Home Indigenous Knowledge and Education The Arrival of the First Fleet

The Arrival of the First Fleet

The Event

The arrival of the First Fleet was on the 26th of January, 1788. The Europeans, sanctioned by his majesty, captained by Arthur Phillips, sailed out on the 13th of May, 1987 to their destination of Botany Bay. The Fleet consisted of 11 ships that carried the Navy, convicts, and supplies such as animals, plants, tools, and weapons to begin their colonisation of Australia (Frost, 2012). The decision to establish the fleet to Botany Bay was enclosed in a letter on Monday, 21 August, 1786. The letter detailed provisions for the trip and settlement, such as supplies for survival, and tools and equipment for habitation and agricultural needs for colonisation. The land was to be a colony of convicts with minimal supervision by officials. Phillips was aware Indigenous Australians inhabited the land, they were neglected and therefore no negotiations were made on their behalf (Maddison, 2012). These included constitutional recognition or treaties. The result of the event decreased the Indigenous population significantly, due to dispassion of the land along with the family due to forced labour and massacres (Tully, 2015).

Continued Effect on Indigenous Australians

The affects of the First Fleet on the Indigenous Australians were of a devastating nature to those who suffered the accounts first had, and had lived to tell the tale. It still currently has a lasting impact. As the land was declared uninhabitable wasteland or terra nullius, there was no treaty documents evident (Langton et al, 2004). The intention, was not to have a peaceful interaction with the Indigenous people but to create a hostile relationship leading to the extermination. Considered as foreigners to the Europeans, they were viewed as less superior due to their darker skin, and their lifestyle was viewed as barbaric. A combination of fear and mistrust lead to the inhumane way the Indigenous people were treated (Tully, 2015). In the present day, the date of which was the arrival of the First Fleet, is celebrated as Australia Day. And many people, Indigenous or Non-Indigenous, believe that celebration marks the genocide of the Aboriginal people. The protests have initiated a change of date or renaming to “Invasion/Survival Day” (Hinman, 2017). Though the hardships that came with the First Fleet 200 years ago, have diminished. The events that occurred has not been forgotten (Janice et al., 2017). As it had led to the mistreatment for the Indigenous Australians for many years to come. Though presently, the circumstances are a lot more pleasant, with laws and policies to protect them. There still isn’t a recovery for catastrophe that has occurred.

Community Learnings

This event has created negative backlash that is yet to make a recovery for the Indigenous Australians. Though this was just the beginning, which lead to many horrific incidents, there has been some improvement, though the blood shed could have been minimized. In a similar situation, of the same effect, is the invasion of Turtle Island leading to the colonization. According to Maddison (2012), there was a treaty present. Though it wasn’t full executed and partial of it was ignored. The relationship between the Indigenous Americans and the settlers created more order.  Contrary, there were no legal rights for the Indigenous Australians including ownership of land and resources. And the continued discrimination towards the Aboriginal people. Though in 1967, the referendum, the Indigenous Australians were accounted for in the census and thus allowed to vote. Nonetheless, they were not recognised as the first occupants of Australia. Unable to claim ownership of their land. The arrival of the First Fleet, and the horrific events that followed, were very racially steered. The political battles that followed were far greater (Biskup, 1973). Leading to the wider community, to abolish the ‘race privilege’ that favours the ‘white’ people. And achieve ‘self-determination’. Stated as ‘Indigenous Australians to fully overcome the legacy of colonization and dispossession’ and ‘simple acknowledgement that Indigenous people are Australia’s first people’ (HREOC, 2003).

Incorporation into Future Teachings

The teaching of Indigenous Australians in the Australian aims to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Incorporating the knowledge raised from the arrival of the First Fleet, the relationship of the Indigenous Australians with the early settlers and current non-Indigenous Australians. The important factor in the education of Indigenous Australians history are cultural responsiveness, including the actions of the early settlers and Australians. A key discussion point will be the on the racism. The focus will be on the prejudices and misconceptions the early settlers had on their first interaction with Indigenous people. And why it remained unchanged throughout the years. Another key discussion would be the definition of ‘first people’. And the importance of this term to the Indigenous Australians, including the sense of belonging and identity. And their “spiritual and emotional relationship to the land” (Perso, 2012). The topic of colonisation and the right of the European’s to take a land that already had an owner. This begins the discussion point of the importance of the absence of treaty that lead to the murder of Indigenous people upon the arrival of the First Fleet. Including the rights and privileges that was removed. And the final discussion point is the benefits of the colonisation for the early settlers. The biggest being the profits made from the dispossession of the land (Sichel, 2015). The entitlement that came with massacre of the Indigenous people. Bringing the focus of the arrival of the First Fleet off that of the settlers but on the Aboriginal people and the suffering and hardships that followed.

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