The European invasion of Australia in 1780 impacted upon the lives of all the Aboriginal people that lived in and around the invaded areas. When Captain Cook landed in Australia, he declared it as Terra Nullius, and this alone gives a significant insight as to the mentality of the British and their willingness to acknowledge the Aboriginal people and the importance that the land played in their daily lives.
As the invaders brought with them their laws, ideals, diseases, livestock and people, the need for land increased and settlers began to venture outwards from the main settlements, the frontier broadened and the Aboriginal population began to shrink. The encroachment upon the land meant that many Aboriginal people were now being forced to come into closer contact with the Europeans. In doing this, the frontier affected the Aboriginal people in ways that ensured that their lives would never be the same and that European ideals affected their lives not only on the frontier but for generations too follow.
The invasion of the Australian frontier affected areas in Aboriginal lives such as dispossession, disease, large-scale violence, which led to resistance. The area of land ownership and dispossession is a controversial issue due to the fact that Captain Cook and those that were to follow did not acknowledge the Aboriginal inhabitants as being the custodial owners of the continent. This fact was due to the ideals that the Europeans held as to what humans should live in; they did not see any European style dwellings or villages, they could not see any visible boundaries.
Therefore the Europeans declared that The Aboriginal inhabitants held no ownership of the continent and thus declared it Terra Nullius. The Europeans did not understand that the Aboriginal people led an itinerate lifestyle, and that their connection to the land was necessary for their well-being, spirituality and survival. The debate over landownership appears to be one concerning the use of two words, and those words are ? own’ and ? land’. If this was all that it took to determine whose land Australia was, then it was an inappropriate way of determining such an event.
Dispossession was a known factor of the frontier and perhaps is one of the most complex factors, which have affected all aspects of Aboriginal life. Aboriginals became heavily reliant on Europeans for food; some Europeans used this dependency as a source to eradicate Aboriginal people. The dispossession of Aboriginals from their lands has had a long and lasting effect. Given the spiritual ties that Aboriginal people have to their lands, the resulting dislocation took from them their cultures, languages and belief systems as well as their economic welfare and independence.
By removing Aboriginal people from their lands, the Europeans took away many Aboriginals’ capabilities for self-support and economic independence. Dispossession has deprived many Aboriginal people of their culture, language, kinship and traditional lands. Having their traditional lands taken, placed many Aboriginal people on the fringes of European societies or onto government run reserves, where many became dependent of government handouts. In the 1780’s, the Aborigines lifestyle took a turn for the worse.
This was the period in which Europeans began to explore and eventually colonize Australia. The two vastly different cultures would soon clash and cause a dramatic change for the Aborigines. The British were the first of the Europeans to start colonies in Australia. The Aborigines were at first very friendly and receptive of the settlers. But as more and more settlers came this would change. Once the European settlement began to expand inland, it caused conflict because it interfered with the Aborigines’ economic and religious activities.
The Europeans were forcing them off their hunting land and sacred areas. They couldn’t compensate for the increasing population of the settlers. Before long, the Europeans became annoyed with the Aborigines and violence was inevitable. Some of the Aborigine groups were able to wage successful guerilla war against the Europeans, but eventually, the lack of technology became their downfall. Other groups were forced into hiding while others stayed in camps. Since they were force off their land, they could no longer hunt or gather food for survival.
Spirituality for Aboriginal people is more than the Christian concept of religion or the word “Dreaming” as applied by non-Aboriginal anthropologists. For Aboriginal people, “Dreaming” is not a dream, but a reality embodying Aboriginal “thought” or state of mind where people were one with the land and all that moved upon it. In this worldview humans and the natural species were all part of the same ongoing life force. Aborigines believed that the ancestral beings during the creation time performed great deeds and gave life and form to humans and the landscape.
The ancestral beings did not leave a traditional territory but became one with the landscape, their spiritual form continually generating life. In the Dreamtime when the great ancestors had roamed the earth, they were human, animal, and bird at one and the same time: all natural things were in a unity. Thus the lives of Aborigines were shaped by their Dreamtime stories which were both an explanation of how the world came to be and how people must conduct their behavior and social relations. This love reflected a spiritual as well as an economic relationship with the land, the land not only gave life, it was life.
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Topic: The Australian Invasion
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