The Aboriginals “How lifestyles of Aboriginal people changed and adapted as a result of European occupation”
Before European Occupation • The Jigalong Mob and many aboriginal tribes, prior to the European occupation, lived day to day hunting and gathering for religious ceremonies. They lived by various laws and beliefs which kept boundaries and rule on their life but allowed them them to go about every day business without question.
We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. I was taught to preserve, never to destroy. -Tom Dystra, Aboriginal
Laws • Aboriginal laws covered a wide variety of everyday life. Simple things that were easy to avoid like theft, religious rebellion, mild physical assault, and the like were only small scale crimes and were punished accordingly. More intense things like murder were treated with a much heavier punishment which you can see on the next slide. However, the aboriginals didn’t have things like jails and thus had punishments that were quick and so life could resume as soon as possible.
Punishment • Aboriginal laws were very basic. One punishment was applicable for many different crimes so payment was often easily decidable. Forms of punishment include being speared in the leg, or facing a unit of spearmen with only a shield for defense. Aside from physical punishment as a reason not to commit crimes, the aboriginals believed greatly in shaming people into not committing crimes. A scar on your thigh from being speared as a result of punishment was more effective than the actual spearing. Less serious crimes resulted in something similar to a roast, where they would be stood up in a crowd and shamed. These punishments were decided by a group of wise men and women called elders who knew the rules very well and the punishments that followed.
Life • Apart from the laws that bound people from going astray and corrupt, life for aboriginals was very simple. They hunted on a regular basis an then got together to eat with their families and tribes. They would worship their gods and pray during times of religious gatherings and ceremony, and that was pretty much their way of life.
Picture Analysis • The panel of aboriginal artwork shows that the aboriginals had a strong connection with the land and the animals that thrived there, due to the frequency of image subjects. We can see this because there are drawing of animals and landscapes, which related to the hunting lifestyle of the aboriginals and the farming that they did.
Hunting • Since hunting was a big part of aboriginal life, it was important to know how to hunt and how to do it efficiently. The aboriginals used many different methods of tracking their prey such as the tracks they leave and the sounds they make. This relates back to “The Rabbit Proof Fence” because in the movie, the three children use their knowledge of tracking to leave as little evidence as they could to escape the tracker.
Social Status • The aboriginals lived in groups which were the size of a few families. These groups were different from the many other groups because they all spoke different languages or dialects and live in different areas. Some groups may share similar hunting grounds and gather together for religious and social gatherings which is why some groups share similar characteristics of religion and social structure.
Gender Roles • Men and women were not seen to the aboriginals as unequal, but they had different duties and different jobs that needed to be done, and inevitably men possessed an overriding power over women. Men were usually hunting while women tended to small gardens and preparing food, but men prepared the meat. Women would sometimes hunt unless they had children, then they would stay home and look after them.
European Occupation • When the Europeans came across the sea and landed in Australia, many aspects of aboriginal life were altered at the whim of the Europeans, who were, in their perspective, trying to help them.
The Effects of the Europeans • The Europeans were quite possibly the worst devastation that the aboriginal people ever faced. Worse than drought or flood, or anything that the land alone could throw at them. They disrupted the way of life for the aboriginals, they separated families, spread disease, and caused nothing but grief.
The Europeans Intention • The Europeans tried to, as they saw it, make the lives of the aboriginals “better”. They wanted more control over every aboriginals life so that they could “help” them, even though the aboriginal ways have lasted thousands of years. They saw the aboriginal man to be not very well off, so to make things “better”, they went about separating half-caste children from their families to improve the generations to follow them, and disrupting the natural life of the aboriginal people.
Disruption of lifestyle • The Europeans wished that all aboriginals lived by the white way of life. That all aboriginals should be modernized and to leave old tradition behind them. This alone was a very direct example of disruption of lifestyle; as opposed to indirectly affecting them, they literally just went and tried to change their ways of life.
Banning lifestyles • The Europeans wanted the aboriginal people to give up on their religious and traditional beliefs that had been reinforced for more that a millennium, and to practice more Christian and Democratic ways of life. They banned Potlatch, which was a large ceremony to honor death, birth, naming, marriage, and other important events, in which goods were ceremoniously destroyed.
Interpreting Bans (Specifically the Potlatch) • On a closer look at the Potlatch ban, I feel that the banning was quite unfair. The Hudson’s Bay company for trading artifacts and goods were very responsible for the act. They went into investigation of the Potlatch ceremonies and produced an answer saying that potlatch enforced anti-Christian behavior and the “backwards” destruction of goods. I feel that as a trading company, Hudson’s Bay wished to have less goods destroyed for ceremonial purposes so that they could turn a profit selling them to collectors and museums in England and America and the likes of that. However, this is only my personal investigation of the event, this was not in any text I have read and is not supported, it’s just a hunch.
Half-Castes • To the Europeans, half-castes were seen as a great opportunity to expand upon their population and diminish the aboriginal population. They were mixed race children, the Half-Castes and so they would allow the Europeans to try and bend the rules into turning the tables in their favor.
Half-Castes • Since they were mixed race, the Europeans felt that it would be more acceptable to take them as it would a fully aboriginal child. Their plan for the half-castes was to “Breed-Out” the aboriginal in them and bring about a European. By removing the half-castes from their parents and territory, they were able to reform them to behave as “civilized” people and to try and add more European blood to each new generation, which they controlled by the states rights of marriage.
“I visited the Moore River Settlement several times. The setting was a poor one with no advantage for anyone except isolation. The facilities were limited and some of them were makeshift. The staff were inadequate both in numbers and qualification. The inmates disliked the place. It held no promise of a future for any of them and they had little or no satisfaction in the present. It was a dump.” — Paul Hasluck on Moore River Settlement
Evaluation of Quote • The quote here shows that people even associated directly with the Moore River settlement saw it as a nasty place and that the future of these children could not be promised although people on the site made it seem so. It also shows that the Europeans really weren’t “helping” the aboriginals as they felt they were doing.
The Stolen Generations • The stolen Generations were children like Molly, Daisy, and Gracie. The children that between 1883 and 1969 were stolen from their parents to live like white people and have white children, which slowly “bred-out” the aborigine in them. Not all of the stolen children were half castes, some of them were people who didn’t obey the white way of life.
The Stolen Generations • Along with the general depression and sadness of having your children stolen or being stolen from your home, some children ended up much worse. The much younger ones were not fed stories of their aboriginal ancestors, and thought that their parents had given them up out of lack of material, or even shame.
Spread of Disease • The aboriginals were the holders of few diseases. Skin and eye problems were the worst infectious things that happened to them, apart from breaking bones but that’s a more physical problem. Eye problems and broken bones rarely healed well, but for other problems, plants were soaked in water which aided the natural healing process. Other things they believed in were “magical” deaths, which was basically a spell cast upon them from an enemy to make them die.
Spread of Disease • When the Europeans arrived they spread diseases like the flu, but most heavily effective was smallpox. The aboriginals couldn’t relate this directly to the Europeans and decided that their enemies sprinkled disease in the wind so that it may fall on them. Things like syphilis and other STD’s, however, could be related back to the Europeans and were directly to blame (although they were actually responsible for Smallpox and everything else)
Conclusion • From all these problems caused by the Europeans, we can really say that change and global interaction isn’t always good, here specifically it’s horrible. Relating to the concept question I chose, I have also reached a few answers.
Research Question Response: Change of Lifestyle • To boil the research question down into two parts, here’s what I’ve found. The aboriginal lifestyles changed quite a lot in terms of direct change, banning of certain practices, coping with loss of children, fighting new diseases, living with memory of tragedy caused by this event; all of these are examples of how their life had to change due to the Europeans.
Research Question Response: Adaptation of new Lifestyles • Looking at this as one giant happening, I feel that the aboriginals didn’t really adapt to the changing lifestyles. Some aspects of it they did, the things that they couldn’t change. For example a stolen child, her parents would have to cope with it no matter what, but living like whites was never really adapted unanimously. Eventually, the world realized this and let them be how they were, which was the topic of Sorry Day in Australia.
Evaluation of Sources • I feel that the fact that I have gathered were mostly secondary sources. Websites that restated previously discovered information was a large part of my works cited. The image panel for example was also an evaluation of a secondary source and the evaluation of potlatch ban was another. The primary sources I used was the PDF by Peter Read involved in Sorry Day, and and some quotes from aboriginals and people directly on the site of Moore river. Mostly though, my presentation was the evaluation of different secondary sources.
Works Cited • Works Cited • "Experiences: Disease." Experiences: Disease, The Arrival of the British, Aboriginal Colonisation and Contact, History Year 8, ACT. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-14_u-179_t-524_c-1956/ACT/8/Experiences-disease/The-arrival-of-the-British/Aboriginal-colonisation-and-contact/History/>. • Read, Peter. "The Stolen Generations The Removal of Aboriginal Children in New South Wales 1883 to 1969." PDF. Peter Read. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www.daa.nsw.gov.au/publications/StolenGenerations.pdf>. • "Aboriginal Law." , Australia before 1788, Colonisation and Conflict. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-56_u-477_t-1301_c-5002/TAS/8/Aboriginal-law/Australia-before-1788/Colonisation-and-conflict-Australia/SOSE-History/>. • "Banning Traditional Practices." Banning Traditional Practices. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sd79.bc.ca/programs/abed/acip/references/govt_policies/ban_traditional_practice.pdf>. • "Customary Law." Customary Law, Traditional Life, Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders, SOSE Year 6, WA. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-17_u-455_t-1227_c-4696/customary-law/wa/customary-law/aboriginal-people-and-torres-strait-islanders/traditional-life>. • "Indigenous Australiana Social Structure." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://library.thinkquest.org/C0115620/text/SocialStructure.html>. • "Tribal Punishment, Customary Law & Payback." Aboriginal Tribal Punishment. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/law/tribal-punishment-customary-law-payback.html>. • Rabbit-proof Fence. By Christine Olsen. Perf. EverlynSampi, TiannaSansbury, Laura Monaghan, and Kenneth Charles Branagh. Miramax Films, 2006. • "The Stolen Generations." The Stolen Generations. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.stolengenerations.info/index.php?option=com_content>. • "Australia.gov.au." Australian Indigenous Cultural Heritage -. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-indigenous-cultural-heritage>.