Aboriginal History

Aboriginal History is probably the longest human history in the world.

They are believed to have been living in Australia for about 40,000 years, but their history is older than that.

They are believed to be some of the first people to leave Africa.

aboriginal history 
  Aboriginal history by Royal Botanic Garden Sydney via Flickr.com

They are believed to have come to Australia via south east Asia, crossing the Timor Sea by boats. At that time, Australia was still connected to New Guinea and Tasmania by land bridges.

Since they came from the north, northern Australia was first inhabited, and gradually new tribes spread southwards, gradually covering the whole country including Tasmania.

After they had been in Australia for about 10,000 years, there was a climate change to a cooler and drier climate. Tropical rainforests, which used to cover large areas of Australia, diminished and were partly replaced by drier vegetation types such as woodlands and grasslands. Lots of west, south and inland Australia became to be covered by deserts. These changes had an effect on Aboriginal People, diminishing their numbers and limiting their distribution in Australia.

Once that cold period ended, the rains returned, and Australian climate was moist again until a next drought period followed a few thousand years later. Aboriginal history went through many different climates, and they learned how to live through droughts, floods and ice ages. After ice ages the ocean waters arose, isolating Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Bass Strait Islands.

They had lots of contact with people from south east Asia - dingo's closest relative is the wild dog of Thailand. There has also been long lasting contact between the people of New Guinea, Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal People of northern Australia. They lived with the ancient megafauna, now extinct with the best fossil site at Riversleigh.

They lived in family groups called tribes and had a social system with kinship laws. They were hunters and gatherers, and used weapons to kill animals, and baskets to collect food. They spoke hundreds of different languages, had a rich culture, spirituality, mythology and art. Exactly like today, the most populated areas were in the south east of the country, however they also lived in all other places including the most uninhabitable like inland deserts.

Their first contact with Europeans started when the first sea explorers started discovering Australia. There were times in the Aboriginal history when they were not welcome, but there were also suprisingly many times Aboriginal People have been described as helpful and positive about the visitors.

But that's obviously until they were visitors. Once Captain James Cook had claimed eastern Australia for England and the British started building convict colonies, conflicts arose from both sides and many people, but more so Aboriginals, were killed in confrontations.

The early White Policies gave them no rights and allowed killing them, and separating their families in what is now called the Aboriginal stolen generation. They were forced out of their land, pushed into inland deserts too inhabitable for Europeans, and encouraged to adopt to the western culture.

In 1998, a National Sorry Day was introduced, to apologise for the Aboriginal stolen generation. Ten years later, in 2008, Kevin Rudd was the first prime minister to say sorry.

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