A. a) Aboriginal People                          

Aborignal people

Aboriginal people represent 2.4% of the Australian resident population.

Video Clip B: First Footprints over 50,000 years ago (1 min 40 sec)
Going back in time

 

Answer the following questions

If you get them right: move on if you wish OR explore the content in the Tabs to find out more.

1. Approximately how long have Aboriginal people lived in Australia?

Less than 1000 years
2,500 years
5,000 years
10,000 years
20,000 years
More than 50,000 years


2. In the late 1700’s, when the British came to stay, what, approximately, was the Aboriginal population?

5,000
50,000
100,000
500,000
750,000
1,000,000 or more


3. Approximately how many distinct Aboriginal languages were spoken in the late 1700s?

1
3
5
10
50
100
200
300 or more


4. What was the legal basis for the British taking possession of Australia in the late 1700s?

A treated between the British and the existing inhabitants
The land was empty and could rightfully be claimed on behalf of the Crown (Terra nullius)
The British won a just war with the existing inhabitants
Annexation
Other


5. How does the Australian Federal Government currently define an Aboriginal person?
Someone who is: (tick all that apply)

Of Aboriginal descent
Of at least one quarter Aboriginal descent
Of at least one half Aboriginal descent
Colour of the person’s skin
Identifies as an Aboriginal person
Is accepted as an Aboriginal person by the community in which he or she lives
Is registered with government agencies as an Aboriginal person

 

Over time, the following definition has been agreed within the community and Australian Government to identify when someone is an Aboriginal person.

An Aboriginal person:
    Is of Aboriginal descent
    Identifies as an Aboriginal person, and
    Is accepted as an Aboriginal by the community in which he or she lives.

Aboriginal peoples retain their cultural identity whether they live in urban, regional or remote areas of Australia. There is a great diversity of cultures, languages, kinship structures and ways of life among Aboriginal people across Australia. Aboriginal peoples have distinct cultures. Aboriginal peoples are comprised of many different language and/or tribal groups.

It is estimated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 2.5% of the Australian resident population.

Face the Facts, 2012

In 2011, there were 548,370 people identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin and counted in the Census.

  • 90% identified as Aboriginal peoples
  • 6% identified as Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • 4% identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Torres Strait Islanders accounted for 6.4% of the Indigenous population and 0.1% of the total Australian population.

ABS 2011 Census

 

 

 

Australia’s first people

Aboriginal people have been in Australia for between 50,000 and 120,000 years. They were a hunter-gatherer people who had adapted well to the environment. There were between 300,000 to 950,000 Aboriginal people living in Australia when the British arrived in 1788.3 At that time there were approximately 260 distinct language groups and 500 dialects.

Aboriginal people lived in small family groups and were semi-nomadic, with each family group living in a defined territory, systematically moving across a defined area following seasonal changes. Groups had their own distinct history and culture. At certain times, family groups would come together for social, ceremonial and trade purposes. It is estimated that
up to 500 people gathered at the one time. Membership within each family or language group was based on birthright, shared language, and cultural obligations and responsibilities. Relationships within groups predetermined categories of responsibilities and obligations to the group and to family. Aboriginal people built semi-permanent dwellings; as a nomadic society emphasis was on relationships to family, group and country rather than the development of an agrarian society. Being semi-nomadic meant that Aboriginal people were also relatively nonmaterialistic. Greater emphasis was placed on the social, religious and spiritual activities. The environment was controlled by spiritual rather than physical means and religion was deeply tied to country.

Aboriginal social, cultural and historical contexts

 

Indgenous Australia

There is a great diversity of cultures, languages, kinship structures and ways of life among Aboriginal people across Australia. Aboriginal peoples have distinct cultures. Aboriginal peoples are comprised of many different language and/or tribal groups.

The following map shows the cultural and language groups of Indigenous Australia.