The native inhabitants of Australia, also known as Aboriginal Australians. The peoples who lived on that continent for thousands of years before the white man came. They are the oldest surviving culture in the world, and recent DNA evidence has it they were the first group to separate from modern humans, around 70,000 years ago. They also have an older claim to the land they currently inhabit than any other population known. Interestingly, a later group seems to have arrived from India around 4,000 years ago. Contrary to popular conception, Australian Aborigines (to use the most common term) are not the only people to inhabit the continent before British colonisation. They are one of two main groups known collectively as Indigenous Australians, or First Australians. The Australian Aborigines are a well-known fixture of the world's perspective of Australia and, for many Australians of any race, just another feature of everyday life.
A brief historyAustralian Aborigines are also often an awkward subject for Aussies, due to a long history of white-dominated government actively discriminating against them. Students studying Australian history have been known to describe it as "200 years of Aborigines getting fucked over.", when confronted with the recent evidence of Aborigines being disregarded, feared and generally treated with hostility with European colonists. The popular European conception of Aborigines tells enough of a story: Starting as noble savages during the early years of colonisation, then shifting to uneducatable barbarians as the colonists started wanting more land and outright supplanting them. By the time of the late 1800s where colonial power was consolidated, Aborigines were pretty much completely absent in all depictions of the Outback, including the legendary poems of Banjo Paterson and contemporaries, and the official attitude was that they were a 'dying race' and whites could only 'smooth the deathbed pillow'. During the 20th century, attitudes towards Australian Aborigines slowly but radically changed. Some allege that the government policy towards them was, effectively, genocide up to the 1960s (see the Stolen Generations). In 1967, a Constitutional amendment meant Aborigines were no longer considered native wildlife (slight exaggeration) and Aboriginal activists became increasingly associated with the 'Black Power' movement in the United States of America as they campaigned for rights and recognition of their own. One activist, Charles Perkins, was even dubbed 'Australia's Martin Luther King' by a US commentator. An already long story short, Aborigines slowly gained many of the rights and recognition they fought for, and have become recognised as an inseparable part of Australia as a culture, a nation and a place, but many, many problems still remain to be solved.
The situation todayToday, the subject and issues of Australian Aboriginals continue to be a difficult, sensitive and touchy issue amongst Australians, especially white ones, which still urgently needs discussion. Aborigines have on average a life expectancy twenty years shorter than that of Whites and Asians in Australia, being particularly afflicted with heart and liver problems linked to a rife alcoholism in the community. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially gave a national apology to the Stolen Generations (mostly likely encouraged by the previous Prime Minister's well-known refusal to) meant to indicate a change in national policy towards Aborigines. Whether actions will back up the words, this page is potentially inflammatory enough without getting into that. At last count, according to government statistics, there are estimated to be about half a million Australian Aborigines in the country. This accounts for less than 3% of Australia's population. Many live in remote communities. The Northern Territory has the biggest population of Australian Aborigines in the country (around 30%). The first indigenous leader of a state or territory, Adam Giles, became Chief Ministernote of the Northern Territory in March of 2013. Many Australian Aboriginals are of mixed White and Aboriginal descent to varying degrees, but this is rarer in the more northern and central populations. Aborigines in media are somewhat rare, although more common than other non-White Australians.note Foreign-written portrayals of Australia tend to consider them interchangeable with the standard Magical Native American, which some Australian works are also prone to. Others range from the Noble Savage take to attempts at more nuanced and realistic representations of native Australians. It's notable to point out that most of the films mentioned star David Gulpilil in some capacity or another.
Depictions of Australian Aborigines in fiction:Anime