Monday, February 28, 2011

Connections in History

There are many different stages societies of people undergo in order to form a country. One way is by breaking off of another nation. Imperialism became popular in Europe during the 19th century, however colonizing areas for resources and power was popular at a much earlier date. The formation and history of the three countries, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are very similar in origin.

The Colonies:

Great Britain established many colonies in its different spheres of influence all over the world. Britain created its first colony in the Americas in 1607, claimed Australia in 1770, and gained control of New Zealand in 1840. Great Britain forced its government on these territories, forcing them to accept British rule.


After enough provoking, British rule proved to be too much for the colonies (taxation, no representation in the government, etc.). The American Revolutionary war broke out in 1775. The revolt ended successfully for the new nation, the United States, as it ended in 1783. The U.S. had gained its independence and began working on creating equal rights for its citizens through a democratic government system. Britain had its eyes set on Australia for its new penal colony after it could not send its convicts to the U.S. anymore. Many explorers had been to Australia in the 16oos, but “…it was only after the loss of the North American penal colonies, that the British started sending the first significant numbers of White settlers to [Australia]” (white-history 1). Australia did not fight Great Britain’s rule though. By 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Universal adult suffrage was given to the citizens of Australia under the new democratic government in 1908 (britishempire 1). However the Aborigines were not given the right to vote until 1962 and they were not allowed to lay claim to their ancestral lands until the Aboriginal Land Rights Act was passed in 1976. The Australian parliament apologized for their past wrongs against the Aboriginal people in 2008. New Zealand’s reactions to British rule on the other hand were closer to the U.S.’s response than that of Australia. After Captain James Cook began exploring New Zealand in 1769 he found that the Maori were “intelligent and adaptable, in spite of their inter-tribal wars,” and suggested that Britain should create a settlement in New Zealand (history-nz 1). Cook’s advice was not taken by Great Britain, but many European and American whalers came to the land. Tribal wars erupted along with European disease spread through the fisherman and missionaries passing through. Britain soon stepped into the equation, creating the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. This gave Britain possession of Maori lands in exchange for protection. Land wars developed in 1860 between the Maori and the British settlers and continued for decade. New Zealand eventually became a dominion (self-governing community) within the British Empire in 1907. Finally New Zealand gained their independence in 1947. The United States and New Zealand revolted from Britain’s rule, but Australia did not.

Gold Rush:

Out of these three countries, The U.S. started off the gold rush in 1828 in Dahlonega, Georgia. Active gold mining continued in various locations for the next 20 years, and then the California Gold Rush in 1848 really got things moving. Gold mining continued in the United States as people tried to “strike it rich” in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, California, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and Colorado. The U.S. gold rush lasted until 1860. The first gold discovery in Australia was in 1851 in Victoria. Many different locations in Victoria would find a person rich from 1851 until1860. New Zealand picked up where the U.S. and Australia left off. In 1861 on the South Island Victorian minors who had exhausted the mines in Australia rushed the Otago goldfield at Tuapeka. There was another rush on the South Island in 1864. In 1867 the goldfield at Thames on the North Island was opened for the rush of miners. The rush ended in New Zealand in 1872 (kaelewis 1).

Creation Stories

People have always been curious and have challenged their outlook on life. They question their origins to try to understand themselves and the world around them. Obviously people understand where the future generations come from, but where did the previous? One can look back on every generation history can remember, but what was the generation before that one? Or even the one after that? Who were the first? The curiosity of man is what draws humans to attempt to explain their origins. I find it fascinating that people all over the world and in every ancient civilization created their own theory on how we were placed on the Earth. Imagine different people, from different backgrounds and locations, who have never had any contact, coming up with similar creation stories. It’s incredible. I believe man looked at the world seeing its beauty, and the only explanation he could conclude was that nothing human could have created such magnificence. The complexity of the world and its organisms is far too great to be simply explained. Religion has had its place in history and certainly has its place in the modern world. Civilizations have been built on religious beliefs and cannot easily be ignored. Religious stories are deep rooted in every culture. It can be seen in a peoples’ morality. Take biblical teachings for example: Stories like the Good Samaritan or the 10 Commandments, define how people live their daily lives. The “stories” that people believe in define who they are as a person and as a whole.

The Aborigine and Maori creation stories are also deeply rooted with ideas of morality. By understanding a culture’s idea on creation one can see the very basic outline of its values. Both the Aborigine and Maori stories were centered on family and a balance of power between the gods. A big part of both stories was nature and interacting with one’s environment. This is seen through the presence of animals, forests, and water. Humans are seen as superior to animals, but the stories describe harmony between them. Respect for their surroundings appears to be present in the nations’ cultures. Aside from this harmony the stories also describe separation. The Sun Mother was sent on a mission away from the Father of All Spirits in the Aboriginal story, and the children of Sky Father and Earth Mother separated their parents in the Maori stories (similar to Greek mythology). These ideas may prove to show these people believe in parental respect, but realize the importance of change in order to create a better future (awake the spirits/create life in the Aboriginal story and bring light upon the world in the Maori story).

Tane pushes Sky Father and Earth Mother apart ->

The similarities seen in the Aboriginal and Maori stories can be countered with the differences. The Australian story has a light tone whereas the Maori story had a very dark tone. The Australian spirits willingly separated for the betterment of the world. The Maori gods had to force their parents apart through physical violence. According to the stories, the Australian culture would seem to be more open to change and the Maori culture would react more violently to change. These differences may be the result of the effect of different locations or different ancestral regions. The answer is unclear but the values projected through the different cultures’ creation stories can be seen in the daily life of their people throughout history.

It is easy for people today to accept the ideas of science and forget or disregard their culture’s religious beliefs. I think just accepting a simplistic answer cannot be enough to explain the wonders of the world. Many people are overcome by doubt because a scientific discovery may prove an aspect of their religion wrong. If there is one thing wrong with the theory, they believe there are more. Soon, these people no longer know what to think. The amazing complexity of life on Earth or the vast expanses of space should be proof enough that there is a power far beyond science. If anything, the new discoveries in science should prove this even further. Take the Law of Conservation of Matter: matter cannot be created or destroyed, it must have a source. So where did our matter come from? We had to come from a powerful source. The idea of a God is universal in cultures around the world; it cannot be proven or disproven by science, and is up for individual interpretation.

I believe that everyone is open to their own interpretation of life and creation. Personally, I believe God is real and that living through Him will change one’s outlook on life. I believe God created us with high hopes that we would live our lives through faith and belief. I am a Christian and agree with the creation story that God created light, the universe, life on Earth, etc. I think that science can coexist with religion in certain areas. For example God created the Heavens, the Earth, and light, and then the next day He created the water on the Earth. Science explains this as being over the expanse of approximately 10 billion years. A single day may have been seen as a longer period of time, we are just interpreting it wrong. I grew up with faith in Christianity; the stories I grew up learning morals from have helped shape me into the person I am today.

I don’t believe science will ever be able to prove where humans originated because it is simply beyond our comprehensible capabilities. There is a reason for why we can’t know all the answers to our questions.