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Aboriginal peoples of Australia refers to the various indigenous populations in mainland Australia and its islands. The general term Aboriginal Australians includes regional groups characterized by local language and cultural groups.
See the fact file below for more information on the Aboriginal peoples of Australia or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Aboriginal Peoples of Australia worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The term ‘aboriginal’ was first used in the 16th century. Derived from the Latin word aborigines, from ab (from) and origio (beginning), the term aborigines is used in Australia to describe its indigenous peoples.
- In the 1980s, the term Indigenous Australians was used, followed by First Nations, First Peoples, and First Australians.
- Australian Aboriginal peoples are believed to originally came from Asia through the insular Southeast Asia about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago.
- On the other hand, some scientists argued that humans probably arrived as early as 65,000 to 80,000 years ago based on the Out of Africa theory and Southern route migration to Europe.
- In either case, such peopling of Australia happened when there was still co-extensive land bridges and lowered sea levels.
- Based on archaeological evidence, Aboriginal people permanently occupied the interior of Australia about 10,000 years ago.
- By 40,000 years ago, cremation as a burial practice was manifested in evidence, as well as the use of shell beads as personal ornamentation by 30,000 years ago.
- Dated at 42,000 years old, the Mungo Man found in Australia was the earliest anatomically modern human remains excavated outside of Africa.
- Generally, many scholars believe that single migration into Australia brought by the split of human populations from Africa was the ancestors of the Aboriginal people.
- Genetically, the majority of Aboriginal Australians are closely related to Papuan and Melanesian people.
- Upon reaching the continent of Australia, Aboriginal people in some regions lived as hunter-gatherers and foragers. In many Aboriginal societies, they were semi-nomadic and more mobile. In some areas, they built permanent settlements.
- In the River Murray valley, archeologists found the greatest population density based on settlements.
- Other groups of Aboriginal people practiced complex subsistence system through remnants of agricultural activity as recorded by first European explorers.
- Indigenous Australian society is believed to have used weapons, tools, shelters, and watercraft as technology.
- In northern Australia, evidence suggests that they regularly traded with Macassan fishermen of Indonesia.
- At the time of European encounter, archeological evidence suggests that about half a million to 750,000 people inhabited Australia. While most recent researches argue about 1.2 million Aboriginal populations, which may have declined due to disease pathogens from Eurasia.
- In 1770, Lt James Cook claimed the Southern Continent for the English King George III and called it as New South Wales.
- In 1788, the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay marked the beginning of British colonisation of Australia. It was headed by Captain Arthur Phillip whose mission was to establish a penal colony.
- By 1803, Settlements were established in Tasmania and Victoria, followed by Queensland (1824), Western Australia (1826), and finally, the Colony of the South Australia (1836).
- With British colonisation of the continent, Aboriginal Australians were introduced to diseases, including influenza, typhoid, tuberculosis, pneumonia, measles, venereal disease, and smallpox, which greatly reduced their population.
- During the early years of British settlement, a number of guerilla wars had been plotted against them. However, none were successful as diseases diminished them in huge numbers. Aboriginal Australians were dispossessed of their land.
ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS PEOPLE AND CULTURE
- Having lived on the continent for over 50,000 years, about 250 distinct language groups spread throughout Australia.
- Aboriginal Australians are characterized into two main groups: (1) Aboriginal peoples who inhabited the continent at the time of British colonization in 1788, and (2) Torres Strait Islanders who occupy parts of modern-day Queensland.
- Communities of Indigenous Australians include the Murrawarri, Koori, Ngunnawal, Goorie, Murrdi, Murri, Myungar, Yamatji, Wangai, Nunga, Anangu, Yapa, Arrernte, Yolngu, Bininji, Tiwi, Anindilyakwa, and Palawah.
- Torres Strait Islanders are closely related to the people of Papua New Guinea.
- Amidst having hundreds of languages and few speakers for each. Their languages is categorized into two main classes: (1) Nyungan and (2) non-Pama-Nyungan, who generally settle in the northern and western part of Australia. On the other hand, Torres Strait Islanders speak the Papuan language.
- Like many indigenous civilizations, Aboriginal Australian cultural practices are pack with ceremonies with dancing, singing, ritials, and costumes.
- In 1972, the Aboriginal Flag was adopted in Australia. The black strip above symbolizes the Aboriginal people, while the red strip below stands for earth and ochre they used in ceremonies. The yellow circle in the middle represents the sun.
- In 1992, Torres Strait Islanders adopted their own flag. The green panels symbolize the land, blue for waters, and white headdress of their dancers in the middle.
- The star in the middle stands for navigation.
- In spite of the many Indigenous languages and sub clans, their spirituality makes them similar to one another.
- Aboriginal Australian religions do not believe in the existence of heaven and hell. They have the philosophical concept of Dreaming or the Dreamtime, which is the source of mortality mixed with their native stories of creation. Anthropologist W.E.H Stanner used the term ‘everywhen’ in describing this concept.
- A number of Aboriginal festivals are celebrated in Australia, including the Yabun Festival every January 26, sane with Australia Day, Parrtjima Festival, Boomerang Festival and Tjungu Festival in April, A Taste of Kakadu in May, Barunga Festival in June, NAIDOC Week in July, Garma Festival and Darwin Festival in August.
ISSUES AND CHALLENGES
- In the 1800s, a number of church missions and government policies forcibly separated Aboriginal children from their families and placed them in missions, orphanages, and foster families. As part of assimilation, Aboriginal children were given new identities and religion. They became part of the term ‘Stolen Generations’. This process only ended in the 1970s.
- In 1962, Aboriginal Australians were granted the right to vote. Five years later, they were allowed to stand for elective parliamentary positions which expanded their right to suffrage.
- In the same year, more than 90% of Australian voters agreed to let Torres Strait Islanders be subjected to Commonwealth laws, rather than merely state laws.
- In 1992, under the British and Australian law, the High court ruled over Aboriginal lands prior to the coming of the British was that of ‘terra nullius’, which means that the land was empty before the British colonization, belonged to no-one, and could legitimately be taken over.
- Today, poor living conditions, mortality rate among infants, and suicide has resulted in low Aboriginal population. Moreover, the rest of the populace have lower life expectancy rate.
Aboriginal Peoples of Australia Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Aboriginal Peoples of Australia worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Aboriginal peoples of Australia which refers to the various indigenous populations in mainland Australia and its islands. The general term Aboriginal Australians includes regional groups characterized by local language and cultural groups.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Aboriginal Peoples of Australia Facts
- Building Vocabulary
- Continents of the World
- Aboriginal Populations
- Indigenous Australians
- Aborigines in Pictures
- NAIDOC Week
- Contact with Europeans
- Peopling of Australia
- Between the LinesAborigines and Natives
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Link will appear as Aboriginal Peoples of Australia Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 4, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.