I was browsing the Elders and Ancestors’ Instagram page, when I came across the following photo.
Those are some of the Aboriginal Australians, at Wyndham prison, in the early 1900s. As disturbing as this image is it prompted me to do further research on the indigenous inhabitants of Australia who are often hidden.
According to a study from the University of Cambridge, aside from Africa, Australia has one of the longest histories of human occupation that traces back 50,000 years. Modern humans are stated to have left Africa approximately 72,000 years ago, eventually spreading across Asia and Europe. Papuans and Australians, however, diverged from the rest around 58,000 years ago. Researchers are still divided on if Papuans and Australians derive from the migration of Euroasians or Africans.
Papuans and Australians reached Sahul—a prehistoric supercontinent that originally united New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania—50,000 years ago. Once they migrated to Australia, they remained isolated from the rest of the world until the 18th century when they came in contact with Asian and European travelers. Some sources are claiming that there may have been multiple groups of Aboriginals who migrated to Australia, either from a single heterogeneous migration or multiple waves.
As for their culture, more than 200 different Aboriginal languages were spoken, and most Aboriginals are bilingual or multilingual. These inhabitants were hunter-gathers who were directly dependent on their natural environment. They had a strong attachment to sites and areas in their home territory, where most of the hunting and gathering took place. And their worldview tended to perceive society as a community whose behaviors extend beyond the confinement of a local group.
Their belief system centered around “The Dreaming” or “Dreamtime.” It was a complex concept that embodied the past, present, and future. Britannica advised the following:
After their physical death and transformation into heavenly or earthly bodies, the indestructible creative beings withdrew from the earth into the spiritual realm. As Aboriginal people understand it, the Dreaming beings retained control of all power and fertility, which they would release automatically into the human realm as long as humans followed their blueprint; this included the regular performance of rituals to ensure a continued flow of life-giving power.
Aboriginals migrated throughout the West and East of Australia, settling in Nullarbor, which is west of modern-day Adelaide. However, after the arrival of European colonists in 1788, thousands of Aboriginals died from diseases and other forms of genocide. The population dropped from 250,000 to 60,000 by 1920. And although it has grown, by way of 30,000, Aboriginals still suffer from poverty, unemployment, and low wages today.
I will be doing further research on the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, so stay tuned. If you have any additional information, feel free to comment below.
Until Next Time…
Cooper, Alan, et al. “When Did Aboriginal People First Arrive in Australia?” Newsroom, 7 Aug. 2018, newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/when-did-aboriginal-people-first-arrive-australia.
Tonkinson, Robert. “Australian Aboriginal Peoples.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, http://www.britannica.com/topic/Australian-Aboriginal/Traditional-sociocultural-patterns.
Willerslev, Eske. “Unprecedented Study of Aboriginal Australians Points to One Shared Out of Africa Migration for Modern Humans.” University of Cambridge, 21 Sept. 2016, http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/unprecedented-study-of-aboriginal-australians-points-to-one-shared-out-of-africa-migration-for.
“AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINE.” Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine, 1992, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/australian-aborigine.