Australia ’s indigenous peoples, thought to have first migrated to the continent 50,000 years ago. Before the arrival of Europeans in 1788, Aborigines arranged themselves into approximately 500 language and territorial groupings later dubbed “tribes” by white settlers. The Aborigines practiced a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and developed a diverse clan-based, highly ritualized culture that emphasized their links to the land.
   By the 1830s, the spread of white settlement in Australia had a devastating impact on the Aboriginal population. Disease, loss of land, and violence decimated the population. Imported illnesses such as smallpox, influenza, and venereal disease were responsible for often deadly epidemics and declining fertility, but competition for land and water took an even larger toll. Aboriginal efforts to resist the systematic expropriation of their land for the creation of settler farms and ranches often led to violent reprisals, leaving the survivors to face discrimination and marginalization on the fringes of white society. By the late nineteenth century official policy toward Aborigines changed into one of protection, segregation, and control, resulting in the twin policies of relocating Aborigines onto reservations and the forced removal of children from their families in an attempt at cultural assimilation. Under the 1902 federal constitution, which created a united Australia, Aborigines were specifi- cally excluded from voting rights and were denied full citizenship - injustices that were rectified only incrementally between the 1960s and 1990s.
   See also <>.
    Broome, Richard. Aboriginal Australians: Black Responses to White Dominance, 1788-1994 . 3rd ed. St. Leonards, New South Wales: Allen and Unwin, 2002;
    McGrath, Ann, ed. Contested Ground: Australian Aborigines under the British Crown . St. Leonards, New South Wales: Allen and Unwin, 1995.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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