Who Are The Aborigines?

Aborigine is a term that signifies "from the beginning." 

When the British invaded Australia in 1788, this term started to be specifically used to refer to the over one million native Australians living there. 

Due to the violent confrontation between successive waves of European immigrants and the Aboriginal population, many cultures have subsequently been lost. 

Some civilizations have persisted and have refocused on their family networks, intimate ties to the land in terms of law and religion, and the preservation of their language and culture. 

There are still 20 languages out of 250. 

According to experts, the ancestors of today's Aborigines arrived in Australia some 46,000 years ago, maybe during the Ice Age when sea levels were low. 

Shell middens date to 30,000 years ago, whereas archaeological sites close to Melbourne and Perth date to 40,000 years ago. 

Closely related indigenous populations from Australia and New Guinea likely have an Indonesian ancestry

The enormous number of families of Aboriginal languages, which lack any discernible links, reflect a considerably longer time of diversification than the South Pacific's only Austronesian language family

Sharp-edged stone flakes and fragments made up the first tools. 

The only ancient implements with consistent patterns were ground-edged hatchet heads discovered in the North. 

Stone tools began to spread over the continent about 3000 BC and may have been used for both woodworking and as coinage. 

The most significant social group, the clan, would wander throughout a certain area of land in response to seasonal changes or the requirement to be somewhere specific for rituals. 

As a component of trading networks that transported goods or ideas across great distances, clans were connected. 

Additionally, they preserved and transmitted culture via the use of short songs that effectively convey information about certain locales and song lines, as well as pictures and songs that depict the creation. 

Clans were connected to the earth, to one another, and to the past via rock and body painting and ornamentation of movable artifacts. 

Aboriginal people held the belief that spirit-being ancestors who existed during "the Dreaming" and created the natural world before humans arrived still exist now. 

They adopted numerous totemic shapes and adopted human behavior. 

They continued to have an impact on the natural world and give life to newborns even after they became old and had to return to the slumber from which they had awakened at the start of time. 

It was greatly sought to learn from them on family, hunting, and marital ties. 

According to the availability of natural resources, Australian Aborigines had a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that involved occasional marsh ditching, replanting, and burning of plants. 

Complex eel-trapping systems were built in western Victoria. 

To encourage future development, tubers were transplanted in northern wetland areas. 

In other places, wells were dug to grow massive yam harvests, trees were moved, streams were diverted for irrigation, and digging was done to promote roots. 

It was common practice to utilize fire to clear paths, exterminate pests, clear brush and encourage new growth, cook tasty animals in their burrows and nests, and put out larger, more devastating natural fires. 

However, when Europeans saw these techniques for maintaining grasslands and enhancing the variety of plant and animal life, they did not identify Aboriginal people as farmers, gardeners, or herders. 

They saw Aboriginal area as useless and unclaimed because it lacked clearly defined farms, established communities, and domesticated animals that could be eaten. 

The perception of native people was that they were vagabonds, a lower race that wasn't using the land, and that they needed to be violently removed to make room for colonization. 

Australia was included into the British Empire on the grounds that it was terra nullius, or wasteland free of human habitation. 

Until 1992, when a High Court ruled in the Mabo case that aboriginal title to property still existed in Australia, this misconception predominated. 

Aboriginal Australians. 

The study of Australian Aborigines has always intrigued cultural anthropologists, and many anthropologists from other countries have immigrated to Australia to do so. 

At academic institutions, foreign anthropologists often outnumber native ones. 

Cultural anthropologists and social scientists are now concerned with a wide range of issues that have emerged as Aborigines have integrated into mainstream Australian culture, in addition to the historical components of aboriginal studies. 

Many indigenous communities' educational standards fall short of those of Australians as a whole, which has a negative impact on literacy rates and the availability of the fundamental skills required to prepare children for life in the adult world. 

The most isolated Aboriginal communities also lack access to high-quality healthcare and a basic understanding of how inadequate sanitation increases the risk of contracting certain illnesses. 

For instance, the Australian government agreed to improve fuel access only if local authorities guaranteed that Aborigine children would take daily showers, wash their hands at least twice a day, and that residents would regularly remove household garbage in Mulan, a remote area where more than 60% of Aboriginal children have been diagnosed with trachoma, which can cause blindness. 

Aborigines have a 6 times higher newborn morality rate than the White population. 

In addition to violence, Aboriginal Australians are more likely than other Australians to die from medical conditions. 

In late 2004, the Australian government declared that welfare measures have led to a lifetime cycle of reliance among Aboriginal people while doing nothing to address the inherent issues with acclimatization. 

Low life expectancy, persistent alcoholism, and high levels of domestic violence are a few of them. 

The Australian stated on December 16, 2004, that compared to their white male counterparts, male Aborigines born between 1996 and 2001 had a 59.4 year life expectancy. 

While similar Aborigine females had a life expectancy of 64.8 years, that figure is still much lower than the 82.8 years enjoyed by European females. 

According to experts, poverty and isolation are to blame for the prevalence of drunkenness and the whipping deaths of Aborigine women by their husbands. 

Liberal Party Prime Minister John Howard has put forward proposals that emphasize the independence and self-reliance of Aboriginal people. 

Acclimatization of Aborigines has been challenged by accusations of racism, prompting some specialists to assert that there is a racial crisis in the nation. 

Following the release of a study by the Equal Opportunity Commission, this topic took off in late 2004. (EOC). 

According to the commission's investigation, Aboriginal families in Western Australia, who make up 18% of Homeswest's tenants, were three times more likely to be kicked out for allegedly being in arrears on their rent, causing property damage, or being socially incompatible with their white neighbors. 

The EOC cited the fact that most Aboriginal tenants were forced into subpar housing, most of which was slated for destruction, as evidence of Homeswest's bigotry. 

The investigation also turned up evidence that the staff of the housing authority had been instructed to treat Black and white tenants differently and to give white tenants advice on how to make successful complaints against their Aboriginal neighbors, increasing the likelihood that they would be evicted. 

Homeswest claimed to have adopted 43% of the committee's recommendations, but the executive director disregarded the other 57% because she felt they reeked of paternalism. 

Recommendations that were rejected included relocating congested Aboriginal families into better, more roomy accommodations rather than evicting them since many of the issues were due to overpopulation. 

Homeswest incorporated recommendations such as cultural training for staff members and a commitment to interview renters discreetly as opposed to publicly as was done in the past.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai On: Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

See also:

Australian Aborigines

References And Further Readings:

  • Elkin, A. P. (1954). The Australian Aborigines: How to understand them. Sydney, Australia: Angus & Robertson.
  • Swain, T. (1993). A place for strangers: Towards a history of Australian Aboriginal being. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tindale, N. B. (1974). Aboriginal tribes of Australia: Their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names. Berkeley: University of California Press.