Origin and Culture of the Aborigines

Origin and Culture of the Aborigines

Aborigines are the native people of Australia. Just as Native Americans lived in North and South America before the European explorers, Aborigines lived in Australia. The Aborigines occupied Australia for at least 40,000. Years. They arrived from Southeast Asia and entered the continent from the north. Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea were one large landmass at the time.

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The word Aborigines means “the people who were here from the beginning.” The Aborigines developed efficient ways to adapt to the harsh Australian environment. Their way of life was slow to change. They built containers for storing water and built wells to connect with underground water. They were hunters and gatherers and ate animals, wild nuts, fruits, and berries. They were nomadic, moving from place to place in search of food.

Archeology has revealed some Aboriginal inventions. Aborigines created some of the earliest rock art as well as the first boomerangs, ground axes, and grindstones in the world. There is no written record of prehistoric Aborigines. What we know of the ancient Aborigines is found in archeological evidence. The Aborigines kept their history by telling stories that were passed down from generation to generation.

Before the Europeans arrived in 1788, 250,000 to 500,000 people lived in Australia. The Aborigines settled in the same places as present-day Australians, where the was most pleasant, and water was available. In the tropical north, most Aborigines lived along the coasts and rivers.

Their religious structure was divided into two “moieties.” The moiety system divided all the members of a tribe into two groups based on a connection with “totems.” The totems were certain animals, plants, or other things in the environment. A person was born into a moiety group and stayed in that group throughout her or his life. A person in one moiety had to marry a person of an opposite moiety. The traditional social structure of the Aborigines consisted of a tribe or “language group” of as many as 500 people. A tribe included bands called “hordes,” of 10 to 20 people. Hordes joined for daily food gathering and hunting.

PART 2: The Impact of English Colonization on the Language and Religion of Australia

Language of Australia: The story of Australia’s official language is a result of British colonization and expansion. Australia was the final continent discovered by the Europeans. Native aborigines had inhabited the continent for centuries, however. Dutch explorers had discovered and mapped parts of Australia but did not stay or send colonists to the contine

The first Europeans to sail into Australian waters arrived in 1606. During the next 164 years, ships from several nations reached the continent. In 1770, English Captain James Cook claimed the Australian east coast for England when he landed at Botany Bay. This site is near the present-day city of Sydney. Cook named eastern Australia “New South Wales.” English sailors mapped the coast of Australia and Tasmania.

In 1788, England sent a crew to Australia to begin building prisons to house convicts. Earlier, England had shipped prisoners to the American colonies. The Georgia colony of North America had been used as a penal (prison) colony for Great Britain at one time. However, this was not a choice after the American Revolution. From 1788 to 1823, the colony of New South Wales was a penal (prison) colony housing mainly convicts, mariners, and wives of mariners. In 1823, the British government established Australia’s first parliament. Parliament established criminal and civil courts. By 1868, more than 170,000 convicts had arrived in Australia from England. The language of the prisoners, the guards, the courts, and businesses was English.

Great Britain saw that Australia was a good location to base its navy in the South Pacific. Its location would make it possible for British ships to make repairs and get supplies. There were opportunities for trade between Asia, Australia, and the Americas. In addition, The French government became interested in Australia’s west. To keep the French out, English settlers built new villages and cities as fast as possible. This spread the English language to the western part of Australia. The countries of Europe were jealous of each other. The Europeans believed that if their country had colonies, they would be better off.

More British immigrants entered Australia during the mid-nineteenth century. Gold in southern Australia attracted thousands from England and Ireland. Thousands of Chinese arrived as well. Chinese did not become an important language; the English-speakers were too plentiful. Major coastal settlements became seven independent colonies. By 1861, officials created to boundaries between the colonies that are still used today. The Commonwealth of Australia was established on January, 1901. Melbourne served as the national capital until Canberra was completed in 1927. When Australia gained independence from Great Britain, the government wanted to make sure the country did not get too many immigrants. It allowed people from England or the United States to move to the country. The government made rules to stop immigrants from Africa and Asia. This encouraged even more English-speakers to come to Australia.

Today more than 20 percent of Australians were born in another country. Over half came to Australia from non-English speaking countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Because of Australia’s history, though, English is the official language, and it is the most common language for people and business.

Religion in Australia: Europeans introduced Christianity to Australia in 1788. Irish convicts were mostly Roman Catholic. Other convicts and those who managed them were Anglicans and Methodist. During the 1800’s, European settlers brought their traditional churches to Australia. Faiths included the Church of England (now the Anglican Church), Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Baptist. Today, most Australians are Christians. The Roman Catholics Church and the Anglican Church claim the most members. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus combined make up less than 5 percent of the population.

PART 3: The Impact of European Disease and weapons and in the sheath.

The British settlers had an immediate impact on Aboriginal life. European settlers took over good sources of water, fisheries, and productive land. Settlers turned land used by the Aborigines into colonial towns, farms, and mining operations. Some Aboriginal people welcomed the Some thought whites were the spirits of the dead. Others tried to protect their hunting lands and homes.

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