Aboriginal Australians – Apollinaire

When I arrived in Australia, I was very surprised as I thought there would be lots of people with dark skin because in that part of the world it is very hot and dark skin protects you from the sun, but all the people that I met had light skin and I wanted to find out why.

Aboriginal Australians used to live together in different tribes and all of them had dark skin as it is so hot. They used to hunt kangaroos, lizards and many other animals using traditional spears and used only nature to survive.

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@ British Museum.org

Indigenous people used to paint their bodies in different coloured paints that would represent symbols such as raindrops and leaves.

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All photographies is this post are @ AAP/Yothu Yindi Foundation

 

When European (Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish) sailors began entering ‘Australian’ waters in the early 1600s, they called it Terra Australis Incognita (unknown land of the South). Between 1606 and 1770 more than 50 European ships came to Australia which was then inhabited by only Indigenous people. One of the first British person to come to Australia was the famous Captain James Cook. Captain Cook arrived in Botany Bay, home of the Eora people and claimed possession of the east coast of Australia on 22 August 1770 declaring it terra nullius (no one’s land) and naming eastern Australia ‘New South Wales’.

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British colonisation of Australia began in Sydney in 1788. The first consequence of British settlement was that the Europeans brought epidemic diseases that the aboriginals were not used to and that killed them. The second consequence was that the aboriginal land and water resources were taken away from them. The Aboriginal Australians lived with a strong feeling towards to the land, and also the water. Each group developed skills for the area in which they would live: hunting or fishing or gathering but the settlers decided that Aboriginal Australians were nomads with no concept of land ownership, who could be taken off land wanted for farming or grazing and who would be just as happy somewhere else. Without their land, water and spiritual and cultural connection to their land the aboriginals could not survive. The aboriginal population was reduced by 90 % between 1788 and 1900.

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In 1877, there was a discovery of gold in the Hodgkinson River. More British and Europeans came to Australia and invaded the aboriginal people’s land because of the gold and other valuable resources (rutile, zircon, bauxite, iron ore, ilmenite, lithium, manganese ore, lead and zinc). The people that weren’t killed were put in small reserves (one of them being Mossman Gorge which I will tell you about in another post).

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At the beginning of the 1900, some people studying humans called anthropologists used the the Theory of Evolution from Charles Darwin to say that the Aboriginals of Australia were a different race that was not as evolved as Europeans and that the aboriginals were between ape and man!

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Indigenous Australians were given the right to vote in Australia only in the 1960’s and in Queensland in 1965.

When I did some further research, I found out that that only 2.7% of Australia’s population are now indigenous.

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I feel very sad for the Aboriginal Australians because they were treated in such a bad way and not even considered as humans at one stage. I hope that in the future they will be treated with much respect.

From Apollinaire

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