1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aborigines

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Aborigines, a mythical people of central Italy, connected in legendary history with Aeneas, Latinus and Evander. They were supposed to have descended from their mountain home near Reate (an ancient Sabine town) upon Latium, whence they expelled the Siceli and subsequently settled down as Latini under a King Latinus (Dion Halic. i. 9. 60). The most generally accepted etymology of the name (ab origine), according to which they were the original inhabitants ( = Gk. aὐτόχθονες) of the country, is inconsistent with the fact that the oldest authorities (e.g. Cato in his Origines) regarded them as Hellenic immigrants, not as a native Italian people. Other explanations suggested are arborigines, "tree-born," and aberrigines, "nomads." Historical and ethnographical discussions have led to no result; the most that can be said is that, if not a general term, "aborigines" may be the name of an Italian stock, about whom the ancients knew no more than ourselves.

In modern times the term "Aborigines" has been extended in signification, and is used to indicate the inhabitants found in a country at its first discovery, in contradistinction to colonies or new races, the time of whose introduction into the country is known.

The Aborigines' Protection Society was founded in 1838 in England as the result of a royal commission appointed at the instance of Sir T. Fowell Buxton to inquire into the treatment of the indigenous populations of the various British colonies. The inquiry revealed the gross cruelty and injustice with which the natives had been often treated. Since its foundation the society has done much to make English colonization a synonym for humane and generous treatment of savage races.