Any educated American student knows that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and founded America. Only later do they learn that America already had an indigenous population that Columbus, by his own error, named Indians. Pre-existing populations were forced off of their lands and placed on reservations, effectively changing – and in many cases destroying – life and culture as they knew it. This kind of history is not exclusive only to America. Even fewer people know of the pending extinction of the indigenous culture in Australia – the Aborigines.
The undisturbed Aboriginal people, by today’s standards, would be classified as “primitives.” In fact, during the early periods of modernization in Australia that is exactly what they were known as. Primarily a hunting and gathering society, the traditional Aborigine male would hunt game while the female would scavenge for virtually everything else. Some historical references credit the female gender for finding most of the food for the tribal society.
Then, in 1770, English explorer James Cook “discovered” Australia in a very similar fashion as Columbus “discovered” America, looking for trade routes.2 16 years after Cook became aware of the continent, the British government decided to begin colonizing Australia with transport convicts that were no longer being accepted in America due to the Revolutionary War. Although the government claimed its directive to establish a convict colony in Botany Bay was purely a response to the loss of the American colonies, many had already begun to speculate the strategic choice of Australia. The natural resources in Australia held great potential, and as more people – not just convicts – began...
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1.Moore, Geoff (Ed.). “Australian Aborigines: History, Culture, Research Project.” http://www.aaa.com.au/hrh/aboriginal/factshtindex.shtml. Accessed 12/11/2000, Online.
2.Sullivan, Rohan (AP Writer). “Where the Outback Meets the Reef.” USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/travel/leisure/2000/ltl093.htm. Updated 7/17/2000, Online.
3.Litke, Mark (ABC News Writer). “The Stolen Generation.” ABC News.com http://more.abcnews.go.com/sections/world/dailynews/australia000914.html. Updated 9/14/2000, Online.
4.Somma, Richard (AP Writer). “Report Outrages Aboriginal Groups.” L.A. Times Online. http://www.latimes.com/business/microsoft/20000401/tCBTOPAP.html. Updated 4/1/2000, Online.
5.Taylor, John (ATSIC Researcher). “The Job Still Ahead: Economic Costs of Continuing Indigenous Employment Disparity.” ATSIC. Commonwealth of Australia, September 1998.
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