A school report I did...
Disclaimer, views expressed are the author's/authors'/mine
Much of this is very controversial.
Aboriginals and Europeans
Australian Aborigines and European settlers have often conflicted ever since Europeans first came to Australia. Both sides have been guilty of violence to the other side. Many people today campaign that the European settlers need to apologize and compensate the Australian Aboriginals. Let us examine the history.
When the Europeans originally came to Australia the Aboriginals were living over much of Australia. It is believed that at least 750 000 Aboriginal people were living in Australia at the time of Captain Cook's arrival. Early relationships with the original explorers were often friendly. They often helped the explorers by finding food, interpreting and advising them. Explorer James Cook wrote of the Aboriginals,
“... they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon Earth, but in reality they are far more happier than we Europans(sic); being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary Conveniences so much sought after in Europe, they are happy in not knowing the use of them ... the Earth and sea of their own accord furnished them with all things necessary for life ...“
However as more settlers came to Australia, most of them often regarded Aboriginals as a nuisance and didn’t negotiate fairly buying of land, etc. Most Europeans at that time considered their own civilisation to be superior, and thought that Aboriginal people were backward and needed help. This was a good idea, to help them, but the way the British did it was not kind or Christian-like even though the British claimed to be. Also misunderstandings existed on both sides. The Aboriginals had no knowledge of European customs and values. They did not understand the European idea of ownership. In the beginning, they were willing to share food and knowledge about the land with Europeans. In return they expected the settlers to share their tools, animals and other food with them. Of course there was conflict when they tried to do that as Europeans saw things differently.
However both sides were at fault. As settlers expanded across Australia, they met with Aboriginals. Initially, the Aboriginal people often greeted explorers and early settlers with friendship and hospitality. Fighting began once the Aboriginals realised that the newcomers meant to take over their land and all the resources so Aboriginal people tried to protect what was theirs. However other Aboriginals saw the Europeans as an easy source of food and often stole and speared sheep and cattle and also stole food from settlements. White settlers reacted to such events by hunting down Aboriginals and inflicting their own punishments.
Also many of the settlers were influenced by the at the time new Darwinian Theory of human evolution. This theory taught that the Aborigines were supposedly less evolved than the white people and had lesser intelligence, thereby giving the Europeans some justification for their treatment of Aboriginals. In Australia it was the mainstream view, even fifty years after Darwin’s death, that our Aborigines were morally and intellectually inferior to white people, and that they should be ‘encouraged’ to die out. Scientific justifications for racism were common before Darwin, but they increased much following the publication of his book in 1859. Sadly this theory was to play a major part in later years, and not only among treatment of the Australian Aborigines but also among other ‘inferior’ races. Also Aboriginal remains were often taken to study scientifically to try and learn about human evolution.
A glaring example is below
"I look on the blacks as a set of monkeys and the sooner they are exterminated from the face of the earth, the better. I knew the men were guilty of murder but I would never see a white man hanged for killing a black. (a juror at the trial of 12 settlers on trial for murdering 28 unarmed Aborigines, known as the Myall Creek Massacre)"1
"the whole gang of black animals are not worth the money the colonists will have to pay for printing the silly court documents on which we have already wasted too much time(The Sydney Morning Herald reporting on the trial)".1
Historians believe that up to 20,000 people died in various conflicts between Aboriginal people and Europeans during the period of more than 100 years it took for white settlement to extend across the continent. Of this 20,000, about 18,000 were Aboriginal people. Many thousands more Aboriginals died from diseases introduced by the settlers or through being pushed off their land and the destruction of their culture. Nevertheless, many Europeans had good intentions toward Aboriginal people. Similarly, until Aboriginals turned to violent action to defend themselves, they often welcomed the first Europeans and treated them well. Many Europeans in the 19th century who when faced with clear evidence of injustice, acted with decency towards Aboriginals. There were many Europeans with a humanitarian outlook toward the Aboriginals. They viewed them as fellow human beings who should be helped rather than ill treated. Many Christians started Aboriginal missions as a way to teach Aboriginals Christianity and keep them off alcohol which was one of the worst things the settlers brought to Australia. Alcohol, and later drug, addiction remains a major problem among Aboriginals today and often turned tribes violent and has, along with disease introduced by the settlers, unfortunately contributed to the poor health and death of many Aboriginals. Unfortunately good intentions were not always gone about in a proper way. This led to the controversial Stolen Generations.
The Australian and State Governments forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their homes in the 1960s to give better education. This had good intentions, but was not done in a proper way. Children were forcibly removed from their parents. Also the official Bringing Them Home report also identified instances of official misrepresentation and deception, such as when caring and able parents were incorrectly described by Aboriginal Protection Officers as not being able to properly provide for their children, or when parents were told by government officials that their children had died, or vice versa, even though this was not the case.
Nationally we can conclude with confidence that between one in three and one in ten Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities in the period from approximately 1910 until 1970. In certain regions and in certain periods the figure was undoubtedly much greater than one in ten. In that time not one family has escaped the effects of forcible removal (confirmed by representatives of the Queensland and WA Governments in evidence to the Inquiry). Most families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible removal of one or more children.
“I was at the post office with my Mum and Auntie [and cousin]. They put us in the police ute and said they were taking us to Broome. They put the mums in there as well. But when we'd gone [about ten miles (16 km)] they stopped, and threw the mothers out of the car. We jumped on our mothers' backs, crying, trying not to be left behind. But the policemen pulled us off and threw us back in the car. They pushed the mothers away and drove off, while our mothers were chasing the car, running and crying after us. We were screaming in the back of that car. When we got to Broome they put me and my cousin in the Broome lock-up. We were only ten years old. We were in the lock-up for two days waiting for the boat to Perth.”3
Mr Trevorrow was separated from his mother in December 1957 after he was admitted to Adelaide's Children's Hospital with gastroenteritis. More than six months later, his mother wrote to the state's Aboriginal Protection Board, which had fostered him out, asking when she could have her son back. "I am writing to ask if you would let me know how Bruce is and how long before I can have him back home," she wrote in July 1958. "I have not forgot I got a baby in there". The Court was told the board lied to her, writing her son was "making good progress" and that the doctors still needed him for treatment.4
However some Aboriginal people do not condemn the government’s past actions; they see that part of their intention was to offer opportunities for education and an eventual job.
“I was put in a mission dormitory when I was eight, nine. I cried for two nights, then I was right with the rest of those kids. We weren't stolen; our family was there. It was a good system. Or a better system than now. At least my generation learnt to read and write properly.”5
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd presented a formal apology to the Indigenous Australians on 13 February 2008. Widely applauded by both Indigenous Australians and the non-indigenous general public, nonetheless it was controversial, with some people saying it was unnecessary while others saying it was long overdue.
Both the Europeans and Aboriginals were clearly often at fault over the years. But there was often blame shifting and passing the buck. The European settlers were guilty of not understanding the Aboriginals and treating them as worthless there by taking the land, but the Aboriginals were also guilty of stealing from the Europeans and using them a ready source of food and shelter. Well meaning Europeans often tried to help but their efforts were often hampered by resentment of the European settlers and distrust. I personally believe that both sides were at fault, but the white settlers are more to blame.
Happily though, more and more Aboriginals are turning to Christ for hope, and as one person put it, “Jesus as 'the in-between one' or the one who stands between the races.”6
Christ can and will change both white and black and both sides need to learn from the past and work together in the future for a peaceful Australia.
“If those who are accumulating wealth in the possession of this people's land, do not devote a portion of those riches for so noble, so just a cause [as the improvement of the lives of Aboriginal people], will not the cry of a brother's blood, occasioned too often to be shed through the thirst for wealth, encroaching on their native rights, ascend into the ears of Him who has said 'For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise?'”
4 The West Australian, Thursday 2 August 2007.
6 John Blacket, Fire in the Outback, Albatross, 1997, p.188.
7 N. Gunson 1974, Australian Reminiscences and Papers of L.E. Threlkeld, Missionary to the Aborigines, 1824-1859, Edited by Niel Gunson, Australian Aboriginal Studies No. 40, AIAS, Canberra: 194