Articles on Aboriginal history

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The facilities were poor and some inmates were subjected to unsuccessful experimentation with a “vaccine” that used arsenic compounds. Hospital Ward Dorre Island/State library of Western Australia

What do the newspapers really tell us about the lock hospital histories?

The lock hospitals inflicted incalculable traumas on Aboriginal people, wrenching them away from families and country.
Professor Eske Willerslev talks to Aboriginal elders in the Kalgoorlie area in southwestern Australia. Preben Hjort, Mayday Film

DNA reveals a new history of the First Australians

New DNA research working with Indigenous Australians is answering many of the questions about when and where the First Australians emerged many thousands of years ago.
The evidence shows counting was beyond more than a handful of numbers for Australia’s Indigenous people. Shutterstock/Sam DCruz

Why old theories on Indigenous counting just won’t go away

There is plenty of evidence to show Australia's Indigenous people had ways of counting big numbers, yet the myth persists they couldn't count more than a handful of things. Why?
The original excavation of Mungo Man, found near Lake Mungo in southwestern New South Wales, Australia. Wilfred Shawcross.

New DNA study confirms ancient Aborigines were the First Australians

Research first published in 2001 has been used to question of whether Aboriginal People were the First Australians. So why not re-test those results with improved techniques and equipment?
Whose story are you telling? Neil Armfield’s The Secret River is a chronicle of colonialism. The Sydney Theatre Company/Heidrun Löhr

The Secret River, silences and our nation’s history

The stage version of The Secret River gives us a deeper sense of our history. But can understanding the past from different perspectives help us confront the inequalities that linger in our present?
Detail of Paddy Japaljarri Sims, Warlpiri, 2003, Yanjirlpiri Jukurrpa (Star Dreaming at Yarripirlangu). Image courtesy of the artist's estate, licensed by Warlukurlangu Artists, Yuendumu.

Friday Essay: land, kinship and ownership of ‘Dreamings’

Who owns a Dreamtime story? The Warlpiri, like all Indigenous groups, use a complex system of kinship that regulates which people can depict, sing, dance or talk about which Dreamings.
Australia’s beauty is haunted by the unmarked sites of massacres and battles. Ben Quilty, Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012. Image courtesy of AGNSW, © Ben Quilty.

Breaking the silence: Australia must acknowledge a violent past

Australia has a lesson to learn from Germany when it comes to reconciling with a shameful past. Artists are taking the lead in 'When silence falls', a formidable exhibition.
The figure of the ‘noble savage’ has deep roots in Australia colonialism. Shipwreck of the Stirling Castle, John Curtis, 1838.

Explainer: the myth of the Noble Savage

Liberal MP Dennis Jensen's comments about the 'noble savage' lifestyle tap into a centuries-old stereotype about Indigenous people.
Adam Goodes continues to demonstrate through dignity and presence of mind, that he is an empowered Aboriginal man. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Adam Goodes, dignity and Aboriginal men: what the research says

Adam Goodes' actions – from his celebratory dance to his decision to temporarily withdraw from the AFL – epitomise the concept of male Indigenous dignity.
Children develop based on their interactions with people, books and cultural artefacts. History textbooks could have a great deal to teach them about empathy. From

How history textbooks can be used to build kids’ empathy

Are history textbooks constructing the past in a way that allows learners to develop empathy by walking in many different people's shoes?
Bradshaw rock paintings near King Edward River, Kimberley region of Western Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal history rewritten again by ignorant political class

Last week Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm was widely reported as suggesting that people other than Aboriginal Australians may have occupied the Australian continent in the past. At a doorstop…
While plans to close ‘unsustainable remote communities’ have triggered recent protests, at the heart of the issue is the nature of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. AAP/Richard Iskov

Who decides? A question at the heart of meaningful reconciliation

Decisions being made from on high about the fate of remote Indigenous communities are symptomatic of a continuing imbalance in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal stories dating back many thousands of years talk of a fire from the sky in an area now home to the Henbury meteorite craters, in the Northern Territory. Flickr/Boobook

Finding meteorite impacts in Aboriginal oral tradition

We can learn much about meteor strikes in ancient Australia by examining the oral traditions of indigenous people.

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