Aboriginal Australian is a collective term for all the indigenous peoples from the Australian mainland and Tasmania. This group contains many separate cultures that have developed in the various environments of Australia for more than 50,000 years; these peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self identify as a single group. The exact definition of the term Aboriginal Australian has changed over time and place, with the importance of family lineage, self identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance. In the past Aboriginal Australians lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands, once the land was inundated at the start of the inter-glacial. However, they are distinct from the Torres Strait Islander people, despite extensive cultural exchange. Today Aboriginal Australians comprise 3.1% of Australia's population.
They live throughout the world as part of the Australia diaspora. Before extensive European settlement, there were over 200 Aboriginal languages. However, today most Aboriginal people speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English, they have a number of health and economic deprivations in comparison with the wider Australian community. A new definition was proposed in the Constitutional Section of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs' Report on a Review of the Administration of the Working Definition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he lives. Justice Gerard Brennan in his leading judgment in Mabo v Queensland stated: Membership of the Indigenous people depends on biological descent from the Indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person's membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people.
The category "Aboriginal Australia" was coined by the British after they began colonising Australia in 1788, to refer collectively to all people they found inhabiting the continent, to the descendants of any of those people. Until the 1980s, the sole legal and administrative criterion for inclusion in this category was race, classified according to visible physical characteristics or known ancestors; as in the British slave colonies of North America and the Caribbean, where the principle of partus sequitur ventrem was adopted from 1662, children's status was determined by that of their mothers: if born to Aboriginal mothers, children were considered Aboriginal, regardless of their paternity. In the era of colonial and post-colonial government, access to basic human rights depended upon your race. If you were a "full-blooded Aboriginal native... any person having an admixture of Aboriginal blood", a half-caste being the "offspring of an Aboriginal mother and other than Aboriginal father", a "quadroon", or had a "strain" of Aboriginal blood you were forced to live on Reserves or Missions, work for rations, given minimal education, needed governmental approval to marry, visit relatives or use electrical appliances.
The Constitution of Australia, in its original form as of 1901, referred to Aboriginals twice, but without definition. Section 51 gave the Commonwealth parliament a power to legislate with respect to "the people of any race" throughout the Commonwealth, except for people of "the aboriginal race"; the purpose of this provision was to give the Commonwealth power to regulate non-white immigrant workers, who would follow work opportunities interstate. The only other reference, Section 127, provided that "aboriginal natives shall not be counted" in reckoning the size of the population of the Commonwealth or any part of it; the purpose of Section 127 was to prevent the inclusion of Aboriginal people in Section 24 determinations of the distribution of House of Representatives seats amongst the states and territories. After these references were removed by the 1967 referendum, the Australian Constitution had no references to Aboriginals. Since that time, there have been a number of proposals to amend the constitution to mention Indigenous Australians.
The change to Section 51 enabled the Commonwealth parliament to enact laws with respect to Aboriginal peoples as a "race". In the Tasmanian Dam Case of 1983, the High Court of Australia was asked to determine whether Commonwealth legislation, whose application could relate to Aboriginal people—parts of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 as well as related legislation—was supported by Section 51 in its new form; the case concerned an application of legislation that would preserve the cultural heritage of Aboriginal Tasmanians. It was held that Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, together or separately, any part of either, could be regarded as a "race" for this purpose; as to the criteria for identifying a person as a member of such a "race", the definition by Justice Deane has become accepted as current law. Deane said: It is unnecessary, for the purposes of the present case, to consider the meaning to be given to the phrase "people of any race" in s. 51. Plainly, the words have a wide and non-technical meaning....
The phrase is, in my view, apposite to refer to all Australian Aboriginals collectively. Any doubt, which might otherwise exist in that regard, is removed
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera. Bats are more manoeuvrable than birds, flying with their long spread-out digits covered with a thin membrane or patagium; the smallest bat, arguably the smallest extant mammal, is Kitti's hog-nosed bat, 29–34 mm in length, 15 cm across the wings and 2–2.6 g in mass. The largest bats are the flying foxes and the giant golden-crowned flying fox, Acerodon jubatus, which can weigh 1.6 kg and have a wingspan of 1.7 m. The second largest order of mammals, bats comprise about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with over 1,200 species; these were traditionally divided into two suborders: the fruit-eating megabats, the echolocating microbats. But more recent evidence has supported dividing the order into Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera, with megabats as members of the former along with several species of microbats. Many bats are insectivores, most of the rest are frugivores. A few species feed on animals other than insects. Most bats are nocturnal, many roost in caves or other refuges.
Bats are present throughout the world, with the exception of cold regions. They are important in their ecosystems for dispersing seeds. Bats provide humans at the cost of some threats. Bat dung has been used as fertiliser. Bats consume insect pests, they are sometimes numerous enough to serve as tourist attractions, are used as food across Asia and the Pacific Rim. They are natural reservoirs such as rabies. In many cultures, bats are popularly associated with darkness, witchcraft and death. An older English name for bats is flittermouse, which matches their name in other Germanic languages, related to the fluttering of wings. Middle English had bakke, most cognate with Old Swedish natbakka, which may have undergone a shift from -k- to -t- influenced by Latin blatta, "moth, nocturnal insect"; the word "bat" was first used in the early 1570s. The name "Chiroptera" derives from Ancient Greek: χείρ – cheir, "hand" and πτερόν – pteron, "wing"; the delicate skeletons of bats do not fossilise well, it is estimated that only 12% of bat genera that lived have been found in the fossil record.
Most of the oldest known bat fossils were very similar to modern microbats, such as Archaeopteropus. The extinct bats Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon and Hassianycteris kumari are the first fossil mammals whose colouration has been discovered: both were reddish-brown. Bats were grouped in the superorder Archonta, along with the treeshrews and primates. Modern genetic evidence now places bats in the superorder Laurasiatheria, with its sister taxon as Fereuungulata, which includes carnivorans, odd-toed ungulates, even-toed ungulates, cetaceans. One study places Chiroptera as a sister taxon to odd-toed ungulates; the phylogenetic relationships of the different groups of bats have been the subject of much debate. The traditional subdivision into Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera reflected the view that these groups of bats had evolved independently of each other for a long time, from a common ancestor capable of flight; this hypothesis recognised differences between microbats and megabats and acknowledged that flight has only evolved once in mammals.
Most molecular biological evidence supports the view that bats form a monophyletic group. Genetic evidence indicates that megabats originated during the early Eocene, belong within the four major lines of microbats. Two new suborders have been proposed. Yangochiroptera includes the other families of a conclusion supported by a 2005 DNA study. A 2013 phylogenomic study supported the two new proposed suborders. In the 1980s, a hypothesis based on morphological evidence stated the Megachiroptera evolved flight separately from the Microchiroptera; the flying primate hypothesis proposed that, when adaptations to flight are removed, the Megachiroptera are allied to primates by anatomical features not shared with Microchiroptera. For example, the brains of megabats have advanced characteristics. Although recent genetic studies support the monophyly of bats, debate continues about the meaning of the genetic and morphological evidence; the 2003 discovery of an early fossil bat from the 52 million year old Green River Formation, Onychonycteris finneyi, indicates that flight evolved before echolocative abilities.
Onychonycteris had claws on all five of its fingers, whereas modern bats have at most two claws on two digits of each hand. It had longer hind legs and shorter forearms, similar to climbing mammals that hang under branches, such as sloths and gibbons; this palm-sized bat had short, broad wings, suggesting that it could not fly as fast or as far as bat species. Instead of flapping its wings continuously while flying, Onychonycteris alternated between flaps and
Australian Aboriginal religion and mythology
Australian Aboriginal religion and mythology are the stories traditionally performed by Aboriginal peoples within each of the language groups across Australia. All such myths variously "tell significant truths within each Aboriginal group's local landscape, they layer the whole of the Australian continent's topography with cultural nuance and deeper meaning, empower selected audiences with the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of Australian Aboriginal ancestors back to time immemorial". David Horton's Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia contains an article on Aboriginal mythology observing: "A mythic map of Australia would show thousands of characters, varying in their importance, but all in some way connected with the land; some stayed spiritually in that vicinity. Others came from somewhere else and went somewhere else." "Many were shape changing, transformed from or into human beings or natural species, or into natural features such as rocks but all left something of their spiritual essence at the places noted in their stories."Australian Aboriginal mythologies have been characterized as "at one and the same time fragments of a catechism, a liturgical manual, a history of civilization, a geography textbook, to a much smaller extent a manual of cosmography."
An Australian linguist, R. M. W. Dixon, recording Aboriginal myths in their original languages, encountered coincidences between some of the landscape details being told about within various myths, scientific discoveries being made about the same landscapes. In the case of the Atherton Tableland, myths tell of the origins of Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine, Lake Euramo. Geological research dated the formative volcanic explosions described by Aboriginal myth tellers as having occurred more than 10,000 years ago. Pollen fossil sampling from the silt which had settled to the bottom of the craters confirmed the Aboriginal myth-tellers' story; when the craters were formed, eucalyptus forests dominated rather than the current wet tropical rain forests. Dixon observed from the evidence available that Aboriginal myths regarding the origin of the Crater Lakes might be dated as accurate back to 10,000 years ago. Further investigation of the material by the Australian Heritage Commission led to the Crater Lakes myth being listed nationally on the Register of the National Estate, included within Australia's World Heritage nomination of the wet tropical forests, as an "unparalleled human record of events dating back to the Pleistocene era."Since Dixon has assembled a number of similar examples of Australian Aboriginal myths that describe landscapes of an ancient past.
He noted the numerous myths telling of previous sea levels, including: the Port Phillip myth, describing Port Phillip Bay as once dry land, the course of the Yarra River being once different, following what was Carrum Carrum swamp. The Great Barrier Reef coastline myth in Yarrabah, just south of Cairns, telling of a past coastline which stood at the edge of the current Great Barrier Reef, naming places now submerged after the forest types and trees that once grew there; the Lake Eyre myths, telling of the deserts of Central Australia as once having been fertile, well-watered plains, the deserts around present Lake Eyre having been one continuous garden. This oral story matches geologists' understanding that there was a wet phase to the early Holocene when the lake would have had permanent water. Other volcanic eruptions in Australia may be recorded in Aboriginal myths, including Mount Gambier in South Australia, Kinrara in northern Queensland. There are 900 distinct Aboriginal groups across Australia, each distinguished by unique names identifying particular languages, dialects, or distinctive speech mannerisms.
Each language was used for original myths, from which the distinctive words and names of individual myths derive. With so many distinct Aboriginal groups, languages and practices, scholars cannot attempt to characterise, under a single heading, the full range and diversity of all myths being variously and continuously told, elaborated and experienced by group members across the entire continent; the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia observes: "One intriguing feature is the mixture of diversity and similarity in myths across the entire continent." The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's booklet, Understanding Country, formally seeks to introduce non-indigenous Australians to Aboriginal perspectives on the environment. It makes the following generalisation about Aboriginal myths and mythology: "...they describe the journeys of ancestral beings giant animals or people, over what began as a featureless domain. Mountains, waterholes and plant species, other natural and cultural resources came into being as a result of events which took place during these Dreamtime journeys.
Their existence in present-day landscapes is seen by many indigenous peoples as confirmation of their creation beliefs..." "The routes taken by the Creator Beings in their Dreamtime journeys across land and sea... link many sacred sites together in a web of Dreamtime tracks criss-crossing the country. Dreaming tracks can run for hundreds thousands of kilometres, from desert to the coast may be shared by peoples in countries through
The Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake is a common deity seen as a creator god and a common motif in the art and religion of Aboriginal Australia. It is named for the identification between that of a snake; some scholars believe that the link between snake and rainbow suggests the cycle of the seasons and the importance of water in human life. When the rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another, the divine concept explained why some waterholes never dried up when drought struck. There are innumerable names and stories associated with the serpent, all of which communicate the significance and power of this being within Aboriginal traditions, it is viewed as a giver of life, through its association with water, but can be a destructive force if angry. The Rainbow Serpent is one of the most common and well known Aboriginal stories, is of great importance to Aboriginal society; the Rainbow Serpent is one of the oldest continuing religious beliefs in the world and continues to be a cultural influence today.
The Rainbow Serpent is known by different names by different Aboriginal sub-cultures. The Rainbow Serpent is known as Borlung by the Miali, Dhakkan by the Kuli, Kajura by the Ingarda, Goorialla by the Lardil people, Kunmanggur by the Murinbata, Ngalyod by the Gunwinggu, Numereji by the Kakadu, Taipan by the Wikmunkan, Tulloun by the Mitakoodi, Wagyl by the Noongar, Wanamangura by the Talainji, Witij by the Yolngu. Other names include Bolung, Julunggul, Langal, Muit, Wollunqua, Wonungar, Yero and Yurlunggur. Though the concept of the Rainbow Serpent has existed for a long time in Aboriginal Australian cultures, it was introduced to the wider world through the work of anthropologists. In fact, the name Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake appears to have been coined in English by Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, an anthropologist who noticed the same concept going under different names among various Aboriginal Australian cultures, called it "the rainbow-serpent myth of Australia", it has been suggested that this name implies that there is only one Rainbow Serpent, when the concept varies quite a bit from one Aboriginal culture to another, should be properly called the Rainbow Serpent myths of Australia.
It has been suggested that the Serpent's position as the most prominent creator god in the Australian tradition has been the creation of non-Aboriginal anthropologists. Another error of the same kind is the way in which Western-educated people, with a cultural stereotype of Greco-Roman or Norse myths, tell the Aboriginal stories in the past tense. For the indigenous people of Australia, the stories are "Everywhen" — past and future. Dreamtime stories tell of the great spirits and totems during creation, in animal and human form that moulded the barren and featureless earth; the Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges and gorges as it pushed upward. The Rainbow Serpent is understood to be of immense proportions and inhabits deep permanent waterholes and is in control of life's most precious resource, water. In some cultures, the Rainbow Serpent is considered to be the ultimate creator of everything in the universe. In some cultures, the Rainbow Serpent is male; some commentators have suggested that the Rainbow Serpent is a phallic symbol, which fits its connection with fertility myths and rituals.
When the Serpent is characterized as female or bisexual, it is sometimes depicted with breasts. Other times, the Serpent has no particular gender; the Serpent has been known to appear as a scorpion or another animal or creature. In some stories, the Serpent is associated with a bat, sometimes called a "flying fox" in Australian English, engaged in a rivalry over a woman; some scholars have identified other creatures, such as a bird, dingo, or lizard, as taking the role of the Serpent in stories. In all cases, these animals are associated with water; the Rainbow Serpent has been identified with the bunyip, a fearful, water-hole dwelling creature in Australian mythology. The sometimes unpredictable Rainbow Serpent replenishes the stores of water, forming gullies and deep channels as the Rainbow Serpent slithers across the landscape. In this belief system, without the Serpent, no rain would fall and the Earth would dry up. In other cultures, the Serpent is said to come to stop the rain. In addition to the identification with the rainbow, the Serpent is identified with a prismatic halo around the moon that can be regarded as a sign of rain.
The Rainbow Serpent is sometimes associated with human blood circulation and the menstrual cycle, considered a healer. Thunder and lightning are said to stem from when the Rainbow Serpent is angry, the Serpent can cause powerful rainstorms and cyclones. Quartz crystal and seashells are associated with the Rainbow Serpent and are used in rituals to invoke it; the identification with quartz crystal results from its prism-like appearance. Stories about the Rainbow Serpent have been passed down from generation to generation; the Serpent story may vary however, according to environmental differences. Tribes of the monsoonal areas depict an epic interaction of the sun and wind in their Dreamtime stories, whereas tribes of the central desert experience less drastic seasonal shifts and their stories reflect this, it is known both as a ben