The colonisation' of Australia by Europeans has caused a lot of problem for the local Aborigines. It drastically reduced their population, damaged ancient family ties, and removed thousands of Aboriginal people from the land they had lived on for centuries. In many cases, the loss of land can mean more than just physical displacement. Because land is so much connected to history and spirituality, the loss of it can lead to a loss of identity. This paper will examine the works of Tim Rowse and Jeremy Beckett as well as other symbols of identity that are available to modern Aborigines in post colonial Australia.
"In pre-colonial Aboriginal culture, people did not have identity as Aborigines' (Rowse, 1993). I think it is important to point out that the issue of Aboriginal identity only became an issue after white settlement. However, that is not to say that there was no cultural identity pre-colonisation, but more that colonisation was the cause of Aboriginal identity to be threatened. There are several ways in which the colonists imposed themselves on Aboriginal society. Firstly, when they arrived they needed land to settle on and this of course meant they would take land away from local Aborigines. This action displaced thousands of people from their homeland and severed their spiritual connection to the land. From this point on, the idea of Aboriginal identity was simultaneously created and put at risk. Without land and place to connect people to their heritage, Australian Aborigines were forced to search for other symbols of Aboriginality to provide them with a sense of identity.
Tim Rowse in his work After Mabo suggests that Ruby Langford's autobiography Don't Take Your Love to Town may give some insight into symbols of Aboriginality that can be found in modern Australia. At one stage, Rowse talks about Langford's trip to Uluru and how it felt to be there as an Aboriginal person. "It made me think of... [continues]
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