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Indeginous Australia: Invasion or Settlement? Essay

For generations Australians have been taught to believe the country was peacefully settled by Europeans. Discuss whether this is true or not.

Majority of Australians are taught to believe that Australia was a peacefully settled country by Europeans. Only Ancient Indigenous Australian communities know for a fact from their ancestors, that this is not true. Indigenous Australians lived in the country for thousands of years before the Europeans’ invasion. They believed the land owned them not they owned the land like the settlers believed.

The indigenous people respected the land and cared for it, they only used and killed what they needed and were smart resource planners. The developed new skills and immunity to the land and weather condition. When the Europeans arrived they considered the land as terra-nullius (no-mans land) which was free for the taking and they dis-respected and considered the local indigenous societies as nothing. This was also a gain for the Europeans as they didn’t own any land in the area yet.

Aborigines are natives to Australia and Tasmania. They have lived there for about 35,000 to 70,000 years. Their skin and hair are both dark. There are about 500 recorded tribes. Aboriginal tribes didn’t usually stay in one place for long, moving to watering places and setting up camp there. Aborigines lived in family groups and clans. Each clan has a place on their land where their spirits return when they die. They have to protect these places so they won’t upset their ancestral beings. The men were custodians, tool-makers, and hunters. The women took care of the children and gathered and fixed their food. The Aborigines used the land wisely and knew when to harvest the many plants they ate. Dingoes guarded their homes and helped the men hunt. The Aborigines were also traders. There were trade routes across the country. They traded stones, shells, boomerangs, and ochre, a yellow paint pigment. Along these trade routes they would have exchange ceremonies where they traded, sang songs, and danced.

The Aborigines were totally isolated until 1788, when the English arrived. Their traditions included music, singing, dancing, and art. They did paintings on dried tree bark with natural black, brown, yellow, white, and sometimes red colours. The paintings were originally used for tribal ceremonies and then destroyed shortly after the ceremonies were finished. In the 1940’s, however, the paintings became popular with art collectors and they became more widely made and distributed, provided that there were enough eucalyptus trees in the area because they needed the bark from the tree to draw on.

At the time when Sydney Cove was settled by the British there were 300,000 Aborigines in Australia and about 250 different languages were spoken. Since they didn’t have a system of government, no permanent settlement, and no land ownership, the British made them move. Many of the Aborigines got smallpox, measles, venereal disease, influenza, whooping cough, pneumonia, and tuberculosis and died. European invaders cut down forests and brought foreign animals to Australia. By 1860 there were 20 million sheep in Australia. The cattle and sheep destroyed the Aborigines’ water holes. White settlers and Aborigines were at war for the land and water. By 1900, traditional Aboriginal society was still in small groups in central and northern Australia.

In the early 1900’s, laws to protect the Aborigines were passed in every state. They also made restrictions for the Aborigines on owning land, where they could live, and even to whom they could marry.

Finally in 1967 the Australians voted Aborigines real citizens. They were given the same rights as everyone else. Some people still argue that what the Europeans did was right and they call it a settlement? But majority of the population that do know the truth, know that what was done was wrong and un-humane and know it was an invasion to the indigenous society/culture.



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