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These patterns can be seen in the star constellations of Pleiades and Orion. Changing it and changing with it. The land was not just soil or rocks or minerals, but a whole environment that sustains, and is sustained, by people and culture. For Indigenous Australians the land is the core of all spirituality and this relationship has been deeply misunderstood over the past years or so. This relationship is central to all issues that are important to Indigenous people today.

Reviews and reforms

When European colonisers first arrived in Australia they encountered an unfamiliar land occupied by people they didn't understand. As they didn't understand the peoples' society and their land 'ownership' system, Australia was deemed to be 'terra nullius' and the land was claimed by the British. However Indigenous people fought, and are still fighting, for their land and their lives. The history of these battles is not often told but they involved hundreds of incidents and thousands of people.

These stories form a part of the untold history of Australia. The history of the struggle for land rights goes back to the earliest days of the European occupation of Australia. These struggles too were often resolved through violence as Indigenous people were progressively dispossessed of their land. The struggle for land rights continues today through the legal and political systems. Some important legal milestones have been reached which show that arrangements based on cultural sensitivity and respect can be successful for all Australians. On 3 June the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in Mabo vs The State of Queensland , ruling that the treatment of Indigenous property rights based on the principle of terra nullius was wrong and racist.

The Court ruled that Indigenous ownership of land has survived where it has not been extinguished by a valid act of government and where Aboriginal people have maintained traditional law and links with the land. This legal recognition of Indigenous ownership is called Native Title. The Court ruled that in each case native title must be determined by reference to the traditions and customary law of the Indigenous owners of the land. We all have our right to our own lands. I can show you where my boundaries are. In , Eddie Mabo and four other Torres Strait Islander people went to the High Court of Australia claiming that their island, Mer Murray Island , had been continuously inhabited and exclusively possessed by them, therefore, they were the true owners.

They acknowledged that the British Crown had exercised sovereignty when it annexed the islands, but claimed that their land rights had not been validly extinguished. But Eddie Mabo never heard the ruling, as he died of cancer in January of that year. The first 'Aboriginal Tent Embassy', also known as the 'tent embassy', was established on the lawns of what is now Old Parliament House, on Australia Day, 26 January, It was called the 'embassy' in order to symbolise the feeling of many Indigenous people that they were essentially foreigners in their own country.

The Aboriginal Flag was flown over the 'tent embassy'. The embassy provided a focus for Indigenous peoples' campaigns for land rights and social justice, as well as a meeting place for all people interested in the issues. It was forcibly removed by police on several occasions, but rebuilt each time. It remained in place until when its removal was negotiated. In January , another 'embassy' was established on the same lawns to draw attention to claims for land rights. This is a replica of the embassy and is still there today. The Wreck Bay community on the south coast of New South Wales, was the first community outside the Northern Territory or Queensland to have traditional land returned.

Wreck Bay is located along a track which Aboriginal people had used for centuries when travelling along the coast, for special occasions and ceremonies, or in recent times, looking for work. The community began as a temporary camp in the mid s, and by had become permanent, though it residents remained highly mobile.

From the beginning of the twentieth century until the land was under the control of various Commonwealth and State authorities. In the community came under the control of the Commonwealth once more. In , after much community lobbying to regain control of their land, the Commonwealth offered the people a lease over the reserve. The community rejected this offer and were eventually successful in winning full title to the land in Since then, the land has been managed by the Wreck Bay Community Council. The Council has leased this area back to the Federal Government for use by all Australians.

The issue of Aboriginal land rights was first brought to national attention in , when Gurindji stockmen, domestics and their families walked off the Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern Territory demanding better wages and conditions. The strike, led by Vincent Lingiari, was the catalyst for two decades of struggle as Gurindji people battled to regain control of traditional lands and establish their own cattle station.

In , Gurindji people petitioned the Governor-General, claiming square kilometres of land near Wave Hill. Their claim was rejected, but in , they won a lease for their land. This, along with 90 square kilometres of land voluntarily surrendered by Wave Hill owners, became Dagaragu cattle station. In , following a recommendation from Justice Toohey of the Aboriginal Land Commission that the Gurindji be granted traditional land adjacent to Dagaragu, the Gurindji lease was converted to freehold.

The decision was an important milestone in the land rights struggle - as was Dagaragu, the first Aboriginal owned and managed cattle station. The State Government has not given us a proper hearing Instead of talking you should have been listening; instead of assuming you had all the knowledge, you should have been trying to learn. In the Yungngora people employed on Noonkanbah station walked off in protest over poor pay and conditions. Then in , the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission bought Noonkanbah station for the Yungngora community, and the work of revitalising the station under Aboriginal management was begun.

In May , the Yungngora community learned that an exploration company was intending to drill on areas sacred to them. The Yungngora people offered to show drillers alternative sites from the sacred areas. This was refused. The Western Australian Government was determined that the exploration should proceed and claimed that the religious beliefs of the Yungngora had been "trumped up" or inspired by outside influences.

After court action by the Aboriginal Legal Service, the mining company was required to protect the sacred places. When this was not done satisfactorily, the community blocked access. Elders used media coverage of the blockade to explain their religious beliefs and the importance of the sites. In April , the drillers were finally forced to leave the site. In August , the Western Australian Government enforced, by law, its rights to oil exploration drilling. The Government provided a heavy police escort so that drilling could continue in the area of the sacred site. The Yungngora resisted peacefully but in vain.

Many were arrested and the drilling went ahead. Uluru is an important place for Aboriginal peoples of the Central Desert. It is a symbol of Australia and a major tourist attraction. When Uluru was returned to Indigenous owners in , it also became an important symbol in development of co-operative relations between government and Aboriginal people. The largest stone monolith on earth, Uluru was named 'Ayres Rock' by explorer William Grosse in In , Uluru and Kata Tjuta were excised from the reserve and declared a national park.

In , the Commonwealth Government made an agreement with the traditional owners of Uluru and Kata Tjuta where the freehold title to the park area was to be vested in the Uluru Kata Tjuta Land Trust, which would then lease the park back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Tourism in the park has continued to increase since the handover.

The Uluru Kata Tjuta Land Trust has developed plans which aim to preserve the area's heritage value, safeguard the interests of the local Mutijulu community and protect the many sacred sites of the park. Terra nullius is a Latin term meaning 'land belonging to no one'. When colonising Australia, the British Government used this term to justify the dispossession of Indigenous people. The British colonists did not recognise the land was being used as Indigenous people did not use the land in the same way as the British.

The British saw no evidence of agricultural, social or religious structure like their own, and therefore incorrectly concluded that Indigenous people did not own the land but simply roamed it. By using the principle of terra nullius , the British Government claimed sovereignty over Australia, ignoring the rights of Indigenous people who had lived there for at least 60 years. Over thousands of years Indigenous people have lived in Australia developing a unique system for signposting and marking the land.

Aboriginal population figures

This system is interconnected with stories of the Dreaming and Spirit Ancestors. Indigenous people use natural features of the landscape to identify and mark the land and its significance. Many Indigenous children learn these "mental maps" of their countries and about how places relate to each other and to people. Dreaming place Dreaming tracks trace the creative journey of the Spirit Ancestors as they formed the land and laid down the Law.

Dreaming tracks are sometimes called 'songlines' and record the travels of the Spirit Ancestors who 'sung up' the country into life. It is believed that performing the right songs and ceremonies at points along the Dreaming track gives people direct access to the Dreaming.

Many Aboriginal communities travel along Dreaming tracks with their young people, telling the stories of the sites. They explain and perform ceremonies to educate the young people about their country and their Dreaming.


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Toas are carved wooden and painted objects once used by the Dieri people who live near Lake Eyre in South Australia. They are thought to have been placed in the ground as directional markers, but their true purpose remains a mystery. Their painted tops take many forms. The shape of birds heads, animals, objects such as boomerangs or abstract designs. At the turn of the last century, missionaries made large collections of them. We never had to. Our mother, the earth, she gave herself freely to us. And because we respected her and loved her, we never had to go and do all them other things.

That would have been harming our mother. So we just took what she gave us. Indigenous people accumulated a vast store of knowledge of plants and animals and of the foods and medicines they provided. Aboriginal people call these foods and medicines, bush tucker and bush medicine.

Department of Agriculture History of the trade and reviews

There is a huge variety of bush tucker and bush medicine all over Australia for people who know where to find it. The disruption of Indigenous communities and families during the conquest of Australia resulted in the loss of information about collecting, preparing and using bush medicine. However, as western societies are becoming more and more interested in other forms of healing and natural remedies, efforts are being made to record and publish Indigenous peoples' knowledge of bush tucker and bush medicine.

The sea, rivers and waterways of Australia have always played an important role in many Indigenous Australian lives. People first arrived in Australia after crossing 60 kilometres of ocean on crude rafts. They lived along the coasts, then moved inland following rivers an streams. Over time, a wide variety of boats, rafts and other forms of transport were developed, along with fish spears, harpoons, fish hooks and nets for fishing. It is thought that some fishing and boat building technology to have first been introduced by seafaring peoples from the islands to the north of Australia, while other forms were developed in Australia.

A variety of tools were developed for hunting and gathering of food. These included spears, boomerangs, clubs, nets, traps, and more recently, rifles. Spears were probably adopted soon after the first Australians arrived in Australia, while boomerangs have been used for at least 10 years. Spear throwers and more elaborate fish and animal traps are more recent, some forms dating back a few hundred or a thousand years. In the past, each cultural group made different types of tools, sometimes painting or incising them with clan designs or personal designs.

Aboriginal population in Australia

Nutritional studies show that much bush tucker is high in nutrients. Some native grain seeds that Aboriginal people grind into flour have far higher levels of iron, zinc and fibre than wholemeal flour or rice, and the wild plum Terminalia ferdinandiana is possibly the world's riches source of vitamin C. Most bush medicine consists of barks, roots and leaves, but non-herbal materials such as animals and minerals are also used. Bush medicine is often administrated in conjunction with ceremonies. Although many Aboriginal people know remedies for everyday ailments, older women are recognised as the experts in bush medicine.

Pemulwuy was the first of the Aboriginal resistance fighters. Between and , Pemulwuy waged a guerrilla war on the young colony of New South Wales. This was in response to the invasion of his country, the killing of his people and the restriction of his peoples' food sources caused by the British. Pemulwuy planned and carried out several 'lightning' or guerilla attacks against the European settlements in the Parramatta and Toongabbie areas.

Pemulwuy was a strong, charismatic leader with a fierce determination to rid his land of the European settlers. He was able to organise his people into a force of more than warriors. The early Governors of the colony recognised Pemulwuy as a threat and sent large parties of soldiers to protect the settlers. After years of resisting and evading the authorities, Pemulwuy was eventually shot and captured in and died of his wounds shortly after.

Pemulwuy's reputation as an elusive and powerful leader was so great, that as proof of his death, his head was removed from his body and placed in a bottle of spirits. There are a thousand blacks there, and if they are not stopped, we may have them presently within the boundaries.


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Nunn's expedition travelled widely looking for Aboriginal people believed responsible for the 'outrages'. They eventually cornered a group of Aboriginal people at Waterloo Creek and in a 'battle' lasting ten minutes, massacred people. The exact number is not known. Nunn's party then continued its murderous path for the next three days, killing every Aboriginal person it encountered. On their return journey to Sydney, Nunn and his party were welcomed like heroes by towns along the way. In early May , 28 Kwiambal people camping on the Myall Creek station, were murdered by a posse of heavily armed men who had been out hunting Aboriginal people.

Most of those killed were women and children. Eleven men were eventually arrested and tried for murder on 15 November , amid an atmosphere of anger over white men being tried for murder of Aboriginal people. In summing up the case, the Chief Justice said:. In spite of the overwhelming evidence, the jury found all eleven men not guilty with only 15 minutes deliberation. However, a second trial was ordered amid great public indignation.

Introduction

This time, only seven men were accused. They were found guilty of murder and hanged. They were the first Europeans to be executed for killing Aboriginal people. The gaoled men were not even aware they had broken the law, because killing Aborigines was commonly considered a frontier sport. Tasmania is Australia's second oldest colony, therefore its Aboriginal population experienced early effects of colonisation and were constantly on the 'front line' of violence and reprisal.

A Brief Guide to the History of Australia

Random killings and massacres of Aboriginal people were commonplace and Aboriginal people responded in kind. The colonial administrators saw the only answer to the problem of racial violence was removal of the Aboriginal people to reserves or islands out of the way of European settlement. The strategy involved soldiers and settlers marching through the bush in a closely packed continuous line.

They forced the Aboriginal people in front of them, towards the Tasman Peninsula, where they could be rounded up and captured. This massive effort captured two Aboriginal people - one elderly man and a crippled boy. Despite the failure of 'the Blackline' the process of removing Aboriginal people to islands continued. On the islands Aboriginal people died in great numbers because of European diseases, poor food and accommodation, ill treatment and, sometimes murder. The Kalkadoon people of the Mt Isa region of western Queensland first came into contact with the advancing European pastoralists and miners in the mid s.

At first the Kalkadoon people worked with the Europeans as guides and labourers. But as the number of settlers and their stock increased, the competition for the land's resources became more intense, leading to conflict. The Kalkadoon people began a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the settlers and their stock from about to The Kalkadoon gained a reputation as ferocious warriors with an ability to vanish into the bush. In , the Kalkadoon people killed five Native Police and a prominent pastoralist.

The Queensland Government responded by sending a large contingent of heavily armed police to confront the Kalkadoon. The Kalkadoon had retreated to a defensive position now known as 'Battle Mountain'. After fierce resistance the Kalkadoon succumbed to the greater firepower of the police. It is estimated that Kalkadoon people were killed during the six years that they fought to protect their land. One of the most complex figures of early Aboriginal resistance is Jandamarra. He was a Punuba man who lived in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia from In his early years he lived and worked as a respected stockman.

In after his initiation Jandamarra met an older Punuba man called Ellemarra and became more aware of the problems being caused by the settlers and their sheep. In there was a serious drought and the Punuba people were suffering. This was because of the arrival of the Europeans and their sheep had destroyed much of the food and water supplies that the Punuba protected to help them in times of drought. As a result the Punuba needed to hunt sheep to live. Ellamarra, still considered a young man by his people, knew a lot about the Punuba law and was greatly respected by the younger men.

Ellemarra was a natural leader - a good warrior and he was not afraid to stand up to the invaders. He taught Jandamarra and the other young men much about their law. Jandamarra and Ellemarra were captured in when Jandamarra walked up to a number of police troopers he knew, and they tricked him into guiding them to his campsite. Jandamarra didn't know that he was wanted by the police. His old employer had laid charges against him for killing a sheep in May , annoyed that Jandamarra had not return to the station after his initiation.

The police dropped the charges against him and he returned to stock work. He eventually became a police tracker. He later helped police capture Ellemarra and 16 other Punuba warriors. Jandamarra was scorned by his people for helping the police capture Ellemarra, so he assisted Ellemarra and the other warriors to escape. During the escape, Jandamarra shot a policeman. He joined the band of escapees and began a campaign to rid the area of European settlers. Colonial authorities responded by sending 30 police to capture Jandamarra and the band. In the battle that followed at Windjana Gorge Jandamarra was injured but managed to escape.

He continued to taunt police and was soon believed immortal by his people.

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His campaign came to an end in when, after another skirmish with police, he was tracked and shot dead by an Aboriginal trooper. Skip to main content Skip to acknowledgement of country Skip to footer On this page They have the right, the same as my mother, to watch over me, to control what I'm doing, to make sure that I do the right thing. It's an extended family thing It's a wonderful secure system. Learn about Indigenous family relationships Toggle content.

The Elders Elders bridge the past and the present and provide guidance for the future. Family Ties. In Aboriginal Society the family unit is very large and extended, often with ties to the community Having that family unit broken down has just opened the floodgates for a lot of problems, a lot of emotional problems, mental and physical turmoil. If you want to use a really hard term to describe the impact that removal of Aboriginal children has had on Aboriginal families,'attempted cultural genocide' is a good phrase. Libesman eds Reed international Books, Passing the Culture to Children - Storytelling In Aboriginal Australian society storytelling makes up a large part of everyday life.

Storytelling today Today storytelling in Indigenous Australia is still a very important way of passing on information to people. Toys Indigenous children across Australia often make their own toys, and like children everywhere, they are incredibly resourceful. Games String games are common in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures around the world. The stolen generation Toggle content. They just came down and say, "We taking these kids". They just take you out if your mothers arms.

That's what they done to me. I was still at my mother's breast when they took me. Alec Kruger, What is Link Up? Toggle content. Well there was nine of us in the family, old Lambert came along and said: "You can't look after these kids by yourself Mrs Clayton", but we were for months without welfare coming near us.

We had the two grandmothers and all our uncles and aunties there and our father's brothers were there. We weren't short of an extended family by any means. We never went without anything. But they still took us away. What right did they have? I am still seeking answers to [my] family's removal. Government Institutions for Children Toggle content. Kinchela Kinchela is a 13 hectare area of fertile land at the mouth of the Macleay River on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. In the case of sheep, the advice was to pack them like wool bales, so tightly pressed together that they prevented one another from falling over.

In many cases, the animals were barely seen at all, except by one another, being left to their own devices on short voyages. Even the evidence of how many died on the voyages was hidden. Their bodies were thrown overboard before reaching port and few records were kept. Animals carried on open decks could be seen while at the docks and had access to better-quality air, but were more vulnerable to high seas and inclement weather.

At the other end of the journey, the exported animals came back into view. This was often when the most useful accounts were recorded. Complaints about their poor condition, reduced numbers or the loss of entire shipments of animals were considered worthy of writing about in local newspapers by those who had eagerly awaited their arrival. It is at the receiving end of the export process that accusations of flimsy pens, overcrowding or the loading of animals that were not fit for the voyage can be found.

Taking this longer view of the Australian live export trade shows just how extraordinary the opportunity to see what happens during live export is. This article is based on a blog post originally published by White Horse Press. A contemporary Robinsonade — York, York. The polar oceans and global climate — Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. A sheep undergoing live export in Animals Australia. Nancy Cushing , University of Newcastle.

Prior to the arrival of the British, there were between , and one million Aboriginal people living in Australia. The First Fleet of 11 boats arrived at Botany Bay in to establish New South Wales as a penal colony receiving convicts until Convicts were later sent to the other states, with the exception of South Australia, which was established as a free colony in The discovery of gold in Australia in Bathurst first, then Ballarat in kickstarted the economy and created the idea of Australia as a desirable location.

This is also the first period of Chinese immigration, with 50, Chinese arriving and the establishment of many Chinatowns. The Commonwealth of Australia was created in with the Federation of all the states.