Ancient Dwellers: The First Australians

  • April 17, 2017      Joy Marie Salgado

Canberra – Aboriginal Australians were found to have lived in the continent on their own for 50,000 years before other migrants arrived. However, according to the myths of this ancient ethnic group, they believe they have come from Dreamtime, where they have grown in number. Nowadays, however, they only make up 3% of the total population of Australia. This broad gap between the number of locals and the ethnic group of the Aborigines is threatening the preservation and continuous growth of their culture, tradition, and lifestyle.

The Aboriginal Connection

Aboriginal spirituality entails a distinct connection between the people and the land. They believe that the Aboriginal community came from an era long past the time when the earth was first made. As the story goes, their great ancestors rose from the earth to form the various features and creatures of nature; from the sky to the different bodies of water.

The Aboriginal religion is also considered as one that does not place humans apart from or at a higher level than nature. People from various tribes believe that their ancestors metamorphosed into nature after death and are still spiritually alive up to this day. This unique view of the world and the community helps the Aborigines live all throughout the continent.

Lifestyle and representation

The Aborigines have lived throughout Australia, with the greater population located along the coast. However, throughout the years, the communities have moved seasonally. Aside from the sea, the Aborigines also sought shelter at the headwaters of the coast river. Moreover, those tribes that chose to live inland stayed in the bush and the desert. The distinct geological features of the continent made it possible for the various communities to thrive with different cultures and lifestyles.

Even though there are Aboriginal tribes living along the coast and the inland bush or desert, more than half of the people now live in towns. However, these communities are located on the outskirts, which are in terrible conditions. There are even a lot who continue to work as laborers on cattle ranches. This sad treatment of the Aborigines is not new. It started way back when the British invaded the land.

Today, the tribes have gradually lost their lands and remain at the edge of economic stability and equal political representation. These have been longtime concerns in the continent. Fueled by various civil rights movements in the 1970s, the Aborigines started speaking out for their rights. This continued until the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976, which paved the way for the preservation of territories with tribal association. Moreover, in the 1990s, these ethnic groups also experienced a great development in their rights as Australia finally opened opportunities for the Aboriginal people to have a great degree of autonomy, as well as increased wages and welfare benefits.

Even with these developments, continuous consideration and proper representation of the Aborigines within modern social circles are necessary. These are essential steps to help preserve the rich cultural heritage, beliefs, and traditions of its people. They are not simply the first people who have lived in Australia. They remain active residents who require attention and support.

Image from J. Alexandra, https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinalexandra/