Aboriginals are Australians whose ancestors were the first people to live in Australia. The word comes from the Latein phrase ab origine, meaning from the beginning. When spelled with a small “a“, the word aborigines refers to any people whose ancestors were the first to live in a country. You can write Aborigine also like Aboriginal, both has the same meaning.
Most scientists believe the ancestors of today`s Aboriginals first arrived in Australia as early as 50,000 years ago. They came from Southeast Asia. 50,000 years ago, the sea level was about 100 meters lower than the today`s sea level, because of the ice-age. So there was land between Southeast Asia and Australia and the Aboriginals could walk over. They were the onliest human beings on the fifth continent and so they strayed all over the country. Aboriginals lived in a great harmony with their natural environment. Before the fateful day in 1788, when James Cook discovered the East-side of the island continent, there were living about 750,000 Aboriginals. There were 500 tribes, each with its own language, its own religion, and with its own tradition. But when the first English settlers arrived, all this changed: It`s the year 1780, streactly speaking the 26th of january, when some Aboriginals saw the British fleet on the horizon.
They shouted :“Warra, warra“ when the big ships dropped their anchor- run away! But they were helpless. James Cook had discovered Australia and claimed the land for Britain at once. And when he told the English king that the land he had found was great to live and work on, the king had an idea. This idea was perhaps great for the English people, but not for the people living in Australia long before Mr. Cook came to the island continent.
In May 1787 the first ships, sailing to Australia, left the English port. Governor Phillip sailed with 570 male and 160 female convicts, about 200 British soldiers to serve as guards, about 30 wifes of soldiers, and a few children. The group traveled in eleven ships. The first ship reached Botany Bay, on Australia`s east coast, on January 18. Phillip`s ship arrived at the bay on January 19, the rest of the ships arrived on January 20 in the year 1788. The British king had decided to build big prisons because the English ones weren`t enough for all the men and women, who did something wrong. From
this day on, the white settlement grew and grew. The first order was to cut off the trees, because they had to build the prisons. This was the beginning of the city of Sydney.
When the English people arrived, the number of Aboriginals was estimated at 750.000, and within one century the number sank at only 50.000. They were hunted, shot, poisoned, burnt to death and expelled wherever they stood in the way of the white settlers. They were treated like animals. A very sad capital of the Australian history was the baiting of Aboriginals on the Tasmanian island in 1830, organized by governor Phillip. Almost all Aboriginals were killed. The two hundred surviving Aboriginals were send to Flinder `s Island, where the last surviving Aboriginal died in 1876. Many Aboriginals died also of deceases, which their immunesystem didn`t resist.
The country was called terra nullius, which is Latein and means that the land didn`t belong to anyone before James Cook arrived. Mr. Cook lied, when he told the king, that there were no people, when he discovered the country. Aboriginals had no more rights to own the land ( and all the other things of course…) than Cangaroos or Emus. He said nothing about the Aboriginals, who were the real owners of the land. The white settlers called them a primitive people.
Cook claimed the region for Great Britain and named it New South Wales. The new colony had to support itself by farming. All the prisoners worked in groups on farms near the settlement. During the 1790`s, the colonial government began to borrow or even sell land to millitary officers and freed convicts. At the same time the first free settlers arrived by sailing at Australia`s coast. The first free sttlers were from Great Britain mainly. Later, they came from whole Europe and other countries, too.
In the second half of the last century, the “missionary states“ gave the first reservations to Aboriginals. The missionaries put the “wild“ into clothes, tried to make them believe in other gods and to show them, what a normal day in western civilization was. The Aboriginals were forced to live like the white people. But all these things made problems only. Aboriginals couldn`t live at a blow in “modern times“, what it was, for the Aboriginals of course. At the end their number sank and sank again. The white missionaries hadn`t succes with their mission. The Aboriginal belief sat in their soul, that`s why the white people couldn`t kill it. In the end of such a mission the Aboriginal often lost his “power to live“. That was because of the “cultural shock“. An example for this was Bennelong. He lived in the governor`s house and learned to speak and write English. In 1792 he was sent to England for presenting him George III. After all this, when he was back in Australia, he didn`t know , who he really was. Wether he was a real white now, or still a black Aboriginal, he just didn`know that. So he became an alcoholic.
But the Aboriginals did survive. After it was sure, that they would survive as a human race – which seemed impossible some years before and some years after 1900 – something happened that nobody had expected : Their number rose up again. At least the number of half-breed Aboriginals rose to 265000, which is nearly 1,5% of the whole population. Most of the 40000 full-bloods live in reservation land, lieing throughout in the dryest parts of Australia.
Perhaps it was the result of the descision to give them more land to live there, to live their traditional way of life again. And to stop all those missions “an Aboriginal must think and act like a white“.
The last discovered tribe was the Pintubi-tribe. Some of the men and women first saw white people in 1977 (!). Their territory was at the border of the two states Northern Territory and Western Australia.
There are 350 reservations. Most of them lie in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Whites aren`t allowed to go into them. But from all the Aboriginals, who decided to stay in or near a town, only 10% has a job and works. The others live on rent or they are on the dole. Often all the money is spent for alcohol. The way these people live is very bad, sad to see and reminds how the people in the Third World live. That the chance to die before the first age is reached is four times higher by an Aboriginal baby than the chances to die before the first age of an Australian baby. And that Aboriginal children get a worser education, than white children. That the probability to become unemployed is six times higher, that the danger to come to prison is higher and that the life expectancy of an Aboriginal is about 20 years lower are all things that show that there is still a big difference between Whites and Aboriginals.
While the Aboriginals on the country are having the chance to live the traditional way again ,the Aboriginals in the cities often go alcoholic and lose all their connection to the culture. The Dreamtime is missing them often. So they take their connection to it with “petrol sniffing“. Since the end of the 60`s the Aboriginals have the franchise, a right to get the same wages like other Australians, short :They got all rights an Australian has, too. So they are incluced in all the statistics of the population. That shows that the Aboriginals in the Northern Territory made 21% of the whole population. In whole Australia and in the other states only under 2%. Although the two races are having equal rights today, the Aborigines get financial subsidy, which Whites doesn`t get. That this money is often used for buying alcohol, makes many Australians angry. But it was their own fault.
In 1971 the first Aboriginal was voted to the parliament and in 1976 the Aboriginal Land Rights Act was made. It helps the Aboriginals to get their land back, also the land , which isn`t in the reservation land. With this law they can get land over the whole continent back, the only thing they must do to get the land is to make sure, that there was a special connection to the land they want back. In 1995 50% of the Northern Territory belongs to Aboriginals. On the land they own are many sights of the nature, National Parks and many vein of ores. The High Court made sure that the continent belongs now and before 210 years to the Aboriginals. So the word terra nullius doesn`t exist any more for Australia.
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