History of Oceania

How European colonization affected the Aboriginal Australians

The TAboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are Australia's first people or native Australians. However, British colonization led to the near extinction of the first nations in 19 th and 20 th centuries. To this day, there are reports that they continue to be discriminated against.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, or First Nations, arrived in Northern Australia about 75,000 years ago. The common theory is that they arrived on the island from Southeast Asia in primitive boats.

This makes them the oldest population of people living outside Africa.

In 2017, a genetic study of 111 Aboriginal Australians took place. The results showed that all shared a common ancestor who belonged to a distinct population that arrived with the first inhabitants.

In addition, their culture is the oldest surviving culture in the world. They continued a stone tool technology dating to the earliest inhabitants. There has never been an "Iron Age" or "Bronze Age". The terms "Paleolithic" and "Neolithic" were not used. Therefore, their stone technology did not advance in the same way as the rest of the world did, emphasizing the uniqueness of the culture.

Like all religions, they believe that one or more gods have created humans and the environment around them. This happened during the Creation Period at the beginning of time.

This is the very beginning, where the gods created landforms, plants and animals. Aboriginal interpreters dream of what happened during the creation period. Hence the term Dreamtime describes the creation period. Aboriginal culture is full of legends related to the creation period. They often come with lessons or a moral story.

The British Empire in Australia

During the time of exploration, Europeans discovered and mapped the land of Australia. The discoverers ranged from Spanish, Dutch and English.

However, it was not until Captain James Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific was the country really explored in 1770. He claimed the land for Britain and called it New South Wales. When he returned, he reported that the land was suitable for growing a number of crops. In addition, his reports made the country sound suitable as a penal colony, a colony designed to settle and reform convicts. The loss of their North American colonies made Australia a replacement.

January 26 th In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip established the first colony with 11 ships carrying convicts.

The convicts were assigned work based on their skills. They planted the seeds of the first European settlement that colonized the Australian continent.

Britain sometimes sent criminals who committed petty crimes to the penal colony, as well as unwanted citizens.

Over the next 50 years, more settlers arrived, and they were not convicted.

The British Empire expanded on the Australian continent, forming six colonies:

    1784 - New South Wales.
  • 1828 - Tasmania
  • 1829 - Western Australia
  • 1836 - South Australia
  • 1851 - Victoria
  • 1859 - Queensland

These later became the states of the Australian Commonwealth.

First Nations Reactions

The first nations (Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders) reacted just as everyone would when strangers claim their land:with aggression. They wanted to get the European settlers to leave, to protect their country. Over time, they realized the superiority of the settlers' weapons. They fled from the settler areas, now known as Sydney. Many tried to include European settlers in their lifestyle. The settlers, however, had their own way of life and did not take on the First Nations traditional way, except for the escaped convicts.

It is clear that the first nations respected the country highly. The behavior of the early settlers led the early nations to believe that they were greedy, selfish, and disrespectful to the land. Some tribes could not understand the need to destroy the country to live, which made them angry, which resulted in many conflicts.

European settlers attacked the first nations, reporting that they would kill the elderly, women and children when the men hunted.

In return, the First Nations warriors used fire to destroy the settlers' infrastructure, such as their farms. Many were captured and imprisoned, chained with metal collars and shackles.

The more the settlers expanded, the more land and holy places they destroyed. This led to several conflicts, which resulted in more destruction and deaths.


Captain Phillip and the first fleet brought not only new people, innovations and lifestyles, but also new diseases. These diseases included smallpox, tuberculosis, influenza, measles and the common cold. Sexual exploitation and abuse of First Nations women and girls led to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

In 1789, the first nations experienced a smallpox outbreak that killed many.

Over the next ten years, the First Nations population fell by 90%.

As settlements grew, so did the exposure of the first nations to new diseases. They tried traditional medicine to fight the diseases, but they proved unsuccessful. Their traditional methods were not strong enough. The settlers destroyed many of their resources that are normally found in the country to alleviate diseases.

Malnutrition nutrition ~h3>

First Nations divided into two categories:those who worked for settlers and those who maintained their traditional way of life. Both joints.

The new industries brought to Australia needed workers, such as businesses and livestock farms. The first nations that worked for settlers received the daily payment of flour, sugar, tea, and occasional pieces of meat. These were basic rations, inadequate compared to traditional diets. For some, the rations were added to other foods found in the countryside. For others, it was all they had.

Those who tried to maintain the traditional lifestyle suffered due to the development of the settlers. The country was destroyed and therefore their food supply. They could not hunt or gather food as they normally would. Trees and plants were either removed or destroyed, waterways dirty and large animals fled at the sight of the growing settler population.

Not only did these factors lead to the death of family and friends, but they contributed to lost connections from previous generations and loss of spirit of life.

Cultural misunderstandings

The first nations continually resisted the European settlers. These disputes often led to the deaths of tens of thousands of first nations, by mass shootings of groups from cliffs, with thousands of settlers. There are reports of settlers providing First Nations food filled with arsenic and other toxins.

Cultural misunderstandings were one of the causes of mass murder.

One example is the Coniston Massacre, the latest known officially sanctioned massacre of Aboriginal Australians.

Fred Brooks was a white dingo catcher. In 1928, the body was in a shallow grave, surrounded by traditional weapons.

A reprisal party formed by white civilians and police, led on horseback by Constable George Murray.

For several months, the party killed 60 Aboriginal men, women and children in various locations in the Central Desert region. They arrested two men for the murder, but were later acquitted. Eyewitnesses pointed to Kamalyarrpa Japanangka, also known as 'Bullfrog', as the killer.

Bullfrog killed Brooks because he broke Warlpiri's marriage laws. Brooks did not have an Aboriginal wife. The first-person accounts said he made demands on Bullfrog's wives. Secondary accounts suggest that he sexually assaulted one of his wives. Breaking the aboriginal laws is a punishable act, and therefore Bullfrog saw that he acted lawfully. However, this led to the deaths of the Warlpirir, Anmatyerre and Kayletye people.

The Stolen Generations

Between the 1910s and 1970s, due to new government policies, officials forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their families. It was the government's plan to assimilate them into white society.

The 2002 film, Rabbit Safe Fence , gives accounts of what children encountered while in institution, from the time they were taken from their families to the outcome of their struggles. Based on a true story, it tells the story of two sisters and their cousin, who were brought to the institutions and planned an escape. It shows their journey, the people who helped them and what happened to all three of them in the late 1970s. AO Neville also appears, played by Sir Kenneth Branagh.

AO Neville

Auber O. Neville (1875 - 1954) became chief protector of Aborigines and helped shape Aboriginal politics in Western Australia. He supported the "absorption policy" of those who were half Aboriginal or "half-caste".

During his tenure, he tried to control the population. What many claimed to be a beneficial method was the assimilation of mixed children, half whites and half Aborigines. Due to their lighter skin, it was strongly believed that mixed children had a stronger chance of easily adapting. This forcibly removed children from their families. In addition, they called Neville 'Devil' because instead of protecting them, he harmed them by separating families.

Many never realized they were being caught. They were told that their birth parents were violent, had died or left them. Even outside the institution, they never knew or found their birth families.

In addition, the assumption is that their lives would be better if they were part of the white society. The first nations would "die out" through the natural elimination of assimilation.


Forcibly taken from their homes, officials place the children in institutions. While in these institutions, they face abuse and neglect.

Nuns taught them to reject their heritage and forced them to adopt a white culture. They changed their name and forbade them to speak their mother tongue. Living conditions were heavily controlled. Their punishments were harsh and frequent. They were cold, hungry and had little or no affection.

During the baths, the nuns scrubbed the children's bodies hard in an attempt to scrub away their darker pigment. Weekly, pastors checked if their skin became lighter. In that case, Neville placed them as second-class citizens in white society or had them adopted by white families.

As a result, they developed high incidences of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and poor health and socioeconomic outcomes. The adopted families abused the mixed children mentally, physically and sexually, giving them lifelong trauma. Learning to reject their culture made many ashamed of their First Nations roots, their stories and legends. They disconnected from their culture and did not pass it on to their children. In addition, they received a low-level education. They were expected to be manual workers and domestic workers, which led to lifelong financial problems. The stolen generations could not help their own children with schoolwork and education.

Children, grandchildren and future generations of the surviving generations are at risk of intergenerational trauma. They have a disconnect from their extended family and culture, which leads to stress. This type of trauma is passed down from generation to generation.

Aboriginals today

There are about 40,000 Aboriginal people in Australia. According to reports, repression continues to this day.

The United Nations (UN) has reported on Australia's lack of action to improve current Aboriginal rates of suicide, imprisonment, health and education.

Aboriginal Australians live in rural or remote areas. They mainly occur in dilapidated districts in cities. It is common for one or more families to live in one household, especially due to the high birth rate. Then it can be seen as part of the tradition of hospitality. Their homes are open to family and friends.

Unemployment is a big problem.

If they find work, it is at a low level due to racism and poor education. Many work for accommodation, food and low income. The majority depend on unemployment benefits and welfare. As a result, it leads to a prejudice among non-Aboriginal Australians that Aboriginal people live off the government and do not try to look for a job.

Many Aboriginal children have never been to school or are on an irregular basis. This may be due to an inability to pay tuition fees or a weakened education system. Still, it hinders their chances of getting a job.

However, there have been government programs that helped tens of thousands of Aboriginal students in their studies.

There have been unlawful deaths, illegal arrests and the detention of Aboriginal people. Reports stated that questions remain unanswered, leaving families and friends heartbroken not to know what really happened to family members and friends.

Many say that colonialism helped to promote the world of indigenous peoples. It gave them innovations, education, medical treatment and better clothing to fight the elements.

Others say that colonialism brought nothing but the destruction of land and indigenous culture. This is primarily due to the fact that many feel that the past has not been rightfully rectified. An example is how many people watch Australia Day, January 26 th , as 'Invasion Day'.

The changes that have been made meet those of different races, cultures and faiths. However, it is almost impossible when one feels that the past never ended.

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We're just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love ... and then we come home.

- Aboroginal Australian proverb.

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