The oldest living cultural history of the world is to be found as the indigenous cultures of Australia. They date back to 50,000 to 65,000 years , when migrants from Africa entered Australia. They have survived so long mainly due to their ability to adapt and change. Over time, they have built an affinity to their surroundings.
The Australian aborigines keep their cultural heritage alive by passing on their rituals and performances, arts and knowledge from one generation to another, protecting cultural objects, significant and sacred sites, cultural materials also teaching and speaking languages.
To the indigenous people today, land is at the core of all the spirituality. Land for them is not just the minerals or rocks or soil but a complete environment that sustains the culture and people and is sustained by them in return.
All the Australian aboriginals were primarily semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers. Each clan had its own territory from which they eked out their living. These traditional lands or territories were defined by mountains, rivers and lakes. The aboriginals cared for and understood their various environments, and adapted to them.
The process of colonization by European powers had a radical effect on the aboriginal culture. As a result of their pacification by force, less than 2% of the Australian population remains as aboriginals.
The Australian government has made attempts to protect the culture of the aboriginals with the creation of special reserves. They are now recognized as official Australian citizens. A policy of assimilation has also been started by the government. The aborigines, however, feel that the process of assimilation will culminate into a complete loss of Aboriginal cultural identity. They opt for integration instead, preferring to maintain the native identity, keeping it as distinctive from becoming Australian.
This reluctance of the Australian aborigines to assimilate with the colonizers has baffled the successive Australian government and has led to a sense of guilt.