Diversity in Aboriginal
culture was a product of the wide range of physical environments that Aborigines occupied:
From the snow areas of the high
country in the southeast to the beaches and rain forests of the tropical north, from the rich
lands of the major river systems to the desert regions of the center. Adaptation to these
environments led to the development of different economic systems, involving a variety of tools,
technology, living and work patterns.
For Aborigines, though,
life was sustained by hunting. This nomadic life provided the Aboriginal people with a healthy
diet, and in some areas, such as coastal Arnhem Land, subsistence required the equivalent of
only three day's work a week.
economies were predicated on mobility and the absence of concern with the accumulation of goods
People undertook regular
seasonal moves over particular areas to exploit certain resources and to participate in
ceremonial gatherings with other groups.
These movements were
territorially restricted by Aboriginal law:
"Not one person, before colonisation, could move at will
Division of labor was primarily based
on gender: men hunted large game, while women gathered small ground reptiles and other animals as
well as vegetables. In coastal and riverine areas both men and women fished and gathered shellfish.
As extensive food storage was not
possible, this meant that most food, once obtained, had to be consumed immediately. Aboriginal
kinship obligations made sharing a major and defining ethos of the culture.
Back to Top
"To be human was to share."
Law And Order
Law and order was maintained through the infusion of religious
ideology into everyday actions and through enforcement by senior men and women, with serious
infringement sometimes resulting in death.
attainment of religious knowledge began with initiation during adolescence and became a lifelong
quest. Both men and women had specific religious ceremonies and held specific aspects or
segments of mythical information. Some of these ceremonies were secret and restricted, others
Some of the "classical" features of pre-contact
Aboriginal society are still evident in Aboriginal life in some areas of Australia.
In the Northern Territory, far northern Queensland, and parts of Western Australia and South
Australia the tradition-oriented Aborigines struggle to maintain the survival of their classical
culture. Although they have been affected by, and participate in, the broader, dominating system of
Australia, these Aborigines maintain beliefs and social practices that are oriented more toward an
Aboriginal world and history than a European one.
Aborigines, despite loss of land rights
and loss of identity, without a doubt, have never lost sight that their culture is unique and must
be preserved. Artwork, handed down from generation to
generation with a style that changes from tribe
to tribe, cannot be copied, although many have tried.
Aborigines also have music that stirs the heartstrings. If one but listens with
openness of heart and
soul, one can feel oneself drawn to an era, where man was one with the universe, where rivers were
abundant and gave of themselves and animals roamed freely not fearing man.
Aborigines have strived hard to regain
their land rights, and I for one hope they succeed, as it would be disastrous, should a nation once
proud and strong, be lost to us through neglect and greed. Land should be returned to the Aborigines,
as well as their rightful place in society. We must strive in unity to regain what is rightfully the
Aborigines; the law of humanity alone demands it. Immigrants who have migrated here, should remember
what it is like to be without a country or hope, then aid the one who was here first, who made
Australia a wonderful country to live in. To some of us a treasure and refuge.
Back to Top
Ruling Enhances Claims
The Native Title Act of 1993 was passed by the previous Labor Party
government in response to a historic court ruling that, despite more than 200 years of
settlement by Europeans, Aborigines still could claim land rights.
The act set out a process for
Aborigines to claim ownership if they could prove they had a continuous ancestral link to the