Australian aborigines will be granted a property right on a big part of desert, the square of which is about 130 thousand kilometers. This territory makes up almost two percent of whole Australia. It is the largest territory that was ever given back to the local population after 50 years of expulsion.
A spokeswoman for the government of Western Australia said that the Martu people, which have two thousand-strong population, would become the official owner of those places. This is going to happen this week, after the signing of the adequate document.
Aborigines reportedly managed to prove that they were traditional owners of that land. The people were expelled from their territory in the 1950s, when Great Britain wanted to make a testing ground over there to test its intercontinental missiles. Martu managed to get back to their homeland only 30 years later.
Martu people lead a traditional mode of life. They hunt for kangaroos and turkeys. They believe that the return to their homeland is a very important step from the point of view of their religion and rituals. However, Martu will not be given the control over the mineral resources or national parks of the territory. Pursuant to the previously passed laws, the property rights on national parks, pastures, mineral resources can not be handed over to aborigines, even if those lands are returned to them.
First settlers migrated to Australia from the south-east of Asia about 60 thousand years ago. Australia used to be connected with the Asian mainland due to the reduction of the water level in the ocean. It is believed that there were not less than 250 aborigine languages in Australia by 1788 – the time, when a first English settlement appeared there.
There were about 1.2 million aborigines living in Australia at the end of the 18th century. At the end of the 19th century some aborigines became a source of cheap labor force for the ranchos of white people. Their enslavement was approved by the laws of that time. The government ordered to take aborigines’ children away and put them in special shelters in order to raise them in compliance with European traditions. The UN harshly criticized that practice. The Australian government was even accused of the genocide of the local population.
Aborigines’ situation started getting better from the second half of the 20th century. Restrictions for them were withdrawn and aborigines were equalized with other Australians. There was a law passed in Australia last year, pursuant to which adult aborigines were entitled to participate in elections. It was very hard to pass that law. Aborigines make up only 30% of Australia’s whole population. Their votes will be a very great attraction to politicians.
Slowly but surely, the situation of the Australian local population is improving. However, when they get everything that the white people of Australia took away from them, aborigines will simply vanish.