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The Aborigines and the Native Americans:

A Compare and Contrast Essay

The Aborigines and the Native Americans have a lot in common. They are both

people groups that are indigenous to a certain area. The Europeans came in and took over

both of these peoples’ homelands. The Europeans did not understand the peoples, and

therefore did not treat them well. They pushed the natives out of their lands and took

over. As compensation for the horrible things the natives went through at the hands of the

new settlers, the natives were given small plots of land. Although these lands did not

make up for all that happened, they were and attempt by the government to appease the

natives. This did not work very well to placate the natives, as there are still many

conflicts between the natives and the government hundreds of years after the natives were

pushed from their homes. Since they experienced some of the same things, both of these

groups have some of the same feelings about the countries that came in and conquered

them.

The Aborigines are the native peoples of Australia. They migrated to Australia

approximately 50,000 years ago from the mainland of Asia. When these people migrated

to Australia, they didn’t know what to expect. No one had ever lived there before and

they couldn’t send people ahead to scout out the area because they had no other options.

When the Aborigines arrived in Australia, they were greeted by an area of hostile land

and temperamental climates. These factors proved to be very challenging for the

Aborigines. They had to learn to live from the land and survive in the rapidly changing

weather.
After living from the land for hundreds of years, the Aborigines learned to hunt

the animals that were native to the area, to fish in the waters on the coasts, and to eat of

the plants that were already growing in the area. These plants included coconuts, berries,

and some other fruits and root crops native to the area. The Aborigines also domesticated

some of the animals for hunting purposes. It is believed that the Aborigines brought the

dingoes over with them from Asia for use as domesticated hunting dogs.

It is possible that before the Europeans arrived in Australia, there could have been

as many as one and a quarter million Aborigines living on the continent. These people

were separated into approximately 500 groups, these groups ranged in size from 6 to 30

people. These people lived in all different parts of the country, with the majority of the

people centered on the coasts and the banks of the major rivers. Since these people lived

in separate areas, their cultures developed a little differently. For instance, they developed

many different languages. There were originally over 250 different Aboriginal languages,

but since the overtaking by the British, most of the languages are dead, with only 50 of

the Aboriginal languages still being spoken today.

When the Europeans first landed in Australia, they did not understand the people

there. They spoke different languages, had different customs, and lived in very different

ways. The Europeans were living in the period of the enlightenment, while the Aborigines

were living in the Stone Age. The Europeans thought the Aborigines to be a very

primitive people, and therefore they would be doing them a favor by taking over the lands

and implementing their own government over the Aborigines.

The first problem with the British arrival showed up soon after they landed. This

was the wave of European endemic diseases such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, and
influenza. The Aborigines had not been exposed to these diseases before, and were

therefore severely susceptible to them. The worst hit areas were those that had higher

population densities, mainly those on the coasts. This is because the proximity of the

people allowed for very quick transfer of the disease. The areas that were further inland

and spread out more weren’t hit as badly because the people did not live as close to each

other, which made it harder for the diseases to spread and easier to keep the infected

people isolated. Another group of diseases brought over to Australia by the British were

the venereal diseases. The Aborigines had no tolerance to these diseases, which caused a

rapid drop in the Aboriginal birthrates. These diseases exponentially depleted the

Aboriginal population in a very short period of time, soon after the arrival of the

foreigners.

The second consequence of the British arrival also caused the death of many

Aborigines. This consequence stemmed from the British misunderstanding of the

Aboriginal people. When they first arrived, the British believe the Aborigines to be a

nomadic people. This belief led them to think that pushing the Aborigines off of land that

was useful for farming and into other areas would make no difference. They believed that

the Aborigines would be just a happy in a new area as they were in their current land. The

British couldn’t have been more wrong. The Aborigines had lived in their areas for a long

time and had learned to live from the food and water sources that were present in their

lands. The loss of their food and water sources and the death of many people due to

diseases wiped out large populations of Aborigines. The final problem caused by the

Europeans taking the land is that the Aborigines’ land had a special meaning in their
religious and cultural practices. Without the land the Aborigines could not carry out life

as they always had, and many of them died because of it.

The third consequence of the British arrival in Australia is still seen today. When

the British settled in Australia, they brought alcohol, opium, and tobacco with them.

These caused a problem because many of the Aborigines became addicted to these

substances and then died from them. This problem is still present today in the fact that of

the remaining Aborigines, most of them are addicted to at least one if not more than one

of these substances. The combination of these three consequences caused the Aboriginal

population to drop by nearly 90% between 1788, when the British established their first

settlement, to 1900. Some Aboriginal communities were completely wiped out before the

Europeans even tried to make contact with them because the diseases had spread to them

from other Aboriginal groups and some had been pushed from their homes by other

Aboriginal groups seeking homes after the Europeans took theirs.

The Europeans also great restrictions on what the Aborigines could do. These

restrictions included restrictions on education, job opportunities, voting and serving in the

army. In 1900, there was a ban on Aboriginal voting in Australia. This ban said that

minorities could not vote in provincial elections, and that anyone who could not vote in

provincial elections could not vote in federal elections either. In 1908, Australia begins to

provide social security for older people, but does not include Aborigines. In 1909, 22

Aboriginal schools were opened, and there were restrictions written to prevent Aboriginal

children from attending public school with the other children. In 1912, the Australian

government introduces maternity allowance, but did not include Aborigines. In 1914, the

government prevents Aborigines from serving in the military, but roughly 1200
Aboriginal men still enlisted, claiming to be Maori or Indian. The list of events like this

goes on and on, and it was not until 1967 that the Aborigines were allowed to be counted

in the census as Australian citizens, and they could not vote until 1983.

Most of what happened to the Aborigines is exactly what happened to the Native

Americans. The Europeans came in and took over the land; they carried diseases that

spread to and wiped out much of the Native American populations; they restricted the

rights of the Native Americans; and they introduced them to harmful substances that they

are still known for using to this day. The other thing that the Native Americans and the

Aborigines have in common is that they both now live on reservations established by

their countries governments to keep them separate from the general population. Neither

the Aborigines nor the Native Americans consider this to be fair. They consider it a feeble

attempt by the government to pay them back for all of the hardships they were put

through for over a hundred years. These reservations have caused disputes in both areas.

When a valuable natural resource is discovered on a reservation, the government wants to

be able to come in and mine it, but the natives will not allow it. They say that it is their

land and that the government has no claim to it. This is why the large stores of uranium

on the Aboriginal lands have not been mined. The Aborigines have no use for the

uranium, but it is on their land, and therefore the government has no claim to it.

In conclusion, the Aborigines and the Native Americans have been treated the

same way by the Europeans. They were stripped of their land and their rights and were

treated very poorly. This has given them a common factor in their history that makes

them more closely related than either group probably realizes. This also shows the

inhumanity of people, especially the European settlers. That they would come in and take
another man’s property and home and kick them out to die for personal gain. It really

makes one think about the general lack of kindness, generosity, and human sympathy in

the world.