Geographic Evolution in N. America, Compare & Contrast with Australian Aborigines, Land Ownership Issues. Outline Colonization Effects on Land Ownership in North America and Australia. 2. Native American and Australian Aborigine Attitude Towards Land 3. Laws Concerning Native Land Ownership in North America and Australia
a. North America
Native American and Australian Aborigines Land Ownership Issues
Native Americans in North America and Australian Aborigines suffered under European colonization. Death, disease, and resettlement were experienced by both. This occurred uniquely in each country. However, geographically both the Native Americans and Aborigines had land taken from them. Both groups were resettled to undesired parts of each individual country. Only in the recent years have both groups gained rights to the lands that their ancestors held. This paper will briefly compare and contrast land ownership issues of Native Americans and Australian Aborigines.
In 1788, Australian Aborigines were introduced to British colonization (Chesterman and Galligan 199). The effects were immediate. Smallpox and other white men’s diseases killed over half of the Aborigines. This was followed by loss of land and water resources. Finally, resistance against the British decimated the Aborigine population. Due to a loss of almost eighty percent of Aboriginal lives during 1788-1901, the British took over the arable land, sending the natives to undesired parts of Australia (Chesterman and Galligan 199).
The Americans were colonized over a longer period of time, due to the land mass being colonized. The first proven date of colonization was dated back to 1492 (Wunder 349). Although the process took longer, the effects were the same. Disease, war, and resettlement conquered the Native Americans, taking their lands. In America, the government created treaties promising the Native Americans monetary and land for generations.
Both the Aborigines and Native Americans held different views than Europeans about land. Europeans believed men could own land. Aborigines and Native Americans held a more sacred view about land. Land was spiritual, which could not be owned by one. This created a further division when deciding land ownership issues.
In recent years, Australian Aborigines have been making limited progress in the return of land. The issue has been the Aborigines want to have communal land, but the Australian government “believe that it’s not poverty that’s holding Indigenous Australians back—it’s their land” (Snowdon). The government wants the Aborigines to divide their land in order to become more prosperous.
This shows that European and native views on land ownership are directly opposite. An Aborigine believes they are here to care for the land, not own it. Yet, the Australian government has begun passing laws in order to divide the land for the betterment of the natives. This has been the motive of many governments. The result will be the same. Aborigines losing more land and resources.
In the United States, Indian (Native American) land does not fall under state law. Indian land falls under federal laws. Native American agencies, depending on tribe, rule their land. This land can be a reservation or individually owned land. This allows Native Americans to allow gambling and casinos on their land, whereas the state might not allow gambling (Johansen 31). The Native Americans have agencies, government and Native American to help with land ownership issues, elections, laws, and even their own government. This Native American government is regulated by the United States Federal government.
The problem with both Native American and Aborigine land ownership rights is the definition of ownership. The European definition is different than the native definition. Since, numerous governments have come and gone in both countries over the years, treaties and laws have been created and broken. Most of these treaties and laws have not been in favor of the native peoples. Until the United States and Australian government learn to respect native cultures, the land ownership issues will always favor the government, not the natives.
Chesterman, John and Brian Galligan. Citizens without Rights: Aborigines and
Australian Citizenship. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Johansen, Bruce E. Enduring Legacies: Native American Treaties and Contemporary
Controversies. New York: Praeger, 2004.
Snowdon, Warren. “Aboriginal land is more than mere collateral.” 10 Mar. 2005.
Canberra Times. Accessed 25 Dec. 2007 from http://www.warrensnowdon.com/media/050310.htm
Wunder, John R. Native American Sovereignty. New York: Routledge, 1999.