and most in tune with the Ancestors go out to sing the songs.
When the Europeans made the decision to start exploring the Pacific Ocean and stumbled upon Australia, they initially had no use for the vast continent. However, the British soon decided to use the island as a large prison for the criminals that they had no room for in typical jail cells in England. When the criminals were brought to Australia, they were virtually left to their own devices, and ended up settling and exploring the continent. This prompted attacks from the Aborigine people, but after some time, the Aboriginals fell victim to European diseases brought by the criminals. This lead to a decline in the Aboriginal population, and the threat to the Europeans went down. This also allowed for the British to take and settle more lands, and many of the Aboriginal land fell into British hands since there was no preexisting land ownership. The Aborigine populations were resettled from their own ancestral lands, and pushed into other parts of the continent by the British. Aboriginal children were also taken from their families to live with the white settlers, and be educated in the ways of the Europeans. This prompted some Aborigines to give up their cultural ties and assimilate into the British culture, and the number of Aborigines connected to their culture went down even more.
In recent times, there have been movements to give back some of the Aboriginal ancestral lands, and to protect and facilitate the dwindling culture. However, the mark of colonialism has been made, and the Aborigine culture will never return to what it once was pre-British exploration and settlement.
Chatwin, Bruce. 1988. The songlines. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books.
Good discussion, good use of Chatwin.
The Aborigines are one of the main indigenous groups of Australia. They had around 250 Aboriginal languages, hundreds of dialects, and multiple clans and groups (National Geographic). The population was a traditional hunter-gather society, the culture was full of dancing, body painting, and art painted on rock and in caves. They fished and hunted for their food, then prepared it and cooked it over a fire they made themselves. In 1770, a British explorer landed on Australia. This voyage would go on to effect the Aborigine’s culture, law, and way of living for hundreds of years into the future.
The British explorers brought along disease, dispossession, war, resettlement, and discrimination. These factors led to the major decline of the aboriginal population. According to National Geographic, the Aborigines make up less than 3% of Australia’s overall population, and few can perform the dances and paint the original art. The Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their territory or taken over by the British settlers. The settlers had no qualms about completely taking over already occupied land and ignoring the indigenous people’s way of life. The population’s quickly mixed, which caused their old life style to drastically change. The western ideology taught things that were not traditional Aboriginal beliefs or way of life. They were now aware of western ideology and new ways to do things. They had access to western medicine, education and technology (ALRC). This increased their contact with the outside world, something the Aborigines did not have before (ALRC). Problems that seemed from this new contact were alcoholism, diabetes, and obesity. The population was introduced to alcohol and sugar for the first time (National Geographic). Even today, the Aborigines still face many problems. Many people still need homes, the aboriginal income is one half go the Australia population (ALRC). 12.5% of the population is uneducated, which leads to things like the unemployment rate for the indigenous group is 3 times the rate for non-Aborigines, and 25% of them are under 20 (ALRC). Around 1980, the Aboriginal population was given back some of their ancestral land. In some remote part of Australia, the population is beginning to turn back to the old culture and laws.
There is a general understanding and knowledge on the mistreatment of native populations in America during the age of exploration and United States expansion, but the mistreatment of Aborigine peoples by the Australian government is not as well known, though no less horrible and unjust.
Before the invasion of Australia by colonial powers, the Aborigines lived mainly on the coastland. The people were experts at using the land to hunt and gather. There is evidence that they would burn undergrowth so to as encourage the growth of plants that they knew the animals they hunted ate. Like many other native and indigenous populations, the land was and is a fundamental part of their culture. Land is not a thing but a being and is at the center of all their spirituality. Any territories or ‘borders’ were defined by natural phenomena, like rivers, mountains, or lakes. Their emphasis on land gave them incredible skills as hunters and gathers, as they had a great understanding of nature and land remains a great area of debate between the Aborigine populations and Australian governments.
The Aborigine people also had a vibrant art culture. There is a great history of body decoration, song, dance, sculpture, and painting. One of the most key components in the different Aborigine cultural ceremonies is dance. Dance has been passed generation to generation as a way to communicate the history of a tribe. The stories of a clan’s tales of heroism, beliefs, and history are represented through their dance. When different clans would gather together for ceremonies or trading, dancing was a way to represent their clan’s story.
Unfortunately, as is the case often throughout history, the Australian Aborigine’s way of life was horribly changed with the invasion of the British Empire. The first waves of colonial intervention killed thousands of Aborigine peoples through disease, and even more through the violence of the occupation. Then, during the 20th century, it became policy to kidnap Aborigine children from their families and place them in white families or mission schools so as to eliminate Aborigine culture. And still today, many of the Aborigine population is forced to occupy only the top end of Australia, still facing racist attitudes, greater mental illness rates, and high poverty.
The loss of population due to the white man has given way to a great loss of Aborigine traditional culture, specifically language and history. Unfortunately, given the high poverty that most of the Aborigine people living in northern Australia have to live in, as well as often time unjust lawmaking, there seems little hope for a resurgence or protection of the native population.
In the late eighteenth century, when colonization was at its height, the British fleet first arrived in Australia. As always, when the British came, they attempted to “civilize” their newly acquired land, but only ended up causing more problems than the native people had before the British came. The Aboriginals had always had a chiefly nomadic society, and trying to get them to settle down and start up a more western culture caused much conflict between the indigenous people and the European settlers. Some have estimated that the Aboriginal population fell ninety percent during the period of European colonization. Western colonialism had great negative impact on the Aboriginals of Australia.
Before the British arrived, the indigenous Australians had a nomadic society. They didn’t divide land in the way Europeans did, instead, they were responsible for songlines, which are also called dreamings. These songlines were given to each person based on where they were born, and each person was responsible for singing through his or her own songline, a practice they believed maintained the earth. Because of these dreamings, the Aboriginal people had a strong connection to the earth. In fact, they worshipped the earth by cutting their hands and sprinkling blood onto the ground. The Aboriginal’s strong connection with the earth shaped their entire way of life.
Because of their strong connection to the land, British colonialism took a large toll on the Aboriginal’s way of life. The Aboriginals had no formal documents stating who owned a piece of land, which the British took to mean no one owned the land. They started to take control without any regard for the native people, which made the native people quite upset. This led to many violent confrontations between the British and the Aboriginals. These confrontations caused many Aboriginal deaths because they were fighting with spears and sticks while the British were fighting with muskets. These confrontations also led to years of tension between the Aboriginals and the British.
In addition to taking over Aboriginal land, the British brought many diseases to Australia that nearly wiped out the native population. Since the Aboriginal people had never been exposed to diseases like smallpox and the measles before, their immune systems had built up no defense against them. Because of this, some estimate up to ninety-five percent of their population was killed when the British first arrived. This made it easier for the British to take over their land as well because there were less people to defend it.
In conclusion, the Aboriginals of Australia were negatively affected by western colonialism in many ways. The British brought many diseases to Australia and took away land that had been owned by Aboriginals for centuries and was an important part of their way of life. Because of these initial problems with colonialism, there have been years of tension between Aboriginals and the British. Recently, the treatment of Aboriginals has begun to improve, but western colonialism has left a scar on Australia that may never truly heal.
Very nice discussion.
Before the 1770’s the indigenous population of Australian lived across the continent, undisturbed. In hundreds of different tribes, with many different norms and livelihoods, the aborigines sustained themselves. They are probably some of the earliest migrations of humans out of Africa, presumably coming to Australia through an ancient land bridge. This connection is supported by their connections to the people of Southeast Asia and modern-day New Guinea. Their whole words changed with the introduction of Western society into Australia.
In 1770 British explorer, navigator, and cartographer claimed and named the East Coast of Australia. New South Wales, as he called it, was not however colonized until 1788. It did not take long for the indigenous population to begin feeling the effects of colonization. Within weeks the European epidemic diseases spread quickly and were detrimental to Australia’s inhabitants, especially those villages of dense population. It is no doubt that the great population decline was principally due to disease. Estimates put population decrease around 90% for the aborigines.
In addition to disease, loss of land rights and relocation caused great distress and disunity among aborigines. The British assumed that these people has no concept of land ownership, that they were nomads who could be content in any area. The colonizers were unaware of the deep cultural and even spiritual ties that the people felt to the land they inhabited. The severing of these ties undoubtedly caused disruption in these communities which naturally lead to violence and turmoil. Moreover these once hunter-gatherers were encouraged to take on a more modern lifestyle. The introduction of alcohol, opium, and tobacco by the British also created great issues for the aborigines. Substance abuse has plagued the population ever since, not unlike the fate of Native Americans.
Western influencers saw Australia as an opportunity to help a people who were utterly misguided and lost. Not unlike Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”, colonizers sought to help the aborigines as a kind of duty. People “needed” to be modernized and taught, so it was only “right” to intervene in their lives and show them the “better way.” Though the first encounters among the colonizers and indigenous peoples were not necessarily hostile, the latter soon felt that the former was overstaying their welcome. Attacks began from both sides and endless violence ensued.
An interesting aspect of this colonization was the kidnapping of aborigine children by the British. Again, not unlike the Native Americans in the United States, the colonizers deemed it their burden to help rescue and save those children who would grow up lost. They ripped young children from their families and gave them to British families to raise up in the right way. These kidnappings show the lack of dignity and respect given to the indigenous population of Australia.
Today less than 3% of Australia’s population is indigenous and it is not difficult to see how this occurred. The treatment of the aborigines mirrors many other natives who have been colonized by Western imperial forces. Their traditions, language, culture, and religion have no doubt been trampled, and in some cases, lost forever.
Great use of outside sources.
The Australian aborigines have an incredibly rich culture that is slowly dying out as a result of western colonialism. Initial settlement in Australia was believed to have taken place during the ice age 60,000 years ago when a land bridge was present that made Australia more accessible. From these populations developed a competitive tribal society with an ancestral focus and rich culture. Their religion was centered around the Dreamings of the Ancestors, who the aboriginals believed walked about the earth and sang all of creation into existence, which created the songlines. These songlines are believed to be connected to each aboriginals soul at birth, and each songline is recorded on a tjuringa, which is a stone or mulga wood plaque that illustrates the path of the songline. The aboriginal’s job is to continue singing the songlines and protect their tjuringa, unless they want to lose a part of their soul.
Aboriginals lived peacefully for centuries until Europeans began exploring the region in search of exploitation opportunities. Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, paralleled the Australian, or New Holland as he named it, coast on one of his voyages, but he never went on shore because the environments he observed along the coasts were deserts and jungles. Similarly, William Dampier, an English explorer, paralleled the coast of Australia between 1699 and 1700 and decided that England would have no use for the land. However, between 1768 and 1779, James Cook, a British explorer, believed the monarchy could use Australia as a penal colony for criminals, so in 1788, the first fleet of 1,400 criminals arrived on the Australian shore. The aboriginal population almost instantly began to decline as a result of disease, dispossession, war, and child abduction. The aboriginals had no written documents stating their rights to the land they were living on, so the British empire took possession of the land and force the natives to resettle, which would often result in tribal warfare as the groups were forced to immigrate. Also, English settlers would often kidnap aboriginal children and either put them in Christian orphanages or raise them in English schools as a form of assimilation for the natives. The settlers essentially took on “the white man’s burden”, and believed it was their duty to save future generations from the savage lives the aboriginals lived.
However, in the modern age, there has been a push to preserve what is left of the aboriginal way of life. Ancestral land is being restored to the tribal communities that inhabited the land originally, which is allowing former tribal families to rediscover their heritage and culture that was taken from them. This movement acts as a sign of hope for aboriginals and a possibly revitalization of their society.
Chatwin, Bruce. “The Songlines.” New York: Penguin Books, 1988.
The Aborigine peoples make up about three percent of the total population of Australia, however they have higher unemployment rates, lower life expectancy, and higher rates of incarceration. Nine years ago, the Australian government began the Closing the Gap program to boost economic and social well-being of the indigenous peoples, given that they universally rank in the lowest strata of society within the continent. The Closing the Gap program endorses a partnership between the Australian government and the Aborigine peoples to focus on the issues of health, education, and employment. The 2017 report states that Australia has hit only one of the seven goals this past year. And there have been increasing reports of discrimination and abuse to Aborigine people. In 2016, a documentary showed the torture of young Aborigines in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the Northern Territory. United Nations officials believe it violates the UN treaty and Australia’s Prime Minister ordered a Royal Commission inquiry. In January of this year, thousands of Australians, Aborigine and non-Aborigine alike, protested what many now refer to as “Invasion Day”, marking the beginning of western colonization. January 26th is Australia Day, but many Australians are dissatisfied with the current situation concerning the treatment of the Aborigine population and the legacy of colonization that still impacts lives today. There is a call for more Aborigine focused holiday as a result. But all of these societal problems date back to the policies during colonization. The first wave of European settlers in Australia were convicts of which Britain wanted to be rid, and they were outnumbered by the indigenous population. However as more Europeans arrived, they began to outnumber the natives and spread previously unknown diseases throughout the continent of Australia. Europeans also brought rats and contributed significantly to deforestation. Since western colonization, many native plant and animal species have gone extinct. As Europeans took land and displaced or relocated hundreds of people, they also practiced child abduction as a means of civilizing the Aborigine population, a kind of forced assimilation through the teaching of proper manners and white values. Australia as only recently, since the 1980s, started to address the issue, beginning with returning tribal lands, limiting outside access to sacred indigenous sites, and allowing Aborigines to become National Park Rangers. However, as stated earlier, Australia and its government still have a long road ahead in order to make significant changes.
Australian Aboriginals had one of the most isolated cultures, as they had been practically independent for the rest of human civilizations since their movement into the harsh environment of Australia following the landbridge about 60,000 years ago. The culture which arose was one unique from the others of Oceania, as their customs were more focused on the spirituality of the Austrian lands, and subsisting on the environment which they called home. The Aboriginals had little desire, or necessity to develop new technologies, and their cultural constructs further solidified their beliefs. The lack of advanced technological development and the infertility of much of Australia resulted in the Aboriginal peoples to be more mobile in comparison to other Oceanian cultures, which were constrained by smaller islands and to a lesser extent the challenges of ancient sailing navigation. With the British ‘discovery’ of the largely “inhospitable” content, they decided to use the easternmost shores as a prison colony. As prisoners moved to the new colony and began to farm the land they met the Aboriginals. Early disputes between colonials and Aboriginals would set the stage for future violence and encroachment into the native lands, for the further development of Australia. As time passed, the historical traditions of the Aboriginal peoples had found itself under attack by western civilization. The highly scared, and mobile “songlines” had been encroached upon by the westward expansion of the Australian Colony, and much of the nomadism which the Aboriginals participated in was limited by the English government. Tensions continued to arise as colonials tried to “civilize” the Aboriginals through forced schooling, even resorting to the kidnapping of young Aboriginals to ensure that their culture would be no more. Aboriginals would experience heavy population losses with the introduction of Western diseases, and further movement westward into more inhospitable lands by the growing colony, which when refused would often result in a swift, violent end to those who opposed. The inhumanity which Australia had towards Aboriginals was also prevalent in the social institutions of discrimination which limited the opportunities and rights of the native population. Australian injustice towards its indigenous community would last through much of the 20th century, and the institutionalized discrimination which aboriginals faced had substantial impacts on the aboriginal peoples. Poverty is still a significant problem for many ethnic aboriginals, as decades of unjust treatment have limited the opportunities for personal economic growth; however, since the 1980s, as whole Abroignial peoples have experienced a renaissance. With the Australian government recognizing the problems of its past it has moved to improve the quality of life of its aboriginal population. There have been national movements to allow Aboriginals to return to their industrial lands, and promotion in the rediscovery of Aboriginal culture, while modern Aboriginal culture is profoundly different from the traditional ones before the decades of oppression by Australia, it still has prevented to the Aboriginal peoples. One of the latest movements in Aboriginal Culture has been the growth of film creation, many films have used a medium to highlight the importance of their culture, and the unique properties which make it its own.
Australian aboriginal culture and civilizations have existed long before the main British settlers stumbled onto their rightful land and unlawfully took it over for their own use. Before anyone had the thought of colonizing the indigenous peoples’ land, it is estimated that spread throughout all of Australia the population stood between 315,000 and 750,000, with some estimations climbing as high as 1.25 million. The earliest evidence of the original settlers of the land dates back to 70,000 years before British colonization, with some areas more heavily settled than others due to reasons like agricultural fertility and availability of resources, but in general, most all of the regions were settled in some way, heavily or not. The way in which the initial inhabitants migrated into Australia is a topic of heavy dispute, with some professionals saying that the settlers funneled in through a land bridge connected to the island of New Guinea, while others believe that people came traveling from island-to-island from a chain between Sulawesi and New Guinea until they hit Australia. Either way, people came pouring in as one of the earliest human migrations out of Africa, and upon their settlement, they began forming individual cultures, religions, and overall ways of life, some of which still exist and are demonstrated today.
Following many years of initial settlement and development of the indigenous civilizations, the British accidentally encountered a land mass that they saw fit to claim for their own in 1770. James Cook was the leader of this first crew to set up shop in Australia, and he claimed the east coast in the name of the United Kingdom and subsequently named his camp “New South Wales.” As is the usual case of European colonization anywhere, the native civilizations swiftly began to become nothing short of distant memories for the British as they were decimated by disease that they had never been exposed to, including (but not limited to) chickenpox, smallpox, influenza, and measles. This main factor of population decline for the original people of Australia accounted for the majority of deaths caused by European colonization, and alongside this, many more casualties were recorded due to dispossession of land, systematic killings, and war. All-in-all, around 90-95% of the indigenous population died thanks to British invasion. This massive amount of people having passed away has left many original cultures in modern-day Australia clinging to existence, trying not to wash away into the vast sea of original Australian cultures that were either annihilated on European impact or slowly eroded away over time as their populations grew thinner and thinner until they ultimately could not sustain themselves any longer.
This small amount left of direct descendants of the initial cultures are commonly referred to as “Aborigines.” In today’s society, the Aboriginal cultures that remain are making their best self-preservation efforts in hopes to ensure that their already long-lasting culture does not die out any time in the foreseeable future. Many examples of these efforts include things such as hiring teachers to educate the youth of the culture of the traditional language, utilizing traditional cultural structural plans and housing despite technological advances and outside efforts from the government and non-indigenous people to help them get in safer structures, forming television or radio stations solely for the non-exposed indigenous people of the culture to become familiar with the history and the traditions of their heritage, and so forth. Including what they had been through originally with British colonization at the commencement of their formally recorded history, these aborigines have been through many tribulations in modern history, as well. Many non-aborigines imposed a plethora of different laws and tactics (varied state-by-state in Australia at the time) against the aboriginal people all throughout the 20th century, such as labeling them as “non-citizens” and allocating them to government-determined reservations, attempting to assimilate them into the non-indigenous society against their own will, not granting them the right to vote, along with many, many others. These examples are just formally recorded grievances and, while they are extraordinarily dehumanizing in nature, fail to even show how these people had historically been treated on a day-to-day basis by the non-original people, which was gruesome in itself as well. As time has progressed, though, the treatment of these groups has been heavily scrutinized by people from all around, and in turn, altered in a positive manner to aid the aborigines, and while the groups’ treatment from the outside population is worlds away from being ideal (as shown by recent U.N. reports), government policies and programs have at least been put in place for the purpose of the Aborigines’ benefit as they all try to move together toward a better, fairer, and more humane lifestyle for the cultures that were first to inhabit the land.
Notes from in class
Australian aboriginal culture has deep religious ties and hunting traditions, and while many claim it to be the longest-standing native culture in the world, Western colonization has largely interrupted and destroyed elements of their world.
Similar to many other native cultures, aboriginal culture is intertwined with the land the aboriginals live on. An important element of aboriginal art is stone carving and painting. Basketry is a facet of aboriginal art that still lives on in many native community. Recently, movements have been rolling in Australia to have aboriginal art recognized as art rather than history, because even modern pieces of art are often put in museums rather than exhibits thanks to Western notions of civility.
Everything in aboriginal culture is hinged upon the Dreaming, a concept that encompasses creation, time, spirituality, and every other element of life. The Dreaming also provides ancestors to aboriginals. For example, one aboriginal family may have the dingo as an ancestor, which translates to them wanting many dogs in their lives.
Most aboriginal groups remained hunter-gatherers until colonization (with the exception of some agricultural practices) and some in the bush continue to hunt today. A key survival element to hunter-gatherer societies is immediate consumption, both because of the unpredictability of food access and lack of food preservation materials. Unfortunately, when Westerners brought over alcohol, this directly led to rampant alcoholism in aboriginal communities, not because of some inherent moral failure in their societies but simply because of survival instincts. The Australian government was then able to manipulate this crisis to form the “Stolen Generation,” entire generations of aboriginal children who were seized by the government to escape Australian-deemed inappropriate circumstances and put into white homes, where the children were often abused and poorly educated. This practice, which existed from 1910 to 1970, both broke up the aboriginal population and massively erased their culture, as cultural knowledge is passed down through oral tradition and schooling within aboriginal societies. The Stolen Generation was removed from their birth culture and prevented from fully blending into Western culture by racism and stigmas. Granted, many Australians who supported the program truly thought they were doing was was best for the aboriginals. Similar practices existed in the United States (and still do, to an extent). It was normalized and not viewed as racist, so Australian society is still having a difficult time seeing the underlying racism and rampant imperialism that fueled the movement. Many members of the Stolen Generation are still alive and projects exist to reconnect them with their birth families, but it does not repair the harm done to both aboriginal individuals and communities.
Some aboriginal communities did not have first contact with Westerners until as late as the 1960’s, so it must be remembered that the negative effects of Western colonialism–disease, cultural disruption, alcoholism–are not even a lifetime removed in some parts of the continent. Australia did not offer a formal apology for their poor treatment of aboriginal communities until 2008, and there is still much progress to be made.
The culture of the Aboriginal people in Australia is by some estimates 50,000 years old. It originates when the peoples of Southeastern Asia continue their migration from Malaysia to Singapore, Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, and finally, Australia.
Aboriginal culture is centered on a mythological creative age called the Dreaming. During this time, mythical beings shaped the natural environment and then transformed themselves into humans, animals, physiographic features, ritual objects, etc. That the mythical beings transformed indiscriminately into these various aspects of the environment leads to the notion that man is not essentially apart from nature. The sites of transformation and creation are sacred and traditionally, were protected by an elite group of Aborigines from the clan that shared that territory.
The Aboriginal peoples were traditionally semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers. This lifestyle did not mean, however, that Aboriginal clans were not tied to specific territories. In fact, they developed a very complicated system of discrete territorial lands. There were approximately 600 different clans upon European arrival in 1788, and these clans utilized most of the continent. The lands were fundamental to culture and clan identity, as they contained the sacred sites of creation and transformation associated with the Dreaming, and the overall wellbeing of the Aboriginal people, as they provided appropriate sustenance for continuing their hunter-gather lifestyle.
Tied to these territorial lands were language groups. There were 200 distinct language groups and hundreds of dialects at the time of the European. The preservation of these languages was paramount to a clan’s identity as the history, mythology, and literature of a particular language group was passed down orally.
The European arrival fundamentally upset the Aboriginal peoples’ connections to their land, history, and identity.
As Europeans settled the land inland, they threatened the Aborigines’ sacred sites and their conceptions of land tenure. This led to conflict up until the 1880s, during which time a large number of Aborigines were killed. Disease was as, if not more, devastating to the Aboriginal population. In 1856, with the Aboriginal population looking like it was on the verge of extinction, the Australian settlers passed laws for the “care” of the remaining Aboriginal peoples.
These laws furthered the separation of Aboriginal peoples from their land, culture, and identity. They forcibly resettled Aborigines on to reserves, where they were given food, clothing, and shelter in exchange for being completely under the control of the Australian authority. Abuse and kidnapping of Aborigine children (especially children of mixed descent) for purposes of “re-education” continued well into the 1940s.
Additionally, intertribal tensions in these reserves were high. Aborigines were not separated into reserves by clan association, leading to extreme diversity within the reserves. Many of the languages, and thus histories and literatures, of these clans were lost in the reserves.
Recently, there has been an attempt to revive lost indigenous Australian culture, although it has received mixed support from the Australian government. It took until 2008 for the president of Australia to issue an apology to the Aborigine people. The government’s website lists its progressive achievements—the return of the sacred site of Uluru its original owners, Pitantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara, in 1985—but treats the wiping out of indigenous culture through forced assimilation and the deaths of swaths of indigenous people as a footnote—mentioning, for example, that many of the indigenous languages and dialects were lost through the process of colonization in parentheses. Unfortunately, the efforts to restore Aborigine culture in Australia have come too late, and come without a full recognition of blame and responsibility on the part of the Australian government.
The Aboriginals are an Australian Indigenous population who have been in Australia for 45,000 years, according to scientists. But, if you asked the population themselves, they would tell you that they were created during “dreamtime,” long before the earth was even created. They believe that dream creatures created them and nature at the same time, so they also hold the belief that they are one with nature and base most of their lifestyle around nature. Before they were invaded, the Aboriginals lived mostly along the coasts of Australia but were also spread out throughout Australia. These communities were very efficient with their resources, and were able to build irrigation systems and always hold a stable food supply. They were also very good at finding fresh water when they needed it. But today, the Aboriginals represent a poverty stricken race. They mostly live in rural areas in the outskirts of towns and work as labor farmers for ranches nearby, while some have managed to hold on to small parts of their land and try and live the same lifestyle their ancestors did. Ever since the British discovered Australia, they assumed that the land was empty and that it was free for them to take over since no one else was holding power over it. This meant that the Aboriginal population had their land taken from them, and they were instantly put at the bottom of the social totem pole for their traditions that were odd to the Britains. Disease also plagued the population, and the Aboriginals went from an estimated one million down to just sixty thousand. Aboriginal children were often times stolen from their families and put up for adoption or put into missionary school in an attempt to eradicate any trace of their “abnormal” practices. Because of their tough social position, Aboriginal people often face acts of racism towards them, even today. They are also treated poorly by the police, and make up a large portion of the prison population in Australia because of the justice systems view of them. They also have the normal problems of a poverty stricken population, which include high infant mortality and a lower life expectancy. Australia did eventually start giving them some of their land back finally in the 90’s, but this hasn’t helped the population that much as a whole. They were already damaged too much by civilization rejecting them as a whole. To make matters worse, Australia still refusing to give them back a lot of their land, so only a small portion of the Aboriginals have been given land. In fact, Australia has actually begun to start taking back some of the land they recently allocated to the Aboriginals. In 2007, a report was published that highlighted the racism and resentment the Aboriginal in the northern parts of Australia, which caused controversy around the continent. The government reacted by actually launching a program that began to remove Aboriginal communities around Australia.So, in short, western civilization has again basically destroyed another indigenous population.
The impact of colonialism on indigenous populations in Australia is not much different than the impact of colonialism in the U.S. or Latin America. Prior to 1788, Australia was inhabited by the aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. However, Australia was settled in 1788 as a British penal colony, where convicts were sent to participate in a labor camp. They had a system of labor in which criminals were employed according to their skills. These convicts built roads, buildings, and completed the infrastructure in the original colony. Throughout the colonization process and government assimilation in Australia, the aborigines’ culture, health, and living conditions were severely impacted.
Prior to settlement, there were many different indigenous communities with various beliefs, practices, and traditions. There were approximately 700 languages spoken throughout Australia, and 750,000 native inhabitants. Today, the aboriginal population has drastically declined, making up only 2 percent of the Australian population, due to the negative effects of colonialism.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, there were no horses, buggies, structures, or farms. Australia was undeveloped, and inhabited by a more primitive society. The aborigines were a hunter-gatherer society. They moved often, based on the various seasons in Australia, so there was no real concept of land ownership. The various communities drew boundaries based on natural landmarks, such as rivers or mountains. Now, indigenous Australians live throughout Australia and have integrated into the Western cities and societies that were developed by settlers.
The aborigines, like Native Americans, were marginalized and pushed off of land by Western settlers. The aborigines, through these interactions, were exposed to many diseases they had never been exposed to, including small-pox. This caused many health problems throughout the indigenous populations. Another major health issue ensued as aborigines people were pushed off of their traditional lands. They did not know how to develop a new skill set and begin farming to support themselves on the land they had left, and could no longer relocate to hunt and gather throughout the entire continent as the seasons changed, so many people suffered. There were also conflicts throughout this time, as the aborigines populations were “connected” to the land and were not happy to be relocated. They eventually integrated into the Western society to survive.
The aborigines culture revolves a lot around the land. They believe they were created at the same time nature was, so they are connected to the land which is what led to conflict. Traditionally, they based all aspects of their lives around nature. However, today much of that traditional culture is gone due to integration. Australia is now a Westernized society, with few (2 percent of the population) who associate with the traditional aborigines culture and beliefs. However, the Australian government is making efforts to preserve the culture, through national museums and websites, which can be found below.
Very nice discussion
Aboriginal culture is as diverse as the landscape of the Australian continent. Their culture is some of the oldest in the world going back over 50,000 years. There are over 600 unique sects of Aborigines. The differences are found in their development and usage of tools, their religions, their language, and their practices. Despite the diversity of Aboriginal people, they have some similarities across the people. Aboriginals respect the land in a unique and beautiful way. They see land as not only a place for resources, but also as a living environment. The land was created by the ancestors and the ancestors still are part of the land. Aboriginals maintained their land, cultivated it, and used it as a basis for their religion. Aborigine Tom Dystra says, “We cultivated the land… we endeavored to live with the land… I was taught to preserve, never to destroy.” Aboriginal people use what is today referred to as Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, to preserve the land and utilize the resources, such as animals and plants, in a sustainable manner. Aboriginal people are governed by a system of kinship. This system gives everyone unique relationships with one another and the land as well as specifying the roles and responsibilities of people.
The history of abuses of the Aboriginal people began over 200 years ago. When the British began sending prisoners to Australia, they believed the land belonged to no one. Like most indigenous people, European disease and superior weapons dominated over the Aboriginals. Since then, there have been multiple resettlement programs, government-led child abduction of indigenous children, and widespread discrimination. Up until 1967, indigenous people were not counted as part of the population included in the census. This meant vast underrepresentation in political, social, and economic spheres. Many issues specific to the indigenous community are based on a system of laws and policies not designed to represent the community’s specific needs. One of the most pressing issues is the incarceration rate among Indigenous peoples. In Western Australia, Indigenous women make up 50% of the female adult prison population. Indigenous people account for over 27% of the prison population despite only being 2% of the overall population. Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned. There has been little done to truly address this issue as it is systemic and stems from much deeper origins. Centuries of discrimination means the indigenous people systemically are unable to use self-determination and advance in society. The Uluru Statement is one step taken in the hopes of improving the lives of Indigenous peoples. The Uluru Statement, given in March by Indigenous delegates, calls on the government to make a constitutional reform that would allow these groups to be better represented nationally. The Indigenous community believes they have an innate right to be represented on the land once dominated by them and them alone. Through the Uluru statement, they hope the government and Australian people would be moved to restructure a system that inherently advantages the non-native population.
Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017- Australia
ABC News Australia, Garma: In 2017, the struggle for Indigenous Australians to be seen and heard continues
Australian Indigenous Cultural heritage, australia.gov.au
Referendum Council. Uluru- National Convention
The Aboriginal people were the first to inhabit the continent of Australia about 50 years ago. When they arrived, they broke off into tribe-like groups and eventually hundreds of languages were formed. The tribes interacted with each other sometimes but stayed separated for the most part. The Aborigines still exist today, but in much smaller numbers due to European colonization. Their culture is unique, but has been affected by westernization.
The most defining part of the Aborigines culture is what is called “dreamtime”. This concept refers to the beginning of the universe as told by Aboriginal people. It is a spiritual idea of the Aboriginal ancestors who created all living things. Dreamtime myths are stories of creation and are passed down from one generation to the next. The stories are passed down through art and oral tradition. Death is very ritualistic in the aboriginal culture, but each ritual is unique to a community. Most funeral ceremonies last several days. In the past and sometimes in the present, when an Aborigines dies, their body is left on a platform until only their bones remain before they are buried. Cremation is also popular amongst the Aborigines. Relationships have always been based on kinship and marriage is a way of bonding two clans together. Early aboriginal people went completely nude and had no clothes. Dancing is a large part of the culture and is a way to tell stories and often mimicked movements of animals.
The introduction of western civilization altered the aborigines in various ways. They did not welcome the British who were the first to reach the land thousands of years after the aboriginal people did. The British introduced new diseases to the aborigines that they could not cure and large populations were wiped out. The interactions between the two groups became violent quickly, but the aboriginal people were no match for the British guns and thousands died from the violent encounters. Eventually, the British began impacting the culture of the aborigines. The children were taken from families and placed into Christian schools were they were taught that their religion was false. Many of the languages have gone extinct and some are endangered today. However, some are so deeply rooted that they are common among aboriginal people and will most likely remain relevant. Aboriginal dance groups are beginning to tour the continent as ways of sharing and commoditizing their culture. The ceremonial aspect of the dances are not as important anymore thanks to westernization.
There still exists discrimination between the Australian population and the aboriginal people. The Aborigines have not completely forgiven the Australian people for colonizing their sacred lands and for terrible things that happened to their ancestors.
The Aboriginal culture is possibly the oldest surviving culture in the world. It’s hard to clearly define what exactly made up the Aboriginal culture as it was not uniform throughout the continent, instead it varied in different regions. Interestingly, the boomerang and didgeridoo, which have become symbols of the Aboriginal culture, were not very widespread. However, broad themes can be found within the different groups or tribes. For example, totemic beliefs, reverence for nature, and the practice of sacred rituals are common themes. The collection of these beliefs and practices make up the Aboriginal mythology which has become known as the Dreamtime.
However, since most their culture and practices heavily relied on oral tradition, many customs and practices have ceased or changed since European settlement in 1788. First interactions between the Aboriginal people and Europeans were peaceful, but as European settlement expanded inward, tensions grew between the two groups. Both conflicts with the Europeans and death caused by newly introduced diseases took a heavy toll on the Aboriginal population. Eventually, in response to humanitarian concerns, legislation was passed to better protect the Aboriginal people. Along with these new laws came the creation of Aboriginal reserves.
Today, the Aborigines people make up just over one percent of the Australian population. Due to the abandonment of policies encouraging assimilation and an Australian populace more accepting of Aboriginal practices, some suggest that we are seeing a revival of Aboriginal culture as beliefs and traditions are more openly asserted and practiced. However, it is evident that much of culture was lost with the settlement of Europeans. This is an unfortunate consequence of western colonialism on a rich and complex culture.
The indigenous people of Australia, or Aborigines, have been settled in the Australian landmass and surrounding islands for many years before westerners. The earliest human remains discovered in Australia date back 50,000 years, supporting the claim that Aboriginals arrived between 40,000-70,000 years ago. This is long before the first known landing in Australia in 1606 and the first colony being established in 1788. Though the Aboriginal people of Australia predated westerners by tens of thousands of years, western culture prevailed after colonies were established and continues to do so to the present day. Examining western colonialism in Australia reveals the effect it has had on Aboriginal culture.
There is a large number of tribal divisions among Aboriginal Australia, allowing Aborigine culture to grow and develop into a large variety. At the time of colonization there were an estimated 250 languages spoken in Australia, now this number has boiled down to a remaining 145 with about 20 being spoken by all age groups. It is believed that this huge variety of languages sprouted from a single mother language spoken by the initial settlers of Australia.
The Aborigines traditionally follow and practice an animist religious system. This religion has been referred to as “The Dreaming” by those studying the Aboriginal culture. The Dreaming explains the ancient formation of the world around us. Many different Aboriginal groups formed sects of The Dreaming which eventually overlapped and formed a common religion in Aborigine culture. In the present day, 73% of Aboriginals identify with the Catholic faith, showing a diversion from the original religion of the people. This is a direct cause of western colonialism in Australia, with missionary work raising the indigenous people under western culture. Catholicism among Aborigines is only one of many effects that western colonialism has had on the indigenous people of Australia.
The beginning of western colonialism in Australia marked a change in Aboriginal culture as colonialism has done in the past for many different indigenous peoples. Disease preceded the expansion of the European settlers in Australia. In 1789, an outbreak of smallpox surfaced in Sydney killing about half of the Aborigine population in the surrounding area. Some argue that this is a deliberate act by the British to aid in their expansion. The disease spread farther beyond the initial European settlements and in 1829 killed about 40% of the Aborigine population. Western expansion into the Australian frontier had a severe impact on the Aboriginal people bringing great conflict into their lives. Many were displaced from their settlements by people who were blatantly intruding on the Aborigine existence. In the 1930s, the colonial government in Australia established a “Protector of Aborigines” office in the interest of preventing the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people. Churches attempted to convert the indigenous people to the Christian faith while sometimes being used by the government to implement assimilation tactics. Finally, from a period of 1905-1969 mixed race children involving Aboriginal blood were removed from their families and raised under western culture, diminishing the generation that would be capable of carrying Aborigine culture.
The Aboriginal people of Australia have a rich cultural background that has existed for millennia. With western colonialism reaching the Australian side of the world, this culture was destined to change. The expansion of westerners into the Aboriginal settled frontier brought many different effects to the future culture of the people. From changing religious views to the spread of the culture through future generations, western colonialism brought great change to the Aborigine people.
Very nice work
Way before the western Europeans could come and divide land all over the globe, there were a series of indigenous communities that had already made colonies in their homes. These were people that had found shelter, and refuge in places that were rightfully theirs. The Aboriginity community one particular to Australia is one that has arguably suffered the most from Western Colonialism. One of the biggest problems with colonialism is the push for assimilation rather than the expression of ones own culture. A big part of the cultures community is their dreaming, which serves as an explanation on why man is not separated from nature. In my opinion, that is why this colonization made it extremely difficult to assimilate. Once colonized they were unable to freely practice their own fundamental belief. To expand on this we shall examine the case of the Australian Aboriginies. A tribe that was centered on being nomadic, very traditional in the way they handled death, and cremation, and also their general customs would soon change. Once the European powers took over the continent loss of culture was very prevalent. One of the largest mandatory cultural shifts the community underwent was the expansion of Christianity. The British would separate the families of the community and place the children in schools to learn their language and religion. Another big problem that led to the colonization of the community was the ability to control the indigenous people through disease. This is very similar to the conquest method of the Spainards and the Native Americans. 200 years of exploitation and oppression have led to interesting reactions from the Australian government. For one, it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that they recognized the community as part of Australia. This set the Aboriginity community back. They had a lack of political representation, social and economic benefits. The community faced high incarceration rates through time, and still do because the laws in place by the Australian government do not match up with the needs of the community. I find it interesting that there is a direct parallel between all indigenous communities. They all share displacement due to colonialism, and poor quality of life. Due to the systemic oppression they have faced they require more intentional government assistance. This has provided tension between communities and their “respective” governments. In my opinion these governments should make more of an effort to build relations and help displaced communities. Most indigenous communities tend to have high suicide rates, and mental health problems. They are also more prone to alcoholism, and depression. This is also a factor of the systemic poverty they have undergone, and the lack of representation. The way to fix this is to elect representatives that care and are willing to include these communities in the populations they represent. I also feel that another approach to fixing this is these communities having their own rules, and governments. A form of government and representatives that accurately represent them. In hopes that their quality of life will improve.
The Aboriginal culture of Australia goes back some 50,000 years. Only efficient adaptation could account for such a persistent people. The culture survives today in modern Australia, but it began in this region thousands of years ago. The center of this culture is the land and spirituality is deeply connected to it. Australia’s many climates diversify the cultures of the aboriginal people, serving them physical boundaries between groups, such as rivers or mountains. These people made their living off the land and were originally semi-nomadic hunters and gathers. The Aboriginal identify themselves based on their land areas, giving way to 600 different Aborigine nations before the Europeans arrived. Language is also a way to distinguish different clans. A strong oral tradition is present within the Aboriginal cultures, with hundreds of languages and dialects.
European contact began in the seventeenth century. William Dampier was the first Englishman to make contact with the Aboriginal people on the northwest coast of Australia. His messages back to the English cast the Aboriginal population in a bad light. However, when James Cook made contact in 1770, he wrote more favorably of the people. The first true invasion of Australia came with the First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip. Phillip was instructed to be civil to the Aboriginal, but he ignored all land claims the original population held. Britain claimed sovereignty of huge tracks of land that was already owned by the indigenous.
As settlement began, negative views of the indigenous rose. The Europeans viewed the Aboriginal as uncivilized and primitive, despite the indigenous showing no desire to learn “better” ways of living from the Europeans. The Aboriginal often could see no purpose in the fences and domestication of animals. They also showed no interest in learning about European religions, since they already had spirituality in the land. Because of the strong ties the Aboriginal held with the land, fighting broke out when Europeans attempted to take it from them. Whatever fighting took place between the two groups, disease caused the most decline in the Aboriginal population.
Humanitarian concerns started to come about once it became clear the disease was rapidly taking down the indigenous population. Laws were passed concerning the protection and well-being of the Aboriginal, though the people themselves were not consulted as to what their well-being might require. The Aboriginal were put into reserves and were given food and clothing to help ease the strain of such a quick decline in their population. The indigenous were forced by these laws to assimilate into the European culture, and this meant impoverished peoples since the humanitarian laws did not allow a real place for the Aboriginal in European society. Mistreatment, violent outbreaks, and kidnapping of indigenous children from their homes continued into the 1940s in rural areas.
A cultural revival has taken place in the 21st century as those that have nearly lost their ancestral cultures try to get it back. However, this has proven to be quite difficult, since most of Aboriginal culture and tradition was passed down orally. But desire has, so far, outstripped difficulty.