Australian Aborigines are thought to have the longest continuous cultural history in the world. Yet, within a hundred years, the near extinction of the Aboriginal culture almost occurred. This single event, the invasion of the Australian continent by European settlers, changed the lifestyle, the culture, and the fate of Australian Aborigines. Their entire lives were essentially taken away and they were forced into a white, European world where the lifestyle change could not have been any different. Aborigines in Australia today are struggling to deal with a past in which they lost touch with their culture and now are trying to regain some of that cultural identity.
In order to understand the effects of European colonization on Aborigines, it is important to understand what Australian Aboriginal culture was like before European presence. It has been estimated that Aborigines have been on the Australian continent for at least the past 50,000 years. It can then be said that Australian Aborigines have essentially adapted or co-evolved with the changing continent (Broome 10). Aborigines adapted to the harsh Australian environment by living in semi-nomadic groups. These clan-based groups would wander throughout their "territory", determined by their spiritual beliefs, in search of food to sustain the group. Women would essentially do the gathering while the men would hunt. They would not inhabit an area long enough for the establishment of any sort of permanent structures but rather moved to another area in search of food.
The spirituality that Aborigines possess with the land and its surroundings is one of the most important aspects to understanding their culture. Each group resided on an area of lan...
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Povinelli, Elizabeth A. Labor's Lot: The Power, History, and Culture of Aboriginal Action. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Reynolds, Henry. Dispossession: Black Australians and White Invaders. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1989.
Reynolds, Henry. The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia. Victoria: Penguin Books Australia, 1982.
Shenon, Philip. "Bitter Aborigines Sue For Stolen Childhoods." The New York Times 20 July 1995, late ed.:A4.
Swain, Tony. A Place for Strangers: Towards a History of Australian Aboriginal Being. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Trigger, David S. Whitefella Comin': Aboriginal responses to colonialism in northern Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
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