Introduction

Introduction

Aborigines are a dignified race, with a sustainable, spiritual culture that enabled their people to become wiser as they grew older, and keep things on a balanced, even keel over tens of thousands of years, whilst living in a high degree of harmony with the environment. They have a very long history being able to really enjoying basic subsistence living, where their necessities were met, whilst minimising their material needs, to enable them to be mobile. So they have never needed a lot, just the necessities. Living attuned to nature ensured they were well nourished, and enabled them to be the absolute masters of thriving on meagre resources, through employing naturally developed skilful means. This kept them realistic and sensible, and enabled them to live sustainably throughout their entire existence.

Settlement, or what many Aboriginal people call ‘the invasion’, was by British forces in control of British prisoners, considered as unworthy of the motherland and sentenced to transportation as a cheap and particularly nasty way of opening a colony, by using them as slave labour, under extremely harsh and cruel conditions. This was a horrific and shameful experiment in colonisation to those forcibly emigrated. The initial wave of settlement was followed by an overly zealous religious invasion, which often saw its opportunity in regaling those having been transported of their historical ‘proven and recorded’ sinful nature. A wave of guilt swept Australia catching up many of those who had regarded themselves as being successfully rehabilitated.

But the harsh, cruel and guilt laden experiences of the settlers, as bad as they were, were as nothing compared to what was visited upon the native peoples. Much of their land, including hunting grounds and food sources were stolen from them by an elitist squattocracy who chose not to regard the native Aboriginal people as properly human and thereby deserving of the land, and slaughtered many with impunity, over the taking of sheep or cattle to feed those who were now deprived of their only food sources.

Neither did the religious persecution as applied to the ‘settlement sinners’ restrain itself to the transported, white population. Indigenous peoples were regarded by those early Christian zealots as devil ridden, and requiring of harsh control of every aspect of their lives, and led to the setting up of missions, which attempted to eliminate all vestiges of traditional living, including their religious beliefs and practices, often by beatings and other harsh forms of punishment, and to replace these traditional values with ‘Christian’ practices. And as harsh and cruel and intolerant as most missions were, the mission period is today generally regarded as the most successful period of post-invasion prescribed and forced living for remote Aboriginal peoples.

The mission period was followed by state intervention, and most missions became settlements. These were neither townships, nor communities, being lacking in the essential structures and infrastructures of either, even though both terms are used today as euphemisms to hide the continuing harsh conditions and deprivations of essentials, which remote peoples are still being subjected to.

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