Aborigines in Australia.
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Aborigines in Australia Soc 305 Minority Group Relations Prof. Kim Cummins Luis Robles De Jesus Park University 2004 Outline: A) Introduction and Overview of the History of the Relationship B) Analysis of the Plight of the Australian Aborigines 1. Functional Theory 2. Conflict Theory 3. Interactive Theory C. Conclusion Foreword: The aborigines in Australia have been the subject of controversy and attention towards the end of the 20th century because of their maltreatment in the hands of their British colonizers and continued persecution in a land they rightfully own. Their rich culture, which dates back to the Ice and Stone Age, is near extinction because of the oppression they suffered through time. In spite of the odds, however, the remaining children of this near extinct but proud race are fighting valiantly to survive and preserve their proof of existence in a world dominated by educated and civilized people. This essay analyzes the plight of this minority group in three theoretical perspectives namely: Functional Theory, Conflict Theory, and Interactive Theory. A comparison of the circumstances of Australian aborigines with a minority group in the United States, the American Indians, will likewise be discussed in the concluding section. Overview of the History of the Relationship The Aborigines arrived in Australia sometime 20,000 to 70,000 years ago and are said to have cross from Indonesia by foot traversing through rough mountain ranges, probably connected with hanging bridges. Anthropologists claim that the aborigines' physical appearance and way of life approximates that of an extinct era - the Ice and Stone Age. They generally have brown skin, small figure and long thin legs, small head with black and wavy hair, and flat face with wide nose (Riedlinger, 1996). They were hunters, practically depending on wild animals and plants for food, only equipped with the basic paraphernalia of graving tools, spear, boomerang, wooden shield, grindstones, among others, moving from one area to another in search for "game food" which made them semi-nomadic people.
Functional Theory Analysis Under a functionalist perspective, the plight of Australia's Aborigines had been on a roller coaster ride, due to the differing processes of "assimilation and integration" that took place at the time of invasion to the period of self-determination in 1972. These assimilation and integration phases proved to have more dysfunctional rather than functional outcomes. For instance, before the invasion, the natives were in complete accord with their environment. With the invasion, annihilation took place, which is outside the purview of functional perspective of "equilibrium". The minority group, (or white invaders) became the majority group because of their more sophisticated weapons and culture, subjugating the Aborigines to their way of life, abusing their women, slaughtering their tribes, and taking away their lands. In retaliation, the natives fought back, robbing provisions, which incidentally led to the start of one of their social sickness - addiction to alcohol and drugs. As a result of the subjugation, the natives were regarded as slaves, their tribes were dismantled, women were raped, man became laborers in cattle ranches and farms, their population significantly reduced to near extinction, their original way of life totally repressed. At the stage of assimilation, in spite of being under the safety umbrella of the preservation camps and their Missionary guardians, their oppression graduated from physical annihilation during the invasion period to cultural annihilation, practically removing all their rights and identity as thinking human beings. By all intents and purposes, the expected results of the assimilation movement by both the government and Christian missionaries were evident. The natives were better educated, learning mathematics and English, dressing like whites, living in houses, eating white men food, and working as rural workers or laborers in farms/gardens, --- in sum, all the outward preparations for mainstream assimilation were achieved. But these expected outcomes were jaded with unintended results. The aborigines never completely imbibed the Christian doctrines; they just learned to bury their dead.
The more spouse and children a person has, the higher will be his/her status among the tribes. These perceptive differences led first in the conflict over use and ownership of land and other natural resources (economic vs. sacred) then second, in cultural and moral conflicts over acceptable conducts in society (moral vs. immoral). The Thomas Theorem (a reality is real if perceived real) is also evident and can be applied in the manner the whites grabbed the lands, through their terra nullius - if the natives were non-existent, then the land is free for all. In both cases, the natives turned out to be the losers in all these conflict, first losing their land and lives and second, losing their identity as human beings. Maybe to date when Aborigines look at their white brothers, it is likely that they see a world of twisted morals, macabre thoughts and hypocritical lifestyle (Justice for Aborigines on Angry website). The whites, on the other hand, perceive the aborigines as "Mission blacks or educated blacks or half-castes/fringe dwellers embodying the worst fantasies of Australian whites-drunkenness, vagrancy, despair, and disorganization (The Perth Press on MCC website)." Conclusion with Comparison The aborigines in Australia have been the victim of never-ending oppression and subjugation, first by their British colonizers, and second, by the Australian government and missions on the guise of protection and preservation. Through it all, the aborigines have survived and learned to fight back, using the education, laws, and science of the whites. The same can be said with the American Indians, who immigrated in the Americas sometime 20,000-30,000 years ago, also of the Ice Age decent (Washita Battlefield on Georgia website). From an original population of 10 million their number was reduced to near extinction, after the land-grabbing European invaders finished with them from the 16th to 17th century. Their reason for annihilation - they were regarded by Europeans as "soulless creatures who wielded diabolically ingenious tools (Washita Battlefield on Georgia website)." In spite of their persecution, the Indian survivors stand tall and proud among their civilized American brothers, all living proof of a near extinct generation.
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