Aboriginal Historic Timeline

40,000 Years Arrernte people have been here since time began. We have come out of the DREAMTIME.
1860 It took 72 years from the white occupation of Eastern Australia in 1788 , for an explorer (John Stuart) to visit Central Australia.
1872 The Overland telegraph line connecting Adelaide to Darwin cuts Arrernte land down the middle.
1880's Bloody conflict between Aboriginals in the centre and intending white settlers . Guerrilla warfare by Aboriginals results in many massacre reprisals.
1890's Southern Arrernte tribe "rounded-up" and forcibly moved to Hermannsburg Mission 120 km West of Alice Springs.

In order to "protect" Aboriginal people from the ravages of colonialism, and because social-Darwinist teachings of the 19th Century led to a belief that the Aboriginal race would die out, special areas were often set aside where our people were forced to live. These were either government-controlled reserves or Church-controlled missions.

In both cases our people were forced to suffer extreme regimentation and to rely on rations for sustenance. In the 1890's, and again after the World War I, many of the reserves were closed down and the land taken away from our people and given to non-Aboriginal people for farming. This had the effect of forcing many people to live in camps on the fringes of towns where they suffered appalling poverty and deprivation.

1920's Those of our people , living in poverty and ill health ,constituted what was called "the Aboriginal problem". Since we had no died out, other ways of dealing with "the problem", were adopted.

Children were stolen from their parents and placed in homes where they were to be trained in the ways of white people and to become, for example, farm labourers if boys and domestic servants if girls.

Stealing of the children was most pronounced where a child had an Aboriginal parent and a non-Aboriginal parent : The continuation of this policy of "dissociating the children from camp life must eventually solve the Aboriginal problem" (Aborigines Welfare Board 1921).

1930's By the 1930's it was further decided that the Aboriginal problem would be solved by all our people becoming white. This became official government policy, known as the policy of assimilation, whereby

" Ö in practical terms in the course of time, it is expected that all persons of Aboriginal blood or mixed blood in Australia will live like white Australian's do.

1960's By the 1960's , it was clear that our race would neither "die off", nor would we abandon our lands, our culture, and our families to be like the white man".

This decade saw the beginning of the modern land rights movement, the development of the first national organisation of Indigenous Australians - the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigenes and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) - and the first widespread awakening by non-Aboriginal Australians to our claims for justice.

1963 In 1963, the Yolngu people of the north east Arnhem Land community of Yirrkala, faced with their traditional lands being taken over by a huge bauxite mine, presented a bark petition to the Federal Parliament.

This protest alerted Australians to the continuing dispossession of our people's traditional lands. It led to a court case in which Justice Blackburn ruled that the Yolngu could not prevent mining on their lands because he said Australia was legally "Terra Nullius" (empty land) as our people had no recognisable legal or land tenure system.

This was to lead in 1973 to the establishment of the Woodward Commission into land rights in the Northern Territory.

1967 Changes in constitution recognises Aboriginal people an Australian citizen with equal rights to vote. The cattle industry reacts by phasing out Aboriginal labour and driving Aboriginal communities off properties.
1976 Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act passed.
1992 Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tickner invokes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Act to protect women's sites near Alice Springs, threatened by a dam proposed by the Northern Territory Government Ö
1993 The Mabo Case / Native Title
The Mabo Case - Eddie Mabo and Others v. The State of Queensland - was a decision of the High Court which found that Aboriginal native title was not extinguished - or wiped out - by the British invasion and that Australia was not terra nullius, Latin for "empty land". Koiki, or Eddie, Mabo, was a member of the Meriam People, the traditional owners of Murray Island and surrounding islands and reefs in the Torres Strait. In 1982, Mabo , the Mabo case changes the way we think about land law in Australia.

While the sovereignty of the Crown continues, terra nullius is found to have never existed and instead native title has been recognised. Aboriginal customary land law - or native title - continues alongside British Common and statute law. Native Title was gradually extinguished parcel by parcel as colonial and later governments issued titles. Native Title is likely to exist over land that is categorised as unalienated Crown land, national parks declared over land that we unalienated Crown land at the time of the declaration, and over reserved lands.

There are two grounds for proving that Native Title continues to exist under the common law. The claimant group must prove that it owns the land under the relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customary land laws, and the descendants of the group who owned the land in 1788, must have had a continuous association with the land. In response to the Mabo case, the Federal Government passed the Native Title Act in December 1993 and has establishing a national land fund in 1994.

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