Aboriginals have been in Australia for at least 40,000 years, perhaps 60,000 years. If they were the first to leave Africa this could be pushed back to 80,000. Because they are so different from Asians this could be the case. A skull found in South America is clearly aboriginal - How did it get there?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders number about half a million of Australia's 23 million. Numbering them is difficult as many, like the American black population, have white people in their ancestry.
There is a strange state of affairs with more than a quarter of the overall population in Australia being born overseas. This has meant an important inter-cultural mix. However, the Aboriginal culture is dying out. Few young people speak native tongues in depth. Older people are not able to pass on languages completely: there are thousands of Aboriginal dialects across the country. Religious rituals in particular are disappearing.
Aboriginal art is very strong and many earn income from this. It is in demand not only in Australia but worldwide. Indeed, Aboriginals tried to patent the "dot" in their painting. The claim was turned down which left fake paintings by white people as a problem in the market.
Absorption into the white population has been the country's main aim for centuries. There are a few Aboriginals who stubbornly stay out of this idea. They are losing as time passes. City Aboriginals know nothing about traditional Aboriginal life. They would die of starvation if left in the outback. Their forebears knew how to survive.
Anthropology by Ty Buchanan