Aboriginal vs Indigenous – What is the Difference? Definitions for Aborigine and Indigenous

Aboriginal vs Indigenous – What is the Difference? Definitions for Aborigine and Indigenous

To where are aborigines original ? Some people are unsure what an aborigine actually is, and most Aborigines prefer to be called by a different name.

It’s all semantics. Ask somebody in the United States what aboriginal means and it is likely that flustered confusion will ensue. In common usage, Aboriginal, or aborigine, refers to the indigenous population of Australia, but aboriginal is also sometimes used to refer to the indigenous populations of other countries as well. When the word begins with a lowercase a, it can refer to a wide variety of people, places, and things. When it begins with a capital A, it refers only to the indigenous population of Australia. The solution to this semantics puzzle lies in the nuanced differences between the definitions of the words indigenous and aboriginal.

The word aboriginal means “ the first or earliest known of its kind in a region.” the word derives from the Latin for “from” combined with the Latin for “the beginning.” the word indigenous means “ having originated in and being produced, growing, or living in a particular region or environment,” and it derives from the Latin for “in” combined with the Latin for “born.”

Aboriginal, therefore, is a less inclusive term than indigenous. Technically, anyone born in a particular area is indigenous to that area. In practical usage, indigenous groups are descendants of those that resided in a region before Eurasian colonization and the worldwide creation of nation-states.

Many indigenous groups besides Australian Aborigines can be said to be the first inhabitants of a given region. Native Americans, for example, are descendants of the first human groups to live in the Americas, and thus could be said to have been there “from the beginning.” Why is it, then, that indigenous Australians have a monopoly on the term aborigine?

It’s something like – they were there from the “earlier” beginning. Human populations first existed in Africa and from there walked north to the sprawling Eurasian continent. Indigenous Australians separated from these populations far earlier than did Native Americans. Evidence suggests that humans arrived in Australia 50,000 years ago, probably by boat from Southern Asia.

From that time onward until colonization, the population of Australia was completely isolated from the rest of the world. The same can probably be said for Native Americans, but the difference is that the first humans arrived in the Americas at a much later date, approximately 12000 years ago. When Europeans first met the indigenous Australians in the 17th century, they had stumbled upon a population that had existed in its own Geographic bubble for 50,000 years. The colonizers immediately used the term aborigine, “ there from the beginning,” to describe the indigenous Australians.

aboriginal indigenous

Aboriginal Music, Aboriginal Didgeridoo,
Background Didgeridoo Ambient Music, Composer: Pascal Tatipata
Standard License by Author: Royalty Free Sounds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTRHYcodVNs

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