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Introduction The making of a nation is a slow and painful process It needs a people who identify with each other and with the land they inhabit Australia began that process on 26 January 1788 This essay will attempt to describe the Pre-European Customary law which existed in Australia in 1788 When the first fleet arrived in Botany Bay in 1788 It brought with it all the laws of England English laws were seen as being every Englishmans birthright The coming of English laws was to have disastrous consequences for the original inhabitants of this continent the Aborigines Aboriginal land rites have received limited recognition Today great debate continues in our society on righting the wrongs that have been done to the Aborigines since the European invasion Pre-Customary Law-Aboriginal Custom What we know of Aboriginal society is somewhat speculative Most of our information comes from Europeans who observed it in a process of change In 1788 there were approximately 300000 Aborigines living when the Europeans arrived It has been estimated that there were as many as 500 tribes of varying size each with their own distinct territory history dialect and culture Broome 1982 p11 In Aboriginal Australia people and land were united a spiritual link existed by virtue of birth or conception The maintenance of body and soul relied on access to the land food and water was necessary for physical survival but the land was so much more than just a mercantile resource To remove or take away a tribes ancestry territory was to take and destroy both past and future because the spiritual connection could not be transferred to another area Religion The Aboriginal people were bound spiritually to a particular locality this locality was their home or dreaming place Dreaming or Dreamtime stories can be defined as the Aborigines religion it was reinforcement of the Aborigines social existence Thus the Aborigines were shaped by their Dreamtime stories which were
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