A comprehensive, relevant, and accessible look at all aspects of Indigenous Australian history and culture Indigenous Australia For Kids For Dummies is here to enlighten you about the history, struggles and triumphs of the diverse peoples that make up Australia's Indigenous communities. Did you know that Australia is home to the world's oldest culture? Experience 60,000 years of history and culture, plus, get right up-to-the-minute, with amazing facts about Indigenous sports and entertainment figures and info on what matters to Indigenous peoples today. This interactive book has loads of features that will engage and excite readers aged 10-15 years old - and their teachers and parents! Featuring profiles of celebrated Indigenous people like Cathy Freeman and Albert Namatjira, as well as fun research projects and hands-on activities that bring Indigenous Australia to life. Ever wanted to connect with your local Indigenous communities? This book will give you ideas about how you can connect with First Nations peoples and other interactive ways to extend your learning out of the book. * Discover the rich culture, long history and special values of the world's oldest race * Learn about Indigenous art, song, dance, literature and contributions to contemporary Australia * Impress friends and family with your knowledge of Australian colonisation and Indigenous rights * Figure out what's going on in the lives of Indigenous Australians today - and bust the most common myths This book is perfect for young readers who want to appreciate and understand the diverse, proud, and fascinating peoples that make up Australia's Indigenous communities.
Sie lesen das E-Book in den Legimi-Apps auf:
Indigenous Australia For Kids For Dummies®
John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
42 McDougall Street
Milton, Qld 4064
Copyright © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
The moral rights of the author have been asserted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book, including interior design, cover design and icons, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Contracts & Licensing section of John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd, 42 McDougall Street, Milton, Qld 4064, or email [email protected]
Cover image: © Myra Nungarrayi Herbert / Copyright Agency, 2021
LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER AND THE AUTHOR MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS. THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS SOLD WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANISATION OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMATION THE ORGANISATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE. FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN THIS WORK MAY HAVE CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT IS READ.
Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Making Everything Easier, dummies.com and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
READERS OF THIS BOOK SHOULD BE AWARE THAT, IN SOME ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMUNITIES, SEEING IMAGES OF DECEASED PERSONS IN PHOTOGRAPHS MAY CAUSE SADNESS OR DISTRESS AND, IN SOME CASES, OFFEND AGAINST STRONGLY HELD CULTURAL PROHIBITIONS. THIS BOOK CONTAINS IMAGES OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DECEASED.
Foreword by Cathy Freeman
About This Book
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part 1: An Ancient People: Then and Now
Chapter 1: Understanding Indigenous Australia
Indigenous Cultures: Then and Now
There Goes the Neighbourhood
New Problems for an Old Culture
Doing It for Ourselves
Chapter 2: Rich Past, Strong Traditions
The First Australians
65,000 Years of Tradition
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations Today
A Note about the Torres Strait Islands
Opening an Event: Welcome to Country
Defining the Identity of an Aboriginal Person or a Torres Strait Islander
Chapter 3: A Land of Cultural Diversity
Exploring the Indigenous Relationship to Land
Celebrating Cultural Diversity
Kinship and Totemic Systems
Maintaining Links to Traditional Country
Chapter 4: Traditional Cultural Values and Practices
Going Back to the Dreamtime
Living with Nature
Looking to the Skies
Controlling the Environment
Modern Cultural Values
Caring for Country
Part 2: Invasion
Chapter 5: First Contacts
Looking for the Unknown Southern Land: Contact before 1770
Landing in Australia: Cook’s Arrival
Establishing a British Colony
Seeing through Indigenous Eyes: Perspectives on the Arrival
Chapter 6: The Brits’ First Colony: 1788
Captain Phillip and the First Fleet
Starting a Penal Colony
Seeing How the Locals Dealt with the New Arrivals
Chapter 7: The Loss of People and the Land
Opening Up the Land: White Settlement Spreads
Spreading Disease Far and Wide
Meeting Aboriginal Resistance
Growing the British Colony
Dealing with Frontier Conflict
Ignoring Prior Ownership: No Treaties
Chapter 8: Taking the Children
Examining the Ideology of Assimilation
Rules for the Removal Policy
Acknowledging the Stolen Generations
Unfinished Business: Reparations and Compensation
Part 3: Indigenous Activism
Chapter 9: Citizenship Rights and a Referendum
Early Claims to Better Treatment
British Subjects, but Not Quite …
Leaving Indigenous People Out of the Constitution
War Heroes: Frontier Wars and Beyond
Still Denied Equality
Not Taking It Lying Down
Steps towards Equality
The Freedom Ride
The Referendum Is Announced
Chapter 10: From Apology to Uluru
A New Government — A New Era?
The Intervention Continues
Finding a National Voice
Part 4: Contemporary Indigenous Cultures
Chapter 11: Indigenous People and Sport
A (Traditional) Sporting Life
Playing Them at Their Own Games
Slipping on the Whites: Cricket
Stepping Up in the Boxing Ring
We Love Our Footy!
Track and Field
Championing Other Sports
Chapter 12: More Than Rocks and Dots: Indigenous Art
Understanding the Role of Art in Indigenous Cultures
Looking at Indigenous Art around Australia
Examining Torres Strait Islander Art
Thinking about Urban Indigenous Art
Indigenous Art as a Means to an Economic End
Chapter 13: Singing and Dancing
Traditional Expression through Music and Dance
Carrying a Tune: Contemporary Indigenous Music
Jumping into Modern Indigenous Dance
Chapter 14: Indigenous Literature: We’ve Always Been Storytellers
Moving from Oral to Written Traditions
Writing about the ‘Aborigine’ in Australian Literature
Establishing Indigenous Literature
Not Putting Your Foot in It!
Chapter 15: Performance Storytelling: Film, Theatre and Television
Acting the Part: Indigenous People and the World of Films
Taking Over the Camera
Treading the Black Boards
Appearing on Mainstream Screens
Part 5: Dealing with Current Issues
Chapter 16: Closing the Gap and the Way Forward
Looking Back at Past Government Policies
Closing the Gap Reboot
Examining Health Issues
Looking at Housing Problems
Learning about Education Issues
Working on Employment Problems
No New Stolen Generations: Keeping Indigenous Children with Their Families
Chapter 17: Doing It for Ourselves
Self-Determination: More Than a Principle
Groups for Self-Representation
Working within the Existing Process
Part 6: The Part of Tens
Chapter 18: Ten Important Indigenous Cultural Sites
Uluru, Northern Territory
Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory
Nitmiluk, Northern Territory
Windjana Gorge, Western Australia
Daintree Rainforest, North Queensland
Mungo National Park, New South Wales
Ngaut Ngaut, South Australia
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra
Chapter 19: Ten Indigenous Firsts
The First Indigenous Australian to Visit Great Britain: 1793
The First Indigenous Cricket Team Tour: 1868
The First Indigenous ‘Pop Star’: 1963
The First Indigenous Person to Be Australian of the Year: 1968
The First Indigenous Person to Be Elected to the Australian Parliament: 1971
The First Indigenous Lawyer: 1976
The First Indigenous Person to Make a Feature Film: 1992
The First Indigenous Surgeon: 2006
The First Indigenous Senior Council (SC): 2015
The First Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians: 2019
Chapter 20: Ten Myths about Indigenous People
‘Indigenous People Have a Problem with Alcohol’
‘Indigenous People Are Dying Out’
‘Indigenous People Who Live in Urban Areas Have Lost Their Culture’
‘Indigenous People Were Killed Off in Tasmania’
‘Indigenous People Are Addicted to Welfare’
‘Too Much Money Is Spent on Indigenous People’
‘Real Indigenous People Live in Remote Areas’
‘Indigenous Groups Don’t Handle Money Well’
‘Indigenous Culture Is Violent’
‘Indigenous Self-Determination Has Been Tried but It Has Failed’
About the Author
Connect with Dummies
End User License Agreement
Table 2-1 National Indigenous Population since 1901
Table 2-2 Indigenous Population by State
Table 2-3 Negative Stereotypes versus Reality
Table 4-1 Comparing Indigenous and European Cultural Values
Table 9-1 The Yes Vote by State
Table 16-1 Indigenous Tertiary Enrolments by Course Level
FIGURE 3-1: Geographic organisation is based on language groups, or nations. So...
FIGURE 3-2: Specific totems link each individual with other people, the environ...
FIGURE 5-1: A Macassan fireplace at Bremar Island in the Northern Territory.
FIGURE 6-1: Portrait of Bennelong by an unknown artist, around 1798.
FIGURE 6-2: The only known image of Pemulwuy, by Samuel John Neele (1758–1824)....
FIGURE 6-3: Rock art depicts a kangaroo, from Bundeena, Sydney.
FIGURE 7-1: Governor Davey’s Proclamation to the Tasmanian Aborigines in 1816.
FIGURE 7-2: Development quickly spread from the British Colony of New South Wal...
FIGURE 9-1: Charles Perkins returning home after studying at Sydney University,...
Table of Contents
About the Author
The Italian, Leonardo da Vinci, gave the world a better understanding of the human body through his extensive studies of living organisms. His drawings of human organs were the first of their kind in the world.
Another of his other remarkable feats was to devise a way for humans to take to the skies, which he did 400 years before the first plane ever took off.
Da Vinci achieved remarkable feats as an artist, engineer, inventor and scientist, and his contribution to humankind continues to have an impact on our lives today.
There is another man named David Ngunaitponi, also known as David Unaipon, who, like Leonardo da Vinci, made remarkable contributions that still have an impact on society today.
Unaipon, was a very proud man of the Ngarrinjeri people of South Australia’s Coorong Region. He was a preacher, author, poet, inventor, philosopher and political activist whose name continues to stand for a rare kind of exceptionalism and excellence.
One of Unaipon’s most noted accomplishments is in the area of invention with his innovations leading to the creation of a mechanical hand tool for shearing sheep.
Marking and celebrating this most unique man and his significant contribution, Unaipon’s name and image has appeared on the Australian $50 bank note since 1995.
Like Da Vinci, Unaipon acquired a marvellous interest in science and in 1914 he commented regarding his scientific breakthrough regarding his helicopter design:
‘An aeroplane can be manufactured that will rise straight into the air from the ground by application of the boomerang principle. The boomerang is shaped to rise in the air according to the velocity with which it is propelled, and so can an aeroplane.’
Unaipon, 22 years previous to its invention, had conceptualised the world’s first helicopter and this achievement only added ever greater weight to the title publicly bestowed upon him as ‘Australia’s Leonardo.’
Da Vinci said that the noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding, and that the truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects.
Unaipon had a curious and bright intellect. He read, studied and researched for innumerable hours and this genius habit was attributable to the fact that he is Australia’s first published First Nations writer.
Professor Larissa Behrendt’s book, Indigenous Australia For Kids is a means of nourishment and sustenance for all curious minds that seek a kind of intellectual grounding in a world that is often unknowing and unwise.
I would imagine that if they were both still alive, both Da Vinci and Unaipon would see themselves in each other, just as we too might see ourselves in them also.
To willingly seek information and to build on our own genius habits is the way to deepening our own sense of meaning and connection to our own lives and the world we live in.
Behrendt gives us a tremendous opportunity to learn about the world’s oldest living culture that is Australia’s First Nations people.
She enables us to gain deeper insight into our own view of who we are as individuals and, equally, who we are as a collective.
Indigenous Australia For Kids inspires readers to flex their creative and imaginative thinking muscles so we can all contribute to a world we aspire to live in some day.
Kuku Yalanji woman and Olympic Champion
Understanding the history and culture of Australia is impossible without understanding the country’s Indigenous peoples. And to understand Australia’s Indigenous peoples, you need to understand their history, traditional and modern cultural values, worldviews and experiences.
Indigenous Australia For Kids looks at the experiences of Indigenous people, including their political actions and dreams, and seeks to debunk some of the myths, especially the negative stereotypes, that are still around in Australian society about Indigenous people. Indigenous history and modern issues are very political matters in Australia. This book often looks at these matters from an Indigenous perspective, as well as covering different views.
Indigenous Australia For Kids is a book for kids and teenagers who don’t know much about Australia’s Indigenous peoples but really want to know more. It looks at both historical and modern issues. The book helps give you a good general knowledge of all the relevant issues. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to then read more on the topics that interest you. Some of these topics can get very complex. So having a good basic understanding first helps. This book can be read straight through (from Chapter 1 to Chapter 20!). Or you can select a chapter based on the topic you want to read about. Each chapter is self-contained, or makes sense by itself.
Australia’s Indigenous peoples are made up of Aboriginal people — who live all around the country. They also include Torres Strait Islanders, who settled the many small islands to the north of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.
Names and terms are complex when it comes to Indigenous identity in Australia. The term Indigenous is used in this book to describe both Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. The term Aboriginal is used when I talk about matters that apply only to Aboriginal people. Similarly, I use the term Torres Strait Islanders for matters that apply only to this group of people.
Also remember that some Aboriginal people don’t like to be called ‘Indigenous’. The term First Nations is being preferred more and more. Others prefer to be known through their nation or clan.
Because Indigenous languages in Australia were originally oral languages — not written — nation or clan names often have multiple spellings. Regional variations on how words were said have also led to more than one spelling for other words. Throughout the book, when I talk about specific nations or clans, I use the most common spelling.
Note: As both the author of this book and an Aboriginal person myself, if it sounds like I’m telling the story as an insider, I am.
On a different note, to help you get the information you need as quickly as possible, this book uses several conventions:
words make the key terms and phrases in bulleted lists jump out and grab your attention.
signal that a word is an important defined term.
is used for web addresses.
Sidebars, or the text separated from the rest of the type in grey boxes, are interesting but generally extra reading. You won’t miss anything important if you skip the sidebars. If you choose to read the sidebars, though, you can benefit from some additional and interesting information.
This book assumes the following about you, the reader:
That you have some basic understanding of Australian history — such as that Britain set up a colony in Australia in 1788
That you have a basic knowledge of Australian geography — or that at least you’re able to look up different places on a map!
Throughout this book, the following icons are used to help you know when you’re about to learn something special, quirky or significant.
This is important information about Indigenous cultures that allows you to better understand Indigenous people.
Many myths, misunderstandings and stereotypes about Indigenous people have become widespread since European settlement of Australia. This information straightens out a few of those things.
Next to this icon are activities and ideas for finding out more about the information included in the chapter. You’ll see these icons at the end of every chapter.
Information next to this icon helps to give a deeper understanding of the topic being discussed.
This is specialised information, often legal in nature, that explains terms or gives the background to a topic.
This icon denotes a piece of advice about the subject matter being discussed that helps you to learn more.
You can approach this book any way you like. You can read from start to finish — and perhaps skip some things along the way that you already know or are less interested in. Or you can go straight to the topics you’re most interested in and dive right in there. For an overview of the diversity and richness of Indigenous cultures both before and after colonisation, for example, head to Chapters 1 to 4.
Chapters 5 to 9 look at the growth of the British colonies in Australia and how this affected Indigenous people. They also cover how Indigenous people reacted to colonisation. The chapters in Part 3 are all about Indigenous activism. Chapters 11 to 15 highlight the rich tradition of sport, art, storytelling, dance and music that’s as vibrant today as it was before colonisation.
And if it’s the current issues you’d like to jump in and tackle, head to Chapters 16 and 17.
You can use the table of contents to find topics quickly. The glossary lets you cut to the chase on any terms you may want to clarify.
Indigenous Australia For Kids is meant to be fun to read as well as informative, so go ahead and enjoy! Hopefully, this is just the start of a long, enjoyable and inspiring journey to find out more about the world’s oldest living culture.
In This Part …
Understand the long history of Indigenous peoples, going back over 65,000 years.
Work out why it’s important to understand rich and diverse Indigenous history, cultures and values, both traditional and contemporary.
Find out about Indigenous worldviews, bush tucker and languages.
Get to know customs when addressing Indigenous people or holding an event on traditional lands.
IN THIS CHAPTER
Exploring Indigenous traditions and contemporary cultures
Examining the effects of colonisation on Indigenous peoples
Looking at the Indigenous political movement
Identifying challenges and possible solutions for a better future
The Aboriginal people of Australia are the caretakers of the world’s oldest living culture. Indigenous Australians are Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Their worldviews focus on the connections between people and their environment, and the bonds people have with each other. Indigenous Australians are also an important part of the Australian story. You can’t understand modern Australia without considering the importance of its Indigenous peoples and their cultures in that story.
The colonisation of Australia devastated Indigenous people and cultures. Populations were destroyed, and traditional lands and means of self-support were taken away. Government policies were aimed at assimilation. These policies made official the taking of Indigenous children from their families so they could grow up like ‘white’ Australians. Even though this was a destructive period, the story of how Indigenous people — and their cultures — survived is inspiring.
In this chapter, I provide an overview of Australia’s history through Indigenous eyes. You also see what issues they face today and some solutions they are using to meet these challenges.
Understanding these aspects of Indigenous history and cultures lets you gain greater insight into who Indigenous people are and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are like.
More than 500 different Aboriginal nations existed at the time the British colonised Australia. These nations had possibly up to one million people in total. These people had lived on this land for over 65,000 years, adjusting to big changes in the environment and landscape. But the arrival of the British in 1788 fundamentally affected Indigenous cultures. Over the next century, as colonies spread, Aboriginal people were separated from their traditional lands. This separation affected their ability to care for their country, support themselves and their families, and practise traditional ceremonies. But Indigenous cultures were strong. Even in the face of such big change, they still adapted.
Today, Indigenous people live across Australia in urban, rural and remote areas. They were once considered by non-Indigenous Australians to be a dying, inferior race. But their growing populations and continuing cultural practices show that modern Indigenous cultures are vibrant and alive. (Chapter 2 outlines the initial impact and later growth of the Indigenous population since colonisation.)
Indigenous cultures across Australia had strong connections to their traditional land. They depended on it to provide them with everything they needed to survive. This included food, shelter, tools and medicine. And they needed each other as well. Nations were divided into clans, which were large extended families, perhaps as small as 30 people in some cases. In such small groups, everyone had to pitch in, and people depended a lot on each other.
Cultural values focused on connection with nature, each other and ancestors. Indigenous peoples believed in respect and responsibility for country. They also valued respect for the wisdom and authority of Elders. Chapter 4 goes into traditional practices and beliefs. Chapter 18 describes some cultural sites that are important for Indigenous peoples today.
Indigenous cultures around Australia shared many values and had similar worldviews. But great diversity was also present because of the different environments and climates across Australia. Indigenous communities living by the ocean had different ways of life, technologies and practices from Indigenous communities living in desert areas. But across the country, large gatherings of several clans took place for ceremonies, and trading routes spread across the continent. See Chapter 3 for more on this cultural diversity.
Indigenous cultures have remained strong and vibrant across Australia. Even in modern forms, they have a strong connection to traditional practices. Indigenous peoples do so by using new technology or including aspects of other cultures. Chapter 20 breaks down some myths about Indigenous people.
Art, song and dance were key aspects of traditional cultural practice. They were mostly used for ceremonial purposes, and they still have a main position in modern cultures:
Indigenous art has become a worldwide sensation. Some pieces attract prices in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. But this industry hasn’t turned into wealth for the artists.
looks in detail at the Indigenous art world.
Indigenous songs were some of the first things that were lost with colonisation. Today, though, Indigenous people are strongly involved with music — particularly country and western music! Younger Indigenous people have also embraced hip-hop music and rap to express their views and aspirations.
Indigenous dance is now a leading contemporary Indigenous art form. It blends traditional dancing with more modern styles. Indigenous dance companies have grown around Australia. See
for some of the best of Indigenous Australia’s musicians and dancers.
Indigenous cultures have a storytelling tradition, and Indigenous people have welcomed new ways of getting their message across. Indigenous playwrights, theatre directors and filmmakers have employed Indigenous actors to tell Indigenous stories. Indigenous people have also set up their own national radio service and television service. The national service works well with the many regional radio and television services set up by Indigenous communities. See Chapter 15 for more on these media.
Indigenous cultures originally had an oral tradition with no written languages. But Indigenous storytellers have now turned to the written word. For a long time, Indigenous people had stories written about them by white anthropologists (people who study aspects of humans within past and present societies), linguists (people who study different languages), historians and writers. But since the 1970s, Indigenous people have had a growing desire to tell their own stories themselves. Since then, Indigenous writing has crossed over into many genres, including crime novels and women’s popular fiction. Chapter 14 covers Indigenous writing and publishing in detail.
Australia’s Indigenous peoples lived as hunter-gatherers. This meant they spent a lot of time moving and had a nutritious, balanced diet. This way of life kept people strong and healthy. Perhaps because of this traditional way of life, Indigenous people have been excellent athletes. Across many codes — but especially football and athletics — Indigenous people have made a big contribution to Australia’s sports.
Sportspeople are good role models for Indigenous young people. They often work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as mentors. They help with building confidence and self-esteem, and they encourage young people to be active, fit and healthy. You can find more information on leading Indigenous sportspeople in Chapter 11.
Understanding modern Indigenous cultures and worldviews largely depends on understanding how Australia’s Indigenous peoples have been treated during the country’s rather short European history.
Lieutenant James Cook (later Captain) claimed the eastern coast of Australia for the British in 1770. At the time, the large, powerful colonising countries such as Britain, Spain and France had an agreement. They agreed that lands such as Australia, populated only by ‘natives’ who were seen to be inferior, could be claimed by the colonial power that found them first. This was known as the doctrine of discovery. (Chapter 5 talks about this concept.) Indigenous people could have had no idea that, after 1770, their world would change as it did.
In 1778, the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove from Britain and started a penal colony. The settlement was designed to help with the problem of overcrowding in British prisons. It was also designed to set up a claim to the territory against other colonial powers, especially the French. With the start of the colony, life for Indigenous Australians would never be the same again. Chapter 6 explores the effects of this first colony.
The colony at Sydney Cove soon spread. It needed agricultural industries such as wheat, sheep and cattle to survive, and for that it needed land. The British eventually set up colonies around the country, including
Van Diemen’s Land, which became known as Tasmania
Port Phillip District, in what is now Victoria
Moreton Bay, near what is now Brisbane
Adelaide, in South Australia
One initial problem for Aboriginal people was the effect of the diseases brought by the British. Aboriginal people couldn’t fight smallpox, colds, flu and measles because their bodies had never fought them before and so had no immunity to them. Populations were destroyed as these diseases spread. Chapter 7 looks at the impact of this expansion.
As the colonies were built and spread out from their initial boundaries, Aboriginal people were pushed off their land. They lost their ability to feed and shelter themselves and their families. Cultural practices also were disturbed. This led to often violent conflict as Aboriginal people fought against, as best they could, the attempts to move them from their land. This resistance consisted mostly of setting fire to buildings and infrastructure and killing stock. It did slow down the growth of the frontier in some places. But eventually the colonists, with their greater firepower and growing numbers, gained the upper hand.
In many places, Aboriginal people were pushed to the margins of towns and forced to live on specially designated reserves. In some cases, Aboriginal people could live on their traditional lands on pastoral stations and were given basic rations. They did so in exchange for work for the station owner. See Chapter 7 for more on this uneasy alliance.
The colonists tried to assimilate Aboriginal people into European cultural ways. This meant they wanted Aboriginal people to act more like European people and adopt their values and ways of living. They believed that one effective way to do this was to remove Aboriginal children from their families and bring them up away from them and their culture. Sometimes they placed the children in institutions. Other times the children were adopted into white families. This also affected Torres Strait Islander people after missions were started in the Torres Strait in the late 1800s. The practice continued as Torres Strait Islanders began to settle on the mainland.
All states and territories had laws that allowed the removal of Indigenous children from their families. Some people carrying out the policy genuinely believed that removing Indigenous children from their families would give them a better life. Despite those good intentions, the practice often had devastating consequences for the children taken away and the families and heritage they left behind. Chapter 8 goes over this painful issue in detail.
From the start of colonisation, Aboriginal people fought against the attacks on their rights to their lands and the impact on their communities and cultures. Over the years, Aboriginal communities continued to clearly state their rights to their lands and to protest their unequal treatment. Torres Strait Islanders soon joined them.
When the British started their colony at Sydney Cove, they brought their laws as well as their people. They said the laws and their protections applied equally to Aboriginal people and colonists. But this mostly didn’t happen.
Aboriginal people’s rights to their lands were denied. They were also rarely offered protection from frontier violence. They had to follow rules about where they could live, who they could marry, and whether and where they could work. They couldn’t get the same wages as other workers doing the same jobs. In most places, they couldn’t vote.
Aboriginal people challenged these restrictions by appealing to governments and even the British Crown. A key focus was equal treatment. They fought particularly for the rights to own and farm their own land and to have the same rights to citizenship as other Australians. Chapter 9 covers citizenship rights in more detail.
By the 1960s, Indigenous communities around Australia were living in developing-world conditions, with lower access to health care, education and housing. Many Australians — black and white — believed that this was unacceptable. Over 90 per cent of Australians voted in 1967 to change the Constitution to let the federal government make laws for Indigenous people. At the time, people genuinely believed that this change would lead to a new era of non-discrimination. People also thought that the federal government would act in a way that would help Indigenous people. This assumption was later proved wrong, but the vote was a big moment in Australia’s history. Most Australians believed that the improved treatment of Indigenous people was important for the country. Chapter 9 looks at the referendum in more detail.
Land rights have been a key focus for Indigenous political movements ever since 1788. The land rights movement gained steam in the 1960s and 1970s. Several land rights regimes were set up — in the Northern Territory and New South Wales, in particular. But hopes for a national scheme never came about. These schemes were set up by governments under different legislation. They were different in how they set up land councils and the terms they made for the return of land to Indigenous people. Rights to land were also given a boost in 1992. That’s when the High Court of Australia recognised that, in some situations, Indigenous people could claim a ‘native title’ right to their traditional land.
Governments still struggle to work out how to address system-wide problems of Indigenous disadvantage. In the early 1990s, a national agenda of reconciliation was set out. This agenda aimed to, over a ten-year period, consult with Indigenous people about the best ways they could work together to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. This aim was replaced by a later government with a program of ‘practical reconciliation’. This program said it would focus on the areas of health, housing, education and employment. This approach didn’t produce major results, though. In 2007, the federal government began a policy of intervention in the Northern Territory. Using this policy, the government tried to make further changes in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.
To date, no major inroads have been made into reducing the difference between the disadvantaged circumstances of the broad Indigenous community and the living standards of other Australians.
On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a historic speech in the federal parliament. He apologised to Indigenous Australians for past wrongs committed by governments against them, particularly for the removal of children from their families. This apology was seen as an act of huge symbolic importance. Since then, the Australian government has also supported the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration supports self-determination for Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people continue to fight for that right in practice by seeking to be centrally involved in the policies and programs that affect their community.
Whether the symbolic changes will bring about actual changes in the lives of Indigenous Australians remains to be seen. Chapter 10 looks at the effects of the apology. Chapter 17 looks at the concept of self-determination.
The impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples was huge. Traditional ways of life were completely broken up. Dispossession, segregation and racist policies left an unhappy legacy. Statistics show that Indigenous people are much more disadvantaged in areas of health, education outcomes and employment. These statistics pose a challenge to the goal to create a level playing field for all Australians. Indigenous communities are playing an active and effective role in trying to find solutions. Chapter 19 looks at some of the achievements of Indigenous people.
Indigenous life expectancy is lower than that of other Australians. Their health is poorer. Their home ownership levels are lower. Their housing conditions are worse than those of other Australians. Indigenous people also have lower levels of education and higher levels of unemployment than non-Indigenous people. Much has been done to try to fix this situation. Indigenous people have set up their own medical services. They also are training to be nurses and doctors to work on health needs in their communities. Chapter 16 has more information on Indigenous health.
Indigenous disadvantage won’t be overcome without improving the education levels of Indigenous people. Literacy levels and school attendance rates are a key focus in this area. Indigenous people have developed special programs that help Indigenous children learn how to read and write. Programs also have been designed to improve the education of Indigenous adults.
Of course, a link exists between education levels and unemployment levels. The remoteness of some communities is also a barrier to some Indigenous people entering the workforce. Chapter 16 explores education and employment.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had their own laws and government structures. Some of these survive today. But when the British colonised Australia, they brought their rules and governance systems. They didn’t recognise the rights of Indigenous Australians.
British law claimed it would keep Indigenous people safe. In practice, British law became a weapon that sped up their dispossession. This law was also used to control Indigenous people. It told Indigenous people where they could live, the conditions of their employment, whether they could vote and sometimes even if they could marry. The laws also legalised theft of Indigenous people’s land and removal of their children.
Indigenous people also came into contact with the criminal justice system. They were targeted by the police and charged with offences that non-Indigenous people wouldn’t have been charged with. They were more likely to be refused bail (conditions that allow the release of an accused person while they await trial) and given longer sentences compared with non-Indigenous people.
All this led to an overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prisons. It also led to the charge that racism exists right through the criminal justice system. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody confirmed the bias in the legal system and made many recommendations.
Very few of the recommendations made by the Royal Commission have been put into place. Indigenous Australians are still overrepresented in prisons.
Indigenous people aren’t resting in the face of the problems in their communities. This book describes many instances of Indigenous people developing effective solutions to their own problems. One area in which Indigenous people are trying to find new opportunities is in business and economic development. These opportunities range from ecotourism and cultural tours to partnerships with mining companies, bush tucker restaurants and Indigenous-owned holiday resorts. This is an important plan in overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. You can find more detail about this strategy in Chapters 3 and 16.
Serious disadvantage is seen throughout the history of Indigenous Australia. But communities across the country have also had their successes in finding solutions to tough problems. These solutions are often simple. They include providing drying-out shelters or rehabilitation programs to deal with issues of alcohol abuse and violence, bilingual language models (using Indigenous languages as well as English) that help to improve educational outcomes, and community night patrols that keep the peace in Indigenous communities.
All along, Indigenous people have said that, if they had the tools to deal with the issues within their own communities, they would do a better job than governments. Lots of evidence shows that this is the case. This is known as self-determination. Indigenous claims to the right to self-determination are a main part of their political agenda. Chapter 17 looks at these issues in more depth.
Find out who the traditional owners of the country you live on are. Learn more about them from local resources such as libraries, land councils and local Indigenous community organisation websites.
IN THIS CHAPTER
Working out the age of the oldest living culture
Looking at some evidence through art and tools
Defining an Indigenous person and finding out where Indigenous people live
Checking out how the Torres Strait Islands have developed
Addressing ways to describe Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
Using the right rules for acknowledging Aboriginal land or Torres Strait Islander land
Understanding identity and busting stereotypes
Aboriginal culture is described as the world’s oldest surviving culture. Its rich traditions and spiritual beliefs come from tens of thousands of years of living history. So does its complex social structure. Despite the destruction of populations after colonisation, the social unity and cultural strength of Indigenous communities has survived.
The Torres Strait Islands have an equally rich culture. Cultural practices and values have been affected by dependence on the sea. They were then influenced by trading with the Macassans, from the islands of what is now Indonesia, to the north. Life began to change for Torres Strait Islanders with the start of European missions on the islands from the late 1800s.
Today, a lot of confusion surrounds the make-up of the Indigenous population and the correct rules in addressing Indigenous people. This chapter sets out a little of the history of Indigenous Australia. It also tackles the issue of the correct terms for the diverse communities around the country.
Australia is the oldest continent in the world. So the fact that the country is also the home of the world’s oldest surviving culture and religion is perhaps not surprising. Aboriginal people believe that they and their ancestors have occupied Australia since the beginning of time. ‘Dreamtime’ stories relate to a creation period — when the Earth was shaped, stars were made and animals developed. These stories explain, for example, how an echidna got its spikes or how a particular bird became flightless.
Archaeological findings and developments in DNA technology have led to current estimates that modern humans evolved in Africa about 190,000 years ago. They moved to the Middle East about 120,000 years ago and arrived in Australia via Asia over 65,000 years ago. Europe was populated about 40,000 years ago and the American continent about 14,000 years ago.
The discovery at Lake Mungo of ‘Mungo Lady’ in 1969 and ‘Mungo Man’ in 1974 challenged the ‘out of Africa’ theory of the spread of modern humans. Their remains are thought to be around 40,000 years old. DNA tests showed that they didn’t share their origins with modern human beings. Some scientists think that this means humans’ move to Australia didn’t occur in one wave. (See Chapter 18 for more on this site.) More recently, Madjedbebe, a sandstone rock shelter in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, dates human presence to over 65,000 years ago.
The Torres Strait Islands are to the north-east of Australia — between the mainland and Papua New Guinea. They have been part of Queensland since 1879. More than 270 islands dot this area, though only 17 have people living on them. The Torres Strait Islands are believed to have been first settled by people moving from Papua at least 2,500 years ago. Evidence may be found in the future that dates settlement earlier, possibly up to around 4,000 years ago.
Archaeological evidence shows that Aboriginal people arrived in Australia at least 65,000 years ago. Three areas have been named as likely places where people travelling from South-East Asia arrived in Australia:
The Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia
Arnhem Land in the Top End of the Northern Territory
Cape York at the northern tip of Queensland
These areas have rock shelters that have been used as places to live. Their floors are covered with charcoal and ash from campfires. They also have the remains of food such as shells and bones, and other pieces of human life such as tools and ochre. Stone tools and ochre are the toughest of these materials. They can be used to figure out the dates human activity occurred. (Ochre comes from soft varieties of iron oxide minerals. It ranges in colour from pale yellow to deep rust red. Ochre was used in ceremonies such as the painting of rockfaces and the painting of faces and bodies.)
Australia is relatively isolated. The technology of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders didn’t evolve in the same way as it did in other parts of the world. Aboriginal people didn’t develop through ages of pottery, bronze and iron. Stone technology was used into the 1960s. The use of stone technology and painting with ochre pigments date back to at least 60,000 years ago. This is supported by the dating of ochre fragments from the floor of a rock shelter in Arnhem Land.
Aboriginal cultures in Australia were the first to develop ground edges on cutting tools and the first to grind seeds. Archaeological work at Madjedbebe (once referred to as Malakunanja II) and Nauwalabila I has uncovered pieces of ground ochre, bone fragments, shells, tool fragments and signs of food processing. Carbon dating of the lowest layers that showed human activity places them at 65,000 years ago.
A cave on Barrow Island, off the coast of Western Australia, shows human presence from 50,000 years ago. Ochre found at other sites around Australia has been dated from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. A piece of painting was found in a limestone rock shelter at Carpenter’s Gap, near Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley (Western Australia). It was dated at 40,000 years using carbon-dating technology. Rock art dating back 30,000 years exists on the Burrup Peninsula, also in Western Australia.
Aboriginal people were once thought to have been in Australia for as long as 40,000 years. After more recent archaeological work, that was moved to 50,000 years. It is now accepted to be at least 65,000. But this might even prove to be longer in the future.
Signs of the length of Aboriginal presence in Australia come from many sources. Rock art was a common way of recording cultural practices. Some examples of rock art show animals that became extinct up to 40,000 years ago. Some of the oldest rock paintings, found in shelters in northern Australia, show ceremonies that are still performed and ceremonial decorations that are still worn today. This shows the continuation of Aboriginal cultural practices.
In the Torres Strait Islands, technology focused on using materials from the sea. These materials include fish bones, turtle shells, pearl shells and other shells. They were carved for use in ceremonies and as ornaments, and for tools, spearheads and fishhooks.
Australia is the world’s largest island as well as a continent. It has rocks that date to over 3,000 million years ago. Experts estimate Australia began its journey across the Earth’s surface as an isolated continent between 55 million and 10 million years ago. Australia continues to move to the north by about seven centimetres per year.
Australia’s shape is largely due to the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates and long-term changes to sea levels. But the landscape has also been shaped by wind and water erosion. About half of Australia’s rivers run inland and end in salt lakes. These draining patterns have a long history. Some valleys have kept their positions for millions of years. For example, the salt lakes of the Yilgarn region in Western Australia are the remains of a river drainage system that was active before the continental drift separated Australia from Antarctica.
The land mass that is now Australia started near the South Pole and was covered in ice caps. When the ice melted, parts of the continent subsided and formed basins. By the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 65 million years ago), Australia was so flat that rising sea levels created a shallow sea. This sea spread across the continent and divided it into three land masses.
During the Paleogene Period (65 million to 23 million years ago) and the Neogene Period (23 million to 2 million years ago), Australia had volcanic activity that continued in what is now Victoria and Queensland up until several thousand years ago. The most recent volcanic activity was at Mt Gambier in South Australia. It erupted about 6,000 years ago.
Around 30,000 years ago, Australia had a pleasant climate with lots of water, plenty of plants, snow-covered mountains and large animals roaming around. This changed 10,000 years later, when the most recent ice age came. This ice age lasted about 5,000 years. The middle of Australia was covered in large sand dunes during this time. Rainfall levels were half what they are today. The temperature was about ten degrees lower.
During its lowest level, the sea receded. Then Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea formed one large land mass. When the ice age ended and temperatures rose, a surge in plant growth took place. This meant the area where people could live as hunter-gatherers increased. During this rise in sea level, Tasmania was created. (That’s about 11,000 years ago!) The island was separated from the mainland. New Guinea was cut off from Australia by rising sea levels around 8,000 years ago.
By around 5,000 years ago, the islands of the Torres Strait looked like those that now exist — the Torres Strait Islands. They include high islands of volcanic rock to the west and small flat islands typical of the central and eastern areas. They also include sand cays and small volcanic islands in the far north of the strait, and large silt islands near the Papuan coast.
Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders are still identified as distinct populations within the Australian community. Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders live in diverse places across Australia. They adapt to different environments and situations. This is just as they did long ago.
Torres Strait Islander culture is also distinct from Aboriginal cultures. It’s largely focused on the sea. Various languages are spoken throughout the Torres Strait, including English and Torres Strait Creole. The traditional languages of the Torres Strait are divided between Meriam Mir in the eastern islands and Kala Lagaw Ya in the central and western islands. The latter has four dialects, including Mabuiag. (See Chapter 3 for more on Indigenous languages.)
A person’s identity is a personal thing. Identity goes to the heart of how all people feel about their ancestry and the environment in which they grew up. Many Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders have mixed heritage. But they choose to identify as being an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander person.
When governments and organisations must figure out whether a person is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, they generally use three criteria. All three criteria must be fulfilled. In their view, the person must
Be of Aboriginal descent or Torres Strait Islander descent
Identify as an Aboriginal person or as a Torres Strait Islander
Be accepted as an Aboriginal person or as a Torres Strait Islander by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live
The benefits of these criteria are that they include a part that looks at the way the person defines themself, as well as giving the community a role in determining who’s considered to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander for official purposes. Importantly, the test doesn’t look at the percentage of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage that a person has. If a person meets the criteria, what ‘percentage’ of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage they have doesn’t matter. This definition gives some power to the Indigenous community about who is considered to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples don’t embrace the term ‘half-caste’. Even Aboriginal people of mixed ancestry usually say, ‘I am Aboriginal’ — rather than ‘I am part-Aboriginal’, for example. For this reason, it may offend Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders if asked, ‘What percentage of Aboriginal blood are you?’
The Aboriginal flag was designed by Harold Thomas in 1971. The flag was displayed on 12 July 1971, National Aborigines’ Day, at Victoria Square in Adelaide. It was also used at the Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972. The flag has a horizontal stripe of black to represent Aboriginal people and a red stripe to represent the land and the blood that has been spilt on it. It also has a large yellow circle in the middle that represents the sun and symbolises the eternal joining of Aboriginal people to their land. It was given legal status as a flag of Australia in 1995.
In 2019, conflict grew about the use of the flag on products. In 2020, negotiations continued to allow the flag to be used more freely. This process also took commercial reasons into account.
The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by Bernard Namok of Thursday Island. The flag has a representation of a white Dhari — a ceremonial headdress — which represents the people of the Torres Strait. It has a five-pointed star to symbolise peace and the five major island groups. A green horizontal stripe represents the land, a black stripe the people and a blue stripe the sea. It was also given legal status as a flag of Australia in 1995.
In the 2016 Australian census, the Indigenous population was noted to be 798,365 people. This is about 3.3 per cent of the Australian population. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which collects population data, understands that keeping accurate statistics has problems. This is because not all Indigenous people fill in the census form and not all enrol to vote. For this reason, the actual number of Indigenous people is thought to be higher than the official population.
Estimates of the Indigenous population across Australia at the time Britain established its colony in Sydney Cove are between 750,000 and 1 million people.
A national referendum in 1967 voted to change the Constitution to allow Indigenous people to be included in the census. (See Chapter 9 for more on the referendum.) But before 1971, the census didn’t look to include Indigenous people who lived beyond settled areas. Estimates from authorities responsible for the welfare of Indigenous people were given. But accurate numbers weren’t available. However, Indigenous people were identified as part of population counts from 1901. This information was collected, but Indigenous people ‘of more than half blood’ weren’t included in the official figures.
After shrinking since the colonisation of Australia began, the national Indigenous population has been steadily climbing since the 1950s. Table 2-1 shows population figures from the ABS.
Table 2-1 National Indigenous Population since 1901
National Indigenous Population
„Ich bin wirklich begeistert. Auch die Möglichkeit des zusätzlichen eReaders im Abo finde ich persönlich toll.”
„Die Auswahl von Legimi ist großartig.”
„Der Leser findet seine E-Books/Hörbücher sehr schnell und sie lassen sich, ob mit oder ohne Internetverbindung problemlos öffnen.”
Wurm sucht Buch
„Ich finde das Angebot von Legimi richtig toll.”
„Besonders schön finde ich die große Auswahl an möglichen Abo-Modellen und besonders die Abos mit eReader.”
Miss Foxy Reads
„Ich muss sagen, dass ich von dem E-Reader mehr als positiv überrascht bin.”
„Das ist wirklich eine großartige Idee und mal was ganz Anderes.”
Mikka liest das Leben...
Tausende von E-Books und Hörbücher
Ihre Zahl wächst ständig und Sie haben eine Fixpreisgarantie.
Sie haben über uns geschrieben:
Dabei gewährt der E-Book-Anbieter größtmögliche Freiheiten
Größter Vorteil die Möglichkeit, in der aktuellen App komfortabel zwischen E-Book und Hörbuchversion eines Titels
Spotify for E-Books