Guest Post: Alistair Crooks Aboriginal slavery in South Australia?

As the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 referendum approaches, and the debate on the Recognition referendum intensifies, it was interesting to read an article in the Australian about ‘myth-making’ (Myths about the 1967 referendum should be discarded) by Sydney University Constitutional Law Professor, Anne Twomey. Professor Twomey writes:

… But the myths continue to be destructive and need to be removed. A decade or so ago, the prevalent myth was that the 1967 referendum gave Aboriginal people the right to vote and citizenship. While most now accept this was wrong, as such rights were already held by Aboriginal people, other myths have supplanted it.

The most common is that the 1967 referendum allowed Aboriginal people to be counted in the census for the first time due to the repeal of section 127 of the Constitution. It is exacerbated by the further myth that before 1967 Aboriginal people were treated as fauna under the flora and fauna act. No such act existed.

There’s four myths debunked in just the opening paragraphs.

But of course, myths don’t disappear just because they are exposed as myth. They double down. Expect to see these referendum myths resurface and printed as news by what was formerly known as the Mainstream Media, but now the Fake Media, as it struggles for circulation and credibility.

On ANZAC Day this year I had the misfortune to witness another episode of myth-making when Kaurana elder Katrina Ngaityalya Power performed a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony. Tony Thomas, in his own inimitable style, covered the mythical status of ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremonies for Quadrant in April, 2016 (Brand New Timeless Traditions ) but even readers of the Australian will be aware that this ‘traditional’ ceremony dates back to about the 1970s (Ernie Dingo claims the first welcome The Australian 17/3/2010 – O’Neal and Hall). The ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremonies are still enacted whenever a funding body can be found to pay for it, so in spite of its mythical status, it still refuses to lie down and die. Little harm in that, perhaps. Despite it being wholly inauthentic, it serves to mark respect. But not any longer. It has now, it seems, despite its inauthenticity, become a tool of the Aboriginal grievance industry and their collaborators in officialdom and now challenges any demand for respect.

The mythical status of the ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony to one side, on the 2017 Adelaide ANZAC Day commemoration, this particular ‘welcome’ ceremony was extraordinary for its creation of a new myth  – that of Government-endorsed ‘slavery’ on South Australian missions. Katrina Ngaityalya Power informed us that her Indigenous ancestor returned from fighting on the Western Front in France, only to be sent back to ‘slavery on the mission’. Michael Owen, Bureau chief of the Australian in Adelaide reported (Anzac Day 2017: Dawn service politicised by activist):

(ANZAC Day) Service MC (Master of Ceremonies) Ian Smith, who is the Anzac Day committee chairman, told The Australian that the committee knew what Ms Power was planning.

Mr Smith defended Ms Power’s version of welcome to country, saying ‘the facts of what happened historically … are uncomfortable for some to hear’.

‘I think what she said made people think,’ he said. ‘It’s not a political point I don’t think, it’s a factual point.’ …

He (Ian Smith) said the Anzac Day committee ‘certainly were aware of what her (Ms Power) intentions were as to what she was going to say’.

Apparently, the ANZAC Day committee were not only comfortable enough for Ms Power to politicize the ANZAC Day ceremony, but more, to endorse her assertion of ‘slavery’ as ‘a factual point’ which ‘happened historically’. Interestingly, various Government spokesmen contacted by Owen for comment on the day, at best were upset by the politicisation of the event, but none would go so far as to contradict her on this point of fact. As Katrina Ngaityalya Power asserted:

I am interested in truth-telling.

Hmmm?

So am I, and therefore it is important to establish exactly where this ‘slavery’ on a mission was taking place. I’m sure every decent Australian would like to know too. And here is the point at which the facts become blurry. Firstly, it is necessary to identify just what ‘mission’ station was involved. On a balance of probability and from what I understand it would appear that her ancestor may have returned from the war to Point Pearce Station, north of Adelaide. However, as a point of fact the Point Pierce Mission, run originally by the Yorke Peninsula Aboriginal Mission committee, had been taken over by the South Australian Government in 1915 prior to the end of the war and was renamed the Point Pearce Government Station. A likely alternative is that it was Point McLeay, the only other mission station close to Adelaide, but which was also put in Government hands in 1915. The implication one can draw from this is that if ‘slavery’ had been involved, it was not the missions who were involved, nor was it simply government sanctioned, but ‘slavery’ actually administered by the South Australian Government itself. Such an accusation requires a certain level of proof. Now, by their silence, this notion of ‘slavery’ has been implicitly endorsed as fact by South Australian Government officials. An uncontested accusation made in front of the Governor of South Australia in person. I cannot see how a Government who will not defend the honour and integrity of its former citizens and officers for the sake of political expediency, can be trusted to defend the integrity or honour of its current citizens and officers in the face of political expediency

At this point it is timely to look at a few real points of fact. Recently, a colleague Joe Lane and myself published a book of extracts from the Annual Reports of the various Protectors of Aborigines in South Australia, dating from 1836 until the abolition of the post in the 1940’s (Voices from the Past : Extracts the Annual Reports of the South Australian Chief Protectors of Aborigines, 1837). In a naked plug for this book, a few extracts are reproduced here to demonstrate the clear distinction between fact as reported in official Government documents of the time, and the mythology which is being created now with respect to the treatment of Aborigines in the past.

At least as far as the State of South Australia is concerned, the idea that Aborigines were routinely confined to stations or missions is one of the most widely spread myths that one encounters. In the Chief Protector’s Annual Report of 1919-20, the very time Ms Powell’s ancestor would be returning from the Front, the Chief Protector reported to Parliament on the conditions at Point Pearce:

At present situations are continually being found for them (Aborigines), especially for the girls, on neighbouring farms, but authority is needed for keeping them in their places. The liberty to return to the station whenever they wish is harmful to their best interests. It is very necessary that this condition of things should be remedied.

At another Government Station south of Adelaide, Point McLeay, he reports.

Employment of Natives.—Employment on the station has been found for a large number of natives, who seem indisposed to leave the station to find work. Could this be overcome there would be little or no unemployment of natives, as the settlers are badly in need of labor (sic).

As indicated, the Protectors were explicitly struggling unsuccessfully to encourage the Aborigines to find work off station and become part of the general community. The idea that they were wholesale confined against their will is pure myth. Also, one would not expect ‘slaves’ to be paid wages, and yet, even under the missionaries, as indicated in this 1908 report, the workers at Point Pierce (Point Pearce) were paid wages as an introduction to the money economy:

The natives are all supplied with free rations, consisting of 7lbs. flour, 2lbs sugar, 10lbs. meat, tea, pepper, salt, and tobacco. In order to give the able-bodied natives an opportunity of purchasing further necessary goods, clothing, boots, &c., are stocked, and the store opened at stated times during the week and goods retailed, which they pay for out of their wages.

So ‘difficult’ were the conditions at Point Pearce that the Government building works, reported in the 1937-38 Annual Report, included the construction of garages for the Aborigines cars!

Other building improvements effected are:—Three stone tanks, walling to stop sand drift at Gerguthy well, 4 sheds for natives’ vehicles, a bathroom and lavatory at the farm overseer’s residence, a stall for the stallion, and a seed and super shed was commenced in Jericho paddock some miles from the settlement.

Ten years later, in another report on the conditions at Point Pearce, the Chief Protector reports in the 1931-32 Annual Report:

Crime has not been prevalent, most of the offences dealt with being on account of liquor. One man, after repeated warnings, was expelled from the station for misconduct, and this should have a restraining influence on the others, as of all punishment they dislike expulsion the most. ( my emphasis)

Clearly, there is something of an incongruity here, that Aborigines were supposedly being held on these stations against their will, and the idea that expulsion was being used as a punishment.

But maybe Ms Powell’s ancestor did return to one of the few remaining missions in South Australia. Conditions there were no different. Koonibba Mission, on the west coast of South Australia, reported in the 1924-25 Annual Report:

Our natives still have the wandering instinct strongly developed, and will, at times, leave just when they are mostly needed for farming operations. Especially does the deep sea port Thevenard attract them during the wheat season.

And from Koonibba Mission in the 1925-26 Annual Report:

Another evidence of modern times is furnished by the number of cars owned by the natives.

Neither confined nor slaves. And so on and so on. The Protector’s Annual Reports are a wealth of information about the living conditions and policy shifts, written in a clear, pre-bureaucratise language – and our book (Voices from the Past – if you didn’t catch it the first time) contains a wealth of extracts of Government-sourced, first-hand information. Particularly what one notices is how very much the past so closely resembles the present. Not unexpectedly, at least for me, one finds innumerable references to decent people doing their best for the Aborigines. Given that many of us are the direct descendants of these people, it is difficult to imagine that modern Australians would be as virtuous as some like to think they are, if all our ancestors were so monstrous as to sit idly by while Aborigines are enslaved. True, in the Annual Reports, we find references to unfortunate behaviour on the part of members of the white population, but there are also plenty of references to ‘do-gooders’ some of whom queered the Protector’s pitch with impractical advice and poorly thought out schemes. Two examples, the first from the Annual Report of 1899-1900, of the Protector attempting to hold back the pressure from well-meaning Christian lobbies for increasing the risk of welfare dependency:

At the annual meeting of the Aborigines’ Friends’ Association, in the Town Hall, Adelaide, on the 8th of October instant, His Excellency (State Governor) Lord Tennyson, who presided …

The Minister of Agriculture and Education, (Hon. E.L. Batchelor), said—‘…In South Australia the public funds, so far as the na­tives were concerned, chiefly went in providing rations and clothing in depôts scattered about the colony, and also in assisting missions like those under this association [the A.F.A.]. He had heard criti­cisms—he was not referring to His Excellency’s that evening—that they did not do enough in the way of providing food and clothing for the natives. He was personally quite convinced that it was pos­sible to do more harm than good by indiscriminately providing food and clothing all over the place, and so leading the natives to think there was no necessity for them to work. They might spend four or five times as much money as at present, and do a great deal less good than was being done. Idleness among whites or blacks bred all kinds of trouble, disease, and finally death, and if they took care that the assistance rendered by the public always went in the direc­tion of helping those institutions which aided in providing work for the natives, they would do far more good than by public or private indiscriminate charity to the aborigines. He had seen natives in a good many places.’

 

To this example from nearly forty years later, in the Annual Report of 1936-37:

Rations are issued to all natives camped near Port Augusta and because of this and the lure of the picture shows and betting shops, the native population of Port Augusta is steadily increasing. They require a lot of police supervision as sailors and others visit their camps with liquor and are suspected of going there for immoral purposes. The work of the police in trying to discourage natives from remaining at this town is increased by the interference of well-meaning folk who claim to protect the rights and liberties of the natives. 

Life for the Protectors was a constant juggling act between the provision of appropriate welfare relief and preventing welfare dependency. How modern is that!

Having read one hundred years of the Protectors’ Annual Reports and established the rather benign if haphazard conditions that the Aborigines lived in during that period from 1836 to the 1950s, it is now necessary to step forward to the present day, and compare the situation then with the current situation which has evolved post the 1967 referendum. To be sure, a lot of Aborigines and part-Aborigines have done very well before and since 1967, thousands of University graduates for example, and all power to them, but the effect in the remote areas of the flow-on policy of self-determination has been demonstrably catastrophic:

  • pre the ‘67 referendum, alcoholism was under control and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome unheard of. If we can believe Noel Pearson’s figures, as published in the Australian, (Noel Pearson calls for inquiry saying state failing one in four Cape York kids) about 25 per cent of students in some remote Cape York communities are now ‘intellect­ually disabled’ and not receiving the required help at school, while a further 42 per cent of children in the same communities fell into the borderline intelligence category. Reading between the lines this suggests that perhaps two thirds of students in these schools are now FAS affected.
  • back before the referendum Aboriginal incarceration rates were close to zero. The Sub-Protector of Aborigines reported to Parliament in 1875:

There is one other point to which I would give prominence, and that is the utter absence of crime. The aborigines are well disposed, and peaceably inclined. For months past there has not been a single aboriginal offender brought before any of our local Justices.

Most of the Protectors’ Annual Reports contain crime statistics which are equally as lacking in references to serious crime. It might be interesting to note that the last Aborigine hung for murder in South Australia was in 1862

  • pre-1967 literacy rates were very high. Chief Protector W. G South reported as early as his 1908-9 Annual Report :

The State schools and those formerly conducted by the missions have worked wonders, and it is now seldom in the settled districts that one meets a native who cannot read and write.  [19]

Surely literacy is a prime metric for empowerment?

  • pre-1967, rates of sexually transmitted diseases in children were very low; reports of sexual abuse of children, unheard of in the Protectors reports. Pre-1967 there was no need for ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Royal Commissions.
  • domestic violence was low
  • youth suicide was unheard of in the South Australian Protectors’ reports
  • and other substance abuse was low

Clearly, since the 1967 referendum and the flow-on granting of self-determination, Aboriginal Australians have suffered a catastrophic turn-around in all of these statistics in recent years. This has nothing to do with white settlement or missions or the like, but can be attributed directly to the sudden imposition of self-determination on a people ill-prepared for it. As Professor Peter Sutton reported in his 2009 book, The Politics of Suffering, writing of that same turn-around at the end of mission era when when the Protectors of Aborigines had responsibility for the direction and implementation of policy:

It wasn’t heaven, but it certainly wasn’t hell. That came later.

That is, after the referendum. He also reported that others had noted the same thing:

…  Colin Tatz made the important point about recent violence in Aboriginal communities that it was ‘decolonisation, rather than colonisation’ that was the root cause.  (Tatz’s emphasis)

Essentially, what appears to have happened is that without realising it, with the 1967 referendum vote came a new cohort of public bureaucrats and anthropologists with a bold, new, well-intentioned, but obviously flawed set of policy solutions. They abandoned the practical and pragmatic policy decision-making process of the Protectors, a process based on a long experience of tried and failed, tried and partially working, policies.

I cannot help thinking that many modern Aborigines’ advocates and their friends in the media are engaged in a massive program of misdirection – trying to minimise the total failure of Aboriginal polices now, i.e. since the 1967 referendum, by inventing a mythology of past failures – stolen generations, massacres, genocides, slavery, confinement on missions; there’s little evidence for any of these in South Australia – but the myths persist. They overstate past failures in pre-referendum Aboriginal policy simply in order try to blame-shift onto those past workers who have no platform to defend themselves. They vilify people who tried their best, in order to cover for their own insidious brand of noble cause corruption.

Even as the catastrophe of fifty years of self-determination lies in all its glory in front of them, these same classes of policy makers cannot see the damage they have done and want only to double down with more bureaucracy – recognition, treaties, parliamentary representation, nations, sovereignty. The very class of people who oversaw and implemented those failed idealistic policies of the past fifty years are the same ones who expect us to believe that new pie-in-the-sky bureaucratic fixes will all work out better the second time around. Surely the real crises are FAS, sexually transmitted diseases in children, youth suicide rates and ice epidemics, but all they can offer us is a gabfest on a new referendum to create new bureaucracies.

After the 1967 referendum, a large number of city people, most of whom had never met remote area Aborigines, got a large dose of feel-good factor at the ballot box. However, it is the Aborigines of remote areas who have paid in blood for all the policies that flowed after this 1967 watershed, and a generation or two of Aborigines who have been destroyed. How can any community with two-thirds of its children with preventable intellectual disabilities look forward to the future with anything but dread? Is Constitutional Recognition going to help these communities? Explain to me how?

And now we have another referendum. Are we going to tackle problems created for remote area Aborigines when we blindedly accepted the ‘expert’ advice flowing from the last referendum, without realising it was just a Trojan Horse for a whole new policy agenda? Or will we have the courage to see through simplistic, warm and fuzzy platitudes, see the dissimilation, and vote NO this time. Aborigines don’t need an “Uluru Statement from the Heart”. They need one from the head.

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62 Responses to Guest Post: Alistair Crooks Aboriginal slavery in South Australia?

  1. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    There’s at least one Federal politician – half indigenous – telling you that they were “raised under the Flora and Fauna act…”

  2. Fleeced

    You see the “fauna myth” pop up all the time. All. The. Time. I hear it constantly from lefties. I can only assume it’s being taught in schools.

  3. Jim Rose

    Tasmania past land rights legislation in 1912. The Mansell and Maynard families were listed in the schedule to the Act.

    I served on the student representative council with a descendant of the Maynard families mentioned in that Act. He was on a Tasmanian aboriginal scholarship,

  4. Snoopy

    You see the “fauna myth” pop up all the time. All. The. Time. I hear it constantly from lefties. I can only assume it’s being taught in schools.

    It is certainly taught in at least one Queensland state high school. As is the never counted before 1967.

  5. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    I hear it constantly from lefties. I can only assume it’s being taught in schools.

    It’s being taught in Western Australia.

    FWIW, the family farm, in Western Australia is located on the Rabbit Proof Fence. The children at the local school had been shown the film of the same name so many times that they were utterly indifferent to the whole issue – particularly when assured that none of the original pioneers remembered the episode.

  6. Hi

    But of course, myths don’t disappear just because they are exposed as myth.

    Agreed. I submit the following as illuminating reading / listening

    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s2960916.htm

    JASON REIFLER: When we told people that the United States had not found weapons of mass destruction, conservatives, compared to conservatives that we didn’t correct actually believed more strongly that the US had found weapons of mass destruction.

    So that by telling them that in fact the US didn’t and pointing to a CIA report known as the Duelfer report citizens actually, their response was, well actually now I believe it more strongly.

    ELEANOR HALL: So not only did they not believe the facts that you were putting before them; they actually reinforced the incorrect views they originally had.

    JASON REIFLER: Exactly.

    so I guess we’re screwed when it comes to the masses and voting.

    Oh well … that’s hardly news I guess

  7. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    … But the myths continue to be destructive and need to be removed. A decade or so ago, the prevalent myth was that the 1967 referendum gave Aboriginal people the right to vote and citizenship. While most now accept this was wrong, as such rights were already held by Aboriginal people, other myths have supplanted it.

    I saw a display, paid for with taxpayer’s money, in a library in Western Australia, five years ago, that made those claims about not having the vote, and not being citizens. . Little wymmesses behind the counter, got most indignant in reinforcing that claim. They were quite stunned that a middle aged man, with a tweed jacket and walking stick, may have actually remembered the 1967 referendum, and what it was all about.

  8. ArthurB

    Some years ago, when my daughter was in primary school, her class were obliged to watch the film Rabbit Proof Fence, and afterwards had a class project on it. I saw the results, and was dismayed, the class took the film to be correct, and portrayed A.O. Neville, the Protector of Aborigines, as an evil man who was plotting to exterminate the Aborigines of Western Australia, and I guess that the teachers held the same view. They should have read Pat Jacobs’s biography of him, and also Keith Windschuttle’s demolition of the film in the third volume of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History.

  9. Piett

    A really excellent article! A couple of comments/questions …

    1) Would something like Foetal Alcohol Syndrome have been recognised as such, a hundred years ago? I’m sure there is much more now than there was then, but maybe cases back then wouldn’t have been diagnosed?

    2) If there hadn’t been self-determination in 1967, would we still have some kind of government station system, under a modern name? And if so, government being what it is these days, there would surely be armies of health workers, educators, and bureaucrats of every stripe — even more than there are now on Aboriginal land. Surely some third way was needed — but what would that be?

  10. nerblnob

    It happens in all sorts of ways.
    I’ve always been very interested in the stories of early Europeans who lived with aborigines.
    Particularly William Buckley, because I’m familiar with that area of Victoria.
    He was illiterate but interviewed after his 30-odd years walkabout. The records of the time are agreed that his reason for returning to civilisation was depression at the loss of tribal and family members due to the incessant warfare and violence.

    At the start of certain Otway trail, there are signs that tell of Buckley and say he left the tribe because of depression at the encroachment of white settlers. There is nothing in the contemporary records I’ve read that supports this statement. I suspect it’s fabrication to avoid mentioning tribal violence and to support illogical noble savage fantasies.

  11. Sparkx

    The work of the police in trying to discourage natives from remaining at this town is increased by the interference of well-meaning folk who claim to protect the rights and liberties of the natives.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  12. stackja

    Jessie Street was involved in the 1967 Referendum.

    Jessie Street visited the Soviet Union, at the invitation of the Society for Cultural Relations with the U.S.S.R., when she took her younger daughter to Europe in 1938.

    Street was never attracted to, nor a member of, any communist party. After leaving San Francisco, she toured devastated Europe and was a guest of the Soviet Union, a nation which, she believed, had suffered too much destruction and loss of life to want another war. In working for better understanding of the Soviet Union, she saw herself as helping to promote peace. She was president (from 1946) of the Australian Russian Society.

    As president of the New South Wales Peace Council, she invited Dr Hewlett Johnson, the ‘Red Dean’ of Canterbury, to the first postwar Congress of the Australian Peace Council in 1950. Refused the use of Sydney Town Hall, she moved the conference to Melbourne. She went to England that year to help the British Peace Council to organize a world peace congress at Sheffield, but it was eventually held in Warsaw because of difficulties with visas.

  13. alexnoaholdmate

    When Aborigines won the right to vote, it was only Aboriginal men, right?

    Cos women didn’t get the vote until Gough became PM in 1972.

    Or did Aboriginal women have the vote when white women didn’t?

    Hang on – have I got this arse about?

  14. sfw

    I had the following experience while undertaking a Vic Government Agency Training Course in 2008, I doubt that things have changed since.

    I had a remarkable experience today, our training group was addressed by a Victorian Government employed Aboriginal Liason Officer. She spoke to us for almost an hour, in that time we were told the following.

    Aborigines have special psychic powers with which they can sense things and communicate over long distances.
    Aborigines have a far greater love of the land than any white person could have.
    Aborigines have glaucoma because of white people.
    Aborigines have diabetes because of white people.
    Aborigines have many health problems because of white people food.
    Aborigines drink because of white people.
    Aborigines are more spiritual than white people.
    Aborigines will start to heal because Rudd said sorry, but this healing will not fix any of their problems.
    Aborigines should not be subject to white laws.
    Aborigines love their children more than white people.
    And on and on she went.

    I put up with all this crap for some time however when she came out with the following statement I had to object.

    “Until 1967 Aborigines came under the Flora and Fauna Act and it was legal to kill, injure or do what you wanted to them without fear of prosecution”.

    I said stop and asked where she got that from and she said it was true because that was what ‘we’ believe. I asked if she could provide proof of this remarkable allegation and all she said was that it’s true.

    After that she gave me dirty looks and essentially accused our entire group of being racist and that she would be monitoring us carefully.

    What can be done when public servants are paid to disseminate this BULLSHIT? She honestly believed it all. As she was obviously not pure blood at a guess I would say about quarter aboriginal I wanted to ask her how was it that her aboriginal heritage overode her other heritage, however I fear such a question would have had me thrown out. It is a valid question though. If aborigines have special psychic powers at what dilution of aboriginal blood do the powers expire? 1/4, 1/8, 1/16? Where? It is a remarkable genetic heritage as it seems to dominate in many people who have extremely small amounts of aboriginal heritage.

    It’s a pity I can’t love Australia as much as they do, I think I do but I am obviously wrong.

  15. Jessie

    Thank you Alistair, a well written essay, and enjoyable to read.

    piett @ 12.12
    FASD as it is now known was FIRST published by a French GP in ?late 1960s having observed abnormalities in children of his village. He was curious and cautious in his writing to the cause of the abnormalities. I have been unable to find the industries or descriptions of this village. His paper was published in an obscure journal, in French.

    Some years (1973) later US Jones&Smith published their hypothesis as theory without referencing the original France study.
    Around 1973 in The Lancet.
    And so the industry or paediatrics/alcohol/research bloomed for many enthusiasts.

    Case histories are presented of 8 unrelated children born to mothers who were chronic alcoholics. These children showed a similar pattern of craniofacial, limb, and cardiovascular defects associated with prenatal-onset growth deficiency and developmental delay. This is the 1st report to document an association between maternal alcoholism and aberrant morphogenesis in the offspring. The mean duration of maternal alcoholism was 9.4 years. 3 of the cases were black, 3 were Native American, and 2 were white……..

    You will now find on PubMed >240pages of reports and research.
    None in Russian/Eastern Slav countries, where homebrew and alcohol use is highly prevalent. Perhaps someone with those language skills can research that.

    Wiki states that a FASD child (as it is now categorised) costs $2million a year lifetime costs for a child diagnosed with this disorder.
    The term FASD was coined by the US, and has developed with many off-shoots.

  16. alexnoaholdmate

    Yeah, I’ve heard that one about the Flora and Fauna act before. It pops up on the web all the time – especially respected news organisations like Buzzfeed (the guys who released the “explosive revelations” that Donald Trump liked being pissed on by prostitutes).

    What bothers me is the way people want to believe it. And I’m not talking about the Aboriginal grievance industry – white people want to believe their ancestors were capable of the cruellest actions imaginable. Why? It’s bizarre.

    “Never fear,” you say. “It’s a myth that Aboriginal people were included under the Flora and Fauna act. It never happened, rest easy. It wasn’t as bad as all that.”

    “Racist!” they’ll scream back at you. Racist, for pointing out that a shocking incident in our poor history of race relations thankfully did not occur. You’d think they’d be happy to find out it’s a lie, and an easily factchecked one too.

    We’re through the looking glass now.

  17. Jessie

    sfw @ 7.59
    I admire Bess Price’s stance on the need of the intervention, particularly violence and the safety for children. But not Bess’ et al theory as to the cause and the ensuing and hence further $$ as to a solution.
    She has spoken clearly by all accounts written and praised on many issues specific to her people, and on national TV asks a person of %heritage what she identifies as. (or such).

    You should direct your question to Bess Price as she and her husband Dave Price run(ran) a consultancy which provides training introducing mine workers to specific cultural issues.

    After that she gave me dirty looks and essentially accused our entire group of being racist and that she would be monitoring us carefully.

    What can be done when public servants are paid to disseminate this BULLSHIT? She honestly believed it all. As she was obviously not pure blood at a guess I would say about quarter aboriginal I wanted to ask her how was it that her aboriginal heritage overode her other heritage, however I fear such a question would have had me thrown out. It is a valid question though. If aborigines have special psychic powers at what dilution of aboriginal blood do the powers expire? 1/4, 1/8, 1/16? Where? It is a remarkable genetic heritage as it seems to dominate in many people who have extremely small amounts of aboriginal heritage.

  18. Jessie

    Noting the
    free rations, consisting of 7lbs. flour, 2lbs sugar, 10lbs. meat, tea, pepper, salt, and tobacco
    Tobacco like alcohol obviously has a lot to answer for.

    THE FRENCH PARADOX CHAPTER NINETEEN
    Wine, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  19. Macspee

    Any reference to and research of past practices involving the aboriginal people of a State should make reference to the work of Marie Fels.
    ‘I Succeeded Once’: The Aboriginal Protectorate on the Mornington Peninsula, 1839-1840, by Marie Hansen Fels
    This works details the work done in Victoria in the early days and demands attention. If it does nothing else it refutes old shibboleths about behaviour to and by local aboriginals without any comment – it is just the record speaking.

  20. Baldrick

    If politicians and leftard activists are successful in their current campaign of attacking our sovereign democratic Constitution, based on myths and legends, they may as well include unicorns and fairy dust in any amendments.

  21. Dr Fred Lenin

    Aboriginals were never enslaved ,slaves have to work ,have you ever tried to get a bunch of aboriginals to work? Mission impossible .
    Example ,a project to improve living standards in settlement .27 able bodied aboriginal men the time sheet.
    Monday am 27 enthusiasts pm 18 less enthusiastic .
    Tuesday am 16 turn up 11″sick” pm 12 remain reluctantly .
    Wednesday am 17 slow movers pm 8 reluctants .
    Thursday am 4 oart drunks its pay day (dole ) no show for the rest .
    Friday project abandoned due to no workers all drunk or”sick”.
    Conclisions let them live in their owh filth scrap the project waste of time .
    Again slaves work however unwilli gly .

  22. Robbo

    Is the Ian Smith who is referred to in the article the same one who is married to ex Democrats Senator Stott-Despoya? If it is the same bloke then no wonder they have a shambolic Anzac Day in Adelaide.

  23. Peter O'Brien

    I can only assume it’s being taught in schools.

    I am secretary of my local RSL Sub Branch. I have a letter from the Principal of our local public school admonishing us politely for not singing one verse of the national anthem in aboriginal dialect at our ANZAC Day ceremony. In it he repeats the Fauna and Flora myth. So, yes, it is definitely being taught in school.

  24. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Mary Durack in “Sons in the Saddle”, detailing the period from the 1890’s to the 1920’s, published in 1983, mentions that in the Kimberleys when strangers came into to the tribal area they were made welcome by a senior man rubbing his hands into the sweat under his arms and spreading it all over the newcomer. From this book you can also glean some of the intricacies of relationships between settlers and the indigenous populations in the early days of settlement, which happened later in the Kimberleys than elsewhere. Conflict did occur on both sides, the period was a rugged one, and abuses did happen, but also you may discern many instances of Europeans’ friendship and care for aboriginal people in the process of acculturation of a tribal society to civilization.

  25. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Made welcome, that is, if they were not speared first, because internecine warfare and violence amongst the tribes was endemic. Aboriginal people were very familiar with how to kill other people and they quickly learned how to spear the introduced cattle; these were not gentle societies. Many Europeans were speared to death in those days. There are two sides to the story of the settlement of Australia. Currently the aboriginal one predominates and good works in the past get no hearing at all.

  26. Nerblnob

    Or did Aboriginal women have the vote when white women didn’t?

    They certainly had the vote when women of any colour in most other countries didn’t.

  27. John64

    Did the “slavery” occur before or after the distribution of blankets infected with cholera and the poisoning of the waterholes?

  28. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Did the “slavery” occur before or after the distribution of blankets infected with cholera and the poisoning of the waterholes?

    I wrote to Whining Williams office about that matter, asking what evidence there was for that claim. I’m still waiting for a reply.

  29. Shy Ted

    re Noel Pearson’ 25% plus 42%. Lived in Cape York for 2 years and became involved in children’ health programs, in particular maternal health. My count for less-than-average intelligence came in at 99.5%, the 0.5% being just normal kids in all areas. The lucky 0.5% were the children of sober mothers, all mission-raised and highly religious (Christian) highly valuing simple Christian ideals of hard work, family, sacrifice for children and so on. I had intended to count the actual number of FAS and then FASD kids but it became a pointless exercise as 100% of the mothers of the 99.5% of kids had not only drunk at hazardous levels during pregnancy but additionally they had smoked +/- done other drugs +/- terrible diet +/- victims of violence +/- sexually transmitted infections +/- other factors known to be harmful during pregnancy. It became almost impossible to identify the biological father such was the incidence of promiscuity and many had been raised by “aunties” which seemed to be code for local unofficial removal from biological mum who was quite incapable of providing the most basic care. And as many of the kids were born to teenage mums it wasn’t hard to read the medical files of their parents. Same story. So it’s generations upon generations. And then there was the Aboriginal industry of psychopathic know-nothing faux Aborigines who had been “stolen” from the dysfunction, Westernised and employed to advance the lot of their much darker “brothers”. There were many, many local initiatives to protect and advance the kids, all the products of the local Caucasian police, teachers, health staff and all of which were dismantled on the false precept of not being culturally safe or appropriate. All the above comments show there are many people who “get it” but there is no answer to the Aboriginal industry. John Howard, Mal Brough and Tony Abbott “get it” but I’m really not sure anybody else does. Nightmare of a job but wonderful recreational time up there. Would have stayed forever but it is very dangerous because while we use couched terms such as FAS and behavioural problems, you’re in a community full of brain damaged psychopaths who only need a whiff of alcohol to direct their violence at you. And then I went to NT and WA where things were worse.

  30. Alistair Crooks

    So many comments but a reference to poisonings caught my eye. To memory the Protectors’ reports contain four references to poisoning of Aborigines. One north of Port Lincoln – a hut keeper was alleged to have poined flour due to constant thieving. He was granted bail while the police gathered evidence and was last seen on a boat to California. A second appears to have been an accidental poisoning due to illiteracy. A third was aa allegation that Aborigines whites were allowing Aborigines to steal strycnine for use as dingo bait but were using itr against each other. The protector investigated and found no evidence that this had happened. The forth is covered in this neat little extract.

    “Another boy of the native school informed Mr. Schurmann and me (on the alleged authority of Mintalta, a native constable), that a native woman had died by poison administered to her by a sheepfarmer; that Mintalta had seen the poison mixed in flour, and given to the woman; that he had warned her against eating it, but she had done so nevertheless, and when taken ill that her eyes appeared to be bursting out of her head, and her body much swollen; that he witnessed her dying agonies; and finally, to close this sad story, that he, the said Mintalta, native constable, had helped to bury her. The parties were soon confronted at the school-house; the boy stood dumbfounded. Mintalta not only distinctly denied having ever said anything of the kind to him or to any one else, but further asserted that the woman was alive, and as well as usual when last seen by him, which was only a few days previous. I had the youngster whipped in the presence of the rest of the school children, as a caution.”

  31. Fulcrum

    Slavery is a hugely emotive word, however in the nineteenth century, working in the textile mills of Europe or down the mines for sixty hours a week was hardly the condtions for raising white supremists.

    Unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions described by Charles Dickens were normal for the masses too.

    Anyway, I am and will always consider myself as working class, so no offence folks but dont dump your prejudicep on me or my equals.

  32. Alistair Crooks

    Piett – Thanks for your comment.

    Foetal Alcohol Syndrome ? I’m not not sure but almost certainly to a small extent.
    The 67 referendum? I think the 67 referendum was a symptom of a general shift to the left by the population and a move to left-wing ideological solutions. This was already present when the running of Aboriginal Affairs (and I’m speaking of SA but in general I imagine) went from a “practical” Protector to a “progressive” Board even though the Protector remained on the Board as Secretary. The following extract is from 1947-48 and refers to the practice of boarding children in schools so they are available for lessons and meals:

    “The board desires, however, as far as possible, to preserve family life intact, and with this object in view, the welfare officer, Sister McKenzie, and the nurses and helpers on aboriginal stations and missions are busily engaged advising and encouraging the parents to raise the standard of living in their homes. “

  33. Macspee

    john64
    No waterholes were poisoned. You think settlers would run the risk of killing their stock, or their own families who got water from water holes? Have a look at Narandera Argus Mon Feb 5, 1951. The story is rubbish – the name came from dingo baits laid around waterholes, not from poisoning the water.

  34. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    john64
    No waterholes were poisoned. You think settlers would run the risk of killing their stock, or their own families who got water from water hole

    Yes, but it’s a myth that’s allowed to flourish – nobody has ever contradicted Whining William, on the floor of Parliament.

  35. .

    Great post, but some of the mission stations and schools for boys and girls were arguably slavery.

  36. test pattern

    Slavery existed in Northwest Australia in the pearling and pastoral industries and is acknowledged by all as a fact. Eyewitness testimony is readily available in the archives and the literature. I have given details before, from eyewitness accounts, of how the Malgana and Nanda ppl were kidnapped, bought and sold to pastoralist and pearlers, often the same. Those who escaped were regarded as criminals by Police and hunted down to be returned [see ACV Bligh]. Pilbara police recognised two classes of men – free and bonded ie unfree. Those kidnapped were often forced to sign a ‘Milli Milli’ agreement with a thumb print, which bonded them. Likewise the system of indenture in the pearling industry that lasted til post WW2 was a form of slavery and those who attemped to resist and reform were punished. Slavemarkets were established on Barrow and other Pilbara islands where kidnapped young men nd women were bought and sold, and where crews were kept so they couldn’t run away while the whites went into town on a bender.

  37. test pattern

    133 years ago one of the clearest cases of genocide in this country was perpetrated. The Coppermine Massacres, now known as the Wooolwonga Genocide, on the country between the Daly and Finniss rivers.

    ‘After rich copper deposits were discovered near Mt. Haywood in 1882, a mining settlement emerged at the Daly River supplied by regular services from Darwin. Woolwonga people were employed around the mine-site and it was most likely Woolwonga who killed four Europeans on 3 September 1884. This was avenged by the infamous Coppermine massacres led by the mine manager Sachse and others over several years, decimating the Malak-Malak and almost annihilating the Woolwonga people of the Pine Creek/Mount Bundy area. Possibly 150 Aboriginal people were killed in reprisals at Blackfellow Creek on the boundary of Sachse’s property.1 In March 1888 Sachse was still waging a war on the Woolwonga according to the Daly River mission diary, and many of them settled near the mission.2 Charlie Yingi, one of the four Aboriginal men sentenced to death for the Coppermine killing also settled at the mission. He had been cleared of the charge in a re-trial with a Chinese prisoner as interpreter. The legal defence of double jeopardy saved the others from the death sentence, but two of them died in custody and the third was jailed in Adelaide.’ http://missionaries.griffith.edu.au/mission/daly-river-1886-1899

    One of the clearest cases, in which premeditation, intent to wipe out a whole ethnic language group and Govt responsibility is present. After the original massacre of 150-200 Woolowonga in 1884, the Jesuits, who arrived in 1884, note that the massacres continued til 1888. The German missionaries made no attempt to restrain the miners, many of whom were German.

    The massacres extended to Bachelor-Rum Jungle, where I come from, clear evidence of the targeting of all Woolwonga.

    This is the job of the proposed TJC. The evidence has barely been scratched. After the Woolwonga were exterminated, white settlers moved in with Warrgat and Maranungga labour, and wives. What we need now is testimony from the starter families, some in Bachelor, Adelaide River and Katherine, who know what their forebears did but won’t talk out of misplaced family loyalty and self interest. Some have aquired land rights over country that belonged to the Woolwonga. A mess, and a challenge. Will the TJC be up to it?

  38. Pyrmonter

    For some indigenous South Australians the world since the 1960s has been bleak: FAS, petrol sniffing and isolation on “homelands” are lamentable. Yet how many Cats would be willing to live under the permanent guardianship of a government official located hundreds of miles away? Worth asking, because that’s what the SA Aborigines Act provided for when it it was consolidated in 1934:

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/num_act/aa2154o1934156/

  39. test pattern

    Mary Durack in “Sons in the Saddle”,

    Fiction not history. A novel.

    The song claimed by the NT ‘Poorfella me’ came from Argyle and was about the Duracks.

    Poorfella me, nothing gottim sugar nothing gottim tea
    Bugger Bill Lane and bugger MP [Durack]

    Fuck off back to Brit and stop writing bullshit u know nothing about.

  40. Pyrmonter

    @ Nerblnob

    In South Australia, enfranchisement followed the same pattern as that of the settler population: so, men in the 1850s for the House of Assembly and women in the 1890s. There are accounts of vigorous debates over federation at both Point McLeay and Point Pearce, and indigenous voters participated in the pre-federation referenda.

    However, the franchise was curtailed at Commonwealth level by legislation that sought to prevent indigenous enfranchisement, but couldn’t remove it from those who held the franchise at federation. There are some stories of the exercise of the pre-federation franchise as late as the 1940s.

  41. .

    Testpattern, your sources are highly questionable. For example you believe in the Coniston Massacre which had no contemporary journalistic or historic evidence – yet you troll Christians that “jebus was a grey alien” or didn’t exist at all on roughly the same basis.

  42. Helen

    Traditions get invented all the time, at a family, national and community level. Most Australian traditions are new. This is understandable when they commemorate an important event in the country’s history, ANZAC Day being the most significant example. But the tradition of having Australia Day as a national day dates to just 1935, it wasn’t till 1994 that all states had a public holiday on 26 January. The tradition of Australian of the Year started in 1960.

    Most Christmas traditions were invented in the late 19th and 20th century; in fact it’s been estimated that this has been the most inventive time for tradition building. If you’re of Scottish descent, then your traditional tartan was also invented in the 19th century. Traditions change or are reinvented: I’m old enough to miss the Empire Day (invented 1901, same year as the Australian flag) fireworks, now we have Queens Birthday Holiday, on a different date and alas no fireworks. The tradition of blue for boys and pink for girls is a 1940s reversal of the original pink for boys and blue for girls. See: https://meaningness.com/invented-traditions-and-timeworn-futures.

    One of the drivers of the invention of tradition has been the development during the last 100 or so years of nationalism and nation-states. It’s paradoxical that modern states call on tradition, and often invent tradition, to justify and consolidate their existence. A lot has been written on this, one of the best is Benedict Anderson 1983 ‘Imagined Communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism’.

    So where does that leave the invention of welcome to country? It can be seen as positive tradition, reinforcing Aboriginal community feeling, but also making an outreach to non-Aborigines, an asking for recognition but in a co-operative way. So some people charge for the ceremony? Well if you want to continue that old Australian tradition of having a Scottish piper at your wedding, you’ll have to pay for that too.

  43. test pattern

    ‘your sources are highly questionable’

    My sources are in the public record, the literature and archives. Not all have been published, so u have to go to the archives directly. I’ve previously given u references in the Battye Library. And, family history. All old NT and NW families know what happened and this is where the next stage in reconciliation needs to come from. They need to testify.

    Jesus is a cryptid. The Bible is cryptozoology not history.

  44. dot @ 3.02
    Coniston was clearly a massacre. The history is available. It was a case of overzealous policing by someone that had clear mental issues resulting from his service in WWI.
    My take on it here.

  45. This is a brilliant article. I was most impressed by the author’s obvious attention to the need to have evidence for any assertion. I think the Latin phrase that leaps to mind is “Asseritur gratis, negatur gratis”. I thought I knew a bit about Aboriginal history, but this really opened my eyes. Where can I get that book ?

  46. Alistair Crooks

    The only massacre that appears to have happened in South Australia was the Maria incident (1840) where nearly 30 whites, the survivors of a ship wreck (The Maria), were massacred by Aborigines near the Murray mouth. There was a reprisal expedition and the police hung two blacks as an example. There was such a to do in Adelaide over the hanging of these two aborigines without a proper trial that the Governor (Gawler) was recalled in disgrace. There are other massacres rumoured, eg the Mount Eba massacre which was a whole-tribe massacre of Aborigines by a neighbouring tribe for blasphemy. I have looked at other real and rumoured massacres in other parts of the country – but my interest here lies in the treatment of Aborigines in South Australia. There always seems to be cause for some scepticism. The Coniston massacre (NT) for example sort of defies the bullsh** test since as I understand it – 130 are claimed to have been killed by some but I find it hard to believe that in that tough country under the circumstances described there would have been a group of 130 in one spot for it to happen.

    With regard to the vote in South Australia – I do have a reference to either the Rev. Schurmann or Rev. Hale complaining that the Aborigines have the vote because he has to take them by cart into Port Lincoln to vote where they will undoubtedly get drunk and he will have great difficulty rounding them up to bring them home. What year? must be somewhere during the 1800s ? Unfortunately I cant put my finger on it at short notice.

  47. .

    All old NT and NW families know what happened and this is where the next stage in reconciliation needs to come from. They need to testify.

    130+ year old crimes? No thanks. No alive ought to benefit from this.

  48. .

    I find it hard to take your word for it because the first adverse report goes back to 1953 and most of the information about it was written in the 1980s.

    Here you go.

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4559086

    Why was that bullshit?

  49. Pingback: Guest Post: Alistair Crooks Aboriginal slavery in South Australia? | Catallaxy Files | Cranky Old Crow

  50. .

    The following is just opinion and does not consider the potential hostility of Aborigines to white men, or that they might have been intentionally interfering with the search for the wanted man.

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/85155064

    I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.

  51. jupes

    Surely the real crises are FAS, sexually transmitted diseases in children, youth suicide rates and ice epidemics, but all they can offer us is a gabfest on a new referendum to create new bureaucracies.

    Excellent point and an excellent article Alistair.

    Slavery did not exist and nor did genocide, Oldsalt you fucking pillock.

  52. ZKTA,

    Clearly the WA Department of Native Welfare and Fisheries counted Indigenous people as fish. In 1971-1972, there was a single Minister for the Arts, Environment and Aboriginal Affairs. HE counted Indigenous people as – what ? paintings ? How come whitefellas can never get it right ?! God knows what might have happened if any Minister, anywhere in Australia, was designated the Minister for Women, Indigenous Affairs and Customs – perhaps that would obviously mean that only Indigenous women would be recognised, and then only if they are sex-slaves ? Bastards !

  53. Walter Plinge

    Aboriginals were never enslaved ,slaves have to work ,have you ever tried to get a bunch of aboriginals to work? Mission impossible
    My father, a church-going man, gave it his best shot in the early 1960s at the large factory he managed in rural SA. He gave up and never bothered again. The aborigines would attend for a few days then go “walkabout” (as he termed it), never to be seen again. His preferred recruits were what he referred to as “Balts”. Worked hard, got on, succeeded, assimilated.

  54. entropy

    So where does that leave the invention of welcome to country? It can be seen as positive tradition, reinforcing Aboriginal community feeling, but also making an outreach to non-Aborigines, an asking for recognition but in a co-operative way. So some people charge for the ceremony? Well if you want to continue that old Australian tradition of having a Scottish piper at your wedding, you’ll have to pay for that too.

    i can see that. I can also accept it more easily if it don’t cost a grand plus expenses to get somebody to turn up to deliver it.

  55. Peewhit

    Alastair, one reason for FAS being absent up to the late 60s would be that it was illegal to sell any alcoholic beverages to them. This limited the amount of alcoholism at Point Pearce, and it was a standing joke that the alcoholics among them mostly drank Metho with brown boot polish. Most of the casual work on farms disappeared in the late 60s, at about the same time as the sit down money started to grow, and the law was changed to let them into the hotels. All this was worthwhile on each event, but added up to a long run disaster of unintended consequences. This seems to be a government speciality.

  56. Who was the government that introduced the referendum?

    Labor own aboriginal suppression.

    Everything else is moot.

  57. alexnoaholdmate,

    Aboriginal men got the vote when men got the vote, in 1856. Aboriginal women got the vote when women got the vote, in 1895. In fact, Aboriginal women in South Australia, got the vote more than twenty years before women in Britain got the vote in 1918, and for that the British women had to be thirty; they got the vote at 21 in 1928.

  58. Nerblnob

    Yet Wikipedia still insists that aboriginal women didn’t get the “official right to vote” until 1962, linking as its source to a non-existent AEC page.

  59. Jessie

    They put through twenty-eight thousand dog scalps in six months through the policeman
    John Morley transcript and Afghan Hawkers

    Good seasons= sheep grazing north of Maree up to Cordillo Downs =dingoes ++
    Journeys In The Life Of A Drover

    Depression – men on foot and bicycles walked/rode the Strzelecki track earning $ from dingo scalps
    Innamincka Police received and paid scalps.

  60. Jessie

    These days………………………………..
    Heritage of the Birdsville & Strzelecki Tracks
    Dept Environment and Heritage & Flinders University

    Once historical and site-based information had been gathered, the next step was to make an assessment of each place’s significance. The number of recommendations which this survey could make to five or more different heritage and planning agencies was formidable:

    • World Heritage List (Commonwealth)
    • Register of the National Estate (Commonwealth)
    • Proposed National Heritage List (Commonwealth)
    • State Heritage Register (SA)
    • State Heritage Area (SA)
    • Local Heritage Place (SA)
    • Historic Conservation Zone (SA)
    • Queensland Heritage Register (Qld)
    • Local Heritage Place (Qld)
    including statements on massacre sites.

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