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BANABA. LEGACY OF A MINER’S DAUGHTER AND ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL CHANGES OF THE BANABANS AFTER PHOSPHATE MINING ON BANABA By Stacey King.

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Presentation on theme: "BANABA. LEGACY OF A MINER’S DAUGHTER AND ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL CHANGES OF THE BANABANS AFTER PHOSPHATE MINING ON BANABA By Stacey King."— Presentation transcript:

1 BANABA

2 LEGACY OF A MINER’S DAUGHTER AND ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL CHANGES OF THE BANABANS AFTER PHOSPHATE MINING ON BANABA By Stacey King

3 Overview Prior to the end of the 1800’s Banaba (Ocean Island) was a small island in the Pacific whose indigenous people (Banabans) lived in harmony according to their complex social rules. Prior to the end of the 1800’s Banaba (Ocean Island) was a small island in the Pacific whose indigenous people (Banabans) lived in harmony according to their complex social rules. Despite colonization during this period by the British, Germans and French on various other islands in the Pacific, no one was interested in Banaba. Despite colonization during this period by the British, Germans and French on various other islands in the Pacific, no one was interested in Banaba.

4 Banaba was out of the way and not connected geographically with any other island group

5 Overview The discovery of phosphate on this island in 1900 was eventually to spell the end of the Banabans’ way of life as they knew it and more importantly that which they prized the most – their homeland. The discovery of phosphate on this island in 1900 was eventually to spell the end of the Banabans’ way of life as they knew it and more importantly that which they prized the most – their homeland. From the beginning of mining in 1900 until the last shipment left the island in 1979 nearly 80 years later 20 million tons of phosphate had been removed from Banaba. From the beginning of mining in 1900 until the last shipment left the island in 1979 nearly 80 years later 20 million tons of phosphate had been removed from Banaba.

6 Indigenous People (Banabans)

7 Phosphate Mining – Stage One ’If Ocean Island is what I think it is, there is a fortune in it, if not several.’ ’If Ocean Island is what I think it is, there is a fortune in it, if not several.’ Pacific Phosphate Company Stated by Albert Ellis on board s.s. Archer at Suva, to his father at the office of the Pacific Islands Company in London, 14th March Stated by Albert Ellis on board s.s. Archer at Suva, to his father at the office of the Pacific Islands Company in London, 14th March He was right… He was right… s.s. Archer leaving Sydney for Banaba

8 Phosphate Mining – Stage One Ellis arrived on Ocean Island (Banaba) on 3rd May 1900 and ‘negotiated’ a contract with the Banabans to allow him to begin phosphate mining. This document (later to be called ‘scandalous’ ) was to be the first of many other agreements and unfair dealings with the indigenous people - Banabans. Justice Megarry’s comments in 1976 UK Court Case ‘This concept can have meant little to the Banabans, if, indeed it was ever put to them; the interpreter stated that he was never told to interpret it to the Banabans…’ ‘This concept can have meant little to the Banabans, if, indeed it was ever put to them; the interpreter stated that he was never told to interpret it to the Banabans…’ Pacific Phosphate Company

9 Original 1900 Agreement between Albert Ellis and the Banabans

10 Banabans put their mark ‘X’ on documents they did not understand

11 On the 5th May, 1900 Ellis hoisted the British flag. On the 5th May, 1900 Ellis hoisted the British flag. On the 30th November, 1900 Banaba was annexed to the previously formed Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate and came directly under the colonial administration of Great Britain. On the 30th November, 1900 Banaba was annexed to the previously formed Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate and came directly under the colonial administration of Great Britain. From 1900 until the formation of the British Phosphate Commission in 1920 mining was carried out on Banaba by the Pacific Phosphate Company (originally Pacific Islands Company). From 1900 until the formation of the British Phosphate Commission in 1920 mining was carried out on Banaba by the Pacific Phosphate Company (originally Pacific Islands Company). In 1907 the Administrative seat of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate was moved to Banaba. The royalties that the PPC was paying to the British Government were then paid to fund the administration of the Gilbert & Ellice Island Protectorate. In 1907 the Administrative seat of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate was moved to Banaba. The royalties that the PPC was paying to the British Government were then paid to fund the administration of the Gilbert & Ellice Island Protectorate. Phosphate Mining – Stage One Pacific Phosphate Company

12 Albert Ellis first camp on Banaba 1900

13 The devastating impact of phosphate mining on Banaba prior to 1910 prior to 1910

14 After the end of WWI in 1919 Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand created the British Phosphate Commission (BPC) which purchased the assets of the previous Pacific Phosphate Company at a cost of £3.5million. After the end of WWI in 1919 Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand created the British Phosphate Commission (BPC) which purchased the assets of the previous Pacific Phosphate Company at a cost of £3.5million. Phosphate Mining – Stage Two British Phosphate Commission Colonial rule on Banaba during World War I

15 The signing of the Nauru Agreement in 1919 (which was extended to Banaba in June 1920) by the Partner Governments created a monopoly that ensured that the phosphate mined was to be distributed to Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain at a subsidized price. The signing of the Nauru Agreement in 1919 (which was extended to Banaba in June 1920) by the Partner Governments created a monopoly that ensured that the phosphate mined was to be distributed to Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain at a subsidized price. Eventually 85% of the phosphate royalty to which the Banabans were entitled was taken away from them as tax to fund the administration of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. The Banabans who had never been consulted as to whether they wished to be part of the original Protectorate and then the Colony were now required to meet Britain’s commitment. The Banabans who had never been consulted as to whether they wished to be part of the original Protectorate and then the Colony were now required to meet Britain’s commitment. Phosphate Mining – Stage Two British Phosphate Commission

16 The British Phosphate Commission was formed by the governments of Great Britain Australia New Zealand To take over the mining of Banaba

17 Removing the Banabans’ land by force The consequences of the change of status of Banaba to being part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1916 did not become apparent until negotiations for further land for mining began in The Banabans continually tried to stop the BPC from taking more land for mining. To override the wishes of the Banabans the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Government enacted the Mining Ordinance of The Banabans land was now forcibly acquired. The Banabans land was now forcibly acquired.

18 before phosphate mining After phosphate mining Buakonikai Village

19 The Banabans and their Land It is difficult for non Banabans to appreciate the depth of the Banaban feeling regarding the damage sustained by their land. It is difficult for non Banabans to appreciate the depth of the Banaban feeling regarding the damage sustained by their land. This feeling was intensified by the intimate bond that has always existed between Banabans and their land. This bond contrasts sharply with the Western view of land as a commodity to be bought and sold like an article of commerce. In trying to defend their land the Banabans were holding onto the integrity of their way of life and their ancestral roots. In trying to defend their land the Banabans were holding onto the integrity of their way of life and their ancestral roots. This deep sense of belonging to the land is central to the identity of the Banabans. This deep sense of belonging to the land is central to the identity of the Banabans.

20 Banaban Land before Phosphate mining

21 Japanese Invasion In 1942 the Japanese invaded Banaba. All but 100 Banabans were taken from the island to Japanese labour camps around the Pacific. The Japanese remained on Banaba until 1945 and two days after the end of the war they executed all those Banabans that remained on Banaba. The removal of the Banabans from Banaba by the Japanese was to have serious long term consequences as the majority of Banabans would never see their homeland again. The removal of the Banabans from Banaba by the Japanese was to have serious long term consequences as the majority of Banabans would never see their homeland again. What would have been a difficult task for the BPC to achieve with the Banabans still on Banaba and phosphate mining continuing was achieved by the Japanese intervention.

22 B anaba B anaba Banabans were forcibly removed to Labour Camps in: Kosrae KosraeNauruTarawa

23 Resettlement on Rabi Island At the end of the war, Banabans looked forward to returning to Banaba. However, they were made to believe that they homeland would not be ready for them to occupy it again for two years as all their homes had been destroyed. At the end of the war, Banabans looked forward to returning to Banaba. However, they were made to believe that they homeland would not be ready for them to occupy it again for two years as all their homes had been destroyed. In reality this was a ploy to ensure that they would not return to the island so that phosphate mining could continue without any interference by the Banabans. Gilbertese and other foreign workers arrived on Banaba within weeks after the war finished to continue phosphate mining. In reality this was a ploy to ensure that they would not return to the island so that phosphate mining could continue without any interference by the Banabans. Gilbertese and other foreign workers arrived on Banaba within weeks after the war finished to continue phosphate mining. The Banabans were gathered together on Tarawa after the war and on the 15th December 1945 they arrived on Rabi in the Fiji Island group. This island had been purchased with the Banabans’ own money in 1942 as the BPC were always aware that Banaba would be completely destroyed by mining and they would not be taking any steps to re-plant or re-instate the Banabans’ homeland. The Banabans were gathered together on Tarawa after the war and on the 15th December 1945 they arrived on Rabi in the Fiji Island group. This island had been purchased with the Banabans’ own money in 1942 as the BPC were always aware that Banaba would be completely destroyed by mining and they would not be taking any steps to re-plant or re-instate the Banabans’ homeland.

24 B anaba Banabans moved to Rabi Island more than 3,200klm away in Fiji Group Rabi

25 Seeking Justice After many years of endeavoring to have the BPC replant and reinstate Banaba as well as address the inequality in royalty payments, especially the tax used to fund the administration of the Gilbert & Ellice Colony the Banabans commenced a Court case in England in After many years of endeavoring to have the BPC replant and reinstate Banaba as well as address the inequality in royalty payments, especially the tax used to fund the administration of the Gilbert & Ellice Colony the Banabans commenced a Court case in England in It was to be one of the longest Court cases in history. The outcome of this case was singularly unfortunate for the Banaban people. They became the victims of the technicalities of the English law. It was to be one of the longest Court cases in history. The outcome of this case was singularly unfortunate for the Banaban people. They became the victims of the technicalities of the English law. However, Justice Megarry in delivering his judgment stated: However, Justice Megarry in delivering his judgment stated: ‘There is no difficulty whatever in appreciating the deep-seated feelings of grievance that the Banabans have. Stripped of all that is false, misleading or intemperate, their claims have a central core of genuine grievance.’ ‘There is no difficulty whatever in appreciating the deep-seated feelings of grievance that the Banabans have. Stripped of all that is false, misleading or intemperate, their claims have a central core of genuine grievance.’

26 A long way from home – Seeking Justice

27 Seeking Justice Justice Megarry also made scathing comments about the role of the British Government. Justice Megarry also made scathing comments about the role of the British Government. He believed there had been ‘grave breaches’ of governmental obligations by the United Kingdom especially over the fixing of royalties in 1931 and the failure to provide advisers or advice to the Banabans before the 1947 negotiations. He added that in such a case, ‘I think a Judge ought to direct attention to what he considers to be a wrong that he cannot right and leave it to the Crown to do what is considered to be proper.’

28 Seeking Justice Following the publicity and comments of the judge in the court case, Richard Posnett, a former colonial governor was sent to investigate. One of Posnett’s telling comments was: Following the publicity and comments of the judge in the court case, Richard Posnett, a former colonial governor was sent to investigate. One of Posnett’s telling comments was: ‘The difficulty for Britain in grasping this particular nettle is that whichever way the decision goes there may be unpleasant repercussions.’ ‘The difficulty for Britain in grasping this particular nettle is that whichever way the decision goes there may be unpleasant repercussions.’ Britain has never been prepared to ‘grasp the nettle.’

29 The Benefactors of the Phosphate Bounty Australian farmers received 66% (or 13.2 million tons) of cheap phosphate Recipients of Banaba’s Phosphate Bounty New Zealand farmers received 28% (or 5.6 million tons) of cheap phosphate Cheap phosphate reduced the cost of food production and benefited the Australian and NZ population

30 Recipients of Banaba’s Phosphate Bounty In 1956 a fund was established with A$550,000 that had accumulated from phosphate royalties. This Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund is valued today at close to US$400 million In 1956 a fund was established with A$550,000 that had accumulated from phosphate royalties. This Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund is valued today at close to US$400 million Interest earnt by the fund helps to run the Republic of Kiribati. Interest earnt by the fund helps to run the Republic of Kiribati. In 1979 the British Phosphate Commission made substantial grants to Kiribati which were used to extend airfields and purchase an aircraft. In 1979 the British Phosphate Commission made substantial grants to Kiribati which were used to extend airfields and purchase an aircraft. Kiribati (formerly Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony)

31 Recipients of Banaba’s Phosphate Bounty Great Britain received 4% or 800,000 tons of phosphate at 50% of the price paid by Europeans Revenue from phosphate mining on Banaba relieved Britain of the financial responsibility for administering the Gilbert and Ellice Protectorate (later Colony). Banaban phosphate royalties were eventually distributed 85% to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and a small 15% to the Banabans.

32 The Cost to the Banabans Environmental damage on a grand scale resulting in the destruction of Banaba, sacred sites and ancestral burial grounds

33 The Cost to the Banabans Forced resettlement on Rabi, Fiji.Forced resettlement on Rabi, Fiji. Loss of the ability to determine their own affairs – they are a minority people under the direction of two governments.Loss of the ability to determine their own affairs – they are a minority people under the direction of two governments. Substantial loss of profits from the sale of the Banabans natural resources at well below its true value. In 1975 this figure was estimated at £21 million pounds.Substantial loss of profits from the sale of the Banabans natural resources at well below its true value. In 1975 this figure was estimated at £21 million pounds. The introduction of processed food and money meant Banabans lost the ability to fend for themselves.The introduction of processed food and money meant Banabans lost the ability to fend for themselves. Profound social impact, dealt with in detail on the next slide.Profound social impact, dealt with in detail on the next slide.

34 Social Impact of Colonialism - All this has Been Experienced by the Banabans - Invasion Projects such as mining on indigenous land trigger a crippling sequence of events. Indigenous people fight for survival. Some never recover. Disease Diseases brought in by outsiders are a common cause of death among Indigenous Peoples. Violence Indigenous people try all legal means open to them to stop damaging projects, but frequently need to use violence to try and save their land Loss of home After their homeland is invaded, indigenous peoples are either forcibly removed or find they can no longer survive Discrimination Since they have few of the accepted qualifications, indigenous peoples are considered unsuitable for employment and many suffer from discrimination from bosses who consider them lazy. Exploitation They become vulnerable to exploitation or depend on food handouts. Loss of cultural identity Without land and economic independence traditional values break down and customs and group ties splinter. This brings loss of dignity, loss of language, of respect for elders and a sense of disorientation. Loss of Personal Identity When people lose their cultural identity and are cut off from their spiritual roots in the land, they lose the meaning of their lives, their self-esteem, and their sense of belonging. They are left with a profound sense are left with a profound sense of demoralization. Frustration can lead to alcohol and drug abuse; despair can end in suicide.

35 Conclusion There are many lessons for all to be learnt from the Banaban story, not the least of which is that global safeguards need to be in place for the protection of indigenous people like the Banabans. There are many lessons for all to be learnt from the Banaban story, not the least of which is that global safeguards need to be in place for the protection of indigenous people like the Banabans. This is especially the case where a minority group (like the Banabans) with no individual voice in such forums as the International Court of Justice needs to take action to protect human rights and other breaches of United Nations Conventions. Although the actions of the past have made serious inroads into their way of life, the Banabans realize that it is time for them to take steps to start the process of reconciliation with the Governments responsible for the wrongs of the past. The Banabans now call on those Governments to come to the table to resolve former differences and work together to build a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship.

36 Reconciliation Trust Confidence Cooperation Mutual Acceptance Harmony Respect

37 Reconciliation Trust Confidence Cooperation Harmony Respect

38 Reconciliation Trust Confidence Cooperation Harmony Respect


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