Humanities - 16mag

“How lifestyles of Aboriginal
people changed and
adapted as a result of
European occupation”
Pre EuropeanOccupation
Before European Occupation
 The
Jigalong Mob and many aboriginal
tribes, prior to the European occupation,
lived day to day hunting and gathering
for religious ceremonies. They lived by
various laws and beliefs which kept
boundaries and rule on their life but
allowed them them to go about every
day business without question.
 We
cultivated our land, but in a way
different from the white man. We
endeavoured to live with the land; they
seemed to live off it. I was taught to
preserve, never to destroy.
-Tom Dystra, Aboriginal
Aboriginal laws covered a wide variety of
everyday life. Simple things that were easy to
avoid like theft, religious rebellion, mild
physical assault, and the like were only small
scale crimes and were punished accordingly.
More intense things like murder were treated
with a much heavier punishment which you
can see on the next slide. However, the
aboriginals didn’t have things like jails and
thus had punishments that were quick and so
life could resume as soon as possible.
Aboriginal laws were very basic. One punishment was
applicable for many different crimes so payment was often
easily decidable. Forms of punishment include being
speared in the leg, or facing a unit of spearmen with only a
shield for defense. Aside from physical punishment as a
reason not to commit crimes, the aboriginals believed
greatly in shaming people into not committing crimes. A
scar on your thigh from being speared as a result of
punishment was more effective than the actual spearing.
Less serious crimes resulted in something similar to a roast,
where they would be stood up in a crowd and shamed.
These punishments were decided by a group of wise men
and women called elders who knew the rules very well and
the punishments that followed.
 Apart
from the laws that bound people
from going astray and corrupt, life for
aboriginals was very simple. They hunted
on a regular basis an then got together to
eat with their families and tribes. They
would worship their gods and pray during
times of religious gatherings and
ceremony, and that was pretty much
their way of life.
Picture Analysis
 The
panel of aboriginal artwork shows that
the aboriginals had a strong connection
with the land and the animals that thrived
there, due to the frequency of image
subjects. We can see this because there
are drawing of animals and landscapes,
which related to the hunting lifestyle of
the aboriginals and the farming that they
Since hunting was a big part of aboriginal life,
it was important to know how to hunt and
how to do it efficiently. The aboriginals used
many different methods of tracking their prey
such as the tracks they leave and the sounds
they make. This relates back to “The Rabbit
Proof Fence” because in the movie, the three
children use their knowledge of tracking to
leave as little evidence as they could to
escape the tracker.
Social Status
The aboriginals lived in groups which were the
size of a few families. These groups were
different from the many other groups
because they all spoke different languages or
dialects and live in different areas. Some
groups may share similar hunting grounds and
gather together for religious and social
gatherings which is why some groups share
similar characteristics of religion and social
Gender Roles
Men and women were not seen to the
aboriginals as unequal, but they had different
duties and different jobs that needed to be
done, and inevitably men possessed an
overriding power over women. Men were
usually hunting while women tended to small
gardens and preparing food, but men
prepared the meat. Women would
sometimes hunt unless they had children, then
they would stay home and look after them.
European Occupation
 When
the Europeans came across the
sea and landed in Australia, many
aspects of aboriginal life were altered at
the whim of the Europeans, who were, in
their perspective, trying to help them.
The Effects of the Europeans
 The
Europeans were quite possibly the
worst devastation that the aboriginal
people ever faced. Worse than drought
or flood, or anything that the land alone
could throw at them. They disrupted the
way of life for the aboriginals, they
separated families, spread disease, and
caused nothing but grief.
The Europeans Intention
The Europeans tried to, as they saw it, make
the lives of the aboriginals “better”. They
wanted more control over every aboriginals
life so that they could “help” them, even
though the aboriginal ways have lasted
thousands of years. They saw the aboriginal
man to be not very well off, so to make things
“better”, they went about separating halfcaste children from their families to improve
the generations to follow them, and disrupting
the natural life of the aboriginal people.
Disruption of lifestyle
 The
Europeans wished that all aboriginals
lived by the white way of life. That all
aboriginals should be modernized and to
leave old tradition behind them. This
alone was a very direct example of
disruption of lifestyle; as opposed to
indirectly affecting them, they literally just
went and tried to change their ways of
Banning lifestyles
 The
Europeans wanted the aboriginal
people to give up on their religious and
traditional beliefs that had been
reinforced for more that a millennium,
and to practice more Christian and
Democratic ways of life. They banned
Potlatch, which was a large ceremony to
honor death, birth, naming, marriage,
and other important events, in which
goods were ceremoniously destroyed.
Interpreting Bans (Specifically
the Potlatch)
On a closer look at the Potlatch ban, I feel that the
banning was quite unfair. The Hudson’s Bay
company for trading artifacts and goods were very
responsible for the act. They went into investigation
of the Potlatch ceremonies and produced an
answer saying that potlatch enforced anti-Christian
behavior and the “backwards” destruction of goods.
I feel that as a trading company, Hudson’s Bay
wished to have less goods destroyed for ceremonial
purposes so that they could turn a profit selling them
to collectors and museums in England and America
and the likes of that. However, this is only my personal
investigation of the event, this was not in any text I
have read and is not supported, it’s just a hunch.
 To
the Europeans, half-castes were seen
as a great opportunity to expand upon
their population and diminish the
aboriginal population. They were mixed
race children, the Half-Castes and so they
would allow the Europeans to try and
bend the rules into turning the tables in
their favor.
Since they were mixed race, the Europeans
felt that it would be more acceptable to take
them as it would a fully aboriginal child. Their
plan for the half-castes was to “Breed-Out”
the aboriginal in them and bring about a
European. By removing the half-castes from
their parents and territory, they were able to
reform them to behave as “civilized” people
and to try and add more European blood to
each new generation, which they controlled
by the states rights of marriage.
“I visited the Moore River Settlement several
times. The setting was a poor one with no
advantage for anyone except isolation. The
facilities were limited and some of them were
makeshift. The staff were inadequate both in
numbers and qualification. The inmates
disliked the place. It held no promise of a
future for any of them and they had little or
no satisfaction in the present. It was a dump.”
— Paul Hasluck on Moore River
Evaluation of Quote
 The
quote here shows that people even
associated directly with the Moore River
settlement saw it as a nasty place and
that the future of these children could not
be promised although people on the site
made it seem so. It also shows that the
Europeans really weren’t “helping” the
aboriginals as they felt they were doing.
The Stolen Generations
 The
stolen Generations were children like
Molly, Daisy, and Gracie. The children that
between 1883 and 1969 were stolen from
their parents to live like white people and
have white children, which slowly “bredout” the aborigine in them. Not all of the
stolen children were half castes, some of
them were people who didn’t obey the
white way of life.
The Stolen Generations
 Along
with the general depression and
sadness of having your children stolen or
being stolen from your home, some
children ended up much worse. The
much younger ones were not fed stories
of their aboriginal ancestors, and thought
that their parents had given them up out
of lack of material, or even shame.
Spread of Disease
The aboriginals were the holders of few
diseases. Skin and eye problems were the
worst infectious things that happened to
them, apart from breaking bones but that’s a
more physical problem. Eye problems and
broken bones rarely healed well, but for other
problems, plants were soaked in water which
aided the natural healing process. Other
things they believed in were “magical”
deaths, which was basically a spell cast upon
them from an enemy to make them die.
Spread of Disease
When the Europeans arrived they spread
diseases like the flu, but most heavily effective
was smallpox. The aboriginals couldn’t relate
this directly to the Europeans and decided
that their enemies sprinkled disease in the
wind so that it may fall on them. Things like
syphilis and other STD’s, however, could be
related back to the Europeans and were
directly to blame (although they were
actually responsible for Smallpox and
everything else)
 From
all these problems caused by the
Europeans, we can really say that change
and global interaction isn’t always good,
here specifically it’s horrible. Relating to
the concept question I chose, I have also
reached a few answers.
Research Question Response:
Change of Lifestyle
 To
boil the research question down into
two parts, here’s what I’ve found. The
aboriginal lifestyles changed quite a lot in
terms of direct change, banning of
certain practices, coping with loss of
children, fighting new diseases, living with
memory of tragedy caused by this event;
all of these are examples of how their life
had to change due to the Europeans.
Research Question Response:
Adaptation of new Lifestyles
Looking at this as one giant happening, I feel
that the aboriginals didn’t really adapt to the
changing lifestyles. Some aspects of it they
did, the things that they couldn’t change. For
example a stolen child, her parents would
have to cope with it no matter what, but
living like whites was never really adapted
unanimously. Eventually, the world realized
this and let them be how they were, which
was the topic of Sorry Day in Australia.
Evaluation of Sources
I feel that the fact that I have gathered were
mostly secondary sources. Websites that restated
previously discovered information was a large part
of my works cited. The image panel for example
was also an evaluation of a secondary source and
the evaluation of potlatch ban was another. The
primary sources I used was the PDF by Peter Read
involved in Sorry Day, and and some quotes from
aboriginals and people directly on the site of
Moore river. Mostly though, my presentation was
the evaluation of different secondary sources.
Works Cited
Works Cited
"Experiences: Disease." Experiences: Disease, The Arrival of the British, Aboriginal Colonisation and Contact,
History Year 8, ACT. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <>.
Read, Peter. "The Stolen Generations The Removal of Aboriginal Children in New South Wales 1883 to 1969." PDF.
Peter Read. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <>.
"Aboriginal Law." , Australia before 1788, Colonisation and Conflict. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.
"Banning Traditional Practices." Banning Traditional Practices. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.
"Customary Law." Customary Law, Traditional Life, Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders, SOSE Year 6, WA.
Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <>.
"Indigenous Australiana Social Structure." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.
"Tribal Punishment, Customary Law & Payback." Aboriginal Tribal Punishment. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.
Rabbit-proof Fence. By Christine Olsen. Perf. Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, and Kenneth
Charles Branagh. Miramax Films, 2006.
"The Stolen Generations." The Stolen Generations. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.
"" Australian Indigenous Cultural Heritage -. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.
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