The traditional religions of the Australian Aborigines are generally polytheistic. According to these religions, the Aborigines were created in Australia at the beginning of time by spirits who rose from beneath the earth. Recent discoveries in genetics, however, have given us new insights into early human migration and the population of the various continents. Most anthropologists and other experts on human evolution currently propose that all humans originally came from Africa, in what is known as the "out of Africa" theory [source: The Independent]. This theory, in opposition to the theory that different group of humans evolved separately around the world, states that lower primates evolved to become biologically modern Homo sapiens in Africa, then undertook mass migrations that would lead them to all other corners of the globe. According to DNA evidence, the people we would come to call the Aborigines walked out of Africa to Eurasia and then migrated along the coastal areas of Southeast Asia from India. The Aborigines then crossed a land bridge from Asia to Australia which is believed to have existed about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago [sources: National Geographic, The New York Times]. The Aborigines share heritage with many of the native peoples of Papua New Guinea, who DNA tests have proved were part of the same ancient transcontinental migration.
Since then, Aborigine peoples have been forced to endure the rule of foreign colonial powers and other hardships. In Australia, the Aborigines suffered much the same fate as Native Americans and Africans did in North America. They were driven off their lands, killed, and in many cases they were forced into slavery. As a result, Aborigines had no official place in Australia's European colonial society. Beginning in 1967, however, Aborigines began to follow the example of the American Civil Rights Movement and fought for equal rights. A subsequent referendum passed to Australia's constitution gave Aborigines the right to vote, as well as inclusion in census data. This gave Aborigines official standing as Australian citizens. However, Aborigines still struggle for full equality in Australian society and don't own much of the land that was taken from them.
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