Australian History

AUSTRALIA HISTORY: The First Nations peoples have lived and practiced their cultures since time immemorial

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Jan.27: 2023:

#AceHistoryDesk – These rich and diverse cultures are maintained through song, dance, storytelling, ceremony and language.


The Australian Museum has one of the world’s most-significant First Nations collections representing these cultures, with artworks, technologies and cultural material representing First Nations communities from across Australia.

Increased collaboration with First Nations peoples and communities is ensuring the objects held in the Australian Museum Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection are interpreted appropriately. The rich knowledge embodied in the collections is activated through programs and exhibitions that provide connections to living practices and deepen public knowledge of First Nations cultures and lived experiences.

The Australian Museum website is also a platform for First Nations voices. The articles here-in are a collection of First Nations writers sharing their expertise and opinions on issues important to First Nations people, helping uncover Australia’s hidden histories.

Explore our collections, learn from knowledge shared by First Nations writers and discover our new learning space Burra and permanent exhibitions Garrigarrang (Sea Country) and Bayala Nura(Yarning Country) when you visit the Australian Museum.

Australia’s 1901 Constitution treated First Nations peoples differently from other Australians. From 1901 to 1971 they were excluded from being counted as part of the national population.

In 1967 Australians voted to change the Constitution. The 1971 Census of Population and Housing was the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were included in the population count.

This was a symbolic moment in the long struggle for First Nations recognition and rights.

Moses Nelliman, Badulaig and Meriam, Torres Strait, 2021:

Data was collected on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prior to that [1971] but obviously it was done in a different context, not for their betterment. It was used to gather information about people that were displaced, removed from Country, placed into institutions. Whereas the ’71 Census was the first time that Australia’s First Nations people were recorded as citizens of this great nation.

Every five years the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a census of Australia. The census gathers a range of information including the number of people who live in Australia and includes questions on age, gender, ancestry, relationships, location, dwellings, languages spoken at home, employment and religion.

Aboriginal Australians National Geographic News

Aboriginal Australians could be the oldest population of humans living outside of Africa, where one theory says they migrated from in boats 70,000 years ago.

Australia’s first people—known as Aboriginal Australians—have lived on the continent for over 50,000 years. Today, there are 250 distinct language groups spread throughout Australia. Aboriginal Australians are split into two groups: Aboriginal peoples, who are related to those who already inhabited Australia when Britain began colonizing the island in 1788, and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who descend from residents of the Torres Strait Islands, a group of islands that is part of modern-day Queensland, Australia.

All Aboriginal Australians are related to groups indigenous to Australia. However, the use of the term indigenous is controversial, since it can be claimed by people who descend from people who weren’t the original inhabitants of the island. Legally, “Aboriginal Australian” is recognized as“a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he [or she] lives.”

Aboriginal origins

In 2017, a genetic study of the genomes of 111 Aboriginal Australians found that today’s Aboriginal Australians are all related to a common ancestor who was a member of a distinct population that emerged on the mainland about 50,000 years ago. Humans are thought to have migrated to Northern Australia from Asia using primitive boats. A current theory holds that those early migrants themselves came out of Africa about 70,000 years ago, which would make Aboriginal Australians the oldest population of humans living outside Africa.

NG Live!: Amy Toensing: The Aboriginal Homeland

Through her stunning photography, Amy Toensing touches upon the Aboriginal Australians’ cultural struggle, but celebrates these indigenous people’s unique way of life and their connection to their ancestral lands. The National Geographic Live! series brings thought-provoking presentations by today’s leading explorers, scientists, photographers, and performing artists right to your YouTube feed. Each presentation is filmed in front of a live audience at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. New clips air every Monday.

British settlement

When British settlers began colonizing Australia in 1788, between 750,000 and 1.25 Aboriginal Australians are estimated to have lived there. Soon, epidemics ravaged the island’s indigenous people, and British settlers seized Aboriginal lands.

Though some Aboriginal Australians did resist—up to 20,000 indigenous people died in violent conflict on the colony’s frontiers—most were subjugated by massacres and the impoverishment of their communities as British settlers seized their lands.

The Stolen Generations

Between 1910 and 1970, government policies of assimilation led to between 10 and 33 percent of Aboriginal Australian children being forcibly removed from their homes. These “Stolen Generations” were put in adoptive families and institutions and forbidden from speaking their native languages. Their names were often changed.

In 2008, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a national apology for the country’s actions toward Aboriginal Australians of the Stolen Generations; since then, Australia has worked to reduce social disparities between Aboriginal Australians and non-indigenous Australians.

Only in 1967 did Australians vote that federal laws also would apply to Aboriginal Australians. Most Aboriginal Australians did not have full citizenship or voting rights until 1965.

The struggle continues

Today, about three percent of Australia’s population has Aboriginal heritage. Aboriginal Australians still struggle to retain their ancient culture and fight for recognition—and restitution—from the Australian government. The state of Victoria is currently working toward a first-of-its-kind treaty with its Aboriginal population that would recognize Aboriginal Australians’ sovereignty and include compensation. However, Australia itself has never made such a treaty, making it the only country in the British Commonwealth not to have ratified a treaty with its First Nations peoples.

Click here to see all videos about Aboriginal Australians from National Geographic.

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1967 referendum

In 1967 Australians overwhelmingly voted to amend the Constitution. One of these changes was to remove section 127:

In reckoning the numbers of people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.

Section 127 did not prevent First Nations peoples from being counted in the census. But it did mean they were not counted as part of the national population. In fact, the census identified those people of mainly Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, in order to exclude them from national population calculations.

Australian census before 1971

Soon after the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, British colonists tried to work out how many First Nations peoples lived there.

In August 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip sent several boats to count the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, who lived in and around Warrane (Sydney Harbour).

Before 1901 each Australian colony made attempts to calculate the numbers of First Nations peoples. This became complicated as colonial authorities used racially based methods that have now been discredited to define who was and was not ‘Aboriginal’.

After Federation in 1901 the Australian census continued to attempt to distinguish between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Many had mixed ancestry. Only individuals considered to be of more than ‘half’ Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ancestry were counted as First Nations peoples.

Early censuses, from 1911 on, simply asked each person what race they were. However, from 1933 to 1961 people were asked whether they were ‘European’ or some other race such as ‘Aboriginal, Chinese, Negro, Afghan, &c’. The census assumed that those who nominated ‘mixed caste’ were half-European and asked them to write ‘H.C.’ (‘half-caste’) with the name of their other racial heritage.

By 1966 the term ‘half-caste’ was considered derogatory and people of ‘mixed race’ were asked to nominate fractions – a quarter, half, three-quarters and so on. The 1966 Census was the only one which attempted such categorisation.

Torres Strait Islander peoples were counted differently to Aboriginal peoples from 1947. In that year they were excluded from the ‘aboriginal natives’ definition of the Constitution and instead classified as ‘Polynesians’. This meant they were included in national population calculations.

Another difficulty in calculating the numbers of First Nations peoples was that many lived in remote areas. Before 1967 the census did not or could not accurately count the large First Nations population living in non-urban areas. The census relied on estimates provided by state and territory authorities in charge of First Nations welfare.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: and all wordpress and live posts and links here: and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com