Aborigines in Australia

Essay, 2010

8 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Introduction (Definition of the word Aborigine)

2. A long way
2.1 Aborigines in the past
2.2 Acceptance and rights

3. Culture

4. Social problems

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

`Aborigine ′ is an English word, deducted from the Latin `origine` which means natives. It is the common name for the inhabitants of Australia, who lived there at the time of the arrival of the Europeans and was given to them by these `white ones`. The short version `Abo’ is considered politically incorrect. The natives in the southeast call themselves ’kooris`, ’nungars` in the southwest and ’murri` in the south. Other related terms for Aborigines include indigenous people, aboriginal people, native people, first people, fourth world cultures and autochthonous.

2. A long way

2.1 Aborigines in the past

Scientists do not agree about when people first arrived in Australia but current archaeological estimates generally range from 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. That proves that the roots of the aboriginal culture head back even longer. At the beginning of the 80's only few of the 28,000 Aborigines lived in traditional communities, so that the original culture is threatened, even endangered. At the arrival of the white settlers the total population was estimated to be between 300,000 at the lowest and 1,000,000. In former times the inhabitants of the continent were divided into more than 250 native tribes with several hundred different languages, which varied strongly. Nowadays, however, only approximately 50 of these languages still exist.

The Aborigines used to trade constantly with the inhabitants of the archipelago Torres Strait (a waterway between Australia and New Guinea). From the northeast Melanesian groups had reached Australia with their canoes. The Melanesians introduced different goods like improved fishing devices, drums, as well as songs and dream stories and so contributed to the increase of the population. From the northwest came the first seaworthy sailing boats, whose crews consisted of indonesian fishermen. They exchanged tobacco, iron and glass for the right to fish in the territories of the Aborigines. These contacts are proven by works of art.

After the arrival of the European settlers in the eighteenth century, they started to colonize the country. They confronted the natives with the property of land, which was completely unknown to the Aborigines. Confrontations or protests, however, were missing since at this time the settlers were satisfied with little. But very soon they began to increase the area that they considered `their` land and consequently their money, which led to the further displacement of the Aborigines from their original habitats. The Natives were forced to live apart from the settlers and in inhospitable areas, so that their economic living conditions worsened permanently. This behavior pushed the process of ghettoizing. When the Aborigines began to resist a cruel genocide began on the part of the Europeans. Proper hunts on the natives were organized, the survivors were subjected and had to work for the Europeans. The age-old languages of the natives, their ceremonies and customs, were forbidden. Families were torn apart and their children were released for adoption.

2.2 Acceptance and rights

In 1976 the Federal Government issued the commonly known as `Aboriginal country Rights act ′, which concerned the Northern Territory. In the 80's the resistance increased within the state government and in particular in the mining companies in relation to the demands of the Aborigines. In October 1985 the Uluru (also Ayers Rock) was transferred officially to the municipality of Mutijulu. Soon after in 1988 the United Nations published a report which accused Australia of offending the international human rights with the manner of treatment of the Australian native population. A report of a commission contained proof for racist behavior of the police force and contained over 300 recommendations regarding the improvement of the interethnic understanding and the right of self-determination of the Aborigines. In June of the same year the government forbade permanently all mining industry activities at the historical place (Uluru) of the Aborigines in the Northern Territory.

With an Act generally known as `Mabo judgement′ of 1992 it was specified for the first time that both the Aborigines and the inhabitants of Torres Strait must be recognized as actual and original owners of the continent. Then in 1993 the so-called `native one headline act′ stepped into force. Approximately up to 40 per cent of the entire national territory had to be returned to the Aborigines due to the requirements in the context of the `native` one headlines act.

3. Culture

The culture of the Aborigines is very old and mystic and still kept alive until this very day. It is more difficult, however, to keep their traditions and ceremonies upright. The dreamtime plays a very important role in the aboriginal history. It is also commonly known as creation time. In the languages of the Aborigines it is also known as `Altjeringa′, `Tjurkurrpa ′ or `Palaneri ′. It has nothing to do with fantasy but rather marks the time of the emergence of all things. The Aborigines appeal in many rites to this time, in which life began, when `things ′ came from the inside of the earth or from the sky to the surface. The ceremonies held are to provide them with the energy of their ancestors, in order to continue with the dreamtime. Furthermore old dream paths of the Aborigines lead all over Australia. On these paths they visit even today the holy places, which were created by their mystic ancestors in order to structure and arrange the orderless world. In the conception of the world of the Aborigines individual geographical points mark mystic historical events. By the visit and the associated ritual frequently only one picture is/was drawn into the sand. By doing so they realize it as a part of their history and so it helps them to memorize and keep their culture.

The Aborigines did not develop writing, therefore the non-verbal communication e.g. by dances was of great importance. These rituals mediated life rules, important happenings and myths from one generation to the next.

4. Social problems

The situation of the aborigines today is particularly characterized by two topics of the past. First of all the child robbery (stolen generations) and secondly the land right situation, which was already addressed before.

The Stolen Generations is a term used to describe the children who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal, the State Government Agencies and church missions with permission of the legal framework at that time. The removals occurred between approximately 1869 and 1969 although some children were still being taken in the 1970s. The reasoning behind the removal of the children is contested. Motivations evident include child protection, beliefs that there would be a catastrophic population decline after contact between white and black people, a fear of miscegenation by aboriginal people and as a consequence an impure white race.

The psychological ramifications of the far over 100,000 stolen children were devastating. For a very long time many mothers concealed the fact that their children belonged to the ‘stolen children’ and refused to find them their identity and their biological parents.


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Aborigines in Australia
University of Applied Management
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Aborigines, Australia, ureinwohner, Essay, australien
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Sabrina Hirner (Author), 2010, Aborigines in Australia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/158658


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