Aboriginals in Australia By Austin Hart

The Aboriginals are a hunting-gathering people, the natives of Australia. They are said to have originated around 50,000 years ago, and "...have the longest continuous cultural history of any group of people on Earth” (ACME, et al.). Aboriginals have a deepened love for their land - it is even part of their culture.

Like many civilizations starting out, the Aboriginals originally began near water, on the coast of Australia. As they grew they moved inland, settling near rivers and lakes, creating clans and diversifying based on their landscape in Australia. They spread to all parts of Australia, to the lush forests, to even the harsh deserts.

However, due to living on an island, the Aboriginals were isolated from other civilizations. Because of this isolation, there were key differences in how they developed compared to other civilizations, like Egypt. Trade is the biggest factor. Without trade, the Aboriginals had no access to new technology or culture, resulting in Aboriginals using primal tools made of bones and stone until European colonization introduced metal, glass, and ceramics.

Being isolated was not all that bad though. Where in Egypt rivalries spurred as new kingdoms rose and war took action, the Aboriginals were kept to themselves, allowing them to be peaceful - only minor disputes among tribes ever happened.

The Aboriginals made the land a part of their culture, and it was very sacred to them. “Land is fundamental to the well-being of Aboriginal people. The land is not just soil or rocks or minerals, but a whole environment that sustains and is sustained by people and culture” (ACME). Their connection between the land comes from the state of Dreaming. This is the Aboriginals religious belief that Ancestral Spirits came to earth, creating every aspect of the world - the plants, the rivers, the animals - and even people and their relationships to others (ACME).

The Dreaming also makes up the laws of the land between the clans. As Aboriginals grow up they learn the laws through ceremonies, art, dance, and other parts of their culture. Passing on and keeping traditions and ancestral knowledge alive is of utmost importance to Aboriginals. There are even sacred sites around Australia that have spiritual connections and are unknown to those not initiated.

Dancing is a big part of the spiritual connection to Aboriginals, and pairs harmoniously with their music. “To dance is to be knowledgeable about the stories of the ancestral heroes although dancing, unlike painting and singing, is learnt at an early age" (ACME). Dancing is also done during ceremonies and gatherings, allowing for entertainment while also showing their love towards family and their clan rights.

The Aboriginal art "...reflects the richness and diversity of Indigenous culture and the distinct differences between tribes, languages, dialects and geographic landscapes" (ACME). Their art is made of 'dot' painting, in which the image is made up of thousands of dots, rather than strokes.

Aboriginals are also well known for their musical instrument - the didgeridoo. The didgeridoo looks like a large pipe and is hand-made by Aboriginals, selected from half-eaten eucalyptus trees from termites. The termites hollow out the inside of the instrument, needing only a hot-iron to take out any excess wood scraps. The Aboriginals use the didgeridoo in their Dream ceremonies, as it allows them to enter an alternate consciousness of Dream. (Didgeridoo).

The Aboriginals can be compared to the Maori peoples of New Zealand. Like the Aboriginals, the Maori were an isolated peoples who founded their own culture, using primal tools until European colonization. However, European colonization in Australia led to declining the Aboriginal population, bringing disease and new colonization (Australian Aborigines). Whereas in New Zealand, European colonization coexisted with Maori people, as they made a treaty; the Maori people declined some though still as tensions rose between the two parties, but is recovering (Maori).

Credits:

Created with images by Didgeman - "didgeridoo blowgun musical instrument" • ejakob - "aboriginal painting rock painting" • kayadams.com - "Aboriginal Art" • pikous - "Aboriginal Art - Monika" • Corey Leopold - "Aboriginal Man Playing Didgeridoo" • Leshaines123 - "Aboriginal Images Adelaide Museum Reflections #dailyshoot"

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