Presentation on theme: "Aboriginal Colonisation and Contact What is Colonisation The Dreaming Indigenous Spiritual Life and the Land Indigenous Law Sharing Knowledge Indigenous."— Presentation transcript:
Aboriginal Colonisation and Contact What is Colonisation The Dreaming Indigenous Spiritual Life and the Land Indigenous Law Sharing Knowledge Indigenous Art Early Visitors Colonisation The Myall Creek Masacre
What is Colonisation? Colonisation is the forming of a settlement or colony by a group of people who seek to take control of territories or countries. It usually involves large-scale immigration of people to a 'new' location and the expansion of their civilisation and culture into this area. Colonisation can involve dominating the original inhabitants of the area, known as the indigenous population. The modern world has been shaped by thousands of years of colonisation. From ancient times, through the middle ages and to the modern era, people have travelled to and settled in new areas and countries. As people moved, they came into contact with other people and cultures. Sometimes there was conflict leading to the destruction of the indigenous people and their culture. Other times there was exchange of knowledge, goods and traditions. This unit looks at colonisation and then explores the nature of colonisation and its impact on indigenous cultures, particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.
The Dreaming Australian human history did not just start when the first white settlers arrived in 1788. It began when the first inhabitants arrived over 50,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. These first inhabitants are known as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (from the Latin word aborigine, meaning from the origin or beginning), and gradually spread out to cover the whole of Australia. By the time Captain Cook reached Australia in 1770, there were probably at least 750,000 Indigenous peoples living in Australia. The Indigenous population was divided into up to 600 different language groups but they all believed that the world was formed in the distant past during a sacred era known as the 'Dreamtime' or 'Dreaming'. The survival of the Indigenous peoples depended on their knowledge and understanding of the land. They needed to know the seasons and when and where the various types of food were available. It was essential that the land was protected, as it was needed for survival. They did this by passing on knowledge of the land and its creation through stories, songs, ceremonies, dances and art. The closest English word for this knowledge of the land and its creation is the Dreaming.
The Dreaming (2) The Dreaming is a unifying characteristic of all Indigenous culture, but each group within Australia had its own particular Dreaming. The Dreaming of a group explained how features of their world came to be, and explained the significance of their own sacred sites. It also set out the rules of how people should behave, particularly towards the land. The Dreaming gave meaning and direction to the lives of each Indigenous group, and continues to do so.
Spirit Ancestors The Dreaming explains the beginnings and culture of the land and its people, sometimes called the Creation. In the beginning, the Indigenous peoples' spirit ancestors came from the ground, sky and seas. Many of these ancestors could change their form, from human to plant to animal. As they travelled over the land they created its natural features and all its life forms, including the plants, animals, insects, fish, birds and people. When the Creation was over, the spirit ancestors disappeared into the earth, water or sky, though they left behind signs of their time on earth. These signs were in the form of caves, hills, rivers, billabongs, trees, rocks and other natural features of the landscape. The spirit ancestors' power can still be felt through the land and its life forms. The ancestral beings did not really die; they lived on in different forms and their spirits survive. Through this, the past continues to have strong connections to the present; and is why the Indigenous peoples have a duty to protect the land, its plants and animals and to care for the sacred places.
Preserving the Dreaming Indigenous peoples celebrate and relive the Dreaming in ceremonies, songs and stories. For example, stories about the Rainbow Serpent or how the sun was made are told so that links with their ancestors are preserved. Ceremonies and other rituals are used to pass on the Dreaming secrets to the next generation. By passing on the Dreaming secrets to the next generation, it means the land and living things are cared for and the links to the past are preserved.
Dreaming Legends The Dreaming stories or legends from all areas of Australia show that Indigenous Australians believed in a Supreme Creator or Great Spirit. The Great Spirit was known by different names in different areas, such as Byamee, Wandjina and Nargacork. The Great Spirit was responsible for watching and helping the different groups of Indigenous people; and often sent spirit helpers to show them how to do things, for instance, lighting fires or trapping fish.
Dreaming Legends (2) Another story, and one that many Indigenous groups had in common, was the one about the Rainbow Serpent. The Rainbow Serpent arrived on the land and began to slide from place to place, creating the deep gorges, rivers, mountains and valleys in the shape of its body. It is believed that the Rainbow Serpent continues to live on in the world today in a secret sacred place, and that the rainbows seen in the sky are a reflection of the creature. Many of the Dreaming legends, particularly those that tell of great floods, volcanoes and giant animals were actually based on fact. Archaeological evidence shows that the land and animal life did change in Australia during Indigenous habitation. This shows the success of the ceremonies and rituals in passing down stories and secrets from generation to generation.
The land: Spirit, clans and survival Indigenous peoples depended on the land for their survival. They lived in groups within a territory and survived by fishing, hunting, and gathering plants, and using other resources that the land had to offer. Most groups were semi-nomadic, meaning they moved around within the territory to find food. The land not only provided food and resources, but also formed the basis for their spiritual life, as well as the family and social structure. This is why the land is so significant in Indigenous culture; and why the arrival of the Europeans caused so many problems for traditional Indigenous society.
Indigenous spiritual life and the land The Indigenous peoples' relationship to the land was very different to the way Europeans viewed the land. Individuals within Indigenous society did not own the land as the Europeans did; rather, Indigenous people viewed the land as owning them. The land was handed down to them from the previous generations and it was their duty to care for it. The land is the spiritual home of the Indigenous ancestors, and the ancestral spirits are still part of the land - in its rocks, plants and animals. The ancestors, who travelled across Australia at the beginning of time, established the land boundaries between different Indigenous groups and the sacred sites. Each clan's land has sites that are sacred, or of spiritual significance. Groups or individuals are responsible for these places and must care for them and keep them free from unauthorised visitors. Even today, as in the past, Indigenous clans hold deep spiritual links with their lands which were formed in the Dreaming.
Indigenous social structures Indigenous groups lived in territories with other groups that spoke a common language and shared similar customs and beliefs. Before the arrival of the Europeans, there could have been up to 600 different language groups within Australia. The basic social unit in Indigenous society is the family. Small groups of families lived together and formed a 'band'. Some bands would consist of several families living and hunting together. The size of a band would ultimately depend on how much food was available within the territory. This would vary at different times of the year depending on factors such as the season or rainfall.
Clans In a band there are different clans. Clans are groups of people related by descent from a common ancestor, sometimes human, sometimes non- human. They could be descended from the Possum ancestor or Kangaroo ancestor or any other ancestral being from the Dreaming. Clans are the major political unit in Indigenous society and guard their spirit homes, including their sacred sites and their rituals, totems and songs. People cannot marry members of the same clan. Because bands comprise married people with families, their members represent a number of different clans. This means that in a band there may be Possum people married to Kangaroo people, or Magpie people married to Snake people. A whole clan would come together at different times of the year; when there was plenty of food to share, to carry out ceremonial rituals, to arrange marriages and to settle inter-clan disputes. If there was a major ceremony a number of clans would meet together.
Land and survival Indigenous peoples used the land and its resources to survive. How easy it was for them to survive depended on the environment they were living in. Indigenous peoples living in the desert in central Australia would have found it harder to survive than those living by large rivers or on the coast. The type of food gathered also depended on the type of environment the group was living in. Sometimes there was an abundance of kangaroos and other game but at other times the band had to survive by eating plants and smaller animals and insects. In general, Indigenous bands just gathered enough food for immediate use; they did not usually store or grow food.
Aboriginal Colonisation and Contact The Indigenous peoples also used the land to provide the material with which they used to hunt and gather the food. They made canoes from bark; spears, boomerangs and digging sticks from wood; baskets from grasses and knives and other blades from rocks. Indigenous people did not practice agriculture as Europeans did but there is evidence that they made use of firestick farming and other methods to obtain food. Firestick farming was when the land was burnt so that it cleared out the undergrowth and produced new growth. The new growth after the fire attracted more other to the area which made it easier for hunting. Some Indigenous bands also made traps to catch eels and fish and most groups traded items such as food, shells, and plants when they travelled across other territories. Land was vitally important for Indigenous survival and spiritual life, but it also was an important factor in Indigenous laws and rules.
Indigenous Law The British view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was that they had no real social organisation, no government, no laws, and no rights over the land. When Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay on 17 April 1770, he noted that he 'never saw one inch of cultivated land in the whole colony'. This reinforced the British view that people were not in possession of the land, and so the land was 'terra nullius' or 'land belonging to no one'. By European law, if the land was not being used, then those who found it first could claim it. Of course, we now know that Indigenous people did have a very close and deep-rooted relationship with the land and they did have laws to rule their behaviour.
The Dreaming and Indigenous law The Dreaming provided Indigenous people with laws to rule their behaviour. The ancestral beings decided the rights, responsibilities, and behaviours of all things in the land. These laws typically covered what foods could be eaten and how the food should be shared, the punishments if laws were broken, the rules for family, marriage and social organisation, the rules for looking after land and the sacred sites, and the rules for ceremonies and rituals.
Learning about the law Indigenous peoples were taught from early childhood what the law allowed and what it did not allow. They were taught these things through stories, music, art, dance and other ceremonies. Indigenous children grew up being familiar with their own laws and with their daily rights and obligations. They knew both the spiritual dangers and what punishments were given to people who broke the law. They witnessed the process of punishment and how cases were argued and decided. The most important thing for Indigenous children to learn was the appropriate way to behave towards the land and other people within the family. Stories were told that taught children how to behave. One story from the Goulburn Islands, off the coast of Arnhem Land, tells of a greedy boy. He made so much noise that the Dreaming being, the Rainbow Serpent heard him and swallowed the boy and his friends and family.
The process of law Indigenous people living in Australia prior to white settlement did not have governments or law courts to decide disputes and punishments. Rather, the process of law was one of negotiation that involved most members of the community. Particular arguments that could not be settled informally could be settled by a group of people known as elders. Elders were usually men who had great experience and knowledge of sacred matters and were viewed as teachers rather than judges. Offences and punishments Theft, adultery, unauthorised physical assault, and insult and neglect of family and clan obligations were offences that were considered unlawful. Punishments could range from having to face a squad of spearmen with only a shield as protection, to making compensation. There was no such thing as a jail in Indigenous life. Punishments (either actual or ceremonial) were given out and normal life was resumed as soon as possible. Sometimes there were disputes between various Indigenous groups. These disputes were settled by negotiation, ritual punishment or formal battles. Settling disputes under Indigenous law was part of the purpose of the great gatherings of Indigenous groups that took place occasionally, particularly when there was plenty of food for many people. Groups would hold major ceremonies and they would trade materials and objects, teach each other new songs and dances along with settling disputes and making marriage arrangements.
Arrival of the British and the Law When the British did begin to settle in Australia, from 1788, there was much conflict with the Indigenous peoples. One major source of conflict was the differences between Indigenous law and British law. These differences still exist today, though efforts are being made to recognise traditional Indigenous law in the Australian legal system.
Sharing knowledge, conserving information and history Indigenous culture is one which shares knowledge and passes down information from generation to generation. Indigenous children learned everything they needed to know from their family. They learnt about the Dreaming, the land, sacred sites, catching and collecting food and finding water through watching, listening and doing. Knowledge and information was also shared between groups so that information about the Dreaming and other important matters could be passed from group to group. Without this culture of sharing and conserving information and history, Indigenous culture and society would not have developed.
A culture of sharing Before British colonisation, there were up to 600 different Indigenous language groups in Australia. Each language group had its own laws, customs and sacred sites that were part of its Dreaming. Sometimes there was contact and sharing between different groups. Groups may have traded or shared different materials including species of plants or shells, or may have come together to share in a bountiful food supply such as Bogong moths. When groups came together, they participated in ceremonies and rituals that allowed them to pass on stories and information. This sharing of knowledge explains why there are many similar elements of Indigenous culture between groups. Indigenous families survived by sharing knowledge, information, and food. An Indigenous child was brought up not just by the mother and father, but by aunts and uncles. A child also had very strong bonds with its cousins as well as with brothers and sisters. The family worked together to gather food and this food was shared according to customary law. Knowledge and information about important hunting grounds and bush foods was passed down to the children so they learnt how to survive. Children were shown how to do things but they also listened to stories and attended ceremonies and corroborees that taught them necessary spiritual knowledge. Some information, however, was so important that it could not be passed on until the children became adults. This information was then passed on through initiation ceremonies.
Initiation In traditional Indigenous society an initiation ceremony generally took place when boys and girls reached puberty. Initiation was when girls and boys learnt about secret rituals, sacred objects and spiritual knowledge. Both girls and boys went through an initiation process, but for the boys initiation was a landmark event in their lives. Boys were separated from normal camp life and most of their relatives. They would undergo ordeals and tests, and participate in secret ceremonies. They would learn about being a man in Indigenous society and would gain important knowledge about the Dreaming. After months, or even years, the boy would return to normal camp life as a man. He would often have some physical scars, but would be ready to share in the sacred life of his people. Initiation for girls was less intense but may have included some physical markings such as body scars or a missing tooth. At the end of her initiation, a girl left her parents' camp and was usually married to a man that had already been chosen for her.
Oral history There were many spoken Indigenous languages in Australia, but no written language. Information was passed down to the next generation through words, storytelling, art and dance. This is known as oral history and the stories are known as the oral tradition of the Indigenous peoples. Since there were so many spoken languages, it was often difficult for different language groups to communicate. When groups were travelling, message sticks were carried to help identify the group. Sign language using hands, the body, or facial movements could also be used to communicate with other groups; and dance and other ceremonies were conducted to share information and knowledge. It is not known how much Indigenous knowledge, information and history has been lost since the arrival of the British settlers. It is important that the knowledge and information that we do have is passed on to the generations that follow.
Indigenous art Indigenous art, like many other aspects of Indigenous culture, was not understood by the British settlers. Art was an account of Indigenous everyday experiences but more importantly it was a visual expression of their beliefs. The inspiration for much of Indigenous art was from the Dreaming and the spirit world. By painting, carving, drawing and decorating, Indigenous people were renewing contact with the Dreaming and expressing their beliefs visually. Art was also used to communicate, to record history, to tell stories, to teach and to mark territory. Indigenous art does not just refer to paintings. Artists drew pictures in the sand and carved pictures and designs into timber and rock. They made sculptures, painted their bodies, made baskets, jewellery and ceremonial clothing. Indigenous art also includes the decorations found on tools and weapons. It is generally symbolic in form and does not attempt to show an exact likeness of things. Indigenous peoples have been painting the stories of the Dreaming on the walls of caves and rock shelters for at least 20 000 years. Most Indigenous painting has a symbolic significance. Artists painted what was spiritually relevant to them in a particular area of land. The paintings helped the Indigenous people to continue their relationship with the spirit-beings of that area.
Painting Traditional artists used brushes made from sticks that had been chewed or hammered until the ends were frayed. Sometimes hair or feathers that had been tied to a stick were used as a brush and other times fingers were used to paint a surface. Charcoal or clay was also used as a pencil and sometimes paint was blown out of the mouth to produce a spray paint or stencilling effect. A limited number of colours were used in traditional paintings. The basic colours were red, yellow, brown, white, black and grey. The colours came from different sources, depending on the area. Ochre, which is a mixture of iron, lime and clay, was used to supply red, yellow and brown. White came from lime, clay or gypsum rock. Black came from charcoal and grey was a mixture of ash and liquids. Beeswax, honey, egg yolk, emu fat, orchid juice and tree sap were also used as fixatives to help the paint stay on the object or surface. Sometimes different Indigenous groups used paint materials such as ochre to trade for other materials.
Painting styles There were different styles of painting in traditional Indigenous society. There was cave art, rock shelter paintings, ground or sand paintings, bark paintings, body painting and the patterns and designs painted on objects such as shields and boomerangs. There were also the decorated grave poles of the Tiwi people of Melville and Bathurst Islands, off northern Australia. Indigenous painting styles and designs varied widely throughout Australia depending on the environment and the different cultural practices of each Indigenous group. In eastern and southern Australia there is extensive art painted and carved on rock surfaces. Tree carvings and patterns on 'bora' grounds (ceremonial sites) can be found in eastern Australia. In north and central Australia there are many examples of Indigenous art, including rock paintings, ancient figure paintings of the Mimis, x-ray art, decorative bark paintings and decorated ceremonial objects.
Art Styles Mimi art The Mimi form of Indigenous art can be found particularly in Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Cave walls have been painted with scenes of Mimis. Mimis are small, thin, spirit people who lived in the rock face. Each Mimi is engaged in an activity such as running, jumping, fighting and dancing. Indigenous artists have the responsibility for repainting the sacred paintings from time to time, to retain their spiritual power. X-ray art X-ray painting was another form of rock painting common in north-west Arnhem Land, and is now one of the most readily recognised of traditional Indigenous art. X-ray art shows the outline and inner parts of an animal or fish. Features such as bones and internal organs are drawn and even small fish are shown inside the stomach of larger fish.
Art Styles (2) Symbolic art Symbolic art is not easily interpreted by non-Indigenous people. Symbolic patterns using lines, circles, spirals and zigzags tell stories of everyday events and of the Dreaming. Ceremonial art Art was created for certain ceremonies and sacred rituals. This art was usually created and then wiped out when no longer needed. Ground or sand paintings and body painting are examples of ceremonial art. Paint and other materials, such as feathers, were used to decorate people's bodies and the ground; these were then wiped away when the ceremony was over. Indigenous painting has changed in modern times, but it still reflects the Indigenous people's strong religious beliefs and their continuing relationship with the land. Traditional methods have been combined with European elements to create a modern style of art that is very popular. Papunya paintings with symbols, waving lines, circles, patterns, and dots (used to camouflage secret objects) are one of the most recognised styles today.
Early Visitors Australia was not an empty land when the British arrived. Indigenous people were living all over Australia and its islands, and using its land and seas. Nor were the British the first people to visit Australia. Australia had been visited for centuries by Dutch, French, Macassan, Arab, and Portuguese explorers and traders. Sometimes the visitors were unwanted and there were violent clashes between the two groups; at other times there was curiosity and relatively peaceful contact. Food and other goods were traded or exchanged. Australia and the Indigenous people had been visited for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1770. Chinese traders and explorers may well have made the journey to Australia centuries before European explorers. There is also evidence that Portuguese sailors knew of the Australian continent. Portuguese maps from the 16th century show a country called 'Java la Grande', which indicates a landmass similar to Australia. The most regular visits, however, were from the Indonesian and Papuan people.
Early Visitors Macassan traders Indonesian people have been visiting the Australian continent for centuries. They came to fish mainly for trepang (sea-cucumbers or sea- slugs) which were considered a delicacy in Indonesia and China. The people who visited the northern shores of Australia came from the Indonesian trading centre of Macassar. Remains of Macassan camp sites have been found on Australia's northern coast, and date back at least 800 years. The Macassans sailed to Australia in boats called praus and fished for trepang in dugout canoes. Some of these canoes were traded with the Indigenous people, who learned from the design and started making their own canoes. Macassan people traded other objects with the Indigenous people. Knives, axes, smoking pipes and fish-hooks were traded in exchange for tortoiseshell and pearl shells. The Macassans also influenced the art, stories, dance, language, and rituals of the Indigenous people in the region. Not all contact between the Macassan and Indigenous people was peaceful. Sometimes there was violent conflict. The Macassans, however, were never seen as a threat to the land. They always returned to their own land after gathering the trepang.
Early Visitors Papuans The Papuan people regularly travelled to the Cape York Peninsula and Arnhem Land across the Torres Strait. Papuan culture and language had a strong influence on Indigenous culture on the Cape York Peninsula. Dugout canoes, ornamental masks and grave posts were introduced to the Indigenous peoples. In return, the Papuans acquired spears and other ornaments and weapons. Dutch sailors Dutch sailors were the first Europeans to land in several parts of Australia, and named the land 'New Holland'. In 1606, the Dutch captain Willem Jansz sailed in the Duyfken from the Dutch East Indies in search of new trading areas. He was the first European to record the sighting of the Australian mainland at the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Dutch were looking to establish new trading ports and find precious metals, spices and exotic fruit trees. They did not establish a colony on Australia, as they found nothing of particular value to them to conquer or trade with. In 1623, the Dutch captain Jan Carstensz was sent to sail around the Gulf of Carpentaria. Captain Carstensz and his crew encountered many Indigenous people and there were violent clashes between the two groups. Several Indigenous people were captured and taken back to the boats. Carstensz wrote that the Indigenous people were 'more miserable and insignificant that I have ever seen in my life'. The Dutch sailor Captain Abel Tasman was the first European to land on Tasmanian soil in 1642. He did not meet any Indigenous people but did see evidence of their inhabitancy. In 1696, the Dutch Captain William de Vlamingh made the first European landing along the Swan River in Western Australia. He recorded that he saw smoke, huts and footprints of the Indigenous people but did not meet any. It was not until the British started to explore that Australia was seen as a potential colony.
Early Visitors British William Dampier was the first Englishman to visit Australian shores in 1688. He landed on the west coast of Australia and was looking for a safe place to clean and repair his boat. In his account of his journey, published in 1697, Dampier suggested that the coast of Australia (or New Holland as it was known then) was worth further exploration. It was not until Captain James Cook took a more serious look at the east coast of Australia that Europeans recognised that the continent had potential for a European colony. In April 1770, Captain Cook sailed the Endeavour into Botany Bay. Botany Bay was so named because Joseph Banks found so many plants there. Cook spent a week in there, gathering plants and noting the potential of the region for farming and agriculture. The Indigenous people generally kept their distance from him, but Cook wrote that their tools, houses and canoes were very primitive. As Captain Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia, he did not see any evidence of European style of farming or any fixed houses and so he determined that the land was not occupied and did not belong to anyone. He claimed possession of the east coast of Australia for King George III and named the land New South Wales. In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove under orders to establish a permanent British colony in New South Wales.
The First Fleet: the process of colonisation Britain transported its criminals from its overcrowded jails to the British colonies in the Americas, until the American Revolution (which lasted from 1775 to 1783). After the Revolution, the United States refused to accept prisoners, so Britain had to find another place to send them. Joseph Banks suggested Botany Bay, and this was accepted. Settlement of Australia would not only be a place to send prisoners but would keep rival powers, such as France, away from Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip was chosen to command the convict fleet, as he had experience transporting African slaves. The fleet, known as the First Fleet, set sail for Botany Bay on 13 May 1787.
Colonisation The First Fleet The First Fleet consisted of 11 ships and about 1500 people in all. There were over 700 convicts, 290 marines, 400 sailors and some women and children. On the way, the fleet stopped at Tenerife (Canary Islands), Rio de Janeiro, and the Cape of Good Hope to pick up food, animals, plants and other supplies before heading to Botany Bay. The fleet landed at Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788. Botany Bay It was the middle of summer, so there was little fresh water or fertile soil at Botany Bay. Captain Phillip decided to take some crew and sail north to find a better location. They found the clear waters of a protected harbour that Phillip named Sydney after the British Home Secretary, Lord Sydney. On 26 January 1788 (Australia Day), Captain Arthur Phillip and a group of officers and marines landed in Sydney Cove and raised the Union Jack (the British flag) to proclaim New South Wales as a British colony.
Establishing a colony On 27 January 1788, the male convicts began to arrive and started to clear the trees, put up tents, unload stores and animals, and sow vegetable seeds and corn. On 6 February 1788, the female convicts arrived from Botany Bay and the colony was established. Captain Phillip became the governor of the colony and began to establish permanent structures and farms. Huts, storehouses, a hospital and a church were built and a brick residence was constructed for the governor, called Government House. In November of 1788 a new settlement was founded at Parramatta, where the soil was more fertile. Another settlement was soon established at Toongabbie. Norfolk Island was also settled so that timber and flax (to make sails) from the island could be used in the new colony. The first years were very hard and the colony almost failed. The first harvest came to nothing and food had to be strictly rationed. Governor Phillip sent HMS Sirius to the Cape of Good Hope for more supplies. In June 1790, the Second Fleet arrived with more convicts and food supplies, and in 1791 the Third Fleet arrived. Food was still in short supply, but by 1792 the colony was well- established. Trading ships were starting to visit Sydney and the whaling industry had begun. Sheep were being imported to grow wool, and released convicts were taking up farming. The colony of New South Wales was starting to grow.
Governor Phillip August 1814 at Bath, England. He was a British naval officer who was appointed the first governor of the first European colony on the Australian continent - New South Wales. Phillip commanded the First Fleet to Australia and was the founder of the city of Sydney. He remained in Australia from 1788 to 1792. Phillip's life before Australia Admiral Arthur Phillip was originally a farmer who then became a sailor in the British Navy. In 1786 he was chosen by Lord Sydney as the Captain General of the proposed settlement at Botany Bay. Phillip had a very difficult time arranging a fleet to make the voyage to Australia. People were unsure of what they might find when they reached Australia. Phillip suggested that people with experience in farming and building be included, but most of the convicts on the fleet were thieves from the slums of London. Phillip arrived at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788, with instructions to establish a permanent British colony. He was also instructed to establish good relations with the Indigenous people in order to gain useful knowledge of the area. The land rights of the Indigenous peoples, however, were completely ignored.
The first settlers and the Indigenous peoples The region around Sydney Cove was not uninhabited or unoccupied, as the British had declared. Its land belonged to the Eora and Dharug peoples. When the Union Jack was raised on 26 January 1788, all Indigenous land had been declared British territory. In addition, all Indigenous people had been made British subjects and would be expected to obey the laws of Great Britain. This was despite the fact that Indigenous people had their own laws, considered the land an essential part of their lives; and had their own families, clans and language groups. The arrival of the British was the start of a process which resulted in Indigenous groups losing their land, their hunting grounds and their way of life. Contact with the British brought diseases such as smallpox that Indigenous peoples had never known before. These diseases killed thousands and thousands of Indigenous people. There was also competition between the British and Indigenous peoples for clean water and food. The British settlers cut down trees, destroyed sacred sites, stole weapons and rapidly extended their control of the land. The British settlement of Australia has become known as the European invasion of Australia. In the following chapters the effects of the British colonisation on the Indigenous peoples will be explored.
First contact with the Aboriginal peoples Governor Arthur Phillip was aware that the Aboriginal peoples might be hostile to the British, but he wanted to establish friendly relations so that both the British and the Indigenous peoples could live peacefully. At Botany Bay, Phillip was confronted by the Aboriginal people of that area. Unlike Captain Cook who had shot at the Aboriginal peoples, Phillip put down his weapons and they did the same. Contact with the Indigenous people at Botany Bay from that time was tense but friendly. At Sydney Cove, the Eora people were more unwelcoming and generally avoided Phillip and the rest of the First Fleet. The Aboriginal peoples may have thought that the white people were the returning spirits of the dead. As time went on, and the British stayed, there was more contact. Some Aboriginal people stole food and tools, and threw stones at the British boats. The British soldiers and convicts also stole spears, fishing implements and canoes from the Aboriginal peoples.
Attempts to understand There were immense differences between the customs and beliefs of the Indigenous people and those of the British colonisers. The British had little understanding of the social structure and spiritual beliefs of Indigenous society and thought them to be primitive and uncivilised; and the Indigenous peoples could not understand the European practices regarding farming and land ownership. Phillip had ordered that the Aboriginal peoples must be well- treated, and that anyone killing Aboriginal people would be hanged. Even after Phillip was wounded by a spear, he was still keen to befriend the Aboriginal peoples and to learn about their language, culture, and the land. He captured some Aboriginal people so that they could be taught English and be trained as interpreters.
Bennelong The first Indigenous person captured was Arabanoo from the Eora people. He was captured at Manly and quickly learnt to speak English. He, however, died within a year from the smallpox epidemic. Bennelong and Colbee were the next Aboriginal people to be captured. They quickly escaped but Bennelong eventually returned and built a strong relationship with Governor Phillip. When Phillip returned to England in 1792, Bennelong and another Aboriginal man named Yemmerrawanie, sailed with him. Yemmerrawanie died of pneumonia. Bennelong stayed in England for almost three years and at one point met with King George III. Bennelong was never accepted as an equal in England, and when he returned to Australia with the new governor he was unable to fit in with the Aboriginal communities. He died at Kissing Point (Ryde) in 1813. Bennelong Point, the land on which the Opera House sits, is named after him. Phillip had wanted to live peacefully with the Aboriginal peoples and 'civilise' them, but he also took their land away from them. Towards the end of his term as governor, he formed the view that contact with the Aboriginal peoples was not always going to be peaceful. He began to order his soldiers to shoot at Aboriginal people to keep them away from the British settlements. The general conflict and claiming of land caused a battle for survival that, in some respects, still continues today.
Owning the land - the Indigenous perspective Indigenous peoples did not own the land like Europeans did; the land owned them. The British became familiar with an Aboriginal man, called Bennelong, in the early years of the colony. Bennelong declared that Goat Island was his family's home. This surprised the British settlers; they thought that the Indigenous peoples were nomadic and had no fixed home. Indigenous peoples have a very close relationship with the land; it is their spiritual home. Indigenous culture and spirituality was inseparable from the land; every part of their lives had a connection to it. Land to Indigenous groups is not private land; it cannot be bought or sold. It is not owned by any one person but rather the land, and all the things living on it, needs to be looked after and cared for by the clan. The survival of the Indigenous people depended on knowing the land, and knowing which resources were available at certain times and in certain locations. If necessary, the Indigenous peoples moved between camps to gather and collect food.
Owning the land - the European perspective The European perspective of land owning was entirely different to the Aboriginal perspective. European culture was competitive and individualistic. Part of the reason why Australia was colonised was because Britain wanted to prevent France, or any other European country, from colonising it first. Owning land meant power and more resources. The land could be bought or taken by force, and then farmed or mined and sold. Europeans simply saw the land as something that could be exploited and used. Like the Indigenous peoples, the Europeans needed land to survive. The Europeans, however, wanted to claim as much land as possible, without sharing it with the Indigenous peoples. The colonists cleared and then fenced the land so that it could be used to grow crops or farm cattle or sheep. The rivers and creeks were fenced off and the Aboriginal peoples were not permitted to enter the land or to visit their sacred sites. Very quickly, the Aboriginal peoples were not allowed to access the land that provided their food and water. The British saw the Australian continent as a series of frontiers that were there to be conquered. The land needed to be 'discovered' and 'civilised'. Many lives were lost as the British settled the land across Australia.
Boundaries Indigenous groups lived in territories and there were boundaries between the lands of different groups. These boundaries were not recorded on paper but were clearly understood by all groups, and were held in the memories of the elders. Rivers, mountain ranges and other landforms provided borders that were understood by everyone in the clan. Some territories could be shared between different clans, but to enter the homeland of another group required negotiation and ceremony. It also meant that the visiting group had to return the deed and allow access to their land. Indigenous peoples also knew what was happening in distant lands through trade relations, and through Dreaming stories and songs that were learnt from other groups.
Experiences: disease The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 changed the lifestyle of the Indigenous peoples forever. The first Indigenous people to be affected by the arrival of the British were the Eora, the Dharug and other coastal peoples to the north and south of Sydney. They had their lands taken from them, their men hunted and killed, and their families and clans destroyed by murder and disease. The biggest killer of Aboriginal people; the introduction of European diseases, including smallpox, cholera, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, syphilis and the common cold.
Traditional Aboriginal medicine Before the arrival of the Macassan traders and the Europeans, the Indigenous peoples had been relatively free from diseases, except for eye and skin complaints. Indigenous spiritual doctors were called on to cure sicknesses and injuries. Plants were crushed and soaked in water to cure stomach troubles or snakebites, and heat was applied to treat aches and pains. Broken limbs and eye troubles were more difficult to cure and rarely healed well. The death of a person who was not killed by fighting or old age was believed to have been caused by 'magic' from an enemy. The spiritual doctors were responsible for finding the enemy and cause of death, but they could do nothing to prevent deaths from the new European diseases.
European diseases Disease played a vital role in the breakdown of traditional Indigenous societies. The Indigenous peoples had no natural resistance or immunity to European diseases, so when they were exposed to these diseases, many groups were wiped out. In some areas, most, sometimes all, Indigenous children died from a disease. These new European diseases included tuberculosis, cholera, venereal disease, measles, whooping-cough, influenza and even the common cold. The biggest killer, though, was smallpox. Smallpox Smallpox was a highly contagious viral disease unique to humans. About 30 percent of all smallpox cases resulted in death. It is difficult to know for sure but it is estimated that within the first two years of British settlement, almost half of the Aboriginal peoples living in the Port Jackson area had died of smallpox. Within three years, the majority of Indigenous people living close to Sydney were killed by smallpox. Only small pockets of Indigenous peoples were left to survive in their own country. As the Europeans and infected Indigenous peoples moved inland, the diseases moved with them. Smallpox was spread down the Murray River to South Australia and up and down the coast from Sydney. In Tasmania, according to British estimates, smallpox destroyed half of the Indigenous peoples that came into contact with Port Arthur.
Impact of European disease The impact of smallpox and other diseases on Indigenous populations was overwhelming. Many of the Aboriginal spiritual doctors and elders died, and many of the plants used for medicine were eaten by horses, sheep or cattle. Indigenous populations were so severely reduced that the social systems and the links between generations were destroyed. Any surviving Indigenous groups could not live as they had before, as many of the family and clan members had died. Disease was the major factor in reducing the Aboriginal population but frontier wars and massacres were also responsible for many deaths.
Experiences: massacres and frontier wars The European settlement of Australia was not a peaceful process. In fact, it is now often described as an invasion of Indigenous land. As the Europeans spread out from Sydney and into the frontier, many battles were fought with Aboriginal groups who were defending their territory. There were massacres that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Indigenous and European men, women and children. The exact death toll of Indigenous peoples in the frontier wars will never be known, but an estimate has been put at over 20,000 people.
Expanding European settlement in Australia The crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 pushed the frontier of British colonisation into the lands of many more Aboriginal groups, including the Wiradjuri, and Kamilaroi, or, Gamilaraay groups. The British government was granting Indigenous land to pastoral companies and British settlers. It soon became clear to the Indigenous peoples that the European intruders were going to take their land, put up fences, destroy hunting and ceremonial grounds, stop access to waterholes and destroy sacred sites. The Europeans gradually settled the whole of Australia, from Tasmania to Western Australia. This created frontier conflict in almost all areas of Australia, but the length and force of the conflict varied between areas. The intensity and duration of the conflict depended on the landscape (mountainous or flat), the speed of settlement, the number of Indigenous peoples already there, the number of settlers, the type of settlement and when the first contact occurred. The period of conflict was shorter when there were several settlers, when access to the country was easy, and when the Indigenous peoples had no mountains to retreat to.
Frontier wars - resistance and revenge The Indigenous peoples did not sit back and watch the British settlers take their land and destroy their way of life. They resisted, and engaged in long and bitter wars, often called the frontier wars, with the Europeans. The 'frontier' is a term that applies to the land that was gradually being taken over. Indigenous warriors used 'guerrilla warfare' against the British settlers. This meant that small groups of warriors assaulted the settlers with surprise raids and killed stock, attacked camps and murdered people. Although the number of Indigenous people killed was far greater than the death toll of the Europeans, Indigenous clans still injured many people, destroyed a lot of property and produced much anxiety among the settlers. The cost of colonisation was much higher than many people thought.
Revenge Revenge also was a major factor in prompting attacks. An example of a series of revenge attacks was in the Bathurst region of New South Wales in 1824. After years of guerrilla warfare, Governor Brisbane declared martial law on the Bathurst Plains. Soldiers travelled through the land and killed all the Wiradjuri people they saw. 30 Aboriginal men, women and children were killed at one camp and another 20 or 30 were made to jump over the cliff at Bell's Falls. A Wiradjuri raiding party then attacked several European properties. Military patrols responded by hunting down the raiding party and killing more Aboriginal people. The intense violence ended when the main leader of the Wiradjuri surrendered to the Governor. There are many examples of resistance and revenge in all States of Australia, but eventually the Aboriginal people lost most of their land to the settlers.
Massacres The frontier wars produced massacres on both sides. Three recorded Aboriginal attacks on Europeans were: the Maria massacre where a number of European survivors from a shipwreck were killed by Aboriginal peoples; Cullin La Ringoe Station in Queensland where 19 Europeans were killed; and Hornet Bank Station in Queensland where 11 settlers were killed. The reasons for the massacres are different in each case, but they either resulted from a misunderstanding or were revenge attacks. There are records of numerous Indigenous massacres throughout Australia, but undoubtedly there were countless more massacres that occurred and were not recorded. In Van Diemen's Land (renamed Tasmania in 1856) there were scores of massacres during what was known as the 'Black War'. At Risdon Cove in 1804 a great many Indigenous peoples were killed as they hunted kangaroos, while at Cape Grim in1828 over 60 Peerapper people were killed as they gathered around the campfire in the evening. Of all the massacres, the Myall Creek Massacre is probably the most well-known.
Experiences: dispossession The British colonisation of Australia was a long and violent process whereby the Indigenous peoples were forcibly dispossessed of their land and territory by the European soldiers, settlers, pastoralists, police, miners and seafarers. Many battles and disputes between the Indigenous peoples and the British invaders occurred between 1788 and the 1920s, as the British moved to settle the land across Australia. This chapter will take a closer look at the effects of dispossession on the Aboriginal people. Dispossession deprived people of the possession or occupancy of land and property. As the British settled the land across Australia, they deprived the Indigenous peoples of their land, their hunting grounds and water resources, and they destroyed sacred sites and other spiritually significant places. The British felt they had the right to do this as they had claimed ownership of the land under 'terra nullius'. They felt it was necessary for them to forcibly remove the Indigenous peoples from the land and prevent them from returning.
Initial Indigenous reaction to the British invasion While there was conflict within traditional Indigenous society, it was virtually unknown for there to be a dispute over territorial lands. Indigenous groups were spiritually linked to the land and there was never any possibility of invading another group's territory. When the British settled on the land, many Indigenous groups were not aware that the land was no longer theirs. Indigenous peoples may have been pushed out of their territory, but they still believed that it was their land and that they could live on it and use it as they had always done. During the early days of the colonisation, many Aboriginal people and settlers often lived quite closely together without too much conflict. The conflicts began when it became clear that the British were staying and would prevent the Indigenous peoples from using their land as they had always done. The tension built up gradually, as neither the Indigenous peoples nor the British properly understood the ways of life, the law and traditions of the other.
Reasons for conflict The source of much of the conflict and confrontation between the Europeans and the Indigenous groups was that the Europeans did not share the land and its resources. Sharing was of high importance in traditional Indigenous society, and each individual was expected to share food and other resources with others. Conflict arose when the British arrived and prohibited the Aboriginal peoples from using the land. The British settlers prevented the Indigenous peoples from living the way they were accustomed to. The British occupied the fertile, flat, open land and pushed the Indigenous peoples into the mountains, swamps or deserts. Some groups of Indigenous peoples that had been dispossessed of their land were pushed onto land that was not their territory. This created much tension between different Indigenous groups. The cattle and sheep that had been introduced by the British ate many of the native plants, drank a lot of the water and chased away the native animals. Food became scarce for Indigenous peoples and access to water was difficult. In such cases, the Indigenous peoples resorted to killing sheep and cattle. The British retaliated by shooting at them, and so the cycle of revenge attacks started. Ceremonial and spiritual life was also disrupted by the settlers. The British settlers either prevented access to sacred sites or destroyed them, sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally. Cave paintings were destroyed and other ceremonial objects were taken for scientific purposes, or just out of curiosity. Large ceremonial gatherings appeared too dangerous so they were often dispersed by soldiers, settlers or police.
First contact The British had hoped to absorb the Aboriginal peoples into the British culture and make them work in the new colony. At first, the Aboriginal peoples avoided the British settlers; but as the number of settlers increased and more land was being taken, contact became unavoidable. There were clashes over land and culture. Phillip started ordering his soldiers to fire at the Aboriginal people, as his efforts to 'civilise' them and assimilate them into the British culture and society was not working as he had hoped. The Aboriginal peoples saw that the British settlers were clearing the land, putting up fences, restricting access and introducing different animals; so they started to retaliate against the invasion.
'Line of blood' The conflict around Sydney Harbour and Parramatta foreshadowed the conflict that broke out as the settlers moved into the Hawkesbury Valley, and eventually across all areas of Australia. By 1797, attitudes and policy toward the Indigenous peoples had changed. No longer did the government hope to assimilate the Indigenous peoples, but rather the policy was to 'keep them out'. In 1800 Governor King (the third governor of New South Wales) had reported to the British government that the advance of the British settlement was marked by a 'line of blood', and that the number of Aboriginal peoples killed in fighting was far greater than the number of British people killed.
Punitive expeditions In the 1790s and the 1800s the common response of the government to Aboriginal resistance was to send out expeditions of soldiers to punish any groups that threatened farms and settlers. These soldiers hunted down and killed groups of Indigenous people that were thought responsible for stealing stock or food or generally harassing the settlers. Government instructions after 1800 were to fire at Indigenous peoples until they were far away from British settlements. In 1816, Governor Macquarie announced that if any Indigenous peoples approached British settlements or were unwilling to leave British properties, then the settlers could drive them away with the use of firearms. Similar encouragement by the government was given in Tasmania and Western Australia, and in most other areas of Australia.
Aboriginal resistance The Indigenous peoples generally resisted the settlement of their land, but they had little resistance against the guns of the British settlers. One Aboriginal warrior, named Pemulwuy, led the Aboriginal resistance around Sydney Harbour from 1790 to 1802 and was feared by many British settlers. As the British settlement grew, the Indigenous peoples lost more of their land and many of their family members. They became more reliant on the British settlers to provide them with food, water and shelter. As their traditional way of life was slowly eroded, many Aboriginal people started living on the outskirts of towns or started working as servants in the British settlements. This further consolidated the European view of the time that Indigenous peoples were inferior, and were unable look after themselves or the land. Not all contact with the British settlers was violent. At times there was peaceful and friendly contact. Some Indigenous peoples voluntarily became part of the British society. There is also evidence that groups of Indigenous peoples helped Europeans when they were in trouble; which was quite often, as life for British settlers was very hard in the early years of the colony.
Surviving: way of life for British settlers Introduction It was a struggle for the settlers to survive in the first years of the British colony in Australia. They had come from a developed country with buildings, roads, shops and hospitals and arrived in a country that was entirely unfamiliar to them. Not only did they have to contend with strange plants and animals but the soil was also very poor and the climate much warmer and drier. The early settlers were also wary of the Indigenous peoples. The colony almost failed in the early years, as the harvests failed, but gradually the colony began to expand. Convicts The life of a convict was very harsh. Many of the convicts sent to New South Wales were serving a 7 or 14 year sentence for crimes such as robbery. They were forced to work 10 hours each day, from sunrise to sunset. They were sometimes tied in chains and were fed meagre rations. As punishment they were flogged, and perhaps confined to dark cells.
Convicts Some convicts worked for the governor, while others worked for freed convicts and free settlers. The male convicts built roads, bridges, buildings, and cultivated crops while the female convicts often wove wool or washed laundry. Convicts gained their freedom after they had completed their sentence. Sometimes they were granted pardons if they were well behaved. These convicts became known as emancipists. Most ex-convicts and emancipists were allowed to go home, but had to pay their own fare. If they stayed in Australia they were often given grants of land in the hope that they would grow their own food and stop relying on the government. Many emancipists provided a valuable contribution to the growth and expansion of the colony in New South Wales.
The New South Wales Corps After the convicts, the military were the second largest group of British settlers in the colony. The New South Wales Corps was a British army unit established in 1789 to serve the colony. They played a very influential role in colonial life. They supervised convicts and patrolled the frontiers of settlements to repel attacks from the Indigenous peoples. After Governor Phillip left in 1792, the New South Wales Corps took over control of the colony. The soldiers' way of life changed too, often for the better. The commander of the Corps increased the men's rations, and gave them land; they started trading goods, in particular rum. They were very powerful until Governor Bligh took over in 1806, and then Governor Macquarie in 1810. Governor Lachlan Macquarie Under Governor Macquarie, the way of life in Sydney changed for all British settlers. Macquarie, with the help of convict labour and his army regiment (73rd Regiment), transformed Sydney into a city with many fine buildings. He developed a programme of road construction and encouraged exploration. He also made it compulsory for convicts to go to church and tried to turn the Aboriginal people into settled farmers. Under Macquarie, it became much easier for the British to survive, particularly in Sydney.
Free settlers In the early years of the colony, very few settlers came to Australia. Free settlers had to fund their own transport and were usually quite wealthy. The few who made the journey to Australia did so mostly to make their fortune. They were often given large land grants and convicts to work for them. Some free settlers were not farmers, but doctors and military officers looking for a better way of life in Australia. Even with land grants and convict labour, the life of a free settler was often very harsh. Farmers and pastoralists in particular had to endure droughts and floods, as well as resistance from the Indigenous peoples. Their shelters were often very basic to begin with and food was scarce until the crops could be harvested. Few farms succeeded in the early years of the colony. It was not until the 1820s and 1830s, when New South Wales was settled further inland, that farmers began to flourish. The following chapter looks at the expansion into inland Australia.
Expanding: moving inland By 1810, the plains of Sydney were becoming overcrowded. Parramatta, Toongabbie, Camden, and the Hawkesbury Valley around Windsor had all been settled by the British. The land was being cleared so that sheep and cattle could graze and crops could be grown. The biggest breakthrough for new land came when the Blue Mountains were crossed by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth in May, 1813. Crossing the Blue Mountains Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were the first three Europeans to find a way across most of the mountains. Later that year, George Evans used the path and explored the land and plains over the mountains. He named the Bathurst Plains and the Fish and Macquarie Rivers. A year later, in July 1814, Governor Macquarie authorised William Cox to use convicts to build a road across the mountains, following the path made by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. The road was completed in January 1815 and went all the way to the Macquarie River. Once the road was open, vast new areas of good grazing land were available to settlers.
Further inland exploration The programme of inland exploration, which had begun under Governor Macquarie, continued in the following years, no doubt with help from Aboriginal guides who showed them the tracks, water sources, bush food and camping sites. Hamilton Hume and William Hovell travelled overland from Sydney to Port Phillip (now Victoria) in 1824; Allan Cunningham travelled up from the New England Tableland to locate the Darling Downs (Queensland) in 1827; Charles Sturt followed much of the Murray Darling river systems, 1828-1830; and Thomas Mitchell explored western New South Wales and Victoria between the years 1831-1836. These men discovered land that had been previously unknown to the British settlers. Settlers and squatters quickly took over large areas of this land for the sheep and cattle farms. Pastoral expansion At first, the governor and authorities tried to control the expansion into the new land by issuing land grants. As more free settlers arrived, however, and more convicts were pardoned, people started to settle or squat on land in the Hunter River Valley, the New England Tablelands, the Liverpool Plains, the Bathurst Plains, the Yass Plains and in what is now central and western Victoria. Other pastoralists brought their flocks from Tasmania across Bass Strait to Victoria.
Aboriginal reaction The rapid inland expansion of the British colony forced many Aboriginal peoples from their land, and into a war with the settlers. The sheep and cattle destroyed native grasses and other vegetation, ruined waterholes, and competed with native animals. The depletion of resources and the competition for land brought the Europeans and inland Aboriginals into sharp conflict. Governor Macquarie tried to stop the Indigenous Australians from attacking the settlers. He formed new military outposts and created a law that Indigenous peoples were not allowed to carry a firearm within 2 kilometres of a house or town. The massacres continued, with revenge attacks the most common. In the Liverpool Plains area in northern New South Wales, at least 100 Aboriginal people were killed by troopers after they had killed several European shepherds.
Effects of expansion inland The expansion inland provided much new land for the British colony and provided the resources for the Australian economy to grow rapidly - particularly the wool industry and later the mining industry. The population of the colony started to increase through immigration, as British people saw that money could be made in the new colony. Living conditions had also improved and more land had become available. The effects on the Indigenous population, however, were disastrous. The Indigenous populations were reduced substantially because of dispossession, wars and disease. In Victoria, for example, many Aboriginal groups were reduced to perhaps a quarter of their pre-1788 population in one generation. Some Aboriginal peoples elected to work for the settlers as it would mean they could remain on their land. In these cases, some pastoralists recognised that the Indigenous peoples needed to stay on the land, but only as long as they adapted to domestic and station work. The attempt to 'civilise' the Indigenous population is discussed in the next chapter.
Civilisation: the missionaries and Macquarie Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Macquarie became Governor of New South Wales in 1810 and was in power until his resignation in 1821. He was a powerful military man and was determined to reshape the colony after the 1808 Rum Rebellion. During the Rum Rebellion, the NSW Governor, William Bligh, was deposed (removed from office) by John Macarthur and the New South Wales Corps for trying to control the trade of rum and limit the power of the military. Macquarie was keen to civilise the colony. His belief was that New South Wales should be seen as part of the British Empire, not just as a prison camp. It would become a country where free people would live and prosper. How the Indigenous peoples fitted into Macquarie's vision for the colony is explored in this chapter. Governor Lachlan Macquarie Macquarie became governor of a struggling and chaotic colony with a population of about 5000 people. He began reforming the colony so that it would become a civilised country with mainly free people. He ordered the construction of roads, bridges, churches and many public buildings and encouraged people to live by Christian principles. He made church attendance compulsory for convicts, and persuaded people to marry rather than to live together. Macquarie also wanted the colony and its economy to prosper. He encouraged ex- convicts to become settlers after being given their freedom, and ordered the exploration and mapping of inland Australia. These reforms greatly affected the Indigenous peoples and their traditional way of life.
European view of the Indigenous peoples Macquarie held a view of the Indigenous peoples that was common among most Europeans at the time. The view was that the Indigenous peoples were primitive and inferior to the Europeans and needed to be 'civilised' so that they could become a useful part of the colonial society. After Macquarie, particularly in the 1830s and 1840s, the general view of the Indigenous peoples changed to one of contempt, as the conflicts and frontier wars increased. Many Europeans felt that the Indigenous peoples deserved to be treated severely. Opposing that view were some individuals such as missionaries who were horrified by the treatment of the Indigenous peoples and were determined to either 'civilise' them or convert them to Christianity. Macquarie and the Indigenous peoples Macquarie was ambivalent (in two minds) about how to treat the Indigenous peoples. He wanted to treat them with respect, but he also was keen to punish any Aboriginal people that intended to harm the settlers. Macquarie introduced many harsh regulations in an attempt stop the frontier wars. In 1816 he announced that he intended to drive the Aboriginal peoples away from British settlements and strike them with terror so that they would stop committing acts of violence and theft. Even if innocent Aboriginal peoples were killed, Macquarie wanted the punishments to be so severe that other groups would see what would happen if they raided farms and killed British settlers.
Macquarie Macquarie was also keen to 'civilise' the 'unenlightened' Aboriginal peoples. When dealing with friendly clans, Macquarie developed a strategy of nominating a 'chief' to be responsible for each clan. The chiefs were identified by a brass breast-plate that was worn around the neck and engraved with their name and title. This imposed European culture, as traditional Indigenous society did not have a chief, but rather a group of elders. Macquarie also tried to encourage the Aboriginal peoples to become settled farmers and to educate their children. To do this he set up a school for the education of Aboriginal children.
The Native Institution In 1814, on the advice of the missionary William Shelley, Macquarie established a 'Native Institution' at Parramatta. It was a school for the education of Aboriginal children and Macquarie actively encouraged Aboriginal parents to hand over their children for education there. It opened in 1814 with six boys and six girls, and was aimed at civilising, Christianising and educating Aboriginal children. Sometimes children were not placed in the Native Institution voluntarily. When Aboriginal people raided farms from Lane Cove to the Nepean River in 1816, Macquarie sent out soldiers to kill as many Aboriginal peoples as they could. He also gave orders to bring back children to be placed in the Native Institution. Macquarie also asked each one of the chiefs to give up one of their children to be placed in the Native Institution. The Native Institution, however, only lasted a few years and it was closed in 1820. Missionaries From the time Governor Macquarie set up the Native Institution, Australian governments have had policies that forced the Indigenous peoples to abandon their traditional customs, languages and social systems. Even missionaries that were intent on helping the Aboriginal peoples wanted to put an end to their 'primitive practices' and beliefs. The missionaries started to arrive in Australia during Macquarie's time, and were a big part of Indigenous life throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The missionaries usually wanted to 'civilise' the Indigenous peoples and were keen for them to study the Bible and to stop their traditional ceremonies and traditional way of life. Missionaries ignored the fact that the Indigenous peoples already had their own spiritual life and strong beliefs.
Managing the missions and segregation A missionary is a person who works to spread their religious beliefs. In Australia, the missionaries were looking to convert the Indigenous peoples to Christianity. There were Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran missionaries, but all worked to convince the Indigenous peoples to give up their traditional beliefs and start to believe in Jesus and the traditional Christian view of creation. The first missionaries arrived in the British colony of New South Wales in 1789, but it was not until about 1820 that they started arriving in numbers to protect the Indigenous peoples and convert them to Christianity. Many missionaries were shocked by the bloodshed and the racial violence that was occurring. They wrote about the devastation, robberies, cruelties and murder that was being seen in many parts of Australia and worked towards protecting the Aboriginal people and educating them to become Christians. The missionaries fought for the protection of Aboriginal peoples from racial violence, particularly on the frontier. As the 19th century advanced, the missionaries were generally unpopular and were viewed as troublemakers by the rest of the British population. Many settlers believed that missionary activity was useless and a waste of colonial money. Despite this view, missionaries continued to protest against the treatment of the Indigenous peoples by the settlers, and worked to protect them by setting up missions. Missions A mission is a used to refer to the reserves and government properties that many Aboriginal people were relocated to. The missions were established and run by missionaries and were used to protect, feed, clothe, educate and restrict the movements of Aboriginal peoples. The missionaries thought the creation of reserves would be a solution to the threat to the lives of the Aboriginal peoples and called on the government to establish them. In most States, missions were regulated by the governments after the Aborigines Protection Boards were set up.
Mission Reserves and Segregation Reserves A reserve was an area of land that was set aside by the government for the Aboriginal peoples. There were two types of reserves. There were 'managed reserves' that were also called stations, and there were 'unmanaged reserves'. The managed reserves were usually run by a manager and provided education, rations and housing. Unmanaged reserves were under police control and only provided rations. Most of the reserves were quite small, with scattered housing. As the British settlement grew, reserves were created across New South Wales and Aboriginal people were relocated to them. Some reserves were set up on land that the group had traditionally belonged to, but most were put in remote areas away from European settlements. Segregation The policy and practice of separating the Aboriginal peoples from the European settlers was known as segregation. Segregation started in the late 19th century and was used to separate the Aboriginal peoples that had survived the European invasion. There were arguments that segregation would protect the Indigenous peoples from European influences, such as alcohol, but it was also a means of keeping the Aboriginal peoples away from the Europeans. Segregation laws were also used to separate Indigenous peoples with some European ancestry from those with non-European Ancestry. The Indigenous peoples with some European ancestry could only stay on reserves for a certain time before being integrated into the general European population. The policy of segregation continued until 1967 when Indigenous peoples were finally recognised as full citizens of Australia and were ensured the right to vote.
Effects of Missions Most Aboriginal peoples voluntarily moved to the missions and reserves, as they had already lost their land, hunting grounds and water sources. By moving to a mission, they were protected by the missionaries and received food and clothing. Some Aboriginal people left their family and clan to live on a mission, leaving the elderly people and children to look after themselves. This created a further breakdown of traditional Indigenous society. Missions did save many groups of Aboriginal peoples who may otherwise have died from racial abuse, conflict, and starvation; but there was a price to pay. The Aboriginal peoples living on missions were forbidden to speak traditional languages or take part in traditional ceremonies and other cultural practices. Men, women and children were also often segregated on the missions so that the children could be taught the Christian way of life without the interference of the elders and other adults. This meant that traditional knowledge and beliefs were lost, as they were not being communicated to the young generation.
Effects of Missions (2) The British settlers and the missionaries had no respect for Indigenous laws, life and spiritual beliefs. The Aboriginal peoples that survived the impact of European diseases, frontier wars, racial abuse and dispossession were often put on reserves or missions where they lost the freedom to practice their traditional way of life and culture. The Aboriginal peoples were trapped between European society and their traditional way of life. They were meant to assimilate into the European Australian culture and society, but were not given any rights or respect. Even today, the Indigenous peoples are still fighting for rights and respect from the government and from many Australian people.
Origins of resistance and revenge Colonising Australia was certainly not an easy process for the British. Not only was it unfamiliar land with strange plants and animals, but the settlers also had to deal with a diverse, indigenous population that defended their land and territory from the invasion of another people. The resistance of the Indigenous peoples was a fact of life for the British settlers on the frontier, from the early years of the colony to over 100 years later. The reasons for the Indigenous peoples resisting the European invasion is summarised in this chapter. Resistance to the invasion Wherever the British settled in Australia, they were met by groups of Indigenous peoples. Sometimes, particularly at the beginning, the Indigenous peoples either avoided the settlers, or were curious about their ways. In later years, the contact became increasingly violent and hostile as Indigenous peoples were forcibly removed or prevented from returning to their own land. Not all contact was violent. Some Indigenous peoples readily adopted the British ways and voluntarily became part of life on the settlements. Overall, however, the British settlers arrived in the colony with a desire to own the land and everything on it, and this was resisted by the Indigenous peoples.
Land ownership, dispossession and resistance The main reason for the Aboriginal peoples resisting the invasion was that the British settlers started taking their land and prevented them from using it. Indigenous peoples have strong, spiritual links to the land and each group had territory that they used for hunting, ceremonies, shelter and water. The concept that someone could take over the land without sharing it was not considered by the Indigenous peoples. The European settlers, however, believed that the Indigenous peoples did not own the land, and that they were free to take it. Initially, the Indigenous people believed that the settlers would eventually go away, and may have tolerated the settlers living on their land. As time went on, it became clear that the settlers were staying and were going to prevent the Indigenous peoples from using the land as they had done for centuries. This was when many Indigenous peoples started to fight back and resist the invasion.
Ownership and sharing Sometimes, the Indigenous people and settlers lived in close proximity with few problems. The trouble started when arguments arose over the sharing of resources. The Indigenous peoples had a culture of sharing which was central to their social organisation. The settlers had a culture of individualism and possessiveness. These two cultures were could not live together without conflict. When Indigenous people took a sheep or a cow to eat, they believed it was their right as they were sharing the land. By taking property of the settlers, the Indigenous groups were forcing them to share. Some groups also shared their women with the settlers. In return, the Indigenous peoples expected food or clothing, but often the settlers abused the women and gave nothing in return.
Changing beliefs and attitudes The mood changed as the settlers and Indigenous peoples began to hear stories of violence and racial abuse that was occurring in other parts of the country. During the 1820s and 1830s, most British settlers started to believe that the Indigenous people were nothing more than savages that needed to be kept away from their settlements. Many settlers thought that killing Indigenous people for revenge, or to protect their family and property, was the right thing to do. The Indigenous peoples also started to consider the British differently. The expansion of the British settlement into inland Australia meant that there was more contact with the Indigenous peoples. They were hearing horrific stories of murder, massacres and of children and women being kidnapped and abused or kept as servants. For many Indigenous people, the attacks on the settlers became motivated by revenge.
Revenge and The Final Straw Revenge attacks were common in traditional Indigenous society, so when the British settlers started abusing, injuring and killing Aboriginal men, women and children, the Aboriginal peoples wanted revenge. Often the Aboriginal people only wanted to punish particular individual settlers who had been involved in the incident or attack, and spent days preparing for the revenge. The settlers also wanted revenge for any killings or theft, but they often killed whole groups of Aboriginal people, even if they were not involved in the crimes. The settlers wanted to overcome all resistance from the Indigenous peoples and would continue the violence until there was no more conflict. Final straw Resistance and revenge continued to worsen on the frontier as misunderstandings, fear and anxiety produced more brutal killings and attacks. The loss of land, way of life and the destruction of their family, band and clan led many Indigenous peoples into war with the European invaders. In the end, however, the British invaders were too powerful for the Indigenous peoples.
Pemulwuy of the Eora Revenge Revenge attacks were common in traditional Indigenous society, so when the British settlers started abusing, injuring and killing Aboriginal men, women and children, the Aboriginal peoples wanted revenge. Often the Aboriginal people only wanted to punish particular individual settlers who had been involved in the incident or attack, and spent days preparing for the revenge. The settlers also wanted revenge for any killings or theft, but they often killed whole groups of Aboriginal people, even if they were not involved in the crimes. The settlers wanted to overcome all resistance from the Indigenous peoples and would continue the violence until there was no more conflict. Final straw Resistance and revenge continued to worsen on the frontier as misunderstandings, fear and anxiety produced more brutal killings and attacks. The loss of land, way of life and the destruction of their family, band and clan led many Indigenous peoples into war with the European invaders. In the end, however, the British invaders were too powerful for the Indigenous peoples. The Aboriginal peoples did not have big armies to fight the British invaders. Instead, they worked in small groups to harass the settlers and organise surprise raids on the settlements and camps, commonly called guerrilla tactics. One of the earliest Aboriginal men to lead a group of warriors and resist the invasion of the British settlers around Sydney was a man named Pemulwuy.
Pemulwuy Pemulwuy was an Aboriginal that lived in the Sydney area between the coast and Castle Hill in the Eora language group. He was born in about 1760, died in 1802 and saw the British as invaders of Aboriginal land. Pemulwuy first came to the attention of the British when he speared and killed the governor's gamekeeper, John McIntyre, in 1790. McIntyre was believed to have killed a number of Aboriginal people in the area. Governor Phillip ordered a punitive expedition to revenge the death of the gamekeeper, but the troops failed to capture Pemulwuy. He was then declared an outlaw under British law.
Organising Raids Pemulwuy was responsible for organising small groups of Aboriginal warriors to attack British farms, small towns and troops around Parramatta and Toongabbie. Many settlers abandoned their properties as the raids continued. Soldiers were soon ordered to patrol farming areas and protect the settlers. Pemulwuy and his warriors then began using fire as a weapon. They lit fires in the hope of destroying the British farms, fences, crops, stock, houses and supplies. The British responded by organising revenge attacks against the Eora people. The Eora camps were attacked while the men were away hunting. Elderly people, women and children were shot and either wounded or killed.
Capture and death of Pemulwuy After several years of organising resistance against the settlers, Pemulwuy was shot and seriously wounded during an attack on Parramatta in 1797. He was captured and imprisoned. Despite his injuries, Pemulwuy somehow escaped. The Eora people believed he turned into a crow and flew through the bars of his prison cell. For 12 years, Pemulwuy and his warriors fought against the British; although he found it increasingly difficult to find strong warriors to make the raids. Many Aboriginal people were dying from the European diseases and in battles with the settlers. In 1802 a patrol shot Pemulwuy dead in an ambush. His head was cut off and it was sent to Sir Joseph Banks in London for research and display in a British museum. The governor at the time, Lieutenant Philip King, wrote: 'Although a terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character.' With the death of Pemulwuy the large scale resistance to the European invasion around the Sydney region ended, but Aboriginal resistance continued in most other areas as the British settlement spread. The guerrilla tactics used by Pemulwuy were the same used by many Aboriginal groups on the frontier. There were other warriors, including Yagan in Perth, that have become well known; but Pemulwuy was the first to show the British settlers that the Aboriginal peoples were going to resist the invasion.
The Myall Creek massacre As the British settlement spread away from Sydney and into the inland areas, violent clashes between Aboriginal peoples and settlers became more common. Although it was official government policy to protect the Aboriginal peoples, most settlers disregarded this policy. They attacked and killed many Aboriginal people for even the smallest crimes, or simply to keep them away from their settlement. Settlers who randomly killed Aboriginal people were rarely brought to justice. What was notable about the massacre of a group of Aboriginal people at Myall Creek in 1838 was that the British murderers were brought to trial; and seven were found guilty and hanged.
Myall Creek massacre On 10 June 1838, a party of 12 men, consisting of 11 convict settlers and 1 free man, named John Fleming, arrived at a hut on Henry Dangar's Myall Creek station, in north-west New South Wales, near Inverell. They were there to capture any Aboriginal people they could find, in revenge for the theft of cattle. The men gathered 28 Aboriginal people who were at a camp nearby and tied them up. The men brutally beat the group to death; the group included women and children. Later, they collected the bodies and burned them. When the manager of the station returned several days later, he discovered the bodies and decided to report the incident to the authorities. A group of police investigated the incident and found the burnt bodies. The 11 convicts were captured and charged with murder, but John Fleming escaped. He was never captured and may have been responsible for further massacres throughout the Liverpool Plains and New England regions.
The Trials and Consequences There were two trials of the convicts. At each trial, a station-hand named George Anderson, who was living on the property, was the only British witness to the incident. In the first trial, the men were found not guilty of murdering two Aboriginal men, but in the second trial they were charged with the murder of one of the Aboriginal children. Seven of the men were found guilty and were sentenced to execution by hanging. The men were executed on the morning of 18 December 1838. This was the first time that the European legal system had been used to punish British people for crimes against Aboriginal people. Consequences There was much anger among the British settlers that the 7 men were hanged for killing the Aboriginal people, who many regarded as 'black animals'. Although the trial and hangings were intended to stop the massacres on the frontier, it may have encouraged the settlers to further retaliate and to cover up the evidence. Indeed, the frontier battles and massacres continued to occur for many more years, causing countless deaths in both the Aboriginal and European populations.
The Trials and Consequences Consequences There was much anger among the British settlers that the 7 men were hanged for killing the Aboriginal people, who many regarded as 'black animals'. Although the trial and hangings were intended to stop the massacres on the frontier, it may have encouraged the settlers to further retaliate and to cover up the evidence. Indeed, the frontier battles and massacres continued to occur for many more years, causing countless deaths in both the Aboriginal and European populations.