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Aboriginals: A Lost Nation

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

Written by Bedirhan Atabay


Colonialism resulted in damage to various cultures, Swahili, Congolese, American Indians, Hindus, and other nations were damaged. One of those nations was the Aboriginals. Aboriginals are living in Oceania, especially in Mainland Australia. They migrated to Australia from Southeast Asia crossing from the Sunda Islands. Their first recorded existence was 60.000 years ago. Then, they built various sites on the Australian mainland. One example is Mungo Lady. Mungo Lady is located on the lakeside of Lake Mundo that dried up around 14.000 years ago. Mungo Lady was built 42.000 years ago [1]. It contains the oldest traces of human life in Australia. One more site in Australia is Madjedbebe, formerly Malakunanja II. It is one of the oldest sites on the Australian mainland. These two are not the only sites that exist, there are various other sites in Australia [2].

Even though there are many traces of Aboriginals in the region, Aboriginals were not the only nation that existed in Australia. The other nation that existed in Australia was Torres Strait Islanders. They used to live in the Torres Strait Islands, and they have Melanesian traces. However, their population is insignificant compared to the Aboriginal population, 881K people compared to 38K people [4].


In Aboriginal culture, there are clan groups. These clan groups are formed of extended families. The term ‘kinship’ was crucial to Aboriginals. Kinship means the responsibilities each family member holds to ensure the continuity of society. Moiety, Totems, and Skin Names are three foundations of Kinship. Moiety means half of something in Latin. According to the belief of Moiety, two halves must come together in order to understand the world around us. The moiety can be simply explained as the unity of two different people or the unity of communities.


Totems existed to symbolize their nation, clan group, and family. Totems are not special to Aboriginals actually, they exist in various other cultures. However, Aboriginals used it as a symbol to represent their national and regional identity.


Skin Names existed to make bloodlines visible [5]. They were not exactly something similar to surnames or last names; however, they represented a group of people. People with the same skin names often referred to each other by using pronouns such as uncle, and sister. However, this doesn’t mean that there is any sort of biological connection between these people. These Skin Names were pronounced and written differently in various languages and dialects [7].


Today, various foundations in Australia are trying to keep Aboriginal culture alive. These foundations are raising awareness right now. Without them, the collection of this widespread information about Aboriginal people would be non-existent. Thanks to them, Aboriginals finally managed to introduce their culture to a wide extent. Nowadays, even though the government made considerable investments to increase the quality of life for Aboriginals, Aboriginals still have harder conditions of living. Unemployment rates are higher for Aboriginals than other Australians due to lack of experience caused by lack of education for Aboriginals, and racial discrimination made against them. Even though life is more problematic for Aboriginals than ordinary Australians, they still are capable of building sustainable lives [6].



References:
  1. Cabinet, P. M. and. (2016, February 15). Culture. NIAA Government Crest. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.niaa.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/culture-and-capability

  2. corporateName=National Museum of Australia; address=Lawson Crescent, A. P. (2022, September 28). Mungo Lady. National Museum of Australia. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/mungo-lady

  3. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Australian Aboriginal Peoples. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Australian-Aboriginal

  4. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Madjedbebe. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/place/Madjedbebe

  5. Foundation, W. (n.d.). The role of Family & Kinship in Aboriginal culture. Watarrka Foundation. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.watarrkafoundation.org.au/blog/the-role-of-family-kinship-in-aboriginal-culture

  6. Profile of indigenous Australians. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (n.d.). Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/profile-of-indigenous-australians

  7. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). The quality of life for Indigenous Australians in the 21st Century. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-quality-of-life-for-Indigenous-Australians-in-the-21st-century-2109242

  8. Foundation, W. (n.d.). The role of Family & Kinship in Aboriginal culture. Watarrka Foundation. Retrieved January 8, 2023, from https://www.watarrkafoundation.org.au/blog/the-role-of-family-kinship-in-aboriginal-culture

  9. What is a skin name or kin name. Red Kangaroo. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2023, from https://redkangaroogallery.com.au/blogs/news/what-are-skin-names


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