Aborigines australians

Aborigines australians. They are the descendants of the earliest known inhabitants of the Australian mainland and the islands that surround it. The term includes both Aboriginal tribes and islanders in the Torres Strait , between Australia and New Guinea . Together they comprise around 2.4% of the current population of Australia. It is believed that before the landing of the Europeans in Australia, the aboriginal population was between 318,000 and 750,000 on the continent and these were mostly concentrated on the Australian coast.


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Clarifications on terminology
  • 3 Australian Government Definition
  • 4 The various aboriginal peoples
  • 5 Languages
  • 6 Culture
    • 1 The reverie ‘or’ dreaming
    • 2 Astronomy
    • 3 Music
    • 4 Painting
    • 5 Sports
    • 6 Aboriginal cuisine
  • 7 Sources


The most reliable theories say that the first settlers arrived in Australia from Southeast Asia more than 40,000 years ago, when the sea level was lower and the transit was easier for people who did not know the arts of navigation. We tend to think that once again raise the level of the sea were cut off from the world, forming a separate group of humanity. The only known contact with the outside world of which it is certain was the one they had with the fishermen of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi from the 16th century , as they temporarily settled on the coasts of northern Australia during their fishing campaigns. .

The aboriginal peoples were nomadic hunter-gatherers who knew neither agriculture nor livestock , neither metallurgy nor weaving, nor writing , but they had reached a balance with the environment that allowed them to survive for thousands of years. Each group of between 40 and 50 people adapted to the environment they knew. Thus, the inhabitants of the central and western desert zones fed on grain of wild grasses ; those of the tropical north of fruits and tubers , and those of the southeast were more dedicated to fishing.

Clarifications on terminology

If the first meaning of the word “Aboriginal” defines the native inhabitants of any country, that term preferably applies to the native inhabitants of Australia.

The adjective “aboriginal” ( aboriginal in English) appears in English since at least the seventeenth century and means “from the origin” ( ab-origine ), derived from Latin . It has been used in Australia to describe its indigenous people since 1789 . It soon became a proper name and was used to refer to all indigenous Australians.

It should be noted that in English, the use of aboriginal as a name has acquired negative connotations, even derogatory among some sectors of the community, who see it as insensitive and even offensive, and it tends to be avoided due to the historical associations made with colonialism . Also the use of the word “native”, which was common in literature before the 1960s, is now often considered offensive. The most accepted term is the aboriginal noun . This distinction is not appreciated in Spanish, which translates both terms as “aboriginal”.

Some aborigines in turn claim the use of the English term aborigines (aboriginal), to differentiate themselves from the aborigines of other parts of the world and to be recognized as a specific people. However, this use of the capital letter, typical of English, cannot be applied to Spanish. See article by Eve D. Fesi in the journal Aboriginal Law Bulletin , nº 39, 1986 .

In discussions about the possible inclusion in the Australian Constitution of Aboriginal ancestral land rights, Aboriginal policy Lowitja O’Donoghue advocated for the term “Aboriginal” and rejected the term ” indigenous ” to refer to their people , for being too general.

The Australian government, according to indigenous communities, used since the 80s of the twentieth century the term “Indigenous Australians” ( Indigenous Australians ) to refer collectively to the Aborigines and Islanders Torres Strait, and distinguish them from the colonial settlers and of other origins.

The inhabitants of the Torres Strait Islands have a cultural and social heritage and history that differentiates them from the aborigines. The inhabitants of these islands, particularly in the eastern part, are specifically related to the Papuan people of New Guinea, and speak Papuan languages. Therefore they are not included under the designation “Australian Aborigines”. This has been one of the factors that have led to the more generic term “Indigenous Australians”.

Australian Government definition

After much debate, the Australian government has adopted the following definition: An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he lives.

The color of the skin is not considered a valid criterion for determining membership in any of the indigenous groups, since many are white. Only cultural and social criteria are taken into account. Qualifications based on miscegenation are also prohibited. One is or is not Aboriginal, but one cannot be “half Aboriginal”.

The various aboriginal peoples

There are more than 400 Australian Aboriginal peoples, each with differentiated cultural traits and its own geographic location. They are identified by the name of their indigenous language or by the word with which they call themselves. Among the main ones we have:

  • Koori(or Koorie ) and Guringai in New South Wales and Victoria (Australia)
  • Murriin Queensland
  • Noongarin South Western Australia
  • Yamatjiin central Western Australia
  • Wangkaiin the Golden Fields of Western Australia
  • Nungasouth of South Australia
  • Ananguin the northern part of South Australia and in neighboring parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory
  • Arrentein the MacDonnell Range
  • Yapain the central northwest territory
  • Yolnguin the east in Arnhem Land (NT)
  • Palawah] ‘(orPallawah ) in Tasmania

These groups can in turn be divided into subgroups. For example, the Anangu (meaning ‘person from the desert region of central Australia’) include the local subdivisions Yankunytjatjara, Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjara, Luritja and Antikirinya.


Although there are more than 250 different dialects, fewer than 200 of these languages ​​are still around and all but 20 are in danger of extinction. Some linguists consider that almost all aboriginal languages ​​are related, albeit distantly, and classify them into two large families: the Pama-ñunganas languages, spoken in most of Australia, and the non-Pama-ñunganas languages, spoken in the north of the country. .

But due to the difficulty of establishing a clear phylogeny, others consider that aboriginal languages ​​do not form true linguistic families, but constitute a Sprachbund, that is, a group of similar languages ​​due to their geographic proximity and frequent contacts. Robert Malcolm Ward Dixon, The rise and fall of languages , Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Some aboriginal languages ​​are considered as isolated languages, as is the case of the Tiwi language spoken on the island of the same name, in the Northern Territory. As for the languages ​​of the Tasmanian aborigines, too little is known to relate.


The culture Aboriginal developed autarkic way, resulting in a variety of languages and cultures with common features, and is the oldest living culture on the planet. Aborigines lived a life of hunter-gatherers and lived in semi – nomadic groups who roamed vast territories hunting with spears and boomerang , fishing in canoes and gathering fruits and plants . Having no written language, they transmitted their knowledge through stories and songs.

The reverie ‘or’ dreaming

The Dream ‘has different applications. An aboriginal’s totem is known as his dream. Also the songs of the creation of the ancestors are kept in the memory of the aborigines, each one of them receives, at birth, some measures of all creation, in this way the song is perpetuated. These bars of the song are called ‘Ensueños’.

When an Aboriginal inherits a ‘Dream’, he also inherits the land that song created, not in the sense of such personal possession, but as a responsibility to keep the land in the way the Ancestors sang it in the Dreamtiem. Songs can be shared, borrowed or rented but cannot be sold or disposed of in any other way; they are a lifetime commitment.


Since the Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest of the still continuing civilizations, it has been said that the Australian Aborigines may well have been the first astronomers in history. Ray Norris, on ABC Message Some Australian Aboriginal groups use the movements of the celestial bodies as a calendar . Religious or mythological meanings are often attributed to astronomical phenomena and heavenly bodies. There is a great diversity of astronomical traditions in Australia, each with its own particular cosmological expression. However, there seem to be common lines between the different groups, such as the Emu in the sky or the Canoe of Orion.


The best known of the Aboriginal musical instruments is the didgeridoo , or yidaki , traditionally played by men from Arnhem Land and the Kimberley region of northern Australia . This instrument has become popular all over the world, and it is enjoying growing popularity among musicians of both traditional music and Rock , Pop and Jazz .


The painting aboriginal is an art of millenary tradition. The motifs represented usually relate the legends of the “Dreamtime”, which is why it has sometimes been assimilated to a form of writing. It is carried out mainly on rocks, bark and cloth. With the exception of cave paintings , it was traditionally an ephemeral art: drawings in the sand and body paintings.


Boomerang throwing is the favorite sport for Aboriginal Australians, followed by Australian football , rugby and cricket . Since the 1960s, the number of Olympic Aboriginal athletes in different disciplines has increased.

Aboriginal cuisine

The berries form the basis of the traditional diet of Australian Aborigines. The bush tucker designates the set of Australian animal and plant species that allow man to survive in the wild , and their knowledge is an integral part of Aboriginal culture. The food can be roasted over hot coals, or wrapped in bark to be cooked in ovens dug in the ground .

Since the end of the 18th century , the loss of their traditional hunting and gathering territories prevented the aborigines from preserving their food traditions. On the other hand, the manifest contempt of the European settlers towards this type of diet , and the introduction of new non-aboriginal foods led to the progressive disappearance of the bush tucker , especially in the highly populated areas of the Australian southeast.

In the 1970s , various botanical and horticultural studies sparked interest in traditional Aboriginal food and made it fashionable. Starting in the 1990s , it was renamed bushfood and began to appear on the menu of some Sydney gourmet restaurants , in cookbooks and on culinary television shows .

The growing demand for wild Australian ingredients then led to the creation of industrial crops based on Aboriginal knowledge, without them participating in this new and thriving business. Since the beginning of the 21st century , some Australian agencies have been promoting the incorporation of Aboriginal communities in the production and marketing of traditional Aboriginal foods.


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