There is no more famous group of indigenous people than the Aboriginal Australians. Over the years they have constantly been in the news, as they have strived to overcome injustice and receive equal rights. In the process many incidents have been revealed that have shown them to have been exploited and treated poorly, with many of these cases still being under review. The Aboriginals have been living in Australia for over 60,000 years, which is actually before the continent separated from Papua New Guinea. It also explains their large DNA presence in modern day Aboriginal. The Aboriginals speak over 120 languages and when the continent was first colonized, more than 250 languages were spoken.
The current population of indigenous people in Australia is close to 650,000, but that figure includes 49,000 Torres Strait Islanders who also live in Australia. When the European settlers first arrived, the majority of the Aboriginals lived in the South East of the country alongside the Murray River. This area proved to be the most fertile for the population to grow their crops on. Some estimates reveal that 1 million Aboriginals were surviving until diseases, such as small pox, as well as conflicts with British troops, resulted in a rapid depopulation. Recent times have seen a recovery of the numbers, but one of the constant discussion points is why Aboriginals have a relatively short life span compared to other people.
The average Aboriginal lives for 10 years less than other Australians. The term Aboriginal refers to the group of indigenous people, but there were 250 different nations speaking different languages. Today the most common language spoken is Pitjantjatjara by the Anangu people who live around Ares Rock and in South Australia. Research into the plight of all of the Aboriginal people has revealed that, as well as having a shorter lifespan, they are also likely to have greater health issues, be less educated, experience higher unemployment rate, have a higher proportion of people in prison and have more people addicted to both legal and illegal substances.
The battle to get all aboriginal people to vote has been an ongoing issue, and the indigenous population is under-represented in government. Since 1900, as British subjects, the aborigines always had the right to vote, but only those who had merged into mainstream society did so.
One of the most famous incidents resulted in 2008 with the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologizing to all Aboriginal Australians. Between 1871 and 1969 Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and adopted by other Australians under the acts of their representative parliaments. Up to 30% of children were taken during this period as the government tried to get the aborigines to mix in with society. Recent years has seen the Aboriginal ethnicity and culture celebrated in the country. Annual festivals, such as the Yabun festival held in Sydney, celebrate the music, arts and crafts associated with the indigenous people. There are numerous other festivals in other parts of the country that do the same thing.
The performance of Aboriginals in sport has given the people a more positive image. One of the most defining moments at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games was when Cathy Freeman carried the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony and then, with all of the expectation heaped on her shoulders, won the Olympic gold for her country in the 400m. Of Aboriginal descent, Freeman is the 4th fastest ever woman in the 400m, and she also won gold at the 1997 and 1999 World Championships.
Another Aboriginal Mark Ella is regarded as one of the greatest rugby union players of all time. Despite retiring at 25, he played 25 times for the national side and captained the team. His twin brother Glen also played for the national team, as well as their elder brother Gary.
There has been few more popular Wimbledon tennis winners than the 1971 and 1980 champion Evonne Goolagong. A member of the Wiradjuri people, she also won the Australian Open 4 times and the French Open once. She later married the British player Roger Cawley and was then known as Evonne Cawley. The nation of Australia have come to terms with the injustices the Aboriginals have suffered over the centuries, and are now trying to deal with any that still remain.