|The last great landmass to be discovered by the European
explorers and traders was Australia. Europeans dreamt of finding
all the wonderful things Australia had to offer. They didn't
know there were people that had been there for tens of thousands
are almost positive the first humans went across the ocean from
South-East Asia. Heavy-boned people, archaeologists call 'Robust',
went to Australia 70,000 years ago. Smaller boned people called
'Gracile' traveled to Australia 50,000 years ago. That far back
in time the sea level was 50 meters lower than it is now. This
means that there was less water for the aborigines to travel
over to get to Australia. At the end of the Ice Age the sea level
rose a lot. It formed vast deserts.
|After the sea level stopped moving all the time, the
Aborigines settled and developed a great culture. The Aborigines
usually lived in the desert, inland non-desert areas, the coast,
and Tasmania. The Aborigines that lived in the desert or inland
ate insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals. They also ate lots
of fruit. The Aborigines on the coast ate roots, fruits, small
animals, reptiles, fish, and shellfish.
|Aborigines are natives to Australia and Tasmania.
They have lived there for about 35,000 to 70,000 years. Their
skin and hair are both dark. There are about 500 recorded tribes,
some of which are Aranda, Bidjandjadjara, Gurindji, Gunwinggu,
Kamilaroi, Murngin, Tiwi, Wailbri, Wurora, and Yir-yoront. Aboriginal
tribes didn't usually stay in one place for long, moving to watering
places and setting up camp there.
|Aborigines lived in family groups and clans. Each
clan has a place on their land where their spirits return when
they die. They have to protect these places so they won't upset
their ancestral beings.
|The men were custodians, tool-makers, and hunters.
The women took care of the children and gathered and fixed their
food. The Aborigines used the land wisely and knew when to harvest
the many plants they ate. Dingoes guarded their homes and helped
the men hunt. The Aborigines were also traders. There were trade
routes across the country. They traded stones, shells, boomerangs,
and ocher, a yellow paint pigment. Along these trade routes they
would have exchange ceremonies where they traded, sang songs,
Aborigines were totally isolated until 1788, when the English
arrived. Their traditions included music, singing, dancing, and
art. They did paintings on dried tree bark with natural black,
brown, yellow, white, and sometimes red colors. The paintings
were originally used for tribal ceremonies and then destroyed
shortly after the ceremonies were finished. In the 1940's, however,
the paintings became popular with art collectors and they became
more widely made and distributed, provided that there were enough
eucalyptus trees in the area because they needed the bark from
the tree to draw on.
the time when Sydney Cove was settled by the British there were
300,000 Aborigines in Australia and about 250 different languages
were spoken. Since they didn't have a system of government, no
permanent settlement, and no land ownership, the British made
them move. Many of the Aborigines got smallpox, measles, venereal
disease, influenza, whooping cough, pneumonia, and tuberculosis
and died. European invaders cut down forests and brought foreign
animals to Australia. By 1860 there were 20 million sheep in
Australia. The cattle and sheep destroyed the Aborigines' water
holes. White settlers and Aborigines were at war for the land
and water. By 1900, traditional Aboriginal society was still
in small groups in central and northern Australia.
the early 1900's, laws to protect the Aborigines were passed
in every state. They also made restrictions for the Aborigines
on owning land, where they could live, and even to whom they
could marry. In 1967 the Australians voted Aborigines real citizens.
They were given the same rights as everyone else.
In 1971, Geoffrey Bardon, who had a close
relationship with a local tribe, and one of the few non-Aboriginal
people who was allowed to take part in the rituals and ceremonies,
began painting a wall mural with his students and some tribe
members. This was the first example of shared Aboriginal artwork
besides bark paintings. After that, the Australian government
realized that Aboriginal artwork was a resource and tried to
conserve it. This is how they live today and still try to keep
their culture alive.