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Indigenous to Down Under: the Aboriginal Australians sample essay

Abstract This research paper explores the maltreatment by British colonizers of the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. In that this ethnic group has suffered continued persecution and stratification in the land they rightfully own. Much of their rich culture has come near to disappearing under the Caste applied British oppression they have suffered since the late 18th century. This paper analyses the plight of this minority group based on ethnic stratification and conflict.

This review will address how the conflict theory and applied stratification cost the Indigenous people of Australia much of their culture, religion and history. There will be added focus on how the remaining children of this near extinct but proud race are striving courageously to survive and preserve their proof of existence in a world dominated by, what many consider to be the educated and civilized people. There will also be a comparison of the circumstances of the Australian aborigines with a few minority groups here in the United States, the African Americans and the American Indians.

Keywords: Aborigine, ethnic group, conflict theory, stratification, African American, American Indian Introduction One must understand and appreciate who the Australian Aboriginal people were and what their culture was like before the European presence if they are to truly comprehend the effects of European colonization on the Aborigines. It has been estimated that the Aborigines have been on the Australian continent for at least the past 50,000 years after migrating from Asia.

During this period the Aboriginal people of Australia built a strong and diverse culture of spiritual beliefs with ties to the land; a unique tribal culture of storytelling and art; and their joyful music. Aboriginal spirituality embodies that there is a close connection between humans and the land. In the Aborigines creation story, which they refer to as “Dreamtime,” is a tale of how the aboriginal people first rose from beneath the earth to form the many parts of nature such as the animal species, bodies of water, and the sky. For the Aboriginal people the land is their connection to their reverent ancestors.

He talked of how we had no Aboriginal word for ‘land’ but to us this wasn’t just land, it was our heart, soul, our sustenance, our Mother, basically our life and livelihood. Everything we ever needed came from this land; it was our grocery store, our pharmacy and our home. We were born from the land and we would return to the land. The British were the ones that were so preoccupied with the land and its economic value; the Aborigines loved the land that gave them life. (Wilson, 2003) These spiritual beliefs did not give them command over the land which was not something to be bought or sold.

The rocks and the rivers are the forms that their ancestors have taken and these ancestors remain spiritually alive. In the Aborigine belief, as long as they have the land they have eternal life with their families past and present. This unique Peoples of Australia used dances and storytelling as a method of expressing their past in a way that would profit the newer generations. The Aborigines also showed a unique artistic ability through sculpture, basket weaving and beading which they bartered among the many groups.

Though it was their music which showed the true depth of their artful abilities, with the low rumbling sound of the bamboo flute the Didgeridoo as their backdrop, they expressed through their stories the values, culture and history that had made them a great hunting and gathering people. This history supports, that these people had a comprehensive and uniquely civilized society. The loss of this connection to the land brought on by British Colonialism separated them not only from the land but also from their ancestral family.

The loss of the land was only the beginning of the downfall of the indigenous peoples of Australia. Summary In the late 1700s the lives and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Australia would be devastatingly altered with the arrival of British. This foreign government would decide the fate of this people. The British begin to colonize Australia with convicts that were no longer being accepted in America due to the Revolutionary War. The natural resources in Australia held great possibilities, and more people began to colonize the continent, because of economic motivations.

Slowly and quietly England sent more people to Australia, eventually establishing the English Colony of New South Wales. But what of the people who already lived in Australia for more than 50,000 years, the Aborigines? During the first colonization by the English, the Aborigine culture was for the most part ignored. They were believed to be uncivilized creatures by the colonist who felt that the British culture and society was the true expression of a civilized society. As more colonist came, the aboriginal people of Australia were moved off their land, forced to labor for the new British arrivals, and in some cases even killed.

These groups of simple hunter and gatherers were socially stratified as a whole as uncivilized and sub-human by the British colonist and were treated according to this thinking. “Nor, were the Aborigines seen as having any possible economic role in the early colonies. Indeed, they were seen as pests and were shot and poisoned…” (Howe, 1988) It was over a century before the first inhabitants of Australia would be noticed by activists. During this period Australia had witnessed the Aboriginal culture become overwhelmed with crime, violence and drug abuse.

What was once a thriving culture was at this time on the verge of complete destruction. It was this new attention that led to a complete disregard of the Aboriginal peoples as a whole and displayed the full emphasize of the social, political and material inequality of the British social group toward the Aborigines. The Australian government decided based on their Caste system thinking, that relegated individuals permanently to a status based on his or her parents’ status, that the Aboriginal culture was hopeless and determined that the best alternative was to absorb Aboriginal children into the British culture.

“…speaking with reference to Australia as a whole, “then the more humane programme was to let them die peacefully and meanwhile to smooth the dying pillow, now the policy is to assimilate them” (Biskup, 1968). This thinking led to a campaign that spanned 60 years where well over 100,000 Aboriginal children were forcibly taken from their parents and were placed in white families. They used the methods of elusive abduction and kidnapping of these children, which showed the complete lack of respect for the Aborigines as a people and as a culture, and which also displayed their lack of place for Aborigines in the new Australian society.

These children later became known as the “stolen generation. ” Beyond the expected socioeconomic impacts also stands the cultural impact to the Aborigines. This act of the government taking Aboriginal children for a period of time has left a large generational gap, which still exists among the tribes of Aborigines. After this failed experiment of assimilation, the Aboriginal Australians lived mainly on government subsidize reservations similar to those of the American Indian reservations that exist in America today.

Their quality of life is well below that of their British counter-parts. They suffer from inequalities of food, lack of schooling and low quality medical care. They had by this time become prisoners on small lots of the land they once loved. The Aboriginals had learned to fear every aspect of the British society. The few hospitals that might give them medical attention were filthy and under staffed. Most Aborigines were reluctant to even go to these clinics for care unless they were in a very desperate physical state.

The prior histories of racially motivated oppressive treatment at in every area by the British toward the Aborigines was and still are in many cases barriers to allowing for the Aboriginal people to acquire adequate medical care. The first was how, historically, Western medicine (the hospital and closely related dormitory system) and the police were central to state attempts to control and ‘normalize’ them and turn them into whites… The second preoccupation was race relations, particularly the past and present treatment of residents by health care and the criminal justice systems and some of their personnel.

(Cox, 2007) The Aboriginal people do not quickly trust and they do not quickly forget. The years of forced assimilation, the theft of their land, and the many physical attacks have left them wary of any involvement with the established Australian government. The Aboriginal Australians have endured, but they have observed many changes to their culture due to this forced assimilation. Much like the African Americans, they have been the recipients of much horrific racially motivated treatment for generations.

In some states, Aborigines could not vote, own property, take control of their own finances, drink alcohol, marry or bring up their own children without interference, mix freely with non-Aborigines, or travel or be paid the same wages as white people. (Clark, 1998) As a result, today they are reflected as the most underprivileged group of people in Australia. In the Political arena they have very limited power and are even worse-off socially and economically. Aborigines have limited positions in the labor market. Although the Aborigine population is expanding, their economic outlook is not good.

Just to maintain the status quo employment rates would for Aborigines would need to grow exponentially. The poor outlook of the job market is reflected in the indigenous income status, which remains well below those of other racial groups. They have continually suffered with high levels of welfare. “…struggling with welfare, and, in general, managing their status as indigenes in a colonial world. Hence, although perceived by outsiders as derelict and dependent, they consider themselves as affluent and autonomous” (Collmann, 1988). In light of all of the information presented, the future of the Aborigines is questionable, if not nonexistent.

There is hope, in the 90s a new government program was set in place, brought on by a growing belief among people that all people were able to thrive and be civilized in their actions in their own unique societies. Without losing sight of the particular social identities in the racialized milieus of antebellum the United States and British colonial Australia, African Americans and Australian Aboriginal leaders insisted that the people they represented were as capable as whites of cultivating ‘civilized’ habits and social practices (Smithers, 2008).

This led to the Indigenous Protected Areas being set in place to allow the Aborigines to govern and to be responsible for the care and protection of lands and waters for present and future generations. This allows them a safe zone in which they can live at peace with what is left of their once diverse culture. Even so, much like the American Indians, Aboriginal tribes are slowly dying out; giving way to the assimilation into this British culture that came to Australia. Conclusion.

The above information clearly shows the stratification of the Aborigines of Australia when they were quickly and universally determined, by the British colonist, to be part of a lower status group. For the British colonists, who were at that time ruled by the Caste ideology of separation by classes, the Aborigines held no socio-economic value to their idea of civilized society which allowed them to not only dismiss them as a civilized people but to also destroy them as a cultural societal group.

These Aboriginal people posed an on-going threat to the class based societal whole of the British rule over Australia which led to their attempts to both take their lives and to also destroy their culture and society through assimilation. As the indigenous culture seems to continue to fade with each passing year; we can only hope that new efforts will begin to help protect the Aboriginal heritage and the ways of the indigenous Australia people. References Biskup, P. (1968). White-Aboriginal relations in Western Australia: An overview.

Comparative Studies in Society and History, 10(4), 447-457. Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/177639 Clark, J. (1998). The wind of change in Australia: Aborigines and the international politics of race, 1960-1972. The International History Review, 20(1), 89-117. Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/40107937 Collmann, J. (1988). “I’m proper number one fighter, me”: Aborigines, gender, and bureaucracy in Central Australia. Gender and Society, 2(1), 9-23.

Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/190466 Cox, L. (2007). Fear, trust and Aborigines: The historical experience of state institutions and current encounters in the health system. Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine, 9(2), 70-92. Retrieved from http://www. jstor. org/stable/40111576 Howe, K. R. (1988). Essay and reflection: On Aborigines and Maoris in Australian and New Zealand historiography.

The International History Review, 10(4), 594-610. Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor. org/stable/40105927 Wilson, L. (2003). This land was forcefully taken. Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Inc. , 85(1), 200-201. Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/27515936 Smithers, G. D. (2008). “Black gentleman as good as white”: A comparative analysis of African American and Australian Aboriginal political protests, 1830-1865. The Journal of African American History, 93(3), 315-336. Retrieved from Article Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/25609991.

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