Cultural Anthropology

What effect did English colonization have on the Aborigines?
Answered by HowStuffWorks
  • HowStuffWorks

    HowStuffWorks

  1. The Aboriginal home, Australia, was discovered by James Cook after his departure from England to explore the South Seas in 1768. He named it New South Wales, and after he departed, no one visited the island continent for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately for the Aborigines, events far from their land would soon impact their lives. After the British colonies declared independence, England needed a new place to house its criminals (previously, they had been shipped to North America). In 1788, England began building prisons in Australia, which signified the beginning of the end of Aboriginal dominance of the continent.

    The Aborigines in Australia suffered an experience during this European colonization that was similar to that of the indigenous populations of the Americas. Aborigines were driven from their lands or killed by unfamiliar diseases. And because Aborigines were nomadic hunter-gatherers, they faced a serious risk of starvation, because colonization prevented them from roaming freely over their lands in search of food. Many of those who survived were forced into slavery, and entire tribes died out completely. Aborigines numbered in the hundreds of thousands when Australia was discovered, but their numbers dropped dramatically soon after colonization. Because of this disruption, much of Aboriginal culture and history has been lost.

    Troubles continued thereafter for the remaining Aborigines. In Australia, "The Stolen Generation" refers to almost 100,000 children of Aborigines who were removed from their parents' custody between the years 1910 and 1970. The Australian government's rationale for this, reportedly, was that Aboriginal people had high levels of alcoholism and drug addiction, criminal behavior and infant death, and it was hoped that by being separated from Aboriginal society, the children would grow up free of these troubles. Unfortunately, the children were not accepted into Australian society, due to their race, and they suffered emotionally. The Australian government delayed for many years apologizing to the Aboriginal parents and children. The government was afraid of lawsuits and claims for reparations. But in 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized for the treatment of the Aborigines by the Australian government.

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