Scholarly light cast on Dark Emu claims

Today in The Australian
If only Australians had been told the truth, claimed Bruce Pascoe, they would have known that Indigenous societies, as they existed before European settlement, were anything but primitive communities of “mere hunter-gatherers” whose “simple lot” was to “wander haplessly” across the continent’s length and breadth.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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110 Responses to Scholarly light cast on Dark Emu claims

  1. stackja says:

    Bruce Pascoe whose “simple lot” was to “wander haplessly” across the continent’s length and breadth.

  2. H B Bear says:

    Bruce is a problem for the Aboriginal Industry. How will the other Professionals deal with him?

  3. Entropy says:

    Yes at days mocker listed some usual suspects’ tweets about dark emu when it was first released. A selection of awesome wokeness:

    Bookmarking this one @GreenJ … Bruce Pascoe is an oracle and has been beating this slow and steady drum for decades.

    He’s finally heard… and in my lifetime. https://t.co/YojZpBONJr

    — Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) October 31, 2018
    “On the matter of the book I say this strongly: NO ONE who has actually READ the book, can say he [Pascoe] is a fantasist,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons last year. “For when you actually read it, the penny drops … his case is unanswerable – as inconvenient as that might be for those who seek to downplay just how precious a culture was destroyed by white settlement.”

    I recommend not only that you read the book if you haven’t,” ABC radio host Patricia Karvelas told listeners in 2019, “because I promise you, it’s worth your time, but to read the book with your children too, which is what I’m doing. It is a gamechanger.”

    The book uses primary extracts which it includes heavily. You can see it all in blank and white. Others saw the same extracts and missed the story. It it’s all there. #darkemuhttps://t.co/OskpM0oGYK

    — Patricia Karvelas (@PatsKarvelas) November 18, 2019

    The @ABCEducationAU team have joined forces with Bruce Pascoe to bring his brilliant book, #DarkEmu, to life. Do take a look since Bruce fills in the history we were never taught at school about the far reaching contributions Aboriginals made to the world. https://t.co/GZEywaXzKfhttps://t.co/JWMGMn7MsS

    — Dr Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) May 14, 2019

    Labor MP Alicia Payne: “We are waking up, with the help of thought leaders like Bruce Pascoe and his book, Dark Emu, to the sophistication of Aboriginal cultures and societies.” Thought leaders? Labor MP Susan Templeman: “He [Pascoe] demonstrated by taking apart the accounts of settlers that there was agriculture, engineering and ownership and stewardship of this land by the First Peoples.”

    It was, “an amazing book,” said Labor MP and indigenous woman Linda Burney. It “turns on its head the widely held view that Aboriginal people were hunter and gatherer societies,” and presents “a truer picture of Aboriginal society and the land”.

    Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese: “Look at what Bruce Pascoe has done with Dark Emu and our place in this land. In this one extraordinary book, Bruce has unearthed the knowledge that we already had in our possession but chose to bury along the way. Ignorance feeds in darkness. Bruce has simply reminded us where the light switch is. With the flick of that switch a complex mosaic of ancient nations is suddenly laid out before us in light as bright as those early European explorers first saw it and recorded it.”

    Labor senator Penny Wong: “We are no longer trapped in the ignorance of our own assumptions and prejudice, premised on the underlying supremacism of the narrative that white people know best. Bruce Pascoe writes of Australia before colonisation with First Nations people engaging in complex water management and agriculture and living in sophisticated housing among villages — none of which fit the definition of a hunter-gatherer.”

    Greens senator Janet Rice: “I recently read the book Dark Emu … There were really complex technologies, there were settlements, there was agriculture, and there were villages and towns of thousands of people, in some cases, which have been wiped from our history, unacknowledged, because we have a myth of our history …” Independent MP Zali Steggall: “Bruce Pascoe has demonstrated that there was once a grain belt that extended across the whole continent.”

    Labor MP Tim Watts went as far to single out and shame his great-great-great grandfather John Watts for observing Indigenous Australians were a “nomad race who made no use of [the land] except for going from place to place and living only on the wild animals and the small roots of the earth and never in any way cultivating a single inch of the ground.”

    “This statement of ignorance is laid bare by the prize-winning book Dark Emu, in which Bruce Pascoe carefully disproves the ignorant assumptions my ancestor had about the ‘natives’ and their agricultural primitivism,” Watts self-righteously declared, oblivious to his own gullibility. What is more, Watts’s reference to “agricultural primitivism” is itself a form of chauvinism which Sutton deplores.

    Pascoe’s Dark Emu is indeed a brilliant book and the evidence he mounts for his theme – that the First Nations people were a lot more established in agriculture than ever given credit for – is simply overwhelming and irrefutable. https://t.co/FHTtKvTikB

    — 💉 Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) January 2, 2020

  4. Mother Lode says:

    Sorry. No subscription to the Paywallian. And obviously Henry cannot post or acquiesce in someone else posting his column which the Paywallian paid for.

    So I will read the comments here with great interest.

  5. Mother Lode says:

    Thanks for those, Entropy.

    Once again the supposed intellectual elites mocked people who did not fall for Pascoe’s work, and when it turns out they themselves were wrong and the sceptics right, do you think for a moment they will revisit their own gullibility or credit those who were right all along?

    They can’t do that. They are at war, and they believe their brain armour protects them.

    In fact, it is their readiness to amputate infected limbs – when a lefty strays off the reservation they cut them off, make them non-persons, and thus the host maintains it uniformity (they would call it purity). Look what is happening to Jon Stewart now. And he is not the first.

  6. Splatacrobat says:

    They also were astronomers apparently.

    INDIGENOUS PEOPLE have passed down astronomical knowledge for generations. However little is known about this intimate understanding of the sky.

    About the same time Copernicus was formulating his model of the universe da broddas had already invented Sat navs.

    Astronomy was used by indigenous Australians to develop calendars and navigate the land. Each hunter-gatherer tribe lived according to an annual cycle, which informed what they ate and hunted and where they travelled.

    Good to know aborigines joined the rest of nature and the human race by observing the correlation of stars, change of season, length of day, and day and night.

    Well done!

  7. Diogenes says:

    Each hunter-gatherer tribe lived according to an annual cycle, which informed what they ate and hunted and where they travelled.

    According to an indigenous ranger at Jabiru, most of that lore was actually governed by what they saw the plants and animals doing, eg when this bush fruits it will soon get wetter, when this grass finishes seeding, its time to do a burn and hunt for kangaroos as they will get scarce.

  8. Entropy says:

    I suppose each tribe nation had its own variations for constellations. Just like everyone else.

  9. Entropy says:

    Actually, isn’t this conceit of “nations” rather Eurocentric?

  10. Ian says:

    Who controls the past controls the future.

  11. Michael Warren says:

    I don’t understand where the shame is in being of hunter-gatherer people.

  12. min says:

    I think in the book there is a picture of a group of African style shelters , stone with a thatched sort of roof and standing n the middle is a naked aborigine . A picture is worth a thousand words . However, no writing, no metal weapons or tools , no pottery , no way to carry water . Also , back in the days when I was studying child development ,there was a comparison in the ability to depict humans and animals and stages of development . This when a child could depict fingers on hand , only in lines but went from stick figure s etc . Therefore their depiction of humans etc is fairly basic . Look at your own children’s art and how it developed .
    Here is a funny story from a teaching round when 7 year olds were drawing someone . One boy drew a bean shape with stick arms and legs a when I asked who that was A human bean was the answer .

  13. flyingduk says:

    Correct, there is ample evidence that our indigenous forebears lived in sophisticated societies with plumbing, multistory dwellings, steam engines, computers etc

  14. Tom says:

    For those without an Oz sub:
    Scholarly light cast on Dark Emu claims
    HENRY ERGAS

    If only Australians had been told the truth, claimed Bruce Pascoe, they would have known that Indigenous societies, as they existed before European settlement, were anything but primitive communities of “mere hunter-gatherers” whose “simple lot” was to “wander haplessly” across the continent’s length and breadth.
    But those truths were hidden from us: “our country’s history” was “edited, so that our children (would) never question our right to the soil”. Ruthlessly suppressed was the “advanced nature” of the Aborigines’ “ancient agricultural economy”, which placed Indigenous Australia on a development trajectory that stood “ahead of many other parts of the world”.
    And suppressed, too, were achievements that stretched from the first baking of bread — “an idea far more important to humanity than the moon landing” — to the development of villages of “one thousand people” in “permanent housing”: achievements that meant the Aboriginal economy deserved a “much higher rank than some of the nations considered the hallmark of human evolution”.
    Good thing, then, that Pascoe’s Dark Emu finally pierced the shroud of ignorance in 2014 and emerged as a bestseller. And good thing, too, that so epochal a contribution won a swag of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, was transformed into texts widely used in schools, shaped the Indigenous sections of the new national curriculum and earned its author the Australia Council’s lifetime achievement award.
    But, it now turns out, the only editing of this country’s history was that done by Pascoe himself.
    As eminent anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe meticulously demonstrate in Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers?, released this week by Melbourne University Press, Dark Emu is “poorly researched, distorts and exaggerates many old sources, ignores large bodies of information that do not support the author’s opinions (and) contains a large number of factual errors”.
    Highlighting instance after instance in which Pascoe doctors key quotes, misrepresents dates, places and numbers, and miscites crucial references, they expose conduct that would be widely considered unacceptable.
    And the problems they identify are, if anything, greater in the educational material Pascoe has influenced or prepared, which, they write, would “seriously mislead” young people and “should be withdrawn by any educational authority currently using it”.
    However, Dark Emu’s glaring flaws do not just lie in the distortions of fact and authority on which it bases its wildly implausible claims; even more troubling is its fundamental disregard for Indigenous culture.
    In effect, what it presents as admirable in precolonial Indigenous society is not what makes it distinctive but what brings it closer to us: the alleged complexity of its technology; the scale of its tribal gatherings; the supposed durability and number of its dwellings.
    Dark Emu’s rigidly ethnocentric conception of merit, in which quantity is confused for quality, is, as Sutton and Walshe wryly observe, resolutely “Texan”.
    But to view Indigenous culture through that prism is utterly misguided. That culture was not oriented to material affluence, and even less to technological change.

    Rather, Sutton and Walshe write, “for the Old People, making a living and obtaining materials for artefacts were inseparable from their commitment to a spiritual understanding of the origin of species, to conservative values in relation to change and to a cosmology in which economics had to be in conformity to ancestral authority”. They lived, in other words, in what philosopher Charles Taylor has described as a “world brimming with pres¬ences”, in which the spiritual and the temporal, the natural and the supernatural, were fused within a cosmic order that was not to be manipulated and transformed — as it was in the West — but revered and maintained.
    What we would now call faith was not a distinct sphere of life; it was inseparable from life itself, there forever, from the Dreaming, whose latent powers, including for the cyclical regrowth of plants and animals, were to be preserved through obedience to its demands. And where technologies — such as their Melanesian neighbours’ agricultural and horticultural methods — had not been sanctioned by the Dreaming, they rejected them, not out of ignorance but out of respect for the transcendent foundations of earthly existence.
    In contrast, Pascoe’s caricature – which “consistently pushes the evidence of Aboriginal subsistence beyond what it can factually bear and into a European model of economic life … as if the more European the Old People can be made to seem, the better” – robbed that world of its spirituality. That certainly made Dark Emu all the more attractive to the staunchly secular “progressives”, who are its fiercest defenders; but it also made Pascoe incapable of understanding, much less explaining, the Indigenous world’s stability and persistence.
    Ultimately, it condemned his book to being little more than “a popularised mythology of history” that “does not respect or do justice to” the societies it purports to admire.
    Yet this question remains: how can it be that in a country that has a long tradition of first-rate scholarship in anthropology and archaeology, it took seven years to bring Pascoe to account? After all, the errors were seemingly obvious to trained readers; but the silence from the academy was as deafening as it was disturbing.

    No doubt the answer lies partly in the politically charged nature of the issues — a political charge Pascoe himself sought to intensify. Contentiously identifying as Aboriginal, he repeatedly presented his book as a defence of Indigenous people; it followed, in a warped syllogism, that to criticise it would be to attack them.
    And with access to remote sites now conditional on securing Indigenous approval, any researcher who was branded as a racist faced the threat of being excluded from the field work needed to build a career.
    But an even more powerful force has also been at work: the conviction, which has become pervasive in our universities, that telling the truth, instead of being the first and greatest duty, is not as important as achieving social goals. Being right matters far less than being on the right side; and it is immeasurably worse to concede a point to the wrong side than to tolerate error.
    That is a recipe not for advancing knowledge but for entrenching ignorance. It can only make us a poorer and stupider country, while training future generations in conformity rather than intellectual honesty.
    In subjecting Dark Emu to the most painful, but most valuable, of science’s tests, the test of fact, Sutton and Walshe break that mould. Their courage not only does this country and its Indigenous people an immense service; it also shows that, despite everything, our finest scholars are still capable of producing “books with spine”.

  15. cuckoo says:

    Dark Emu is to this generation what Chariots of the Gods was to mine. But I suspect Chariots is by far the more entertaining book, and at least had the virtue of turning many young readers to an interest in archaeology, as I can attest. And the author Erich Von Daniken never claimed to be an alien.

  16. PeterW says:

    Michael Warren says:
    June 18, 2021 at 8:19 am
    I don’t understand where the shame is in being of hunter-gatherer people

    Geoffrey Blainey wrote forty years ago that nomadism should be understood as the superior strategy fir living in the Australian environment, given the plants, animals and technology available to Australian Aboriginals.

    Pascoe’s greatest reason for pushing the narrative of aboriginal agrarianism seems to be current politics over land ownership.

  17. min says:

    One excavated ruin of a building such as those found in Europe and even what I saw in Africa would do .

  18. Mark M says:

    Until Europeans ‘invaded’ Australia, the average lifespan of indigenous folk was 30+ years old, maximum.

    Now they live long enough to recognise elders, emerging and otherwise.

    It appears indigenous folk in their modern nirvana, couldn’t imagine Obamacare.

  19. Petros says:

    Aborigines turned green forests into dry sclerophyll outback. Had no choice but to be very nomadic then.

  20. Bruce says:

    @ Splatacrobat:

    “Astronomy was used by indigenous Australians to develop calendars and navigate the land. Each hunter-gatherer tribe lived according to an annual cycle, which informed what they ate and hunted and where they travelled.”

    In whose journals are these things recorded?

    If quoting a claim about technical achievements, it would be nice if the source of these written records were referenced.

    Otherwise they are, to say the least, tenuous.

    “Sweetness and Light”: check out the Kalkadoon (spelling varies) from around Mount Isa way. Probably the ‘hardest” bastards in the bunch. Actually “organized ” in a sort of military way (Think “Zulu-lite). Not so much now, but they persist and good luck to them.

    Utterly contrasted by the groups living in comparatively lush South-East Queensland. Bountiful seafood, plenty of edible plants, major Bunya-Nut festivals / meet and greet every few years. It’s a bit of a walk from from the coast to the Bunyas, but ….Shame if you fell out of a Bunya tree and broke leg whilst collecting Bunya nuts. Not much in the way of paramedical services; a broken leg, (especially a broken femur), was often a death sentence. (Either the broken femur slices open the femoral artery and you die in a short time because your heart “stops”, or, if the jagged end of the broken bone just mashes up veins and muscles, the blood pooling internally will result in septicaemia and an agonizing death, a few days later.

    The ONLY groups to have metal before the arrival of “white fellas”, were a small mob up in Arnhem land who traded with the Macassan Trepang collectors. Highly prized and not to be traded further south lightly. Better than trying to boil water in a bark coolamon.

    Then there are the poor buggers who ended up in Tasmania. When the tide came back in after the last serious Ice Age, they were isolated. Successive waves of different melanin-enhanced folks spreading southwards appear to have “out-competed” the ones left on the mainland. Better weapons and canine companions will do that rather quickly. If you were paying attention whilst visiting Viet Nam or parts of Indonesia, you will have seen pooches that look remarkably like Dingoes . There’s a hint.

    The ACTUAL archaeological record clearly indicates that the coastal folk in Tasmania suddenly stopped eating shellfish several hundred years ago. Probably a Taboo edict after a batch of dodgy oysters or scallops at a big gathering. None of the participants left a diary note at the time. Thus an abundant food source was abandoned.

    It appears as if there is a concerted effort to utterly corrupt the research and history for political purposes. NOT HAPPY about this; it WILL end in tears, at the very least.

  21. BrettW says:

    Is the ABC still going ahead with their doco series based on Pascoe writing ?

    Has anybody asked Ken Wyatt for comment ? He famously said he believed Pascoe was Aboriginal simply because he said he was.

    It is incredible how long the fraud has been able to benefit from and get away with it.

  22. PeterW says:

    What we would now call faith was not a distinct sphere of life; it was inseparable from life itself, there forever, from the Dreaming, whose latent powers, including for the cyclical regrowth of plants and animals, were to be preserved through obedience to its demands. And where technologies — such as their Melanesian neighbours’ agricultural and horticultural methods — had not been sanctioned by the Dreaming, they rejected them, not out of ignorance but out of respect for the transcendent foundations of earthly existence.

    In other words, they were superstitious as hell.

    Any European culture exhibiting these characteristics has long been condemned as primitive and anti-science.

    I’m wondering how long it will take before the claims of tens of thousands of years of continuous unchanging culture – based on mere hundreds of years of observation – will be properly challenged. Everything that we know about human nature says that we should challenge them and that they are wildly improbable.

    Thinking human beings investigate, learn and challenge ideas.

  23. PB says:

    “NOT HAPPY about this; it WILL end in tears, at the very least.”

    Its really a question of whose tears are the intended target.

  24. Shy Ted says:

    Ch34 10am today First Footprints. The Great Drought : First Footprints is the untold story of how Aboriginal people came to Australia over 50,000 years ago and adapted and thrived in this harsh continent.
    Lots of excellent archival footage. Caution, may not include farming practices, towns of 1000 people or anything else in Dark Emu.
    Well worth a watch.

  25. Up The Workers! says:

    Bruce Pascoe is no “oracle” – he’s an “orifice”.

  26. Rosie says:

    Average lifespan is a little misleading. If you were able to survive infancy you could get past thirty.

    One of the problems iirc in aboriginal culture was promising infant girls in marriage to senior men, in polygamous marriages and leaving young men without the opportunity to take a wife.

  27. Rosie says:

    To believe pascoe is to believe there has been a 200 year long colonial conspiracy including all recent generations of aboriginal people, even those living close to traditional lifestyles.

    I don’t know what motivated him. Perhaps just a wish to paint the invaders in an even worse light, and of course to be special himself.

  28. Natwally says:

    I grew up in the Murchison region of WA, Meekatharra to be exact, and over the years found myself living in many regional locations where I was exposed to many, many different indigenous people and was lucky enough to hear a great number of their stories. I’m talking Kojanup, Leonora, Kalgoorlie, Tennant Creek, Mount Isa, Cloncurry here!

    Not one, I repeat not one, story ever contained any reference to cultivation, animal husbandry or construction. The stories could be grouped into creationist, parable, fable, societal rules and consequences and just flat out instructional (how to hunting and gathering). Perhaps they were just keeping all this hard won farming and construction knowledge from this Wudjula (white man) in case I was to steal it? Who knows.

  29. OldOzzie says:

    min says:
    June 18, 2021 at 8:25 am

    I think in the book there is a picture of a group of African style shelters , stone with a thatched sort of roof and standing n the middle is a naked aborigine . A picture is worth a thousand words . However, no writing, no metal weapons or tools , no pottery , no way to carry water .

    Picture of Native Tribes of Central Australia Brush Timber Dwelling

    definitely not a architectural construction, from

    An edition of The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899)

    The native tribes of Central Australia
    by Spencer, Baldwin Sir

  30. DaveR says:

    When Henry Ergas says Pascoe is “Contentiously identifying as Aboriginal” he is not quite right.

    Pascoe is not simply indentifying as Aboriginal like many others , he is actually claiming to have an Aboriginal great grandparent – falsely it seems. And early on in his life it seems Pascoe did not claim actual Aboriginal heritage, this claim is a more recent addition.

    There is a big difference.

  31. Cynic of A says:

    Something which was obvious to everyone with more than two brain cells, the day Pascoe started his scam.
    Turned out to be a pretty good scam though. I wonder, exactly, how much money he was given.
    I also wonder if, in Pascoe’s wildest dreams, he thought the ABC would be so freaking stupid as to swallow his bullshit.
    But then, I suppose, everyone with more than two brain cells knew they would be.

  32. theleftfootkick says:

    I was wondering how come they have never found any established cemeteries in these populated ‘cities or towns’? Also what kind animals did they farm, or crops did they grow and harvest on a seasonal time clock?

  33. exsteelworker says:

    I know where Bruce got his version of aboriginal history from, watching to many Flinstones cartoons. Yabba dabba doooo.

  34. PeterW says:

    Also what kind animals did they farm, or crops did they grow and harvest on a seasonal time clock?

    Some low stone walls, in one place and which nobody actually knows who built….. are held up as “proof” that aboriginals were herding kangaroos. As though Roos can’t jump. 🙄

    The millet that they allegedly grew in country too dry to produce a crop in 2 years out of three, grows prolifically without planting or cultivation as long as there is water. Why would you?

  35. Bad Samaritan says:

    I got a joke for ya all….adapted from an Irish one…

    There’s an argument raging about who invented telecommunications, and a Pommy says “We did. Recent tunneling under London has discovered telephone wires at a depth indicating London to have had phones 140 years ago”, to which a Froggie counters “Ha… that’s f’all. We have just constructed a new Metro Line from La Place d’Etoile and have found wires in a stratum indicating that Paris had telecommunications 175 years ago!”

    Bruce Pascoe then steps up to the podium in front of all the Peter Fitzsimons and Wendy Harmers of Australia’s cabal of intellectual and cultural giants to announce “Well, we Indigenous First Nations’ folk have had a shaft dug ten kilometres deep at Uluru and discovered not a cable nor a wire nor even the written word. Proof positive that us Aboriginal geniuses already had wifi in the dreamtime!”

    Wild applause follows.

  36. Rufus T Firefly says:

    I heard that NASA has found the remains of an ancient spaceship, not far from Apollo 11.
    Wait, ……, is that an aboriginal flag next to it?

  37. min says:

    In fact as anthropologists and archeologists usually do in other countries , they go through the rubbish dumps to be able to analyse what was eaten , etc , Even go through the latrines of ancient Romans to find out what their diets consisted of . Middens in Australia have not revealed a great deal about human activity of Aborigines compared with other ancient tribes.

  38. RobK says:

    grows prolifically without planting or cultivation as long as there is water.
    Ultimate no till, with no till, paddock to pl..
    Oh poo.

  39. OldOzzie says:

    Natwally says:
    June 18, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Not one, I repeat not one, story ever contained any reference to cultivation, animal husbandry or construction. The stories could be grouped into creationist, parable, fable, societal rules and consequences and just flat out instructional (how to hunting and gathering).

    Spencer’s interest in anthropology blossomed in 1894, when he joined the Horn Scientific Expedition to explore central Australia and met Francis James Gillen, who had been independently pursuing studies of the Aborigines. In 1896 Spencer and Gillen began the study that resulted in the publication of The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899). Getting to know the Aborigines intimately and winning their trust, the two men accumulated an immense amount of information about Aboriginal customs, rituals, and beliefs. In 1904 they published The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, which drew on their travels around the Gulf of Carpentaria and conveyed a living picture of seminomadic, food-gathering and hunting people engaged in everyday economic and social activities and rituals. Spencer believed that Aboriginal social organization illustrated an early stage in the development of humankind.

    Francis James Gillen, (born Oct. 28, 1855, Clare, near Adelaide, S.Aus., Australia—died June 5, 1912),

    Australian anthropologist who did pioneering fieldwork among the Aborigines of central Australia.

    Gillen’s training in anthropology came not from a university but from close contact with Aborigines in his work for the Australian postal and telegraph service. He made independent studies of Aborigines, learning their languages and customs, and became especially sensitive to their feelings, trying to deal with them fairly and with understanding. The Australian government ultimately appointed him a magistrate and subprotector of Aborigines.

    In 1894 Gillen met the English anthropologist Baldwin Spencer, who was traveling with the Horn Scientific Expedition through central Australia. Gillen and Spencer soon became friends and began to collaborate on Aboriginal studies. Their association extended over a period of many years and resulted in the publication of several coauthored works. Gillen’s remarkable collection of photographs of Aboriginal life is now the property of the South Australian government.

  40. Splatacrobat says:

    SBS pumping up tyres again.

    Indigenous Australians to lead space industry at new Alice Springs earth ground station

    CfAT chairperson Peter Renehan said the facility “puts Aboriginal people at the forefront of Australia’s growing space sector”.

    Aborigines make the best astronauts apparently. Because they took up space in school……………….when they went, that is.

  41. Roger says:

    Bruce is a problem for the Aboriginal Industry. How will the other Professionals deal with him?

    He’ll simply be consigned to the forgettery, never to be mentioned again.

    Bruce will console himself by usining his royalties to take an extended holiday in England researching his ancestors.

  42. Nick says:

    PeterW
    EXACTLY

    Triumph of the Nomads

    No one who has read it can not see the problem with the belittlement of hunters gathers.

  43. theleftfootkick says:

    Yes I remember watching a chef on TV one time, demonstrating how to cook kangaroo meat, he stressed that the meat he was about to cook was in fact not wild kangaroo but came from a farmed kangaroo! I wonder what the drafting race looked like?

  44. min says:

    When people did not have the knowledge or science to tell explain how the world and humans work , they made up stories to try and make sense of the world . Long held beliefs turn into superstitions . The more poorly educated or the ability to put two and two together and not get 5 , the more superstitious the group.. As a little girl more than eighty years ago I had a story book of Dream time which was a collection of myths of aboriginals to explain how their world worked . Humans have done this since time began . There was always a smarter , big talking man who could sway the others to make them think he was the font of all knowledge. Give him special feathers , head dress and there you go head Sharman or whatever with no one daring to have a different idea as you usually ended up badly .
    Littered through history examples of this Bruno the brother in Rome , Galileo and still going on .Still going on these days a la Prof Sutton and co . holding up the superstions whilst others cancelled .

  45. Natwally says:

    Thanks OldOzzie. I’ll read that.

  46. Fair Shake says:

    There is irrefutable evidence of ancient Australian tribes have access to drive in theatres, Polly waffles and heavy beer at local footy matches. Ancient being circa ‘70s

  47. Alan says:

    Tom, thanks for that.
    “… which has become pervasive in our universities, that telling the truth, instead of being the first and greatest duty, is not as important as achieving social goals. Being right matters far less than being on the right side; and it is immeasurably worse to concede a point to the wrong side than to tolerate error.”

    Now imagine that being the standard for submitting evidence in all Law Courts.
    Law students are saturated with this extreme activism throughout their degree.

  48. Primer says:

    Pascoe is a straight up liar.
    Is he another racial appointed Adjunct Professor yet?

  49. OldOzzie says:

    min says:
    June 18, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Humans have done this since time began . There was always a smarter , big talking man who could sway the others to make them think he was the font of all knowledge. Give him special feathers , head dress and there you go head Sharman or whatever with no one daring to have a different idea as you usually ended up badly .

    Chapter XVI The Making and the Powers of Medicine Men;
    Various Forms of Magic

  50. Des Deskperson says:

    Surely the most devastation critique of Pascoe from an ideological angle is that he has made Eurocentric assumptions and applied Eurocentric values to an alternative and valid way of life.

    Properly handed and massaged, this ‘woke’ line ought to finish him off.

  51. Rosie says:

    Exactly Des.

    Why is Neolithic better than Palaeolithic?

  52. HD says:

    “…he stressed that the meat he was about to cook was in fact not wild kangaroo but came from a farmed kangaroo!”

    Off topic, though I find it scary that some people actually believe that there is such a thing as a “farmed” kangaroo. Because they jumped the fence and were “harvested” (shot) on private land and/or a farm doesn’t make them farmed.

    Though on topic, Thomas Keneally refers to primary sources such as Bennelong and Arthur Phillip in reference to the locals keeping areas free of scrub and seedlings. For the purpose of hunting animals including, but not limited to kangaroos. Apparently the area around Camperdown, where Sydney University is today.

    I am unsure if any non-indigenous landholder has cleared or modified land specifically for the purpose of obtaining kangaroo for consumption or clothing. Though modifying the landscape to encourage grazing does seem to imply farming of meat and leather.

  53. Rosie says:

    Does it imply anything though that wasn’t typical hunter gatherer technology?

    Australia Aboriginal people aren’t the only modern day people living this lifestyle.

  54. HD says:

    @Rosie.

    I suppose that it would depend on your definition of “technology”. Does a concept or idea only constitute a technology when a culture seeks to apply this theory or understanding to mass transfer? In this context the technology being land management in terms of control of understory plant growth in a spatial system to maximise productivity of meat and leather. Or is land management only a technology when physically manifested with specific or nonspecific tools?

    …And is there actually a strict delineable dualism between hunter gatherer and non-hunter gatherer? Assuming there is a sliding scale/ continuum between these idealisations, what are the empirical evidential criteria for assigning designations to differing communal habitation and use of land?

  55. Sirocco says:

    First Footprints is the untold story of how Aboriginal people came to Australia over 50,000 years ago and adapted and thrived in this harsh continent.

    I have always wondered about this issue. Remember that when modern humans entered the Sahul land mass, Australia and PNG were joined together by the dry Arafura basin. The geological record shows that the basin had been dry for over 40,000 years since sea levels dropped at the beginning of the last ice age. The basin is 50 meters deep at the eastern end and 80 meters deep at the western end. By 90,000 years ago sea levels had dropped past that point. It must have appeared as a veritable garden of Eden.

    So why would there have been any incentive to go live in the deserts? They would have been aware that the lands to the south were harsh. Why go there and try to adapt? What would have been the incentive?

    I can imagine that when sea levels began to rise 14,000 years ago, and the basin flooded from the west, there would have been significant displacement, continuing for over 5,000 years until the basin was completely under water. At that point I can see the need for people to move into more marginal lands to the south, and thus adapt to the harsher environment, but that would have occurred only in the last 10,000 years or so.

    So I have doubts about the claim that the aboriginals survived in a harsh environment for 50,000 years. More like about 10,000 years. And good on them. But do not let us fall for 50,000 years claim.

  56. Baa Humbug says:

    I think Josephine Cashman should be given much credit for exposing this lying POS Pascoe. She has been relentless.
    As for Their ABC and SBS, Pasoe’s fraud was heaven sent. They wanted to believe him so badly. Those poor Noble Savages, robbed of their homelands by the Eeebil Whitey (flagellate, flagellate).

  57. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    Only in this stupid, stupid country could such a preposterous blatant ahistorical anti-intellectual fact and evidence free fraud as Pascoe have prospered for as long as he has – and don’t expect to see any widespread repudiation of his idiocy (despite some recent “misgivings”) in our utterly bastardised public institutions any time soon.

    What a disgrace.

  58. Rosie says:

    Probably not HD, after all the people of say Europe didn’t go to bed one night hunter gatherers and wake up the next morning farmers.

    I’m just suggesting that certain ways of doing things are fairly typical of particular cultures.

    Labelling them farming doesn’t seem important.

    Another example would be the fish trap.

  59. Xword says:

    Got to admit I’m looking forward to the doubling down by Brooser’s supporters; the “if it’s not true, it should be” defence.

  60. Entropy says:

    I would think keeping plots of land clear to appeal to grazing animals, and fish traps would be just the sort of thing successful hunter gatherers would do. Less effort for the hunt.

    It’s like NWQ pastoralists setting up watering points to trap cattle so they don’t have to spend so much money mustering.

    Although come to think of it the way some of those people practice livestock management it probably isn’t that all that different to hunter gathering. Need some money for a trip to Europe? Go out and muster the hills you haven’t checked out for a while for some cleanskins.

  61. Dave of Reedy Creek, Qld says:

    Having read a good portion of Captain Arthur Phillips journal, some of which is reprinted in 1988 Bi-Cenetenial Souvenir hardcover, I found nothing of what Pascoe claims. They certainly had their own tribal custom but are recorded as hunter gatherers. In the time of fabrication, imagination and fantasy we live in anything and everything is rewritten to suit the norms of our day. Sorry Bruce, I think your book fall under fantasy.

  62. Professor Fred Lenin says:

    These people could not even boil water ,you need pottery for that so where are the shardsof broken pots ? When tou grow cereals and make flour in a quern how do you cook the bread without a pot or oven ? Do you chuck it in the fire and burn it lie you do meat?
    I have been studying Neolithic Orkney where my ancestors came , from about 5200 years ago people there lived a surprisingly sophisticated life , growing crops, keeping animals and building large religous places including a stone circle older than Stonehenge. The centre and surrounds of the henge are at present being excavated .
    One of my relatives owns the land in question .

    Never mind pascoes false claims ,Orkney is Real archaeology ,no claims just real evidence you can actually touch ,

  63. HD says:

    @Dave of Reedy Creek, Qld

    Hmmm. “Bruce” huh(?)

    Perhaps you should head on down to the State Library and read the originals in the complete form. There’s probably copies at the National Archive in Canberra as well. As per the Camperdown hunting ground, there are plenty of references to that. Here’s a less direct reference:

    “The area nearby, now known as Petersham was also known as Bulanaming. Tench mentions an area, a narrow strip called the ‘Kangaroo Ground’ between Port Jackson and Botany Bay, which appears on his map where the inner west would be.[11] It was an area he crossed as part of a party sent by Phillip to take prisoners in response to the spearing and killing of McIntyre, the government gamekeeper.”

  64. Mother Lode says:

    Bear in mind too that the British had sailed the globe and come across (and colonised) lands with a wide range of levels of society. Why would Aboriginal society warrant special denigration?

  65. 8 says:

    Scroll down a tad and treat yourself (and your kids!) to Pascoe-mania, courtesy of their ABC’s Education pages:

  66. Adelagado says:

    The embracing of Dark Emu by so many city based Aboriginals simply highlights how little they know about their own culture.

  67. Vicki says:

    I read Peter Sutton’s previous book “The Politics of Suffering” all those years ago & thought that, at last, a man who had devoted his life to the study of Aboriginal culture would persuade the “do-gooders” that encouraging Aborigines to remain in these remote and dysfunctional communities must end.

    Of course, that did not happen. He was politely ignored. As was anthropologist Stephanie Jarrett who wrote compellingly of the appalling level of violence (much of it traditional & cultural) in those isolated communities.

    I guess he will again be demonised by both black & white deniers. They never allow the facts to destroy their idealistic fantasies.

  68. Vicki says:

    So I have doubts about the claim that the aboriginals survived in a harsh environment for 50,000 years. More like about 10,000 years. And good on them. But do not let us fall for 50,000 years claim.

    This is true. I don’t think anyone who is at all familiar with the archaeology would suggest that they survived right across our land mass for 50,000 years. In my own neck of the woods (NSW Central Tablelands) I think the evidence suggests maybe 8,000 years at most.

    Nonetheless, even in that timespan life in the Australian landscape was harsh & I am respectful of their adaptation. We are fortunate to have some quite remarkable remains of their presence on our farm – an actual bora ring, an “eel oven” in the base of a casuarina down at the creek, possibly a fish trap, and copious numbers of stone tools.

    Sadly, descendants of local clan groups have eagerly adopted Pascoe’s fanciful notions and claim to the locals that “we were farmers, too”.

    The real story is much more interesting.

  69. PeterW says:

    Though modifying the landscape to encourage grazing does seem to imply farming of meat and leather.

    No it doesn’t .
    Not unless you want to blur the distinction between farmers and hunter-gatherers so much that it becomes meaningless.

    Fire is used in many Hunter-gatherer cultures. The available records indicate that Australian aboriginals used fire for multiple purposes. Encouraging grass-based understories is one of them, but there is no selection, no herding, no protection, no cultivation and no planting…. none of the main characteristics that distinguish agriculture from H-G.

    Just as the English had no trouble in understanding and recording other cultures around the world, they had no trouble recognising farming when they saw it around the world, either. In fact, they were so farming-oriented that they used familiar farming language to describe aboriginal activity that even superficially resembled it – something that Pascoe seizes on, without understanding the differences.

    If the early explorers and settlers wrote that the aboriginals weren’t farming, it wasn’t because they didn’t know what farming looks like.

  70. PeterW says:

    Vicki…
    I recently saw yet another study showing that pre-settlement droughts dwarfed anything we’ve seen since 1788.

    There is a local tradition that the Billabong Creek between ALBURY and Wagga was regarded as unreliable water by the aboriginals. Yet is has not been completely dry since settlement.

    There is an aboriginal oral tradition of a time when the Murrumbidgee dried up and those camped along it were forced to walk overland to the Murray. That’s 120km without water – only fit adults made it.

    There is another aboriginal oral tradition that the Hawkesbury dried up until the only water point for a considerable distance was a single spring. Water they had, but the area within reasonable foot-travel distance was soon hunted out.

    Much suffering ensued.

  71. Vicki says:

    I recently saw yet another study showing that pre-settlement droughts dwarfed anything we’ve seen since 1788.

    Yep. Anyone who has grappled with what this land can throw at you should (& generally do) have respect for the stone age (yes – stone age) people who survived for thousands of years.

    But this should not mean that you fantasise or idealise their culture. But I am thrilled that I am in a position to maintain the small reminders of their presence on the land that I now care for.

  72. Iain Russell says:

    Sirocco, yes! Why would people leave a giant seafood and avian larder like the coast to live in a desert?

  73. egg_ says:

    So why would there have been any incentive to go live in the deserts? They would have been aware that the lands to the south were harsh. Why go there and try to adapt? What would have been the incentive?

    The sediment contains pollen that shows that fire increased from about 130,000 BP, associated with an increase in eucalypts in the surrounding area. Prior to this eucalypt proliferation the vegetation was less sclerophyllous, with vine thickets and casuarinas.

    The present landscape around the lake, with increased erosion, with widespread gullies, is the result of European clearing and agriculture and grazing. The land has been degraded even further by sand mining of the strand lines and aeolian deposits on the southern and northern margins of the lake. Land degradation has been increased greatly by roadworks in the area.

    https://austhrutime.com/lake_george.htm

  74. egg_ says:

    Pascoe’s Dark Emu is indeed a brilliant book and the evidence he mounts for his theme – that the First Nations people were a lot more established in agriculture than ever given credit for – is simply overwhelming and irrefutable. https://t.co/FHTtKvTikB

    — 💉 Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) January 2, 2020

    Fitzy’s been bashed senseless by too many baguettes to the head?

  75. Bad Samaritan says:

    Iain (2.53am). None-too-bright?

    Similarly, why would anyone claim the existence Aborigines were forced to live 250 years to be preferable to today’s possibilities?

    And yet they do…asserting the people Aboriginals back then were “happier” living a shyte existence, and also asserting they (the asserters) would prefer to live like that too.

    Very low IQ types in the main. Or scamsters like Pascoe.

  76. Old Lefty says:

    Sutton, I gather from mutual acquaintances, is a man of the left but first and foremost a scholar: the truth comes first.

    Henry Ergas has pointed out something disturbing about the seven-year silence from the universities. The academics who have broken the silence – Sutton, Walshe, and Ian Keen before them – are all safely retired emeriti. Presumably the woke enforcers who sacked Ridd lack the legal means to come after a Unisuper pension. Presumably also, those still in the universities are too scared to speak out for fear of getting the Ridd treatment.

  77. Rosie says:

    PeterW

    Just want to say I’m appreciating your contributions on sundry topics.

    My very clever and well read uncle long deceased knew a fair bit about aboriginal peoples and the family property once had a tree over the river that had a ‘ladder’ carved into it to facilitate spear fishing.

    That was the only tangible evidence of Aboriginal people ever being there and clearly having gone to the trouble of creating it it was part of the route of the local peoples.

    And if you are going to claim this and that farming activity occurred across Australia then you need to identify what local materials were used.

  78. min says:

    The women told Daisy Bates how they survived in severe drought . Reported in the paper in 1929
    There was also an anthropologist who was privy to much of aboriginal life that he filmed whilst living with them for many years . . Sometime in the 1930s all of which were left toSA government . I have seen some of these perhaps shown in a museum somewhere.

  79. cuckoo says:

    In the two months since she joined a campaign led by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt against the work and claims to Aboriginal heritage of Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, Cashman has fallen out with her former mentor, Marcia Langton

    Well, that tells me all I need to know about Langton’s credibility.

    Can’t wait for Peter Fitzsimons’ biography of Uncle Bruce, should be out in time for Christmas.

  80. Rosie says:

    Tbh can’t quite follow the story but might make sense to others

    Josephine Cashman’s letter to Ken Wyatt

  81. Des Deskperson says:

    ‘Fitzy’s been bashed senseless by too many baguettes to the head?’

    Indeed, egg

    Here’s Pascoe with few academic or research skills who comes up with a theory that’s, well, maybe plausible but certainly arguable. You may find it interesting, you may think the guy has a case, but only a very stupid person indeed would assert, without further evidence, that the theory is ‘simply overwhelming and irrefutable’.

    And doesn’t he mean ‘overwhelmingly irrefutable’? ‘Overwhelming’ on its own doesn’t make sense, unless it means it gave him some sort of brain fugue. Perhaps it did.

  82. Des Deskperson says:

    Maybe he mean the the evidence is ‘overwhelming’, which by all accounts it isn’t .

  83. Rosie says:

    It means he’s a word salading dunce.

  84. JohnJJJ says:

    What you all don’t understand is that history, philosophy, anthropology, mathematics and science is a narrative. The only non narratives are novels and stories… oh… and that first statement. Those are facts. I hope that helps.

  85. Tintarella di Luna says:

    Adelagado says:
    June 18, 2021 at 1:44 pm
    The embracing of Dark Emu by so many city based Aboriginals simply highlights how little they know about their own culture.

    That’s because they’re fauxboriginals

  86. Nob says:

    So is this being reported anywhere like The Age or The Guardian?

    The left will not change their minds until instructed to do so by those establishments and their like.

  87. Rosie says:

    Yes both the Guardian and the conversation iirc have published articles.

  88. Rosie says:

    Not sure about aged.

  89. Jessie says:

    I continue to be amazed that Sutton (1943-), who worked for eons with Langton and Pearson (as they were being groomed/or grooming) on the Cape patrilineal lineages and land claims could not have realised, as an anthropologist, of the decreasing numbers of familial descendants or the actual levels of violence. And all the time while he became fluent in a number of languages and living with the people.

    My presumption with Politics of Suffering 30+ years later in his career, was he was the academic proxy for the plans of Pearson and Langton et al. Claims- environmental/cultural heritage- international heritage classification – oops then mining and pastoralism with the recent solution of ‘economic development’ (+ of course education) became the new confirmation bias of the masses.

    Sutton was bound to the concept of placental burials under trees as a statement of claims to [born-on] land, I remember. But of course I may be totally incorrect on that point when it was raised in the legal arguments on such land claims. I believe published.

    He amazingly found Ursula McConnel’s (1888-1957) trunk of anthropological writings. He was given verbal permission by the surviving [elderly] family to have and use these records of this truly intellectual anthropologist/ethnographer.

    When Ridd an intellectual and scholar is compared to Sutton , and with the Catallaxy header ‘A scholarly light cast..’ …. truly bile inducing.

    I doubt any of the bloggers have read Sutton’s earlier work or investigated the references he astutely used many years later in ‘The Politics of Suffering’. But then ‘leftie’ to academic truthfulness; is heartening is it not?

    Ergas and others should do themselves a favour and read Sutton’s early work and then consider sudden or ‘considered’ alignments to matters published at a national public level in the event now of more accessible media for all. Or better still read Martin Lynch’s paper on Quadrant and note the line They are called “Clever Men” and “Clever Women” in the Cape. Some are seriously sinister people and hold real sway.

    Much the same as The Australian’s Chris Kenny should find out what the Aboriginal Legal Rights lawyer Tim Wooley of the Hindmarsh Bridge Affair fame and ensuing RC is up to these days.

  90. Nob says:

    Jessie,
    Are you suggesting that Sutton is striking a pre-emptive blow to save his (and his fellow travelers’ ) reputation?

    It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened.

  91. Rex Anger says:

    @ Nob-

    Between the Wuhan leaks, Election Audit revelations, Gene-therapy-dressed-up-as-vaccine adverse reaction awkwardness and what Jessie is describing, I think one might be justified in using Spike Milligan’s quote “There’s a lot of it about”

  92. Jessie says:

    Nob @5.21

    Yes

    And one can only hope that all Catallaxian’s have carbon trading shares/and have pegged claims to fresh/salt water under their ‘private property claims’. But then of course you can’t can you? Unless you identify as Indigenous.

    Sutton is heavily involved now, not that I have a problem with true science, with carbon dating at THE Adelaide University.

    There are many truly amazing facts. For instance the FNQ men (as some other significant populations) worked far n wide spreading their seed across Australia on pastoral/rail/road/telegraph/transport/mine national projects, with their grown babes and next generations moving about on welfare etc and the added bonus of telecommunications. And the same now claiming [significant] existential claims to land/culture.

  93. Jessie says:

    Rex Anger @ 5.31

    I just discovered my limited edition etching of Norman Lindsay’s Julia and Monkey and having this framed. Amazingly still in its cardboard cover it has survived Cat3-4+cyclones, termites, cockroaches, 1000s kms of travel in a galv tin trunk. I would have loved to have had Journalism and Art but alas I was not so in-tone with the art scene.

    Spike is good however The Walrus and The Carpenter might be more appropriate on the Ergas adulation – Sutton-expertise Cape York and now SA narrative.

  94. max says:

    The chief symptom of this moral decline is that Australians today are mostly sheeple; the rugged individualism that characterized (no doubt with some exaggeration) Australia until the 1970s or even the 1980s is gone. Australia’s ludicrous reaction to the Wuhan Plague, more uniformly hysterical than in America, is far from the only piece of evidence. More notably, several years ago, when the government confiscated most firearms and instituted an extremely intrusive regime, including unannounced house entry by police at any time, for those allowed to keep some neutered firearms, instead of rebelling, Australians meekly accepted. However, the most puzzling, to me, and most widespread, manifestation of sheepledom is that nearly the entire country has adopted a complex of delusions about the Aborigines, who are somewhere around three percent of the population. Collectively, these delusions manifest as a bizarre self-flagellating secular religion, often named “reconciliation,” whose major sacraments are apologizing for nonexistent wrongs, handing out money to people who are not victims, and, most importantly from a societal perspective, treating the Aborigines, whose subculture is hugely dysfunctional and contributes very little to Australian society, as worthy of honors and distinctions.

    https://theworthyhouse.com/2021/03/03/dark-emu-bruce-pascoe/

  95. max says:

    The author, Bruce Pascoe, is an Australian, white as rice, of pure English stock, who dreamed that he was an Aborigine. When he woke, he created for himself an Aboriginal ancestry, the evidence for which he smoothly declines to provide to anyone (though proof of his lack of any material Aboriginal ancestry has been published). You may think this is strange, for a white man to speak for the Aborigine while pretending to be Aborigine. Yes, similar charades have happened a few times recently in America, but in Australia it is the norm for Aboriginal “spokesmen,” all of whom seem to be self-appointed and refuse to give their “credentials,” to be as white as Queen Elizabeth.

  96. max says:

    Pascoe’s real goal, though, is not to correct the anthropological record. It is to make a present-day political claim, that Australia really belongs to the Aborigines, and that cash, power, and honors should be given to them. This claim has been welcomed by the elites in Australia, since it fits right into their new woke religion centered around fictitious narratives of oppression, through which leftist white people achieve meaning. (Americans have been jarringly woken up to a similar crazy reality in our own country just recently;

  97. Rex Anger says:

    Spike is good however The Walrus and The Carpenter might be more appropriate on the Ergas adulation – Sutton-expertise Cape York and now SA narrative.

    Ah yes.

    Yes indeed.

  98. HD says:

    @PeterW

    Well, dictionaries seem to define farming as raising animals and growing crops. The semi-nomadic herding that goes on to this day in various parts of the world? Comparing said activities in Northern Russia with cattle stations in Australia, the only real difference is land ownership. How for example do the early on activities of squatters in Australia fit into the concept of farming- droving animals around significant ranges with little or no modification to the environment and no enclosure? Yanko station or the area between current day Griffith and Leeton for example.

    Perhaps some consideration should be given to the coexistence of static operations supporting cities and static hunting and gathering- as can be found in pre-conquistador South/ Central America. The lack of metallurgical technology though mass production of broadacre and orchard crops including maize, citrus, nuts… as well as both static and nomadic herding of livestock. The absence of anything to the effect of ox, horses…for purposes of ploughing/tilling, milling, forestry and construction. But a whole lot of manpower, obsidian blades/ tools and some tricky stuff with rope/ pulleys/ mechanical advantage.

    Is there the possibility that the indigenous people obviously had a unique set of social, environmental and geographic circumstances and “free range” seemed the most practical means of animal management? In recent millennia with the exception of the mainland tiger there were no predators of kangaroos other than birds of prey. Also bearing in mind that land enclosure was something that came quite late in the piece ( 16th century England). One of the goals of selective breeding, or unintended consequence later favoured would be dumber animals that were more manageable and did not run away. To get eaten by predators or your neighbours.

    I believe I wrote about Oxley’s journals in response to the CAT thread hosted by currencylad, taking the piss, out of Stan Grant’s taking the piss out of authors such as Bruce Pascoe. Regarding his journey to find the inland sea of Lake Cargellico. The references to what seemed to be broadacre monocultures stretching to the horizon. How he got into a bad spot and was awoken in a state near death by indigenous people that fed him a type of “bread”.

    Perhaps a better definition of farming in keeping with an earlier post of mine would be ‘the application of knowledge via cultural land management practices and/or technology for the purpose of food, fibre and fuel production. Or alternately work/energy expenditure in an intentionally compartmentalised spatial system to promote production of bioproducts.

  99. DDinAus says:

    It is sad that Pascoe is so ashamed of his people and culture. To renounce his own history and that of his elders for thousands of years deserves our pity. In this context his inventions are no better than a crude insult to his forebears. It will be appropriate that a kurdaitcha man points the bone to settle the issue. If Pascoe dies we can accept that he is aboriginal and his theories may have some veracity. I unaffected, well …..

  100. PeterW says:

    HD….

    Still no…
    There is zero evidence that aboriginals herded or managed wildlife. There’s good reason to believe that there were significantly lower numbers of roos – the only “herdable” animals in Aus @1788 than there are now….. and not just because of improved pastures and water sources. In fact they were the ones that introduced the Dingo to Australia, possibly the most effective predator of medium-sized game that the continent has seen. Last I heard, roo density is higher where dingoes are excluded that where they are common.

    Great animal husbandry, that….

    Likewise, there is little or no evidence of the concept of animal ownership – a lack which contributed significantly to inter-racial violence in the early days. It doesn’t matter where you look, agriculture has brought with it the concept of ownership. Land and crops were personal property long before the Enclosures Act in England, and every herding society recognizes personal ownership of the animals in question.

    So… no herding, no exclusive use, no selective breeding – and its temperament, not intelligence we select for – no planting, no cultivation.

    Nothing more than burning , the firestick being more-or-less the multitool of the aboriginal kit and the pinnacle of their “technology”. Note that burning was carried out for fire protection, for hunting, as a tactic in conflict and to facilitate travel, as well as for cooking and warmth. If those who claim that burning is a cultural activity, conducted for its own sake, are right, then animal production is very low on the order of priority.

    No…
    You are trying to extend the definition of farming to the point of meaninglessness. Even in modern times, we distinguish between farming – tilling of the soil for crop production and intensive livestock management – and grazing. A definition so vague that it does not distinguish between active, intentional management, and anything which *might* have an effect, whether positive or not, intentional or not, is like tits on a boar…. neither use, nor ornament.

    Which raises the question… why are you so anxious to misuse the language?

  101. PeterW says:

    HD…
    Let me rephrase that last sentence of mine.
    To explore options and to examine which narrative the evidence fits, that is one thing and very laudable.

    To claim that one thing IS another, contrary to both evidence and good sense, is not laudable at all. The implication is that you have a reason for wishing to conflate two different things – as Pascoe has clearly done – and you will do yourself more credit if you engage in some self-examination.

  102. Fair Shake says:

    It’s not a lie if you believe it.
    George Costanza circa yaddah yaddah

  103. Lee says:

    Pascoe has set the aboriginal cause back years with his baseless “history”.

  104. HD says:

    Hi PeterW,

    “You are trying to extend the definition of farming to the point of meaninglessness.”

    No, I merely indicate that in the scheme of irreducible complexity, “farming” is the concept of altering/managing the environment to promoting mass-energy flow into biological products in the form of and via living things that serve the purpose of sustaining human life.

    Records from a number of primary sources from the initial settlement of the modern day Sydney area indicate this was the case if it be only clearing of land in portions of Sydney that are today Sydney University and the residential areas of Netwon, Stanmore and Petersham. That as per everywhere else in Australia dingos were likely used to herd and corner the macropods into positions where humans found it easier to spear and club.

    It is interesting that you bring up dingos. Chances are they “accompanied” the forebears of the Aboriginals similar to the dogs that accompanied the forebears of the Polynesians and Maoris. Easier to fit on the boats than pigs – meat for the journey. The utility in herding, hunting, whatever came later likely as an unintended consequence.

    “To explore options and to examine which narrative the evidence fits”

    When confronted with Oxley’s words in regard to “bread”, there aren’t a whole lot of narratives that can fit that description. Ever tried getting a dough made of milled oats or barley to rise, or hard wheat for that matter(?) There’s a bit of selection and breeding that went into fixing characteristics suitable for dough that rises or bread. There are of course other plants such as rice and sorghum that other cultures achieved this with such as, respectively, in the Mekong Delta and the Palmirs of central Asia.

    Bearing in mind that baking soda and hence self raising flour did not come about until several decades after the time Oxley wrote his journal and no doubt longer for the technology to reach Australia. Perhaps the indigenous people had a source of sodium bicarbonate- maybe? I suspect Oxley’s use of the term is homologous with your use of the term farming. Rather specific. A spongy, chewy, perhaps floury, encased in a more textured outer layer, edible material, that seemed a lot like what an Englishman would refer to as bread. Rather than pancake, scone, dumpling, cake or biscuit. Surveyors/ explorers tend to be specific in their descriptions.

    No anxiety. No misuse of words. No conflation. Simply the same guiding rationale as the full bench of the High Court’s ruling on the Mabo decision. In terms of to have exercised judgement in light of evidence establishing the Plaintiff’s argument on the balance of probabilities, on all aspects of the case would disqualify the validity of the court’s legitimate right to sit and rule on any case.

    That is to say refusing to ignore evidence to produce an assessment and/or conclusion that people would prefer to hear, that validates a flawed paradigm. Just because the concept of land ownership and compartmentalisation of food production differed in indigenous cultures to others more familiar doesn’t invalidate the actions taken whose intention was production of food by altering the land and environment = farming.

    In fact they had the protein producing equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. No further selection required other than foster a population which can hop away from man or dingos but were less successful when the both worked in combination.

  105. 1735099 says:

    The most remarkable aspect of the reaction to Pascoe’s Dark Emu is that the very racist general consciousness of these issues has been effectively punctured by a book.
    It has some problems in how it treats its sources and sets up the “hardest” of multiple lines of arguments that it pursues.
    That’s a lot of pressure for one text to bear.
    Granting all of that it remains a useful corrective to generations of dehumanising assumptions which are now being audited.
    And the noisy and hysterical reaction has had the great benefit of bringing indigenous life at the time of colonisation into sharp focus.
    That’s got to be good.

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