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Aboriginal Culture

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Diversity in Aboriginal culture was a product of the wide range of physical environments that Aborigines occupied:

From the snow areas of the high country in the southeast to the beaches and rain forests of the tropical north, from the rich lands of the major river systems to the desert regions of the center. Adaptation to these environments led to the development of different economic systems, involving a variety of tools, technology, living and work patterns.

For Aborigines, though, life was sustained by hunting. This nomadic life provided the Aboriginal people with a healthy diet, and in some areas, such as coastal Arnhem Land, subsistence required the equivalent of only three day's work a week.

Australian Aboriginal economies were predicated on mobility and the absence of concern with the accumulation of goods and property.

People undertook regular seasonal moves over particular areas to exploit certain resources and to participate in ceremonial gatherings with other groups.

These movements were territorially restricted by Aboriginal law:

"Not one person, before colonisation, could move at will across Australia."

Division of labor was primarily based on gender: men hunted large game, while women gathered small ground reptiles and other animals as well as vegetables. In coastal and riverine areas both men and women fished and gathered shellfish.
As extensive food storage was not possible, this meant that most food, once obtained, had to be consumed immediately. Aboriginal kinship obligations made sharing a major and defining ethos of the culture.

"To be human was to share."

Law and Order

Law and order was maintained through the infusion of religious ideology into everyday actions and through enforcement by senior men and women, with serious infringement sometimes resulting in death.

The attainment of religious knowledge began with initiation during adolescence and became a lifelong quest. Both men and women had specific religious ceremonies and held specific aspects or segments of mythical information. Some of these ceremonies were secret and restricted, others public.

Some of the "classical" features of pre-contact Aboriginal society are still evident in Aboriginal life in some areas of Australia.
In the Northern Territory, far northern Queensland, and parts of Western Australia and South Australia the tradition-oriented Aborigines struggle to maintain the survival of their classical culture. Although they have been affected by, and participate in, the broader, dominating system of Australia, these Aborigines maintain beliefs and social practices that are oriented more toward an Aboriginal world and history than a European one.
Aborigines, despite loss of land rights and loss of identity, without a doubt, have never lost sight that their culture is unique and must be preserved. Artwork, handed down from generation to genration with a style that changes from tribe to tribe, cannot be copied, although many have tried.
Aborigines also have music that stirs the heartstrings. If one but listens with openess of heart and soul, one can feel oneself drawn to an era, where man was one with the universe, where rivers were abundant and gave of themselves and animals roamed freely not fearing man.
Aborigines have strived hard to regain their landrights, and I for one hope they succeed, as it would be disasterous, should a nation once proud and strong, be lost to us through neglect and greed. Land shuld be returned to the Aborigines, as well as their rightful place in society. We must strive in unity to regain what is rightfully the Aborigines; the law of humanity alone demands it. Immigrants who have migrated here, should remember what it is like to be without a country or hope, then aid the one who was here first, who made Australia a wonderful country.

Ruling enhances claims

The Native Title Act of 1993 was passed by the previous Labor Party government in response to a historic court ruling that, despite more than 200 years of settlement by Europeans, Aborigines still could claim land rights.

The act set out a process for Aborigines to claim ownership if they could prove they had a continuous ancestral link to the land.

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