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Indigenous Australian History

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Chelsea Fox

on 29 March 2013

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Transcript of Indigenous Australian History

Life in Australia before Europeans Aboriginal History and Culture The First Australians ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS OF THE BUNURONG TRIBE The history of Australian's indigenous inhabitants and the arrival of the first British settlers. Australia's First Inhabitants Australia's new inhabitants were a coastal people who gradually spread throughout the continent and migrated inland, forming diverse tribes. Aboriginals were possibly the earliest humans to develop farming practices. Their ability to light and control fires opened up bushland and increased the area of grass for grazing, so that the animals they hunted would thrive (often referred to as firestick farming). They also concentrated their efforts on what the local environment provided, preparing produce, such as smoked eels for trade with other tribes. Aboriginals adapted to some of the world's harshest environments with great success and had a very sustainable way of life (Aboriginal History, Munroe, M.H., n.d.) Aboriginal Livelihood The Local Bunurong Tribe: Nomadic Aboriginals who roamed much of the Port Phillip Bay coastal area. Evidence of the longevity of Aboriginal culture specifically to the Bunurong tribe is found in many spots. Animal and shell middens found in Cape Paterson and Mornington Peninsula are an example of this (middens are an abundant gathering of bones and shells where a clan of this tribe would have dined together). Archaeologists regard these as being important for aesthetic (nature and beauty), scientific, social and historical value. (The Yowengarra clan of the Bunurong people, n.d.)

Another example of the longevity of Aboriginals is apparent in artwork, song, dance and of course their stories which were passed around through families, clans and tribes via word of mouth. Aboriginal artwork is their visual interpretation of how they live, their culture and their dreaming. Indigenous tribes all have different interpretations, therefore create unique pieces. These reflect what is happening in their lives and are something sacred that they can share with others. This could be something as simple as a painting of "bush tucker" or something more serious like a painting depicting a massacre, such as Coniston Station.
www.personally selected aboriginal artwork The first people arrived in Australia from South Asia more than 60 000 years ago, by boat. It is not known how they traveled, although it is possible they they traveled from island to island. Their point of arrival is presumed to be part of the continental shelf that is now submerged. (Munroe, M.H., n.d.) Aboriginal Tribes, Clans and the Totemic System In aboriginal society, the tribe is a group of perhaps 500 people, who share a language and geographical location. The tribe is then made up of clans of about 40-50 people who have a land title, and a clan name. The men of the clan remain in the clan territory, but women who marry men from other clans may live elsewhere, depending on the tribe’s custom.

Daily life then takes place in groups of 10-20 people within each clan. These groups do not have a name, but hunt, gather food and go about daily life together. Within each clan families, consisting of a man, his wives and their children and perhaps their parents would share a fire and dine together.

Society was also divided up on a religious level. All people are separated into two moieties, based on ancestral relationships from the creation period. Each moietie has its’ own religiously significant plants, animals and places. People may only marry members of the other moietie. Each individual person also has connection to one or more of these significant subjects, known as totems. These totems may be displayed on wooden poles, or in artwork (such as the eagle pictured on the left). A Yam - that grew naturally in the ground (like sweet potato). A main nutrition source for the Bunurong people. Map of Victoria's Indigenous tribes -
Bunurong and Kurnai tribes at the South Aboriginal women making fishing net Tools made from stone and wood (stone axes) for hunting/gathering purposes. Aboriginal man preparing to throw the boomerang to obtain food RAINBOW SERPENT CREATION STORY PREPARING TO THROW SPEAR TO HUNT KANGAROO OR FISH a midden of shells and bones in Mornington Peninsula "bush tucker"
bush bananas

refers to the gathering of food in their family, clan or tribe Indigenous boy expressing his culture and way of life through dance, song & body paint Indigenous man sharing his culture through colourful body art and Didgeridoo. Didgeridoo sample Woman making fishing nets boomerang throwing for food Gunnai (Kurnai) describes a group of aboriginal languages local to this area. Sub-languages include; Brabralung, Braiakaulung, Tatungalung, Brataualung & Krauatungulung. Many of the local towns take their name from the Gunnai language. For example, Traralgon translates to ‘place of fishes’.

Aboriginal languages are extremely diverse. As mentioned before, each tribe has it’s own unique language. Of course, many aboriginal languages were destroyed by colonisation, but almost 100 languages are still in everyday use. Most aboriginal people today learn English as their first language. The following map gives an indication of the amazing diversity of aboriginal languages in Australia. Around 1800 when the first Europeans arrived it was known that the Kurnai tribe of Gippsland had killed over half of the Bunurong people leaving only 300. For many centuries the Bunurong people were hunter gatherers, where the men used tools like the boomerang, spear and stone axe to hunt kangaroos, birds and fish over a few kilometers. The women not only gathered nutritious plants, berries and yams, they also hunted small animals and did the cooking.

The Bunurong people consumed a lot of shellfish (mussels and periwinkles etc) because they lived close to the sea. The large shell middens on the cliffs of Beaumaris and Sandringham are evidence of this. Of a night time fires were essential for these people to cook their daily finds, to keep them warm at night, and to light their way when traveling to another spot where they could use the same fire source instead of recreating fire. While they remained at one site for a period of time, they traveled in search of fresh supplies of food and water once their resources were depleted. This particular tribe ranged the Port Phillip Bay coastal area from Wilson's Promontory National Park (shown on the map).

Many natural water springs were known to this tribe, e.g. Cheltenham Park (Melbourne). Many creeks and swamps where food was readily available were also known, e.g. Mordialloc Creek, Beaumaris Shore, Carrum Carrum swamp, all of which were full of eels, fish and water birds. One specific clan of this tribe near Tarwin River in Sth Gippsland quarried the outcrops of volcanic rock, made it into axeheads to trade with neighbouring tribes for things that they needed to survive. (http://localhistory.kingston.vic.gov.au/htm/article/499.htm) http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/bunurong REFERENCES Munroe, M.D. [n.d.] Aboriginal History. Retrieved from the Australia Through Time website: http://austhrutime.com/aboriginal_history_in_australia.htm

The Yowengarra clan of the Bunurong people [n.d.] retrieved from the Cape Patterson Ecovillage Website: http://www.capepatersonecovillage.com.au/2013/01/the-first-human-footsteps-on-the-ecovillage-site-the-yowengarra-clan-of-the-bunurong-people/

The Aboriginal Dreamtime [n.d.] retrieved from the Australian Government website:

Indigenous Languages Map retrieved from: https://sites.google.com/site/treatyrepublicfilebank/im/indigenous-languages.jpg

THE RAINBOW SERPENT CREATION STORY The Rainbow Serpent is commonly known as the main figure in the history of creation for the Aboriginal people. In this story, She creates people and natural features of how we know Australia today. The Rainbow Serpent also started the concept of Totemism.

Aboriginal Dreaming (The Dreamtime(s)) is when the Ancestral beings roamed the land and produced all life and geographical features such as mountains and rivers.The Dreaming or 'Tjukurrpa' refers to the meaning 'to see and understand the law', that is, the law of how everything came to be created and how they should live in this creation. Dreaming stories send important information about cultural values and beliefs to the next generations. Usually they are conveyed via word of mouth (stories, song), dance and paintings (artwork). Aboriginals have kept a strong link with the Dreaming from ancient times to today, which is why they have a rich cultural heritage.

http://australia.gov.au/about-asutralia-story/dreaming An example of a totem in the form of a carved wooden pole. Indigenous Languages Map
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