Indigenous Australians

First Nations people of Australia and its islands
(Redirected from Aboriginal Australians)

Indigenous Australians are members of groups that existed in Australia and the surrounding islands prior to European colonisation. The term is therefore somewhat broad in scope, including such ethnically diverse groups as Tiwi people, Noongar people, and Torres Strait Islanders, and does not generally imply a close relationship or common origin of all included groups.

Artwork depicting the first contact that was made with the Gweagal Aboriginal people and Captain James Cook and his crew on the shores of the Cronulla sand dunes, New South Wales

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  • The realistic timeframe that should be considered to achieve outcomes for Indigenous people equal to the rest of the community is to focus on the outcomes that should be expected for the children to be born in 20 to 25 years from today.
  • Too much emphasis is being placed in the current debate on providing opportunity for indigenous kids in very remote Australia for imagined futures as 'lawyers, doctors and plumbers'…and too little for futures as artists, land managers and hunters living on the land they own.
  • From what I have said of the Natives of New-Holland they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon Earth, but in reality they are far more happier than we Europeans; being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary Conveniences so much sought after in Europe, they are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in a Tranquillity which is not disturb’d by the Inequality of Condition: The Earth and sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life, they covet not Magnificent Houses, Household-stuff &c., they live in a warm and fine Climate and enjoy a very wholesome Air. ... In short they seem’d to set no Value upon any thing we gave them, nor would they ever part with any thing of their own for any one article we could offer them; this in my opinion argues that they think themselves provided with all the necessarys of Life and that they have no superfluities.
    • James Cook, Journal of the First Voyage of Captain James Cook (National Library, Canberra), entry dated 23 August 1770
  • Words are cheap—although they can lead to expensive demands—and politicians like to appear caring and sensitive. Moreover, apologies about the past can be used as an excuse for not doing very much in the present. Australia had National Sorry Day to deal with its miserable treatment of its Aboriginal population. The condition of the Aborigines remains appalling and not much is being done about it. If we look back too much and tinker with history through apologies, the danger is that we do not pay enough attention to the difficult problems of the present. There is also a danger, as a number of minority leaders have pointed out, that focusing on past grievances can be a trap, as governments and groups avoid dealing with issues facing them now. American blacks can demand apologies for slavery and American governments can offer them, but how does that help the black children who are going to poor schools or the black men who cannot find jobs and dignity?
  • The victory of the American colonists over their British rulers in the War of Independence near the end of the eighteenth century raised new dangers for the survival of the indigenous American Indian tribes. But it also spelled hard times for the Australian Aborigines. In search of new outlets for their growing population, both free and convict, the British formally established their first colony in the Antipodes, New South Wales, in 1788. Although the French also made some efforts to explore Australia during the same period, the British— perhaps through their North American experience— understood the importance of transporting colonists to establish a foothold in the new land mass. Magnificent harbors and rich land in Australia gave the British the confidence to send shiploads of both convicts and freemen to develop their new territories. The indigenous aboriginal tribes that lived in Australia and engaged in a variety of hunting and gathering occupations did not stand a chance against the new settlers, especially since the latter were backed by military units and armed militias. Although the British insisted that they meant no harm to the Aborigines and intended to protect their rights, the inherent conflicts between stock farmers, in particular, and the Aborigines soon led to violent resistance. In what became a familiar pattern in most settlements in the coastal regions of Australia, the Aborigines stole and slaughtered livestock of the interlopers to protect their lands, while the settlers engaged in massacres against the Aborigines. From the pre-colonization population of some 1 million Aborigines, only 31,000 survived by 1911, a devastating reduction of 97 percent.
  • We have to get rid of the passive welfare mentality that has taken over our people. Our traditional economy was a real economy and demanded responsibility (you don’t work, you starve). The whitefella market economy is real (you don’t work, you don’t get paid).
  • The law as far as the Aboriginal law stands, violence on an Aboriginal woman is not really terrible but a mild one. You can work around it.

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