Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 38

Edited by:
ISSN (print): 0314-8769
ISSN (online): 1837-9389
Publication date: January 2015
Imprint: ANU Press

Since 1977 the journal Aboriginal History has pioneered interdisciplinary historical studies of Australian Aboriginal people's and Torres Strait Islander's interactions with non-Indigenous peoples. It has promoted publication of Indigenous oral traditions, biographies, languages, archival and bibliographic guides, previously unpublished manuscript accounts, critiques of current events, and research and reviews in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, sociology, linguistics, demography, law, geography and cultural, political and economic history. 

Aboriginal History Inc. is a publishing organisation based in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra.

For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.

Volume 38 features a rather serendipitous special section on Western Australian Aboriginal history.

This special section begins with Clint Bracknell’s commissioned article on nineteenth-century Noongar songs. Through his translations and careful reconstructions of the diverse contexts in which the songs were performed and recorded, Bracknell highlights the Noongar response to the arrival of the Europeans and the early colonisation of the state’s south-west.

Amanda Nettelbeck and Anne Scrimgeour both examine the policing and administration of Aboriginal people in the north-west. Nettelbeck considers the role of magistrates and justices of the peace in the ‘frontier legal networks’ of the Pilbara and Kimberley regions. She reveals that these networks contributed to the government’s fraught attempt to pacify and regulate Aboriginal people in the late nineteenth century. Scrimgeour takes us to the middle of the twentieth century, revealing that governmental attempts to legally regulate and administer Aboriginal people in this region were still flawed. She traces the changing approach to the administration of Aboriginal people through the biography of Laurie O’Neill, a former mounted policeman and travelling inspector. Initially renowned and celebrated for his brutal methods of controlling Aboriginal people, his heavy-handed response to the Pilbara Strike demonstrated that the was distastefully out of step with the Department of Native Welfare’s policy shift away from the punitive control of Aboriginal people towards new post-World War II concerns for their welfare and ‘advancement’, so was removed from the region.