Aboriginals

Aboriginal life before the arrival of the Europeans

Before the arrival of the First British Fleet in Australia in 1788, the land was inhabited by many different communities, or tribes, of Aboriginal people. They each had their own language, culture, and traditions, and survived off the land, using stone tools. The Stone Age lifestyle continued until their encounter with Europeans, as Aborigines did not develop metalworking or pottery. It has been argued that this was not due to a lack of ability to advance their stone technology but to a lack of need to do so, since Aborigines had access, for example, to a type of stones which are harder and sharper than metals, and, therefore, more useful when made into tools.

The hunter-gatherer lifestyle

The Aboriginal communities did not live in one place for a long period – their hunter-gatherer lifestyle meant they relied heavily on the land’s and coast’s resources, such as animals, fish, and plants, so they made sure not to deplete them. Indigenous men hunted larger animals such as emus and kangaroos, caught fish and shellfish on the coast, while the women and children gathered plants, berries, and fruits, or hunted smaller animals. The Aborigines’ respect for the land was reflected by the fact that nothing was over hunted or over gathered, and all parts of the plants or animals were eaten or used to make tools, weapons, clothing, or baskets.

The Aborigines’ habit of moving from one area to another was, however, a reason which let the Europeans feel that the land was not owned by anyone. Moreover, the Indigenous people did not have the same view on land ownership as the Europeans and did not mark it in a way which reflected property. The boundaries of certain parts of the land were geographical, represented by lakes, mountains, or rivers. This knowledge was passed down generations through practices such as storytelling, songs, art, or dance.

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