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Power and Dysfunction »

The New South Wales Board for the Protection of Aborigines 1883–1940

Authored by: Richard Egan
Publication date: 2021
In 1883, the New South Wales Board for the Protection of Aborigines was tasked with assisting and supporting an Aboriginal population that had been devastated by a brutal dispossession. It began its tenure with little government direction – its initial approach was cautious and reactionary. However, by the turn of the century this Board, driven by some forceful individuals, was squarely focused on a legislative agenda that sought policies to control, segregate and expel Aboriginal people. Over time it acquired extraordinary powers to control Aboriginal movement, remove children from their communities and send them into domestic service, collect wages and hold them in trust, withhold rations, expel individuals from stations and reserves, authorise medical inspections, and prevent any Aboriginal person from leaving the state. Power and Dysfunction explores this Board and uncovers who were the major drivers of these policies, who were its most influential people, and how this body came to wield so much power. Paradoxically, despite its considerable influence, through its bravado, structural dysfunction, flawed policies and general indifference, it failed to manage core aspects of Aboriginal policy. In the 1930s, when the Board was finally challenged by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups seeking its abolition, it had become moribund, paranoid and secretive as it railed against all detractors. When it was finally disbanded in 1940, its 57-year legacy had touched every Aboriginal community in New South Wales with lasting consequences that still resonate today.

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Linguistic Organisation and Native Title »

The Wik Case, Australia

Publication date: September 2021
Classical Aboriginal societies in Australia have commonly been described in terms of social organisation and local organisation. This book presents rich detail on a third and related domain that has not been given the same kind of attention: linguistic organisation. Basing their analyses on fieldwork among the Wik peoples of Cape York Peninsula, north Australia, Peter Sutton and Ken Hale show how cosmology, linguistic variation, language prehistory, clan totemic identities, geopolitics, land use and land ownership created a vibrant linguistic organisation in a classical Aboriginal society. This has been a society long in love with language and languages. Its people have richly imbued the domain of rights and interests in country—the foundations of their native title as recognised in Australian law—with rights and interests in the abundance of languages and dialects given to them at the start of the world.

Indigenous Australian Youth Futures »

Living the Social Determinants of Health

Publication date: July 2021
Adolescents are at a critical life stage where they will soon be able to contribute to the wellbeing of humankind, or do it great harm. Consequently, it is vital that the challenges and possibilities of adolescence be well understood and addressed. In Australia, such understanding is urgently needed with respect to Aboriginal adolescents. Not only must they adjust to their changing bodies and minds, but they must negotiate these changes within a context usually characterised by racism and poverty. They must also do this within intercultural environments that include the disparate and sometimes incompatible beliefs and practices of their multicultural populations. The chapters in this collection address these challenges to Aboriginal adolescents in the Northern Territory and the intercultural contexts in which they take place. Their discussions include the adolescents’ experiences with health and health care, education, and the criminal justice system. They also address their hopes, dreams, plans and politics, engagement with social media, food preferences and nutrition, engagement with language, family, and changing mores affecting sexual behaviour and marriage. The book aims to provide readers with a greater understanding of the day-to-day lives of Aboriginal adolescents, and some of the adults who care for or neglect them. It seeks to provide readers with a better understanding of the circumstances, processes and factors that affect adolescent health, wellbeing and future prospects in their intercultural environments, and glimpse the multiplicity of these circumstances, processes and factors and the complexity of their interaction.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 44 »

Edited by: Crystal McKinnon, Ben Silverstein
Publication date: May 2021
In this volume, Charlotte Ward’s narration of re-enactments of the Endeavour’s landing in Cooktown traces local processes of engaging with and producing histories that bring together stories of that landing with the much longer story of Guugu Yimithirr sovereignty. Heather Burke, Ray Kerkhove, Lynley A. Wallis, Cathy Keys and Bryce Barker analyse the extent of fear on the Queensland frontier through a historical and archaeological study of homes and huts and their fortification. In a collaborative article, Myfany Turpin, Felicity Meakins, Marie Mudgedell, Angie Tchooga and Calista Yeoh consider three performances of Puranguwana, a ‘classical’ Western Desert song that emerges from the death of Yawalyurru, a Pintupi man. Paige Gleeson offers us a new perspective on the well-known image of Warlpiri-Anmatyerr man Gwoja Tjungurrayi, known since the 1950s as ‘One Pound Jimmy’, an image featured on postage stamps and on the two dollar coin. And Gretchen Stolte’s study of Queensland Aboriginal Creations situates the production of boomerangs for sale as work of cultural importance, enriching understandings of Aboriginal artwork and its production.

Austronesian Paths and Journeys »

Edited by: James J. Fox
Publication date: May 2021
This is the eighth volume in the Comparative Austronesian series. The papers in this volume examine metaphors of path and journey among specific Austronesian societies located on islands from Taiwan to Timor and from Madagascar to Micronesia. These diverse local expressions define common cultural conceptions found throughout the Austronesian-speaking world.

Aboriginal History Journal: Volume 43 »

Edited by: Ingereth Macfarlane
Publication date: December 2020
Volume 43 opens with an unexpectedly timely essay. Tom Gara’s study of the influenza epidemic that reached Australia in 1919 expands consideration of its global effects to include the poorly documented impacts on Aboriginal people in South Australia. The study was written and finalised to mark the centenary, prior to the advent of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. In this dramatically altered context, Gara’s evidence becomes significantly comparative as well as an account of an under-researched aspect of past infectious disease spread. Annemarie McLaren’s article poses questions about the differing assumptions Aboriginal men and colonists made about their earliest travels together in country around Sydney Cove in 1791. McLaren interrogates Watkin Tench’s and John Hunter’s accounts of their joint travels with Colebee and Balloderry to explore how ‘guiding’ relationships first developed between Aboriginal people and expeditionary parties in New South Wales. Grace Karskens’ conversation with Mark McKenna about her engagement with the story of Nah Doong, a nineteenth-century Aboriginal woman living in colonial Penrith, NSW, offers ‘a masterclass in how to write history’. Careful reading against the grain brings Nah Doong’s experience alive in a rare, fleshed-out biographical picture of an individual woman. ‘Big John Dodo’ (c. 1910–2003) is respected as a ceremonial and cultural leader for Karajarri country, south of Broome, WA. Darren Jorgensen draws on family and personal interviews to re-position John Dodo Nangkiriny’s ‘transitional’ art forms, which do not emulate pre-colonial or contemporary forms and are produced with new materials. Beth Marsden provides a close reading of the campaign to resist construction of a ‘transit village’ in Morwell, Victoria, in the 1960s, illuminating various strands of assimilationist policy as well as multilayered political and grassroots resistance. Tim Rowse and Barry Leithhead re-examine the underlying assumptions held by Dr Cecil Cook in his career as a Northern Territory administrator and commentator (1925–69). Demonstrating the relationship between racial thought and liberalism in Cook’s policies and advocacy, they argue that Cook’s common function as a shorthand for ‘ideologies, policies and practices of government that seem at best misguided and at worst cruel and racist’ needs re-evaluation. In addition to a wide range of book reviews, this volume also has a review of the important Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition.

On Taungurung Land »

Sharing History and Culture

Publication date: December 2020
On Taungurung Land: Sharing History and Culture is the first monograph to examine how the Taungurung Nation of central Victoria negotiated with protectors and pastoralists to retain possession of their own country for as long as possible. Historic accounts, to date, have treated the histories of Acheron and Mohican Aboriginal stations as preliminary to the establishment of the more famous Coranderrk on Wurundjeri land. Instead of ‘rushing down the hill’ to Coranderrk, this book concentrates upon the two foundational Aboriginal stations on Taungurung Country. A collaboration between Elder Uncle Roy Patterson and Jennifer Jones, the book draws upon Taungurung oral knowledge and an unusually rich historical record. This fine-grained local history and cultural memoir shows that adaptation to white settlement and the preservation of culture were not mutually exclusive. Uncle Roy shares generational knowledge in this book in order to revitalise relationships to place and establish respect and mutual practices of care for Country.

The Bible in Buffalo Country »

Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931

Publication date: October 2020
Arriving in the remote Arnhem Land Aboriginal settlement of Oenpelli (Gunbalanya) in 1925, Alf and Mary Dyer aimed to bring Christ to a former buffalo shooting camp and an Aboriginal population many whites considered difficult to control. The Bible in Buffalo Country: Oenpelli Mission 1925–1931 represents a snapshot of the tumultuous first six years of the Church Missionary Society’s mission at Oenpelli and the superintendency of Alfred Dyer between 1925 and 1931. Drawing together documentary and photographic sources with local community memory, a story emerges of miscommunication, sickness, constant logistical issues, and an Aboriginal community choosing when and how to engage with the newcomers to their land. This book provides a fascinating and detailed record of the primary sources of the mission, placed alongside the interpretation and insight of local Traditional Owners. Its contents include the historical and archaeological context of the primary source material, the vivid mission reports and correspondence, along with stunning photographs of the mission and relevant maps, and finally the oral history of Esther Manakgu, presenting Aboriginal memory of this complex era. The Bible in Buffalo Country emerged from community desire for access to the source documents of their own history and for their story to be known by the broader Australian public. It is intended for the benefit of communities in western Arnhem Land and is also a rich resource for historians of Aboriginal history (and other scholars in relevant disciplines).

‘We Are All Here to Stay’ »

Citizenship, Sovereignty and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Authored by: Dominic O’Sullivan
Publication date: September 2020
In 2007, 144 UN member states voted to adopt a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US were the only members to vote against it. Each eventually changed its position. This book explains why and examines what the Declaration could mean for sovereignty, citizenship and democracy in liberal societies such as these. It takes Canadian Chief Justice Lamer’s remark that ‘we are all here to stay’ to mean that indigenous peoples are ‘here to stay’ as indigenous. The book examines indigenous and state critiques of the Declaration but argues that, ultimately, it is an instrument of significant transformative potential showing how state sovereignty need not be a power that is exercised over and above indigenous peoples. Nor is it reasonably a power that displaces indigenous nations’ authority over their own affairs. The Declaration shows how and why, and this book argues that in doing so, it supports more inclusive ways of thinking about how citizenship and democracy may work better. The book draws on the Declaration to imagine what non-colonial political relationships could look like in liberal societies.

Indigenous Self-Determination in Australia »

Histories and Historiography

Publication date: September 2020
Histories of the colonisation of Australia have recognised distinct periods or eras in the colonial relationship: ‘protection’ and ‘assimilation’. It is widely understood that, in 1973, the Whitlam Government initiated a new policy era: ‘self-determination’. Yet, the defining features of this era, as well as how, why and when it ended, are far from clear. In this collection we ask: how shall we write the history of self-determination? How should we bring together, in the one narrative, innovations in public policy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initiatives? How (dis)continuous has ‘self-determination’ been with ‘assimilation’ or with what came after? Among the contributions to this book there are different views about whether Australia is still practising ‘self-determination’ and even whether it ever did or could. This book covers domains of government policy and Indigenous agency including local government, education, land rights, the outstation movement, international law, foreign policy, capital programs, health, public administration, mission policies and the policing of identity. Each of the contributors is a specialist in his/her topic. Few of the contributors would call themselves ‘historians’, but each has met the challenge to consider Australia’s recent past as an era animated by ideas and practices of Indigenous self-determination.