Aborigines where the first people to live in Australia. The word Aborigine comes from the Latin phrase ab origine, meaning from the beginning. Aborigines have lived in Australia for at least 50,000 years, and evidence for that people have been living there for about 130,000 years ago have been found at lake George near Canberra. Most scientists believe that the aborigines come from southeastern Asia from the beginning.
In Australia there were nearly 600 territorially defined groups which where living on hunting and gathering food. They had a population of 300 000-1 million. The Europeans arrived to Australia in 1788. At first many aborigines thought that the newcomers, whit their pale skin, where spirits of their own dead relatives.
The numbers felled dramatically when the Europeans came. There where many conflicts between the Aborigines and the Europeans, in those many Aborigines died. By 1933 the population had fallen to nearly 66 000, but then it steadily increased, and now there is about 250 000.
The Europeans designed policies to turn the Aborigines into Christians with European lifestyles. In the late 19th-century the Social Darwinist ideas were influential, contained that Aborigines were an inferior race which not where capable to manage them self and destined to die out. In Van Diemen’s Land, nowadays called Tasmania, the government removed the last survivors of massacre and disease to Flinders I in the late 1820s, the last full-blooded Aborigine, Truganini, died there in 1876. A community of people with mixed descent remains in Tasmania. Elsewhere in Australia, a hard work were made to confine them to government reserves or Christian missions.
Aborigines have not accepted their lot as passively. In the 1950s they began moving into the cities of south- east Australia and started advancement groups, but it was not until the mid-1960s that activism became prominent. In 1965 Charles Perkins became the first Aboriginal university graduate, and helped organize freedom rides in New South Wales to protest against discrimination. In 1967 90.8% of Australian voters approved a referendum, which granted the federal government the power to count Aborigines in the census and to make laws on their behalf, in this way enabling them to be supported with official assistance.
Aborigines have adopted a flag that symbolizes their continuing struggle to be independent and selfdeterminat. The flag bears a red band on the bottom half, a black band on the top half and a yellow circle in the centre. There are several explanations for what these colours and shapes represent. In one version the black band symbolizes the Aboriginal people, the red band, the land and the yellow circle the sun. In another version the black band stands for the Aboriginal people, the red band for blood split and the yellow circle for the coming of the European people.
Although their circumstance has improved, they are the most disadvantaged group in Australian society. Their disadvantages were the basis for a campaign, which begun in 1972, for land rights. Opposition to their claims has come from mining and pastoral interests, and from conservative governments, particularly in Queensland. However by the mid-1980s Aborigines had get freehold title to about 6% of Australia, and were in the process of being granted further areas. For the first time, the Aboriginal people had rights to land in common law based on prior occupancy of the continent.
Aborigines lived by hunting and collecting food.
In all areas where Aborigines lived there were enough animals and plants for them to survive. In a normal season, they never used up all their supplies.
People along the costs and some of the large rivers were hunting and fishing their food. Desert people had to rely more on roots, seeds and small animals for food.
When the Aborigines went to hunt they needed special skills, often spears and spearthrowers, but there where other weapons too, boomerangs, clubs, large nets and fish traps.
Women did most of the food collecting, nearly 70 per cent of the total foodstuffs collected. They were collected things like fruits and berries, seeds, nuts, buds, leaves, shoots, bulbs and root vegetables.
Some foods where always eaten raw but some were roasted over open fire, on live coals or in an oven.
They lived in solid shelters. There were three basic varieties, sheets of bark were bent in the middle of form an inverted V, another was an oval or circular hut on a framework of saplings interlocked at the top, crisscrossed with other boughs and covered with bark, branches, grass or reeds. Some were waterproofed with clay or mud and the materials were held down with stones.
Aborigines usually went naked, except for a pubic covering. In winter, in the souheast and southwest of the continent, they wore cloaks made of kangaroos, wallaby, or possum fur, or huddled over their fires.
Women also wore public coverings and in western Arnhem Land, women sometimes wore half skirts of plaited fibre from pandanus leaves. On Groote Eylandt, on Melville and on Bathurst islands women carried sheets of bark so that men couldn’t see them in public.
Booth men and women decorated themselves whit red and yellow coheres, which is coloured earths, white pipeclay, charcoal and wore necklets or armbands of bunched feathers.
The responsibilities of adult life came earlier for girls then for boys. Girls were considered to be junior social adults at puberty, generally about the age of 12 or 14. Boys and in some areas girls, had to do some rituals before they were considered to be junior social adult. These rituals were performed in scarring a boy’s body, knocking out one or two teeth or in many areas, circumcision which means removing his foreskin.
The Aborigines were deeply religious people. There religion reflects in their myths and rituals and in all aspect of social living.
The greatest of the spirit beings were gods and goddesses. The fertility mothers are especially important for them. Many of the characters that lived in the mythical beginning of time were partly human and partly something else.
All aborigines believed in life after death, that it was some kind of afterlife or afterworld.