Christian settlers can't grasp Aboriginal culture as spiritual without civilisation
South Australian Aboriginals soon lost their homes to European settlement.
South Australia’s Aboriginal people didn’t need churches. The land, with its rivers, mountains, birds, animals and plants, was their spirituality.
Europeans settlers generally didn’t grasp or accept this concept. They saw Aboriginal nomadic traditions as primitive tribalism that needed civilising through Christian education.
The South Australian colony’s first governor John Hindmarsh's proclamation, read at Holdfast Bay in 1836, spoke of extending “protection to the native population as to the rest of His Majesty's Subjects”.
But this equality was in reality paternalism, and in 1838, the South Australian gazette and colonial register reported Governor George Gawler's speech to the “natives”:
“Black men, we wish to make you happy. But you cannot be happy unless you imitate good white men. Build huts, wear clothes, work and be useful. Above all things, you cannot be happy unless you love God who made heaven and earth and men and all things”.
Evangelical paternalism dominated European responses to Aboriginal spirituality for 150 years and more, Australia-wide.
The High Court decision in the Mabo case in 1992, the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Royal Commission in 1995, and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Bringing Them Home report in 1997, affirmed Aboriginal spiritual connectedness with the land but didn’t make a big change in outside attitudes to the beliefs of the indigenous people.