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Author Topic: Australian Aborigines  (Read 1870 times)


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Australian Aborigines
« on: February 04, 2012, 02:05:10 PM »
This Topic is about the Aborigines - the people who were in Australia first. Members post here any
news or information from an inside perspective; regular media news, protest events, insight into the culture, history, questions, etc. If you are an Aborigine or have close contact and know what's happening in the current events in Australia -  please share your insight here.
- Barb Townsend
  Topic Administrator

Rowdy protests belie Aborigines' complex role in Australia
By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 2:19 AM EST, Sat February 4, 2012

(CNN) -- Images beamed around the world last week of unruly and provocative protests by indigenous Australians projected a portrait of an angry and disenfranchised group.
The protesters thumped on the windows of a restaurant where Prime Minister Julia Gillard had been attending a ceremony, prompting security officers to rush her out of the building. They also burned the Australian flag in front of Parliament.
Those actions have provoked alarm and introspection in Australia about the relationship of the indigenous population with society as a whole. And they have stirred controversy at a delicate time: The country is considering the possibility of changing the wording of its Constitution to give better recognition to indigenous Australians.
The protests also gave a misleading impression of the complex role Aborigines play in Australian society.
Many commentators -- both Aborigine and non-Aborigine -- have been quick to stress that the protests involved a small number of people and do not represent the views of the broader indigenous Australian population of about half a million people.

"The Aborigines that I recognized in the television reportage of the protests don't really have a role in the Aboriginal community.," said Marcia Langton, the head of Australian indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne. "They're the disaffected fringe. They have no serious platform or serious demands."
The protesters were part of a long-running Aboriginal demonstration known as the "tent embassy," which was set up 40 years ago to protest the failure of the government at the time to recognize Aboriginal land rights. Some of the protesters also reportedly expressed anger last week about the violence and discrimination toward Aborigines that marked a large portion of Australian history.
The Australian authorities have taken steps to try to address their grievances in recent decades through measures like legal recognition of land rights, the removal of sections considered racist from the Constitution and an apology for the mistreatment of past generations of Aborigines.
Governments have also poured billions of dollars of public money into programs to try to improve life in indigenous communities.
Despite those measures, many indigenous Australians still lag behind the overall population in key areas like health, wealth and education. They also appear to perceive a lack of trust in their relationship with their non-Aboriginal countrymen.
Indigenous Australians, who make up less than 2.5% of the overall population, are much more likely to suffer child abuse, physical violence and chronic disease than other Australians, according to government statistics. Research suggests they have a lower life expectancy than indigenous populations in North America and New Zealand.
"Past approaches to remedying Indigenous disadvantage have clearly failed, and new approaches are needed for the future," said a government report made public last year. The report said that the 3.5 billion Australian dollars, or $3.75 billion, spent annually on programs for indigenous people had "yielded dismally poor returns."
A survey of 1,220 Australians carried out in 2010 by Reconciliation Australia, which promotes the improving of relationships between Aborigines and the wider community, found that 85% of indigenous people polled had "fairly low" or "very low" levels of trust toward other Australians. And 91% of the indigenous respondents said they believed that other Australians had "fairly low" or "very low" levels of trust toward them.
Similarly, high levels of non-Aboriginal Australians also saw the relationships as distrustful, according to the survey.
Some observers, however, say that to speak of indigenous Australians simply as a disadvantaged people separate from the broader society is neither accurate nor helpful.
"Aboriginal people are not a homogeneous cultural group anymore" said Peter Sutton, an anthropologist and linguist at the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum. He noted that while some indigenous Australians live in remote communities that maintain aspects of traditional life, others make up a large and growing middle class in more urban areas.
"Many Aboriginal people drive good cars and have children at university. These are not people in the gutter, they've made it," said Sutton, whose book "The Politics of Suffering" examined the failings of past efforts to tackle indigenous disadvantage.
To illustrate the blurring of the boundaries, Sutton highlighted Australian census data that showed the proportion of indigenous people whose partners or spouses were recorded as non-indigenous has been increasing steadily, from 46% in 1986 to 71.5% in 2006.
Despite this nuanced situation, the striking images of the protests last week, which took place during the sensitive period around Australia's national day, brought underlying tensions to the fore.
The events "opened up fissures in our society and taught us lessons that stretch far beyond the crucial issue of indigenous affairs," The Australian, a national daily, said in an editorial at the weekend.
On Twitter and in letters to newspapers, Australians argued over the causes and consequences of the fracas.
Some people criticized Tony Abbott, the opposition leader whose comments about the tent embassy were cited by protesters as the provocation for their actions. Others, such as Frank Pulsford in a letter published by The Australian, expressed outrage over what he called the "disgraceful behavior" of the protesters.
The news that one of Gillard's media advisers was involved in informing the protesters about Abbott's comments and presence in the restaurant with the prime minister only served to intensify the polemic. The adviser, Tony Hodges, has since resigned.
The rancorous debate reflected battle lines that had already been drawn.
"The indigenous affairs scene is this country has become much more riven, much more conflictual and much more polarized in recent years," Sutton said.
He said the disagreements are not simply between Aborigines and non-Aborigines, but between different sides within the indigenous community and among groups outside it.
Several commentators noted that a considerable number of the people participating in the protests last week were not Aborigines.
Much of the contention focuses on the diagnosis of the ills affecting parts of the Aboriginal community, and on how best to cure them.
Certain policies, like the federal government's decision in 2007 to intervene in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory to address child abuse, have proved particularly divisive. The intervention included seizures of Aboriginal land, restrictions on alcohol and the suspension of race discrimination legislation.
Some prominent indigenous Australians, such as Barbara Shaw, have campaigned vigorously against the intervention, saying it misrepresents the real situation in Aboriginal communities and is a form of "dictatorship" by the central government
Others, such as Langton, have supported it, arguing that the social problems that many communities face necessitate the strong measures.
"There are very difficult problems to solve," Langton said. "A big part of the change must come from Aboriginal people themselves. They have to change their behavior to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, like sending children to school every day."
One of the most immediate concerns after the protests last week is their potential effect on tentative plans to hold a referendum on changing the Constitution to include better recognition of indigenous Australians, a move many people see as a positive step.
Newspaper columnists and Aboriginal leaders expressed concern that the media furor over the protesters' actions would jeopardize the prospect of a referendum on constitutional change, which would require broad bipartisan support to pass.
The government has so far suggested that it has not been dissuaded.
"I believe that opportunity for us all to share in building a movement of change is still there," Jenny Macklin, the minister for indigenous affairs, wrote in an editorial this week for The Age, a daily newspaper. "It is part of the enduring work we are all undertaking, and that work is bigger than the headlines generated by one incident."


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Re: Australian Aborigines
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 02:38:30 PM »

 Indigenous Australians.
This article is about the original inhabitants of Australia. For the Australian definition in law, see Australian Aborigines.

Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the African continent around 70,000 years ago, and arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago. The Torres Strait Islanders are indigenous to the Torres Strait Islands, which are at the northern-most tip of Queensland near Papua New Guinea. The term "Aboriginal" has traditionally been applied to indigenous inhabitants of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and some of the other adjacent islands.

The earliest definite human remains found to date are that of Mungo Man, which have been dated at about 40,000 years old, but the time of arrival of the ancestors of Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers, with estimates dating back as far as 125,000 years ago. There is great diversity among different Indigenous communities and societies in Australia, each with its own unique mixture of cultures, customs and languages. In present day Australia these groups are further divided into local communities.
Although there were over 250–300 spoken languages with 600 dialects at the start of European settlement, fewer than 200 of these remain in use – and all but 20 are considered to be endangered. Aboriginal people today mostly speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English. The population of Indigenous Australians at the time of permanent European settlement has been estimated at between 318,000 and 750,000, with the distribution being similar to that of the current Australian population, with the majority living in the south-east, centred along the Murray River.

Indigenous Australians

Though Indigenous Australians are seen as being broadly related as part of what has been called the Australoid race, there are significant differences in social, cultural and linguistic customs between the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups.

Aboriginal Australians
The word aboriginal was used in Australia to describe its Indigenous peoples as early as 1789. It soon became capitalised and employed as the common name to refer to all Indigenous Australians.
The word has been in use in English since at least the 17th century, to mean "first or earliest known, indigenous". It comes from Latin, Aborigines, derived from ab (from) and origo (origin, beginning).however the latter is often also employed to stand as a noun. Aboriginal in this sense, i.e. as a noun, has acquired negative connotations in some sectors of the community, who regard it as insensitive, and even offensive. The more acceptable and correct expression is Aboriginal Australians or Aboriginal people, though even this is sometimes regarded as an expression to be avoided because of its historical associations with colonialism. Indigenous Australians has found increasing acceptance, particularly since the 1980s

Regional groups
Main article: List of Indigenous Australian group names
The broad term Aboriginal Australians includes many regional groups that often identify under names from local Indigenous languages. These include:
 Koori (or Koorie) in New South Wales and Victoria (Victorian Aborigines)
 Ngunnawal in the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding areas of New South Wales
Murri in Queensland and some parts of northern New South Wales
 Murrdi in Southwest and Central Queensland
 Nyungar in southern Western Australia
 Yamatji in central Western Australia
 Wangai in the Western Australian Goldfields
 Nunga in southern South Australia
 Anangu in northern South Australia, and neighbouring parts of Western Australia and Northern Territory
 Yapa in western central Northern Territory
 Yolngu in eastern Arnhem Land (NT)
 Tiwi on Tiwi Islands off Arnhem Land.
 Anindilyakwa on Groote Eylandt off Arnhem Land
 Palawah (or Pallawah) in Tasmania.

These larger groups may be further subdivided; for example, Anangu (meaning a person from Australia's central desert region) recognises localised subdivisions such as Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra, Luritja and Antikirinya. It is estimated that, prior to the arrival of British settlers, the population of Indigenous Australians was approximately 318,000–750,000 across the continent.

Torres Strait Islanders
The Torres Strait Islanders possess a heritage and cultural history distinct from Aboriginal traditions. The eastern Torres Strait Islanders in particular are related to the Papuan peoples of New Guinea, and speak a Papuan language.[14] Accordingly, they are not generally included under the designation "Aboriginal Australians." This has been another factor in the promotion of the more inclusive term "Indigenous Australians". Six percent of Indigenous Australians identify themselves fully as Torres Strait Islanders. A further 4% of Indigenous Australians identify themselves as having both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal heritage.
The Torres Strait Islands comprise over 100 islands  which were annexed by Queensland in 1879. Many Indigenous organisations incorporate the phrase "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" to highlight the distinctiveness and importance of Torres Strait Islanders in Australia's Indigenous population.
Eddie Mabo was from Mer or Murray Island in the Torres Strait, which the famous Mabo decision of 1992 involved.
Article continues, next post.



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Re: Australian Aborigines
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 02:44:36 PM »
Crystalinks site: Australian Creation Myths

There is no single creation story among Aboriginal peoples, who have a diverse mythology. Some traditions hold that the Earth was created by one of the gods of the Dreamtime, others that particular creatures were created by particular gods or spirit ancestors.

In the beginning the earth was a bare plain. All was dark. There was no life, no death. The sun, the moon, and the stars slept beneath the earth. All the eternal ancestors slept there, too, until at last they woke themselves out of their own eternity and broke through to the surface.

When the eternal ancestors arose, in the Dreamtime, they wandered the earth, sometimes in animal form - as kangaroos, or emus, or lizards -- sometimes in human shape, sometimes part animal and human, sometimes as part human and plant.

Two such beings, self-created out of nothing, were the Ungambikula. Wandering the world, they found half-made human beings. They were made of animals and plants, but were shapeless bundles, lying higgledy-piggledy, near where water holes and salt lakes could be created. The people were all doubled over into balls, vague and unfinished, without limbs or features.

With their great stone knives, the Ungambikula carved heads, bodies, legs, and arms out of the bundles. They made the faces, and the hands and feet. At last the human beings were finished. Thus every man and woman was transformed from nature and owes allegiance to the totem of the animal or the plant that made the bundle they were created from -- such as the plum tree, the grass seed, the large and small lizards, the parakeet, or the rat.

This work done, the ancestors went back to sleep. Some of them returned to underground homes, others became rocks and trees. The trails the ancestors walked in the Dreamtime are holy trails. Everywhere the ancestors went, they left sacred traces of their presence -- a rock, a waterhole, a tree.

For the Dreamtime does not merely lie in the distant past, the Dreamtime is the eternal Now. Between heartbeat and heartbeat, the Dreamtime can come again.


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