Published on January 16th, 2014
Aborigines: Who are the first Australians in history?
Seen even today as bizarre and primitive men, Aborigines or Native Australians constitute a unique culture with outstanding features. Like all traditional native communities unwillingly came into contact with white settlers, Aborigines have suffered a lot from them during their recent tumultuous history. Unfairly disregarded, even despised, these peaceful people were just about to lose their own culture and identity, like real exiles in their own country. Today, their world continues to fascinate a number of historians, ethnologists and anthropologists who say all that Aborigines still have many undiscovered mysteries.
Where do Aborigines come from?
Unlike the other groups and the rest of the world human population, the genetic lineage in those places is relatively unknown, it seems that Aborigines entered Australia 40,000-60,000 years ago. There are actually some scholars who say that these groups of people came to the Australian subcontinent 120,000-150,000 years ago, but there is no archaeological evidence to support this hypothesis.
In fact, 40,000 years ago the world was significantly different from that of today, even the climatic and geographical considerations. A glaciation had just ended, but there were still huge ice caps that extended far form the polar areas. In fact these ice caps made the ocean levels 120-180 meters lower than today. Consequently Australia had a much larger area than the present, and the islands of New Guinea and Tasmania were part of the Australian subcontinent.
In fact, Australia was then separated from Asia by a strait whose width did not exceed 128 km. Probably the biggest reason that caused the migration of human populations from the Indonesian Islands to the new land of Australia consisted simply form the spontaneous great vegetation fires of the subcontinent, whose smoke was spotted by the human community.
That in itself seems to have triggered the first wave of migration to Australia. Once here, the first people spread mainly to the ocean to the south along the coasts of Australia, some of them reaching in Tasmania today. Finally, those who would be called aborigines have colonized every part of their new homeland. However, even today the Aborigines come from one original population, diverse habitats in which they lived have influenced the language and customs of each subgroup separately.
Based on this, researchers have identified so far over 500 separate subgroups of aboriginal natives, each with its own language, clan and territory but with the same religion as themselves called dreamtime.
More than 500 Aboriginal clans and tribes can be classified into two distinct subgroups, namely those living in Australia, and those living in the coastal zone. The separation of the two groups, given their geographical division led to differences between people’s perceptions and beliefs about the nature surrounding. But some beliefs, such as reincarnation or “dreamtime” were accepted by all Aborigines.
The Dreamtime constitutes a plurality of beliefs and rituals relating to Aboriginal characteristic only. Researchers have highlighted four aspects of this archaic religion: Life itself – the influence and the cult of ancestors, the evolution of the soul during life and after death, and identifying sources of energy and power to man.
Dreamtime included all these facets, being a set of archaic spiritual techniques and are aimed to transcend time and space. In this note their perception of time and space, described best in the Aboriginal phrase “everything now, once”, instead of perceiving time as something that is succeeding, which is flowing and linear, as does the modern man sense it. This perception was because the indigenous Australian dreamtime is experienced and lived as a state in which the past, present and future coexist harmoniously.
Although dreamtime seems to have a strong component of a mystical and mysterious to the Western mind, experimentation and practice were based simply on observing and understanding the nature and the defining characteristics of human relationships. For example, for aboriginal, this is nothing but the result of their ancestors and forefathers, so an ideal present is generated by love, care and heroic deeds of all parents and grandparents, to the farthest ancestors.
For Aborigines, like many other ancient culture the heroic deeds of the ancestors were always remembered with great respect and consideration. Even in everyday life, each member of the tribe draws energy and power from the ancestors.
Aborigines believe that every man has in itself a “something” that is eternal. That entity, the eternal essence there before the birth of the individual, and arises with every man. A person has to live within that time from which it came from and return. The aboriginal spirituality, life and death are in perfect harmony until the human spirit returns to the eternal life.
Unsuspected treasures of some “primitive” people
The modern man is often tempted to add the patronizing, derogatory label of “primitive” man from a ancient culture that has survived until today with no economic sense to evolve technologically. There is nothing more wrong!
Maybe these people, among which stands out the aborigines who did not invent ships, swords, airplanes, tanks, bombs or smartphones, but perhaps the state of the soul and their spirit is more evolved than ours.
For the first anthropologists here, all studies in this area have shown that in order to understand how these people see themselves and the world around them, you must first forget the way we see the world, and especially the excessive rationalization, a thinking deviation of the modern man is more guilty.
All studies in this area have shown that people in ancient cultures live naturally a “indiscriminate mental state” which reveals a more accurate and realistic perception of the surrounding world, compared with people who come from over technologized cultures. These people live naturally what modern psychologists are struggling to implement yo the lives of their patients. For example, an aboriginal has no way to feel isolated, phobic, rejected, depressed, for his mind and soul does not suffer form “isolation” neither from individuals nor society, nor the surrounding world.
Aborigines did not share the religious life or existence apart, social, artistic life, leisure and privacy. This example can be observed in other archaic or traditional cultures around the world where religious acts, work and sitting around the table are strongly interrelated activities. This is probably the reason why traditional Aboriginal societies have no bad things like stealing, violence, aberrant sexual behavior or other antisocial acts. The perpetrator was outcast form the tribe, and for him this is in fact a heavier penalty than death.
For isolation was unbearable for someone coming from a culture where social ties were essential. For example, the first Aboriginal who came into contact with British settlers did not understand why after graduation, their children left home to live their lives away from the family. For this reason, Aborigines believed white people are a kind of monsters who are guilty of unthinkable sin. Namely that parents let their children to leave the family and children want to live away from family and relatives…
The mental state in which we perceive the so called “Here and Now”, and the past is very close to the present, is probably the most natural and healthy state of mind. It is nothing more than state that the child feels before birth and the development of concepts in learning and memory. Just watching aboriginal rituals we can obtain such mental states from which a man is filled with peace, tranquility and joy. Dreamtime precisely targets regaining the initial existential condition.
Life as it was just a passing phase, a small stop in Eternity, stop that has beginning and end. Living in dreamtime has no beginning and no end. Experiencing the true religion is lived, either through ritual or dream, and is a natural occurrence in the life of the individual. Who can fully reach dreamtime, they will not feel any separation between himself and his line of ancestors. The future is less uncertain, because the individual felt that life was like a fluid inseparable from notions of past and present. Thus the limitations of Time and Space were becoming increasingly blurred.
Scientists have observed a mysterious phenomenon that they could not explain it. Ie if an Aboriginal relative located far away from it is ill or gets hurt, they can feel and know instantly that his relative is in trouble.
For Aborigines death or separation means not the end. Death was seen as a step in which the man who emerged from the earthly dreamtime existence through birth, returns there. Relatives of the deceased continued to be part of the community. Sometimes used to appear in the dreams of those present to warn of impending trouble or tell them how to treat illnesses.
Aborigines also believe that each person leaves the soul during sleep to temporarily re-enter dreamtime. Aborigines today are related to the surrounding world in a unique way. For them, the nature of the surrounding desert, rocks, forest, ocean are nothing more than an externalization of the inner world of each individual.
Each tribe has its own territory and people think that during dreamtime, each line of ancestors shaped the territory that was left for his followers.
Like many other ancient cultures, the natives of Australia are heavily dependent on their beliefs, their lands and their spirituality. Hence derive their vitality, joy of life and identity. This however makes them particularly vulnerable to outside influences that disturb their habits and lifestyle.
Today, Aborigines face and other major problems. Under pressure from settlers along the time, many Aborigines fled their traditional lifestyle and moved to the suburbs of large Australian cities. If the 18th and 19th centuries, the Aborigines were often killed on the spot by British settlers in Australia, in the 20th century the killing policy was changed with the “kidnapping” of Aboriginal children from their family and then forced them into education and boarding schools to eradicate any traces of native culture and language.
Their unemployment rate is over 40% because Aborigines are still heavily discriminated against on racial criteria, which is why many employers refuse to hire them. Even the police and authorities sometimes discriminate them. In many places like pubs and clubs they have different areas where they serve Aborigines.
Recently there were still some political progress resulting in the election of the first female Aboriginal member of parliament. It seems that their current situation is similar to that of blacks in the United States between the years 1960-1970, and it will take a long time until Aborigines will have the same rights and facilities of the white population of Australia.
Even today Australian authorities refused to give back the land that Aborigines lived on before the arrival of the British. The fighting for their rights continues, and recently, Aboriginal confess union entitled Martu managed to take possession of lands held by their ancestors in Western Australia. It seems today’s dream-time turns slowly but steadily into fight-time.