The Aboriginal Tribes of Australia
-BY THANUSHREE ANIL
The world, eons before technology, kings and queens had humans surviving on the wildest forests, living on nothing but sharpened stones for weapons to kill and eat. Our ancestors came a long way crossing the oceans in primitive boats, migrating on foot in search of better resources and lifestyle.
We humans even had species like animals, most of the species have been extinct for a long while now but their descendants still course their way through our planet.
50,000 years before Australia: which sometimes known as Sahul based on technical context was separated from south-east Asia by nearly 50miles of the sea, Timos sea (bounded south of Australia) which was also connected by land bridges across the Arafura Sea, Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait.
Though the sea levels were much lower than today. It still was a difficult journey for the ancestors of the aboriginal tribe to attain land. It is in theory that our ancestors might have waded their way through, by means of island hopping.
The first men of aboriginal tribes landed in the north-west coast of Sahul eventually spreading out through the entire continent.
It is believed that the nomadic Aboriginals had a resilient attachment to their home territory where they would hunt and gather.
Throughout the years spent, our ancestors evolved immensely and inhabited Australia. When the British forces started colonizing the world, Australia was too a victim. The Aboriginal lands were conquered by the British. The occupants of Torres strait islands became a part of the continent in modern-day Queensland.
Presently the descendants of the aboriginal or the Torres Strait islanders all come under the community of Indigenous Australians.
The Aboriginals could be the oldest living population that lives outside of Africa.
The elder of the second largest Aboriginal community, Stan Grant is one of the few who speak the tribal language Wiradjuri.
Racism dates long back and modern-day Australia was not exempted from it. During the years between 1910 and 1970, the continent saw an assimilation which later came to be termed as “The stolen generations”.
The children of Australian Aborigines and the Torres Strait islanders were taken away from their families because the Australian federal and state government agencies and church missions under the acts of their respective parliament sought to create a society where Aboriginals are eradicated to attain white superiority over the inferior: black coloured.
Originally it was in 1869 that the Aborigines Protection Act(Vic) that gave the power to the Governor to take away any child from the indigenous family to establishments where they adopt white culture.
People with indigenous and white parentage called The half casts had their population increasing and showed no signs of dying off. The government had policies that recommended full blood indigenous people should be allowed to die while half cars were to assimilate with the white community.
The Australian government stated that the indigenous could enjoy rights and privileges if they eventually adapt the mannerisms of the other Australians.
“The policy of assimilation means in the view of all Australian governments that all Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected eventually to attain the same manner of living as other Australians and to live as members of a single Australian community enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and influenced by the same beliefs, hopes and loyalties as other Australians.”
The above said never happened as the indigenous were refused work and services as racism prevalently existed. They lived off their lives in the fringes under poverty.
Assimilation policy concerned with the forcible removal of ingenuous children from their parent, and they were put into families and institution. They weren’t allowed to speak in their native language. Even their names were changed.
The impact of assimilation paved a path for the loss of a generation and still has an authoritative impact on the Aboriginal community.
Around 1940 the board lost the power to take away children of the indigenous and the board was finally put to an end in 1969.
Further, the years’ protection and welfare boards for the indigenous were established. Tracing back to the family, the aboriginals were reunited with their family.
It is only in 2008, prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation. His national apology speech became a historic moment.
Kevin Rudd’s speech
The Indigenous Australians use more than 200 languages and 100 dialects. Most of the languages have perished before they could have taken accounts of. The aboriginals call themselves as Koori/Koorie which means person, as the title aboriginals was imposed on them and they do not prefer such terms.
Another well-defined language is the Aboriginal English called as Creole/Kriol in some locales.
The descendants of Torres strait islander use two languages namely inherited Australian and Papuan. Various other languages are also spoken on small offshore islands.
Ceremonies centring around birth, death, marriage, homecomings and Dreaming stories are in the culture of the Aboriginals.
Australian Aborigines have a conviction on “The Dreaming”. It is the embodiment of the past, present and the future. They believe that the mythical beings that created the flora, fauna and human beings have enduring social life rules. After their death and passing away into heavenly or earthly bodies, the mythical beings retracted from the earth and into the spiritual realm. The event is also known as Corroboree.
Here are many different groups, each with their own individual culture, belief structure and language.
Aboriginal rock art shows dating back centuries still exist up to this day. The Aboriginals pride themselves in their music, dance body arts and rituals.
The aboriginals had their own musical culture considering they have been here for 50,000 years. Musical instruments like the didgeridoo which originated among the aboriginals can now be seen throughout the continent. Seed rattles, clapsticks, drums made of goanna, snake, kangaroo or emu skin.
Traditionally it was played by only men of northern Australia.
The dot-art movement is one of the iconic aboriginal art that has been developed in modern times. It also acts as a source of income for them.
Movies To Watch: To understand the culture even more
Where the Green Ants Dream (1984)
Beneath Clouds (2002)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)
Samson and Delilah (2009)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)