Australian - Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians

See also: Indigenous Australians

The earliest accepted timeline for the first arrivals of indigenous Australians to the continent of Australia places this human migration to at least 40,000 years ago, most probably from the islands of Indonesia and New Guinea.

These first inhabitants of Australia were originally hunter-gatherer peoples, who over the course of many succeeding generations diversified widely throughout the continent and its nearby islands. Although their technical culture remained static—depending on wood, bone, and stone tools and weapons—their spiritual and social life was highly complex. Most spoke several languages, and confederacies sometimes linked widely scattered tribal groups. Aboriginal population density ranged from one person per square mile along the coasts to one person per 35 square miles (91 km2) in the arid interior. Food procurement was usually a matter for the nuclear family, requiring an estimated 3 days of work per week. There was little large game, and outside of some communities in the more fertile south-east, they had no agriculture.

Dutch navigators landed on the coasts of modern Western Australia and Queensland several times during the 17th century, and Australia may have been sighted by Portuguese sailors in 1701. Captain James Cook claimed the east coast for Great Britain in 1770, the west coast was later settled by Britain also. At that time, the indigenous population was estimated to have been between 315,000 and 750,000, divided into as many as 500 tribes speaking many different languages. In the 2006 Census, 407,700 respondents declared they were Aboriginal, 29,512 declared they were Torres Strait Islander, and a further 17,811 declared they were both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. After adjustments for undercount, the indigenous population as of end June 2006 was estimated to be 517,200, representing about 2.5% of the population.

Since the end of World War II, efforts have been made both by the government and by the public to be more responsive to Aboriginal rights and needs. Today, many tribal Aborigines lead a settled traditional life in remote areas of northern, central, and western Australia. In the south, where most Aborigines are of mixed descent, most live in the cities.

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Famous quotes containing the word indigenous:

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