Timeline of Aboriginal history of Western Australia

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This is a timeline of Aboriginal history of Western Australia.

1629–1829[edit]

Aboriginal life in the two centuries from 1629 to 1829, was characterized by the increased presence of Europeans around the Western Australian coastline. First contact, appears to have been characterized by open trust and curiosity, with Aborigines willing to defend themselves against any unwarranted intrusion.[citation needed]

  • 1629 After the wreck of the Batavia at uninhabited islands, two young mutineers are marooned on the mainland.[1]
  • 1688 William Dampier in the Cygnet, arrives on the northern coast, possibly looking for a Portuguese settlement he may have heard of in the Indies. He describes the Aboriginal people he met as "the most miserable people in the world". Dampier spent time observing the Bardi people at the northern end of Cape Levique.[citation needed]
  • 1712 The Zuytdorp wrecked near Geraldton. Survivors are known to have landed, and the story of their welcome and preservation by local Aborigines was known as far south as Perth 122 years later. A rock carving of what appears to be a Dutch ship has been found at Walga Rock, some 300 kilometers from the coast, up the Murchison River.[citation needed]
  • April 1787 Arthur Phillip, Governor of New South Wales issues instructions to "endeavour by every means possible to open intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness to them. And if our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations that you cause such offenders to be punished according to the degree of that offense".[citation needed]
  • 1791 George Vancouver entered Albany harbour. He acknowledged the prior ownership of the land by Aboriginal Mineng people, and took possession of the land for the British crown. His act was premature as annexation of the west was not allowed for another thirty five years.[citation needed]
  • 1801 Matthew Flinders visits Western Australia. In King George Sound, although Aboriginal people indicated they did not want Europeans visiting their campsite, amicable relations prevailed and trading occurred. The Aborigines called the Europeans "Djanga", or spirits returned from the dead land of Kurrenup (Karrinyup?), the land beneath the Goomber Wardarn (Sea) in the direction of the setting sun. Flinders so appreciated their friendly behaviour that he gave a special parade of the soldiers under his command. A Kirrenup kening (Noongar "corroboree") was adopted by the local people and performed by aboriginal groups along the south coast for over a century.[2] The Swan River was explored by the French Captain Baudin in the Geographe, and his midshipman Heirisson, gives his name to the area known to the Wadjuk Noongar as Matagadup ("place of leg deep").
  • 1818 The first of Phillip Parker King's voyages to Western Australia. Mineng Nyungar from Albany assisted the sailors in food gathering. King also explored the Cambridge Gulf area of the Kimberley.[citation needed]
  • 1822 King's last voyage. He was welcomed by the Mineng Noongar.[citation needed]
  • 1826 Mokare, one of the Mineng Aboriginal people who later emerged as a key person for the success of early white-Aboriginal relations in Albany, was recorded in d'Urbville's visit of that year. Colbung, ancestor of Aboriginal activist Ken Colbung is also recorded.
  • 25 December 1826 Major Edmund Lockyer, in the brig Amity, takes possession of King George Sound for the crown, at the orders of Governor Darling. On Michaelmas Island he was signalled by an Aboriginal man, who had been abducted and marooned by sealers. These eight sealers led by a certain Bailey, had also killed another man and abducted their women. Randall, another sealer from Tasmania, had also been abducting Aboriginal women, and was arrested by Lokyer. Aboriginal people here expressed their anger at Europeans cutting down trees, but Lokyer chose not to intervene. The Aboriginal site, Kin-gil-yilling is renamed Albany, after the Duke of Albany.
  • 1827 James Stirling, in the Success, anchored off the mouth of the Swan River. Exploring the river he was attacked by Aboriginal people at Claisebrook. Nine years later the Aboriginal people of the area explained that the first party of whites they had seen was the marauding party of Randall. At Jane Brook, another party of Aboriginal men was found (women and children were seen hiding), who mimicked English calls of "How do you do!" and traded spears and womeras for clothing and swans shot by Stirling. Stirling explored as far as Guildford where he commented on the fine alluvial soils. He then sailed south to Albany. Lockyer was eager to return to Sydney with the Success, with Randall, the captive and to get him to stand trial for his crimes of murder and abduction. Stirling reluctantly agreed to allow Lockyer, but refused to allow the sealers and their women on board. They were released from custody, and later left Albany.
  • 1828 Mokkare became friends, sharing the house and food, with the assistant surgeon, Isaac Scott-Nind, in Albany. When Scott-Nind's health deteriorated, Mokkare became companion, guide and advisor to successive commandants, Lieutenant Sleeman, Captain Wakefield and Captain Barker, living with Barker when seasonal fishing brought him to King George Sound. He became an especially good friend of Dr Collie. Mokkare and his brother Nakina, assisted troops recapture runaway convicts, and were given steel tomahawks as a reward.[citation needed] By Dylan Thornley

1829–1881[edit]

The settlement of Western Australia by Europeans, under James Stirling, in the early 1840s, created a new generation of colony born young men who were engaged in hostilities with Aborigines and the imprisonment of those who dared question their authority. The settlement proceeded with the expropriation of land and the exploitation of cheap labour and the extermination of any resistance by Aborigines.[3]

  • 18 June 1829 Declaration announcing the settlement within the Territory of Western Australia, recognising the “Aboriginal * inhabitants as British subjects and stated that any person behaving towards them in a ‘fraudulent, cruel or felonious Manner’ would be liable to prosecution and trial” [4]
  • October 1829 Aboriginal people stole sheep, poultry and goats, and plundered a house of provisions in the Swan district. Settlers, like Robert Menli Lyon, were deterred from taking up grants in outlying areas as a result of fear of Aboriginal attack. He moved to and rented, William Dixon’s land, which he later purchased. He mentioned that some of the soldiers, coming from Van Demon’s Land came “principally from those classes in the lower orders of society who would count it a fine sport to shoot a native as a Kangaroo”.[5]
  • 1 November 1830 Captain Frederick Irwin dispatched a corporal and four privates to the Upper Swan, where they were joined by armed settlers, coming on a group of Aborigines who attempted to stop their passage. The Aboriginal leader, attempting to throw a spear, was shot dead by one of the settlers. Several others were captured and brought to Perth, and subsequently released. Irwin regretted the loss of life, but hoped the Aboriginal people would be taught a lesson.[6]
  • 1831 George Fletcher Moore wrote the Aborigines were not so despicable a race as was first supposed… they are not very numerous and we are on good terms with them”. Aborigines often shared food, and returned lost settlers to their homes. George Fletcher Moore was one of the settlers who allowed Aboriginal people to continue hunting on his lands. Others drove them off.
  • 3 October 1831 Stirling appointed Edward Barrett Lennard Commanding Officer of the Yeomanry of the Middle Swan, a citizens militia to pursue and capture Aboriginal offenders. Henry Bull was appointed Commander of the Upper Swan. The orders were that on being called out Yeomanry were “to cause the offending tribe to be instantly pursued, and if practicable captured and brought in at all hazard, and take such further decisive steps for bringing them to Punishment as the Circumstances of the Case may admit.” [7] From then on shepherds were armed.
  • May 1832 William Gaze, a settler on the Canning was killed. A witness identified Yagan, son of Midgegooroo as the killer, He was declared outlaw, and twenty pounds offered for his capture.
  • 26 June 1832 A meeting at Guildford to discuss the “Aboriginal Question” Robert Menli Lyon reminded settlers that they had seized what was Aboriginal land and called for someone to act as mediator between the Aborigines and settlers. Amongst four resolutions passed called for whatever conciliatory or coercive measures it saw fit, and said if instead action was not taken the settlement may need to be abandoned.
  • 1 August 1832 Stirling establishes the Corps of Mounted Police, under the command of Captain Theophilus Ellis, with a Mr Northcott as Assistant Superintendent, and orders were sent to Cape Town for horses.
  • September 1832 Yagan was captured and sent to Carnac Island. He escaped 6 weeks later by taking the boat belonging to his captors. No attempt to recapture him was made, the six weeks being considered adequate penalty.
  • 1833 Based on evidence learned from Yagan at Carnac Island R.M. Lyon described the territory of Yellagonga as Mooro, bounded by the Sea, Ellen Brook, the Swan River and Banister River (Gingin Brook or Moore River) to the north. The Daren people, headed by Weeip, were east of Ellen Brook and north of the Upper Swan, and east to the Darling Scarp. The Wurerup people, were in Upper Swan. The Beeliar, were the inhabitants west of the Canning River down to Rockingham, and were led by Midgegooroo. The Beeloo were south of the Swan and East of the Canning as far as the Scarp.
  • 1833–34 Violent conflict between Aborigines and settlers, based upon Aboriginal “pay-back” killings for natives that had been killed.
  • 1833 Early in the year, in an attempt to prevent starving Aborigines stealing food from settlers, the Government established rationing stations giving flour and biscuit at Lake Monger and in the Upper Swan. Private settlers were forbidden to feed natives, except in return for work done.[8]
  • February 1833 the first moves are taken to prevent Aborigines entering the area of the City of Perth.
  • April 1833 A false rumour of 200 Aborigines attacking the Preston Point Ferry, saw every man in Fremantle taking up arms to kill the Aborigines.
  • 29 April 1833, whilst breaking into a store in Fremantle with two other Aborigines, Domjum, Yagan’s brother, was shot dead.
  • 30 April 1833 Yagan, Midgegooroo and Munday, in reprisal, killed two white brothers named Velnick, who had been behaving badly to Aborigines, on the road between Bull Creek and Canning River. Yagan had been seen by Mr Phillips of Maddington Farm, repeatedly spearing one of the two men.
  • 1 May 1833 Captain Irwin declared the three to be outlaws. Thirty pounds was offered for Yagan dead or alive, twenty pounds for Munday and Midgegooroo. They were hunted for the next three months. The three were unaware they were being hunted.
  • 16 May 1833, Captain Ellis was informed that Midgegooroo’s people were in the Helena Valley, and likely to cross at Drummond’s Ford, near Guildford, that night. Four soldiers of the 63rd Regiment stationed themselves at the spot, but Midgegooroo failed to appear.
  • 17 May 1833, the soldiers with Mr Hardey of Peninsula Farm Maylands, and Hancock, a local bushman, found abandoned Aboriginal campsites in the Helena River, and captured Midgegooroo and his five year old son, after a short struggle, while he was looking after women and children whilst the men were away hunting, He was imprisoned in Perth jail.
  • 21 May 1833, Midgegooroo was tried before Captain Irwin and the Executive Council, found guilty, and taken outside the jail immediately killed by firing squad, before a gathering of colonists. Those present expressed their satisfaction by loud exultations at his execution. Midgegooroo’s tribe expressed dissatisfaction when it was learned that he had been executed, and two parties of six soldiers each were sent to patrol the Swan and Canning Rivers to protect settlers from angry Aborigines. At the same time, Constable Hunt, together with four soldiers and three colonists were sent to the Upper Swan to capture Yagan and Munday, said to be hiding amongst Weeip’s people. Shortly afterwards Yagan approached George Fletcher Moore at Millendon, and in pidgin English insisted that it was wrong for Aborigines to steal from settlers, and also wrong for whites to kill Aborigines caught stealing. When an Aborigine was killed by a settler, Yagan insisted that it was permissible for an Aboriginal to kill the settler, as payback in accordance with their custom. Moore insisted that if a settler was caught stealing he would be shot too, as the Aboriginal had been. If killing and theft stopped, Moore explained there would be peace between the races. In Nyungar Yagan explained that the Europeans had come to disrupt the Aboriginal people in their lives, and are fired upon by Europeans in their own country. He declared they would take European lives in revenge for any death of Midgegooroo. The next day Mr Shaw informed Yagan that Midgegooroo had been executed. Settlers in Upper Swan seemed to be defying the order to capture him, and Lieutenant Ball gave orders to his servants that Yagan was not to be shot. Friendly overtures were extended to Weeip, despite the refuge he was giving to Yagan and Munday.
  • June 1833, the Agricultural Society Meeting discussed the growing problem with Aborigines and suggested specific measures rather than extermination be followed. A fortnight later, a party of the 63rd Regiment, under the command of Captain Ellis set out to hunt Yagan, and was promised help by Weeip in finding him, but was unsuccessful. Weeip was taken to Perth by Mr Bull and others from the Upper Swan to meet with the Lieutenant Governor.
  • 11 July 1833, a young man of 18 years, William Keats, and his brother, two of Bull’s servants, on a cattle drive, saw a group of Aborigines, including Yagan, approaching Bull’s house for flour. The Aborigines were generally friendly. After two failed attempts over an extended period, William shot Yagan in the head, and was immediately speared to death by aborigines accompanying Yagan. James Keats then shot Heegan, one of the other Aboriginals who was about to throw his spear, and aimed at Weeip, also about to throw his spear, but missed. Keat’s brother James, then escaped by swimming the River, and saw a group, including Weeip, spearing William repeatedly. William Cruse, after hearing of the affair, accompanied by six others returned to the spot, found the gun had been used also as a club, and then following the sound of crying, found the wounded Heegan and the dead Yagan. Heegan was then shot through the head, to “put him out of his misery”. The Editor of the Perth Gazette condemned William Keats for his treachery in killing Yagan and warned settlers there would be another round of reprisals from Aborigines. Two weeks later, the Lieutenant Governor issued a proclamation that Munday was no longer an outlaw as sufficient retribution had been made for the death of the Velvick brothers. James Keats claimed the reward, and Heegan’s family informed others that James Keats would be killed in retribution for the death of Heegan. Lieutenant Bull encouraged Keats to leave the colony on board the Cornwallis.
  • January 1834, for the February meeting of the Agricultural Society of Guidford, R. M. Lyon gave notice of a motion to set aside lands for the sole use of Aborigines in every district. He said it was incumbent on settlers who had disposed the Aborigines of their lands to do so, and that the Legislative Council effectively secure Aboriginal rights and privileges as promised, including unrestricted fishing and hunting rights on all unclaimed lands. No vote was taken and the matter was deferred until Stirling returned to the colony. Lyon was expelled from the society by members when Stirling had returned.
  • February 1834, Aboriginal “theft” had increased again, and Lieutenant Governor Irwin appointed Captain Peter Pégus as an additional Superintendent of Native Tribes, with a staff of four soldiers, with duties to distribute rations and pursue Aboriginal “offenders”.
  • April 1834 Calyute leads a raid by thirty Binjareb on Shenton's Mill in South Perth. Shenton was locked inside and the flour was taken. Calyute, Gunmal and Yedong were subsequently captured. Gunmal and Yedong were tied, flogged with 24 lashes at the St Georges Terrace whipping post. Calyute was transferred to Fremantle Round House, and there given another 60 lashes and released in May.
  • May 1834 Mr Locke Burgess surprised a group of Aboriginal people stealing grain from their farm at Brook Mount. A warrant was sought for the arrest of Yeedamira, the leader of the group, who was arrested, but was shot dead on trying to escape from the Barracks. In retaliation Weeip and Godaljud led a group to the Barracks where in payback they killed Private Dennis Larkin, one of the soldiers there. A jury found Weeip, Bilyomeri, Goldaljud, Beguin, Gotark, Gregad, and Narrall, all "guilty of wilful murder", insisting, contrary to British justice, that the whole group was guilty for a crime perpetrated by one. This was unpopular amongst Upper Swan settlers, who admired Weeip and they petitioned the government claiming that Goodalyat had been the Aboriginal who had speered Larkin.
  • June 1834 Bilyomeri, Weeip's son, captured by Captain Ellis and imprisoned in Fremantle. Captain Ellis, Captain Pegus and Mr Norcott were instructed to maintain constant patrols between the Swan and Canning and to conduct instant floggings of any Aboriginal caught committing an offence.
  • July 1834 Calyute and twenty one other Binjareb were involved in the payback death of Thomas Nesbitt, a servant of Thomas Peel. Nesbitt had been friendly with the Aborigines and his death sparked major concern. Mr Parker, the Constable at Guildford, was told that a vessel had been seen wrecked six months earlier on the beach thirty days walking to the north and coins were found scattered on the beach.
  • September 1834 Stirling, returning from Albany, pardons Weeip and his son, after Weeip, at the instigation of George Fletcher Moore, had travelled north looking unsuccessfully for the shipwreck and any survivors.
  • 25–28 October 1834 the so-called "Battle of Pinjarra" in which between 15–40 Aboriginal men women and children were killed, and an unknown number wounded, and one settler was wounded and another later lost his life, probably from a coma from concussion from falling from his horse. See Battle of Pinjarra
  • 1 January 1835 Forty three starving Aborigines, gleaning fallen grain from an already harvested field in Maylands were shot at.
  • 7 January 1835 Aborigines were expelled from their Lake Monger campsite as it was considered a threat to the nearby Leeder Farm.
  • February 1835 John McKail wakes and shoots Gogalee, the adolescent son of Yellagonga, after suspecting Aborigines from a nearby camp were going through his possessions. Narrail, the son of Yagan was also clubbed to death.
  • March 1835 Stirling attempts a reconciliation, realising things had gone too far. To prevent a payback killing from Yellagonga, or from his son Nandra, who was grieving over the death of hos brother, Stirling ordered the immediate arrest of McKail. Yellagonga was invited to witness his trial. Stirling then acted to seal a peace treaty with the Perth Noongar, distributing fifty loaves of bread, after the celebration of a peace "kening" (= Noongar, "corroboree") McKail was eventually let free on a legal technicality. Francis Armstrong secured the peace by ensuring that McKail repaid Yellagonga with food and blankets. McKail was then banished from Perth, and moved to Albany, where he became a well known local settler. The case established an unfortunate precedent, as henceforth an Aborigine's testament was not accepted unless supported by white testimony.
  • May 1835 James Twine, travelling to York was speared, and his companion, Murphy was killed. Resistance massacres and payback reprisal killing now move into the Balardong lands.
  • 1 June 1835 at the first Foundation Day celebration, Aborigines engaged in spear throwing competitions, children ran in races for sweats, and Miago (Mogo), a Canning Aboriginal won the race against settlers and other Aboriginal people.
  • June 1835 Trimmer, a York settler, determined to end Aboriginal pilfering from his farm, armed an illiterate labourer, Edward Gallop, in the roof of his barn. Gallop, that night, shot one of the two thieves dead. This ushered in a new and violent turn in the York resistance. Mr Trimmer, and Mr Bland, a government representative were attacked in reprisal and only escaped due to the speed of their horses. Yellagong was attacked as a payback reprisal by Balardong, for these and other white killings of Aborigines in the York area, and two Aboriginal children were killed.
  • October 1835 Dr Collie, with deteriorating heath was given permission to return to Scotland, but with his illness could not leave King George Sound.
  • 8 November 1835 Dr Collie dies and was buried, according to his wishes, in the same grave as his friend Mokkare, under what is now the Albany Town Hall.
  • 1836 Francis Armstrong, the official Interpreter of the Native Tribes, stated that it was Aboriginal tradition that the Aboriginal population of the coast migrated from the plateau and that the Aboriginal people living on the coast are descendent from a few early families, at a time when Garden island was still joined to the coast. Garden Island and Rottnest were still joined to the mainland until 7,000 years ago.
  • July 1836 The "West Australian Missionary Society" broughtLouis Gustiniani, an ex-Catholic priest, to Western Australia with his wife and two catechists (Waldecks), and travels to a site previously purchased by the "West Australian Missionary Society"in Middle Swan to begin his work. He was appalled at the way in which settlers were competing amongst themselves by collecting the ears of Aboriginal people they had slain. Balardong Nyungar were retaliating by spearing settlers and stock and burning homesteads. Settlers along the Avon had fenced all of the permanent summer waterholes and were shooting at natives seen inside these fences.[9]
  • July 1836 Lieutenant Bunbury is transferred from William to York, and becomes involved in killing local Aborigines. His diary records that in this month he "shot a few of them one night".
  • August 1836 A massed attack on the Waylen household in Toodyay, defended by four settlers and two soldiers, left four Aboriginal men dead. Bunbury tracked one wounded Aboriginal man into the bush and shot him through the head. Bunbury also recorded the names of another 11 Aboriginal men he killed during one occasion.
  • September 1836 Bland, another York settler, shot and killed another Aboriginal "trespasser".
  • 1836 Gear, a popular Aborigine, brought to the courthouse and accused of stealing wheat, is sentenced to 40 lashes. Louis Gustiniani,[9] horrified, offers to defend all future Aborigines brought to court free of charge. This makes him very unpopular with settlers. Armstrong Records the removal of the Waugal eggs from the Goonininup sacred site at Mount Eliza. The subsequent loss of an anchor at the site led to attempts to get local Aborigines to dive and retrieve it. Wadjuk natives refuse, but a Yed man from Moore diver decides to, but he drowns and his body is not recovered, justifying to the local people that the site is winaitj (sacred).
  • December 1836 The brother of the man shot by Bland, took revenge upon Knott, an old man living alone about 5 kilometres from York, Western Australia. Payback shootings and reprisals continued.
  • 1837 The British House of Commons committee into the rights of Aboriginal people before the law debated "should district magistrates be allowed to issue summary punishments?" as was happening in Western Australia. "Should Aborigines have the power to appear in court? Could they be represented by Counsel? Have the rights to an interpreter?" The Buxton Select Committee on Native Peoples ruled that within the recollections of many living men "every part of this territory was the undisputed property of the Aborigines". However, in the establishment of the colonies it did not appear that the "territorial rights of the natives were considered" and in fact their claims "whether as sovereigns or as proprietors of the soil, have been utterly disregarded. The land has been taken from them without the assertion of any title other than that of superior force." This was ruled as contrary to British common law, and the report acknowledged that it must be an oversight. It stated that the effects of this dispossession would continue to be enormous for the settlers of the colony until the injustice had been corrected.
Francis Armstrong visits the 8 Wadjuk campsites around Perth and records only 295 people out of the 1500 there were estimated to have lived there at the time of the arrival of the first settlers 7 years before. The smallest groups were those in greatest proximity to the white settlements. This would seem to indicate that contact with the Djanga (Spirits of the dead = the name given to the settlers) was proving fatal to Aboriginal groups, through killings and reprisals, starvation, or disease, and there may have also been elevated intra-Aboriginal payback killings with a rising rate of accusation for sorcery – (a result of the increase inexplicable to Aboriginal people, of the rise in fatal diseases). Neville Green[10] also believes there may have been a deliberate wish to avoid contact, amongst people who still had a viable culture.
Stirling warns the York settlers to have no dealings with Aboriginal people, trying to "impress on every European the necessity there is by keeping arms in [working] order". As a result, Heal, a local "settler" set his dogs against a group of women trying to access what had been their local waterhole. The women were obliged to seek safety in a deep pool. A reprisal spearing of Heal, obtained whilst working with his partner, on Mr Burns, was prevented from becoming fatal by Mrs Burns threatening the attackers with a gun. Despite an offer of reward the "aggressors" were never captured. A corroboree and an offer of restitution by two men, brought the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. The new Government resident in York only made matters worse, when he arrested the two men supposedly involved and sent them to Perth for trial. One died along the way as a result of the brutality of his treatment in white hands initiated a new round of violence. Peter Chidlow and Edward Jones, were speared by Balardong Noongar, who had believed they had been deliberately tricked into taking lime instead of flour. Woods, a York settler, left a poisoned damper for Aboriginal people, and other gifts of poisoned flour were the cause of another round of reprisals.
  • May 1837 Giustiniani protested against George Moore sentencing an Aboriginal for 7 years for stealing one bunch of grapes, growing on what had until 1829 been his own land.
  • June 1837 Yellagonga's wife was arrested on a trifling charge and forced to sleep on a cold stone floor without a blanked or any heating at all. She was released without trial in a very sick condition. George Fletcher Moore taunts Giustianini with finding Goordap guilty of killing a sheep. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation to Rottnest, "beyond the seas". Gear, another Wadjuk Noongar, is imprisoned for a month and given 48 lashes, for stealing a handful of flour.
  • July 1837 James Minchin and 5 other settlers killed in the Henley Brook area of the middle Swan river by native Aborigines.
  • October 1837 Giustianini becomes the first white person to defend any Aboriginal person tried in a court of law. Durgap was sentenced for stealing a handful of dough, and sent for 7 years beyond the seas, Neu-anung denied involvement in the theft, but admitted to eating some of the flour. He was sentenced to 6 months hard labour. Googot, a third prisoner, was sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing 10 lb (5 kg) of fresh butter. As a result of his efforts to help defend these Aborigines, Giustianini is ridiculed by the local media.
Moore then travelled throughout the York District, with Garbung, the son of one of the Aborigines defended by Giustianini, hoping to mediate a peace to the almost continuous killings that had been occurring over the previous 2 years.
  • January 1838 George Grey's party set out from Hanover Bay following the Glenelg River during the expedition they encounter a group of Aboriginals. Grey was speared, the wound formed an abscess forcing the party to return to Hanover Bay, where they packed up the base camp and sailed to Mauritius.[11]
  • 13 February 1838 Giustianini leaves WA shocked and dismayed at the treatment of Aboriginal people by the settlers. The failure of the governor to punish settlers in the York district, guilty of massacre meant that Balardong Nyungar in the area were decimated.
  • May 1838 Aboriginal groups don't leave the coast as normal but gathered to feast off the carcases left by 13 whalers, gathered at Fremantle.
The Mount Eliza Aboriginal Feeding Station, the sacred site of Goonininup, is closed, and the site was purchased for a steam mill. (The Swan Brewery later acquired the site as it had sufficient fresh water to aid the brewing of beer).
  • July 1838 The popular and charismatic, Molly Dobbin, was found guilty of breaking into a house and sentenced to transportation for 7 years. With nine other Aboriginal prisoners he was taken to Rottnest under the supervision of Corporal Welch and three privates of the 21st regiment. They escaped by burning down the tree to which they had been chained at night, and took Mr Thompson's boat to the mainland., where one was drowned as the boat capsized in the surf. The prisoners were recaptured and returned with extended sentences.
With the closure of the Mount Eliza Feeding Station, Francis Armstrong was given a town house in St Georges Tce, and his neighbours complain of the Aborigines who were coming to see him. A petition was started which claimed for the first time that the "proximity of Aborigines would lower the value of the land". This culminated in new legislation to ban Aborigines from the Perth settlement.
  • August 1838 Lieutenant George Grey whilst exploring the Yanchep region, is taken to be the returned Djanga of a woman called Nginyeran. The Aborigines kept up a constant wailing outside Grey's house "She must see her son, she must see her son". Grey agreed to an enormous kening (corroboree) held in his honour at Yanchep. At the corroboree the group parted to allow the woman and her family to approach Grey. Hugging him around the neck she cried "Boondoo, boondoo. Nanga koolong" (=True, true. My boy).[12][citation needed]
  • September 1838 Corporal Welch was replaced by Henry Vincent, as Superintendent of Aboriginal Prisoners.
The London based Aboriginal Protection Society sets up an Australian sub-committee that ruled that Britain had oppressed the Aborigines by taking their land "without treaties or consent founded on sufficient compensation".
  • 1 January 1839 Following a House of Commons enquiry into the treatment of Aborigines by settlers, Governor Hutt appointed as second governor of Western Australia. Like Gipps in Queensland and George Grey in South Australia, as part of the concern of the British Crown into the poor treatment of Aborigines he was ordered to find ways of encouraging the civilising and Christianity of the natives. On arrival Hutt immediately set up a Department for the control of Aboriginal Affairs, to deal with the dispossessed natives and bring them rapidly into Christianity and civilise them. It consisted of 2 Commissioners, whose salaries were appointed and paid for from England, 2 protectors, a translator, 2 mounted inspectors and 18 mounted Aboriginal trackers, a jailer and a military guard on Rottnest. Francis Armstrong was appointed the first Commissioner.
  • 1 April 1839 George Grey's 4th expedition to explore between Shark Bay and Fremantle was wrecked at the mouth of the Murchison. The disaster was saved by Kaiber, a Binjareb man who had befriended Grey on his third expedition searching for a lost settler between Williams and Bunbury. Kaiber negotiated with local Yamatji tribes for safe passage and sustenance for the shipwrecked crew. Grey was impressed by Kaiber's obvious intelligence. 320 kilometres north of Perth the party divided with Grey and Kaiber going ahead to secure aid. The Governor dispatched Weeip and Warrup to find the missing explorers who were located 100 km further north.[citation needed]
  • 1839 The smallpox vaccine was brought to Western Australia, but for the next 15 years it was used only for the white settlers, despite its virulent effects on Aboriginal populations.
  • January 1840 Edward John Eyre sets out with George Baxter, 2 New South Wales Aboriginals, Joey and Yarry, and Wylie, a young Mineng Noongar from Albany set out to cross from Fowlers' Bay to Albany.
  • 29 April 1840 Baxter killed by Joe and Yarry, and the supplies for the expedition were stolen. Wylie and Eyre push on with their rations reduced to spoonful of sugar and a strip of dried horse-meat.
  • June 1840 arrival of Methodist pastor, Reverend John Smithies, as a mission for the Aborigines, at Fremantle. He was met and welcomed by Francis Armstrong, in his new capacity, as protector for the Aborigines.
  • 9 July 1840 Eyre and Wylie arrive in Albany, and Wylie is treated with joy follow his safe return, as he had been thought dead. Eyre gave him a shot-gun and the York Agricultural Society presented him with a badge and a gift of money.
  • September 1840 Reverend Smithies opens an Aboriginal subscription based chapel in William street. Francis Armstrong (called Branji by the Noongar, and his wife May, were appointed as teachers, and started with a class of thirty boys and girls. This was the first and last secular attempt to educate children in their vernacular language first, until the 1970s. Unfortunately Armstrong and his wife removed the children from their parents, the first precedent for what was to become known as the Stolen Generations. At the end of their schooling they were sent to work as servants to selected white families in return for basic subsistence.
  • 1840 Joseph Stokes marries a teenage graduate of the Perth Native School, the first recorded marriage between a European and a Noongar. Mrs Stokes taught her illiterate husband how to read and write. In London, the "Aboriginal Protection Society" published an "Outline for a System for Legislation Securing the Protection of All Inhabitants of All Countries Colonised by Great Britain'" which "urged that it be a fundamental principle of colonisation that no settlement be made on any land possessed or claimed by its inhabitants, without consent, formally obtained by treaty or otherwise substantially acknowledged by them". Today Aboriginal people are still awaiting their Treaty, and only 151 years later were their land rights legally acknowledged.
  • August 1841 The Aborigines who had remained at Goonininup (the Swan Brewery site) since the closure of the Aboriginal Feeding Station there, were moved to an Anglican run camp site at Jane Brook (the "West Australian Missionary Society" mission site) where the Reverend Giustianini's mission school was reopened under the control of Abraham Jones. Subsequently an Anglican Aboriginal school on similar lines was opened in Fremantle by Revd George King. An influenza outbreak that year killed 11 of the Abraham Jones's school's 23 students, making parents very reluctant to have their children educated there. At this camp are the first recorded Aboriginal cases of venereal disease and tuberculosis as well as influenza. The diseases were subsequently to sweep through Aboriginal populations in the state.
  • 1840 Governor Hutt announced a land bounty as a remission of a land purchase price for those white settlers who consent to train Aborigines. The Governor also creates the position of Aboriginal Police Aides, and Maigo, Molly Dobbin and Munday from Perth, Mundigo and Mando from the Canning, Tonquin and Winat from the Upper Swan, Denmar and Mornang from the Murray Binjareb, and Bunni from the Vasse Wardandi were all appointed, although Maigo was later dismissed for beating his wife. Also an Act was passed, establishing Rottnest as a prison, although the Governor states that it was to be a training establishment to domesticate and prepare Aborigines for employment. Stirling's "rations" for Aborigines displaced by settlement, were reduced to 500 grams of flour per month, only given in return for good behaviour. Eventually it was cut out altogether, forcing Aboriginal people to seek labouring jobs from the people who had seized their land.
  • 1842 Crown versus Wewar tries the first Aboriginal for a tribal killing. After being found guilty Wewar was transported to Rottnest. Henry Trigg accompanied him to the island to build the Rottnest lighthouse, and learned that Wewar was perplexed at the governors displeasure. He stated that Aboriginal people never interfered with white ways of murders, why should whites interfere with what was a traditional Aboriginal matter. This precedent was to have a disastrous effect upon Noongar and other Aboriginal group's marriage customs, as Aboriginals who made winnaitj or mundju illegal liaisons, and would have been punished by losing their lives, now could make incestuous liaisons formerly outlawed by kinship principles, with impunity. Those enforcing the punishments were now not allowed to and were themselves punished by European courts, and could be tried and hanged. "Winnaitj" marriages proliferated, as traditional law gets flouted. Henry Trigg reported seeing Aboriginal prisoners at Rottnest weeping at the sight of cooking fire smoke from relatives cooking on the mainland. In York, Barrow resigns as Protector of the Aborigines to be replaced by R. H. Bland, who took a very punitive attitude to the local Balardong.
  • 10 June 1843 Death of Yellagonga, by drowning.
  • 1843 Father John Brady visits Western Australia and writes to Rome appealing for missionaries to be sent to the natives of Western Australia. Charles Symmonds, Protector of Aborigines, has the northern Aborigines Eanna and Bokoberry arrested and confined to Rottnest to "teach them, outwardly at least, to conform to our social regulations". Those who had acquired farming skills in Rottnest gardens, and assisted in harvesting salt, were given early pardon and allowed to return home. Wollaston noted that large numbers of Aborigines in the south west were dying from epidemics.
  • 1844 Aboriginal school was shifted to Wanneroo. George Shenton, as Governor of the School, reports that it is hard work trying to destroy the natural habits of Aboriginal bush life. Cultural genocide was the educational policy and was now firmly established.
  • 1846 George Grey leaves Western Australia. Writing of his experiences in the state, he said that despite those who treat Aborigines as inferior, that they were "as apt and intelligent as any race of men that I am acquainted with". His experience with indigenous people was to deepen throughout his life until as Governor of New Zealand he insisted in the New Zealand Constitution that seats be reserved for Maoris in the new Parliament.
  • 1847 8,000 kangaroo skins exported from Albany.
  • 1851 Few Balardong in the York district were left, and they were ravaged by starvation, venereal disease and influenza.
  • 1852 Systematic raiding by Aborigines of cattle in the Geraldton area continues into 1853. It would seem that from 1829 some 30 European settlers in Western Australia had been killed by this time and another 34 had been wounded. No record was kept of aboriginal casualties but a ratio of 10–20 times this number is suggested.
  • 1877 Just before her death Pangieran a.k.a. Mary Alice Cuper, who was an expert Morse Code operator trained another Aboriginal woman Mary Sarah Ninak, to take her place. Governor Ord issued a proclamation forbidding the practice of chaining natives together with neck chains, but it continued unabated.
  • 1879 Alexander Forrest explored from the De Grey River north to Beagle Bay, and then along the Fitzroy River to the Victoria River in the Northern Territory. It seems that the method of capturing local natives to torture them into telling where the water holes were had become a common practice[citation needed], which explains why Forrest reported that the natives appeared excessively frightened of the whites. At Beagle Bay however, he was surprised by the friendliness of the natives, many of whom spoke Broken English.

1881–1943[edit]

The sixty years from 1881 to the 1940s can be neatly divided into two by the passage of the 1905 Aboriginal Act, which created institutionalised racism and created what amounted to Aboriginal "concentration camps" in which the Aboriginal people were to be confined until the race became extinct. It began with the Fairburn Report which first drew attention to the "Aboriginal Problem." This institutionalised racism, like the racism of the Nazi period in Germany, the racism of the southern states of the USA, and the racism of South Africa, reached its peak in the 1930s. The "final solution to the Aboriginal problem" was to take all children from Aboriginal parents, who were considered as "biologically capable of having children, but not socially capable of raising them." This "solution" continued beyond this period until well into the 1970s. The major task confronting Aboriginal people throughout this period was how their cultures could survive.

  • 1881 C.D.F. Foss appointed magistrate and with a company of police troops and 3 Aboriginal trackers, he travelled across the Gascoyne investigating complaints and imposing sentences that were later shown to be illegal and excessive. Pastoralists had made Aboriginal people de facto slaves on their own land, in contravention of British law. By marking a cross on a "contract," Aboriginal people were forced to work as a shepherd, shearer, shed hand, domestic servant or concubine. Once "assigned" the men and women were considered the "property" of the station, and could be arrested and sent back by the police if they "absconded." Consistent absconders had their feet burned or were branded by their master's initial. The Fairburn Report, which reported on these abuses was howled down by angry pastoralists in Parliament. Aboriginal labour in the state was recorded as 1,640 men and 706 women, nearly 7% of the total white population of the time, estimated at 30,013 people.
  • June 1881 The first judicial court held on Brockman's station. Four Aboriginal men were tried and sentenced to be transported to Rottnest Island. Aboriginal resistance in the north grew in intensity. Gascoyne, Lyons and the Upper Minilya tribes were said to be the worst in the state. Charles Gayle asked that the government to shut its eyes for 6 months and he would put an end to the depredations by exterminating the troublemakers.
  • 1882 Flogging of Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest was legalised, although it had already been abolished for whites. John Forrest spoke in favour of the punishment. Only the cat-of-nine-tails was prohibited, but its use continued, being used at the Moore River settlement at least until 1940. It was admitted in the Legislative Council that the great majority of convictions of Aboriginal people to Rottnest, had been illegal. Governor Ord intervened and a large number of Aboriginal people were released from custody. Alexander Crawfords, running a sheep station in the Murchison, and writing to his fiance, Lillie Matthews in Victoria, wrote of the continuous way in which whites "in arms" were engaged in "nigger hunts." Lillie was horrified at the brutality he so casually described. The Gold Rushes brought still more unattached men to Western Australia, many contracting both legal and defacto marriages with Aboriginal women. Typical was Anderson, a Fin, who married Lucy Bobbinet, and having three children before she was abandoned by her husband in 1899.
  • 1883 The Attorney General, Hensman, introduces a bill to parliament to extend the powers of Magistrates in the north, and to legalise all questionable sentences to Rottnest Island that had occurred. The Colonial Secretary, Malcolm Fraser, said at the second reading speech, the bill was intended to "affirm the convictions made by Mr Foss at the Gascoyne".[13] A Commission of Inquiry into the treatment of Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest confirmed that the identifying disks on prisoners were sometimes exchanged, resulting in the alteration of sentences, and the release of prisoners often in alien territory from which they were then forbidden to leave. Over 179 Rottnest island prisoners, mostly from the north, were in conditions so overcrowded that more than 60 died from a bout of influenza. The second great measles epidemic entered the state via Albany, spreading to Bunbury, York, Fremantle, Perth, Geraldton and Carnarvon. Ten died at New Norcia as a result, and with a combined influenza outbreak, it combined to kill 64 prisoners at Rottnest. In this year Victoria River station, in the Kimberley, was stocked for the first time.
  • 1884 Alexander Forrest publishes his report on the Kimberley expedition, estimating that some 10,000,000 acres (40,000 km2) are available for grazing sheep and cattle. Just before Forrest had left Darwin, the Commissioner of Crown Lands had been presented with 26 applications to take up the most promising lands in the Kimberley. Adam Johns and Phil Saunders, following Forrest's route, discovered Gold at Halls Creek. David Carly wrote to England saying "the whole system of Horrors as is done to the Natives" would continue until the "Home Government send someone here who has got a mind that will not be ruled by a few Settlers whose Heart is set on getting Gold by any means". In Bridgetown, a third Aboriginal reserve of 100 acres (0.40 km2) was established.
  • 1885 The Duracks settle Lissadell station in the Kimberleys. E.T. Hardiman, the government geologist, confirms the find of Halls Creek gold. Fifteen men at the field clash with local Aborigines, but resistance to miners declined as the numbers increased. An amendment to the Dog Act states that Aboriginal people in the state are only allowed one dog and then only if it is licensed. Most Aboriginal people in the state could not afford the license, and so police could shoot any Aboriginal hunting dog any time they wished.
  • January 1885 Henry Parry, the Anglican Archbishop lodged for new "mission reserves" to be established for the Vasse, Murchison, Ashburton and Gascoyne. He welcomes the Rev. J.B. Gribble and sends him to work amongst the Aborigines in the Gascoyne. Gribble arrives in Perth and is introduced to the Governor, Sir Napier Broome. He is given letters of introduction to Maitland Brown and Alexander Forrest. On arriving in Carnarvon Gribble was welcomed by Foss the Magistrate, however, at the time he witnessed six Aboriginal men and one Aboriginal woman, chained by the neck to a tree, awaiting the magistrates visit, still some weeks away. Thirty seven men were chained inside a tin shed in the summer heat. Moving to the Kimberley, Gribble discovered that police raiding parties, along the Fitzroy were organised to keep the pearling industry supplied with "blackbirded" Aborigines to work on the luggers, in contravention of the earlier Pearl Shell Fisheries Act. Many pastoralists and jackeroos had taken Aboriginal concubines, but any girl who tried to run away was rounded up and escorted by police back to her "master". Finding no support amongst locals to end these practices Gribble travelled back to Perth to publicise what he had found. The uproar was huge. Rather than alienate those pastoralists who were contributing to the building of St Georges Cathedral, Bishop Parry decided to sacrifice Gribble to the indignation of the pastoralists.
  • December 1885 a meeting of pastoralists in Carnarvon appoint Brockman, Maitland Brown and others to condemn Gribble's missionary work. Nothing changed. There was still no attempt to properly establish guilt of Aboriginal people "sentenced" to Rottnest from the north. For instance in 28 December men were found a quarter of a mile away from speared cattle and were found guilty of an offence without any evidence being presented, and were sentenced to 2 years on Rottnest
  • January 1886 A petition is circulated to have Gribble removed. Gribble travelled then to Victoria, trying to drum up support against the WA pastoralists of the Gascoyne, and entertained people to packed halls with the stories of the atrocities he had witnessed. So grim were the reports that women and children were refused admittance. In his talks he exposed the widespread practice of "child labour" and condemned the "assignment system" as slavery. He protested the abuses of the court system in Carnarvon, where it was admitted that convictions against Aboriginals were secured with a single uncorroborated word of any settler, with the person being transported to Rottnest, often to die. Gribble reported that he had been shot at in the bush and nearly lynched when sailing to Perth. When he was met by "Christian communicants" in Fremantle, he was told that Aboriginal people should be treated "only as horses or dogs". Winthrop Hackett, then Editor of the Western Australian called Gribble "a lying, canting humbug," and Gribble sued him for libel. At the height of the controversy, Governor Broome classified as confidential a series of reports from the Government Resident of Roebourne, Lieutenant Colonel E. F. Angelo, documenting the slavery and murder perpetrated by local pearlers, settlers, and the local magistrate, who was offering to kidnap Aborigines for the pearlers at a cost of five pounds a head, or to shoot them for 2s 6p each. "The fears of the whites" he wrote, was "more a cause of disorder than the aggression of the blacks." About 6-700 Aborigines were then used in diving off the pearling luggers. Had these reports been made available Gribble would have won his case against Hackett, but he lost, and in disgrace, Gribble left the state, and publishes "Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land" a fierce castigation of his opponents that created a furore so that the welfare of the Aboriginals was obscured by much blackening of reputations until the 1905 Aboriginal Act.
  • 1886 Following the furor over the Fairburn Report and the work of the Rev. John Gribble, parliament introduced the Aborigines Protection Act 1886 (WA) which established the Aboriginal Protection Board with five members and a secretary, all of whom were nominated by the Governor. Protectors of Aborigines were appointed by the board under the conditions laid down in the Aborigines Protection Act of 1886. In theory, Protectors of Aborigines were empowered to undertake legal proceedings on behalf of Aboriginal people. As the board had very limited funds Protectors received very limited remuneration, and so a range of people were appointed as local Protectors, including Resident Magistrates, Jail Wardens, Justices of the Peace and in some cases ministers of religion, though most were local Police Inspectors. The minutes of the board show they mostly dealt with matters of requests from religious bodies for financial relief and reports from Resident or Police Magistrates pertaining to trials and convictions of Aboriginal people under their jurisdiction. It introduced employment contracts between employers and Aboriginal workers over the age of 14. There was no provision in the 1886 WA Act for contracts to include wages. However, employees were to be provided with "substantial, good and sufficient rations," clothing and blankets. The 1886 WA Act provided a Resident Magistrate with the power to indenture 'half-caste' and Aboriginal children, from a suitable age, until they turned 21. An Aboriginal Protection Board, was also established to prevent the abuses reported earlier, but rather than protect Aborigines, it mainly succeeded in putting them under tighter government control. It was intended to enforce contracts, employment of prisoners and apprenticeships, but there was not sufficient power to enforce clauses in the north, and they were openly flouted. The Act defined as "Aboriginal" "every Aboriginal native of Australia, every Aboriginal half-caste, or child of a half-caste". Governor Broome insisted that the act contain within it a clause permitting traditional owners to continue hunting on their tribal lands. The effect of the Act was to give increasing power to the Board over Aboriginal people, rather than setting up a system to punish whites for wrongdoing in relation to Aboriginal people. An Aboriginal Department was set up, under the office of the Chief Protector of Aborigines. Nearly half of the Legislative Council voted to amend the act for contract labour as low as 10 but it was defeated. Mackenzie Grant, the member for the north claimed that child labour of 6 or 7 was a necessary commonplace, as "in this way they gradually become domesticated." The Atourney General Septimus Burt, in debate on the 2nd reading speech, claimed that contracts were being issued, not for current work, but to hold Aboriginal people as slaves on stations for potential future work, and so prevent them from being free to leave.
  • 1886 dealings with "natives" in Western Australia had been the responsibility of the British Colonial Office. In 1886 an Aboriginal Protection Board was established with five members and a secretary, all of whom were nominated by the Governor. Protectors of Aborigines were appointed by the board under the conditions laid down in the Aborigines Protection Act of 1886. In theory, Protectors of Aborigines were empowered to undertake legal proceedings on behalf of Aboriginal people. As the board had very limited funds Protectors received very limited remuneration, and so a range of people were appointed as local Protectors, including Resident Magistrates, Jail Wardens, Justices of the Peace and in some cases ministers of religion, though most were local Police Inspectors. The minutes of the board show they mostly dealt with matters of requests from religious bodies for financial relief and reports from Resident or Police Magistrates pertaining to trials and convictions of Aboriginal people under their jurisdiction.[citation needed]
  • 1893 Education Act of Western Australia gave white parents the power to object to any Aboriginal child attending any school also attended by their children, a provision which saw Aboriginal children progressively and completely excluded from the state education system.
  • 1897, as part of the Western Australian Government's attempt to gain control of Aboriginal Affairs, which had been under the Constitution of Western Australia vested in reserve under the Colonial Office, the Aborigines Department was set up as a result of the Aborigines Act 1897, which had abolished the Aborigines Protection Board. The Department operated as a sub-department of the Treasury, with a very small staff under the Chief Protector of Aborigines, Henry Charles Prinsep. Repeated cuts in finances for the operating budget of the Aborigines Department, partly resulting from the 1905 Aborigines Act, saw this department merged in 1909 to form the Department of Aborigines and Fisheries.
  • 1904 Royal Commission on the Administration of Aborigines and the Condition of the Natives chaired by Dr Walter Edmund Roth (1861–1933), Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland, was conducted in 1904, and discussed the growing "half-caste problem". Most Aborigines were living in regional areas, where sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women by whites led to an increasing number of "degenerate" mixed race children who were subsequently abandoned by their fathers. It led in 1905 to a new Act which extended the definition of Aboriginal to all half caste children and made all Aboriginal persons as wards of the state with the Chief Protector of Aborigines made legal guardian in place of the parents, with powers to remove children from their parents care and place them in custodial situations.
The Honourable J.M. Drew stated

I think it is our duty not to allow these children, whose blood is half-British, to grow up as vagrants and outcasts, as their mothers are now. There is a large number of absolutely worthless black and half-castes about who grow up to lives of prostitution and idleness; they are a perfect nuisance; if they were taken away from their surroundings of temptation much good might be done with them. There is no power to do this now, consequently a half – caste who possesses few of the virtues and nearly all the vices of whites, grows up to be a mischievous and very immoral subject. This Bill will tend, in a great measure, to remedy this abuse. I may say it may appear to be a cruel thing to tear away an Aborigine child from its mother, but it is necessary in some cases to be cruel to be kind.[14]

  • 1908 Bernier and Dorre Islands were used for the isolation and treatment of Aboriginal people from north Western Australia believed to be suffering from venereal disease. The Lock Hospitals were established with female patients residing in an existing house on Bernier Island, and accommodation for males being built near White Beach on Dorre Island. It seems that the patients and their families often had little idea of where or why they were taken. Patients were kept on the islands until they were cured or died. Those who were fit enough hunted game, fished and worked to establish and maintain the hospitals. Remnants of the hospital buildings and artefacts from this era still remain on the islands.
  • 1910 Daisy Bates visits Bernier and Dore Islands and describes the hospitals as "tombs of the living dead."
  • 1911 Aborigines Act Amendment Act significantly extended the Protector's guardianship power to remove Aboriginal children to the 'exclusion of the rights of the mother of an illegitimate or half caste child'. In that year 200 Aboriginal people had camped on the fringes of Katanning, in order to allow their children to get an education, but under the powers of the 1893 Education Act, parents in 1914 demanded that Aboriginal children be excluded from their school, and in 1915 the Katanning white community, acting on its own, had local police remove the Aboriginal fringe dwellers to what was the equivalent of a concentration camp at Carrolup.
  • 1913 Admissions decrease on Bernier and Dore Island due to increased costs.
  • 1915, the appointment of A. O. Neville as Protector of Aborigines saw a change in policy. He saw the Aboriginal population of Western Australia as comprising two groups:
  • Full blood Aborigines, who were to be segregated from the community in order that they could become extinct.
  • Half-caste Aborigines, who were to be assimilated through intermarriage within the white community as quickly as possible.
  • 1918 Bernier and Dore Islands abandoned and the hospitals were closed and the patients and buildings relocated to Port Hedland. Hospital records were poorly kept so exact figures cannot be ascertained, but more than 700 patients were admitted of whom close to 200 died on the islands.
  • 1922 in interests of economy and expediency the Carrolup River Native Settlement was shut and inmates transferred to Moore River Native Settlement near Moora, and the Carrolup land taken over by local farmers.
  • 1927 A.O.Neville under the provisions of the 1905 Act makes the area of Central Perth a prohibited area of five square kilometres in the centre of Perth, in order to discourage Noongars from loitering and gathering in large numbers. Noongars who worked in the city and within the prohibited area were required to carry identification and a pass. As there was also a night curfew, Noongars had to have permits to travel after 6pm. It stayed in place until 1953.
  • 1934 The Moseley Royal Commission heard evidence in 1934 that the Moore River Native Settlement a 'woeful spectacle', buildings over-crowded (by at least 50%), buildings and clothing was vermin ridden, there was no vocational training except for the chores given by staff, the diet lacked all fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, and health of inmates was seriously affected. Solitary confinement imprisonment of children in the "Boob" was stated to be barbarous and must be stopped. The Commission ruled that in its present condition it had 'no hope of success' with the children in its care.
Nevertheless Neville continued in his role as Chief Protector to argue before the Moseley Royal Commission of 1934 for an extension of his powers, and despite some opposition to this the commission agreed to support his recommendation. In 1936 Sections 8 and 12 of the new Native Administration Act the Chief Protector's guardianship powers were increased still further by a new definition of "native child" to mean any child with any Aboriginal descent, and further widened the scope of the Chief Protector's guardianship and therefore jurisdiction over all Aboriginal people in Western Australia.
  • 1940s – 1970s Roelands Mission at Roelands, outside of Bunbury, ran as a centre for up to 500 children of Aboriginal descent removed from their parents under the policies now called Stolen Generations. Amongst those involved were Sidney Jackson (ex-VFL/AFL Carlton player), Phil Prosser (ex-Army Duntroon graduate) and Dorothy Pilkington (Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence).

1943 to the present[edit]

This period began with the Great Stockman's Strike of 1946. It, like the other periods, can be divided into two by the events of 1967, in which Aboriginal people were recognised as Australian, and by the passage of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which for the first time since 1829 recognised Aboriginal people as equal under Australian law. The passing of the Mabo and Wik High Court Decisions, which recognised Aboriginal people as in possession of the land at the date of European settlement, is an appendix to these changes. This period is still not complete, as the Western Australian Labor government is still resisting the Native Title claim of the Noongar people.

  • 1947 - The New Coolbaroo League[15] founded by the young activist, Helena Clarke from Port Hedland, Yamatji brothers Jack and Bill Poland, and their wadjela friend, Geoff Harcus, aims to begin lobbying to allow Aborigines to legally begin living in Perth once again. Taking its name from the Yamatji word for Magpie it was a hope for reconciliation between black and white. Helena Murphy (née Clarke), a founding member, saw it as representing identity and people of mixed ancestry; while others felt it expressed a desire for collaboration and change. The Coolbaroo League became part of a wider movement for Aboriginal rights. It raised awareness of issues affecting Aboriginal people, including the restricted entry for Noongars into the inner city.
  • 1950 – and following years. Attempts were made to evacuate the last traditional Aboriginal people from the Western Desert in order to clear the area for British Blue Streak missile testing from the Woomera Rocket Range. Government attempts to oppose a private member's bill extending citizenship to children of Aboriginal citizens.
  • 1951 The citizenship clause of Aborigines was amended so that they now had to get approval of both a magistrate and a representative of the local municipality, reducing the chances for Aborigines to become citizens. The Korean War minerals boom brings prosperity to Aborigines on strike in the north west. With these profits Aboriginal strikers were able to purchase five stations centred upon Yandereena. This is the first new land owned by Aborigines since before 1911. A hospital, school and accommodation for the aged is established by the first self-determinating Aboriginal group since Katanning. Don McLeod enters into partnership with the Adelaide syndicate Western Wolfram and then the world prices fell.
Nedlands Road Board, without warning sends a bulldozer and destroys the Swanbourne Aboriginal campsite, without replacing homes for the displaced. no-one complained and the media reports applauded the Road Board action.
More than 50% of Kimberley population is found to have trachoma to some extent.
  • January 1952 A new Native Welfare Council is formed with branches in country towns. With the support and covert assistance of Middleton, to extend citizenship to all Aboriginal people.
  • 1953 The Coolbaroo League publishes its first bi-monthly newspaper, Westralian Aborigine. It offered an alternative to the mainstream press and was significant in that it had Aboriginal editorial control and gave a voice to Noongar people. The paper had some 600 subscribers. The Coolbaroo dances were advertised there, as well as jobs. Sometimes, you could just be looking for a person you'd not seen in a while.[16]
  • April 1954 Queen Elizabeth II in her tour of Western Australia "crowns" David Beaufort's lineal descendant as "king of the Bibulmun"
  • 1954 A new Native Welfare Act in 1954 did nothing to limit these removal powers under the 1936 Act, which continued unabated. However amendments to the Native Welfare Act in 1963 repealed all previous legislation and abolished the Chief Protector's powers to remove children of Aboriginal descent from their biological parents. Nevertheless the removal of Aboriginal children continued under the arbitrary implementation of the broad provisions of the Child Welfare Act of 1947. The prohibited area was finally abandoned in 1954, when the Coolbaroo League was allowed to hold a ball at the Perth Town Hall.
  • 1972 a departmental reorganisation resulted in the functions of the then Native Welfare Department being split between two new Departments, the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority (AAPA) and the Department of Community Welfare (now the Department for Community Development), responsible for the care and placement of Aboriginal children in the welfare sector. The creation of the AAPA led to the end of the "Stolen Generation" as for the first time policies were enacted which allowed children of Aboriginal descent, considered at risk of neglect, to be fostered first and foremost by other members of their families. In this way, a century of acute suffering finally came to an end, leaving a legacy of extensive cultural genocide of Aboriginal groups south of the 26th parallel.
  • 16 October 1987 Prime Minister Robert Hawke launched the Muirhead Royal Commission Inquiry into Deaths in Custody which found Western Australia had the greatest number of cases to be heard, with 36 deaths being reported to the Commission. Of those, 32 were found to be within jurisdiction and reported upon.
  • 28 June 1988 with the hearing into the death of Charles Michael. Due to the enormity of the task in Western Australia with the number of deaths to be investigated and size of the State, it was decided that another Commissioner was needed to assist with the conduct of inquiries in this State.
  • 27 October 1988 Commonwealth Letters Patent issued to conduct inquiries into the deaths of Aboriginals who had died in custody in Western Australia and elsewhere in Australia as directed by Commissioner Muirhead.
  • 3 June 1992, The Ruling of the Australian Supreme Court, under Justice Gerard Brennan, in the case Eddie Mabo versus the state of Queensland (2) accepts for the first time in Australian history that Indigenous people do have legal rights to land in Australia, and that the legal ruling terra nullius was not a legal situation.
  • 10 December 1992 In launching the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, Prime Minister Paul Keating in his Redfern Address stated "It was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice. And our failure to imagine these things being done to us."
  • October 1994 the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. addressing the Going Home Conference in Darwin, announced he would be writing to Michael Levarch, the Attorney-General, with the suggestion that the Equal Rights and Opportunities Commission investigate why thousands of Aboriginal children had been separated from their families and communities in the 20th century.[17]
  • 1994 Australian Bureau of Statistics finds that 10.1% of aboriginals aged between twenty five years of age and 44 years of age had been separated from their families, and 10.6% of those aged more than 44 had suffered the same.
  • 1 June 1995 Formation of the Indigenous Land Corporation, a Commonwealth statutory authority with national responsibilities to assist Indigenous peoples to acquire land and to manage Indigenous-held land. The ILC has a seven-member board, appointed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. The Chairperson and at least four other members of the Board must be Indigenous. The ILC Board makes all policy and land acquisition decisions, following the Mabo decision and Federal legislation.[18]
  • 1996 inquiry headed by Sir Ronald Wilson, former High Court Judge and President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and Mick Dodson, Social Justice Commissioner, takes 2 years collecting oral and written evidence across Australia, with assistance of all Australian governments except the Howard Commonwealth Government, which denied them access to Northern Territory records, and refused the inquiry's request for additional funds.[19] Dr Eric Hunter conducted a report on Aborigines in the Kimberley and found that one quarter of elderly Aborigines and one in seven of those middle aged had been separated from their families.
  • December 1996 the Wik People versus Queensland case demonstrates that pastoral agreements do not extinguish native title as established under the Mabo judgement. This in 1998 required modification of the Native Title Tribunal legislation of 1994.
  • 26 May 1997 The Bringing Them Home Report also called "Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families", presented to Federal Government, confirms that Aboriginal people from 1910 until the 1970s saw the removal of between one in three to one in ten Aboriginal children who had suffered "gross violation of their human rights" and comprised "an act of genocide, aimed at wiping out Indigenous families, communities and cultures".
  • June 1997 Australians for Native Title launch the "Sorry Book" initiative giving ordinary Australians a chance to respond to the failure of the Federal Government to give an unreserved apology under the findings of the Bringing them Home Report. The books became a popular way for ordinary Australians to express their desires for Reconciliation.
  • 6 September 1997, Robert Bropho sues cartoonist Dean Acheson of the Western Australian for a cartoon that pointed offensively to the struggle amongst Western Australian Noongars after the return of Yaga's head to the state.
  • 26 May 1998 declared "Sorry Day" as an annual day of celebration of reconciliation between Aboriginal communities and non-Indigenous Australians.
  • 6 March 2000 Richard Court, Premier of Western Australia fails to achieve modification of Native Title Legislation, modelled upon the failed Liberal Federal Government legislation in the Northern Territory, after having spent millions of dollars of tax payers money in an attempt to secure the extinguishment of native title on pastoral leases in Western Australia, in contravention of the Wik ruling.
  • December 2002 the Gordon Inquiry, "Putting People First" tabled in Western Australian parliament. The report stressed
  • The urgent need to strengthen and improve responses to abuse and violence in Aboriginal communities.
  • The need for long term strategies and solutions to address the endemic nature of abuse and violence in many communities.
  • Meeting the needs of current and future generations of Aboriginal children through simultaneous, long-term environmental, social and economic improvements that will result in sustainable communities.[20]
  • 10 August 2004 the collection of 461 Sorry Books out of the estimated 1,000 that were produced held by the AIATSIS Library was inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.
  • 2005 Roelands Mission site acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation for the Woolkabunning Kiaka Association, representing the former residents. Ms Shirley McPherson, Chairperson of the Indigenous Land Corporation, said that the ILC’s ability to move quickly on an application from the Woolkabunning Kiaka Association, representing the former residents, demonstrated the soundness of its application processes.[21]
  • 2006 Amendment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act of 2005 to establish Indigenous Business Australia, a Corporation with an independent Board, responsible to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs to engage in commercial activities and to promote and encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-management and economic self-sufficiency.[22]
  • 16 September 2006 The ruling by Supreme Court Judge Wilcox in the Bennell versus Western Australia case, confirms the survival of the Noongar people and their customary title to lands of the south west corner of Western Australia. "Justice Wilcox found the Noongar community had continued to exist despite the descent system being disrupted through mixed marriage and people being forced off their land and dispersed to other areas as a result of European settlement. Justice Wilcox said families had kept in contact. Many, if not most, children learned at least some Noongar language while traditional skills, beliefs and as much as possible, land laws, had been preserved. As a consequence, Justice Wilcox found there was a case for native title".[23] The Labor Party Government of Alan Carpenter announces that they will appeal against the deal.
  • 14 May 2007 ABC Lateline program reports graphic details of rampant sexual abuse of Aboriginal children, following from the Roger's report on “Child Sexual Assault and Some Cultural Issues in the Northern Territory.”
  • 21 May 2007 Report finds that Aboriginal people are "grossly disadvantaged in negotiations with miners because the Native Title Tribunal has failed for more than a decade to exercise its veto over mining leases". As a result companies have known leases would be granted even if negotiations failed. As a result Aboriginal groups have been forced to agree to "grossly inadequate compensation packages", because their "hands are tied behind their backs".[24] As a result Aboriginal groups are seriously missing out on the resources boom currently propelling growth in the Australian economy.
  • 31 May 2007 The Western Australian State Government announces on the 40th Anniversary of the Referendum that it will investigate wages stolen from Aboriginal people. Up to 75% of all Aboriginal Wages paid to Aboriginal people according to provisions of the 1905 Aboriginal Act were held in a Trust Account by state government and never repaid, following the "Stolen Wages" enquiry of the Australian Federal Senate. Brian Wyatt of the Goldfields Land and Sea Council, announces for the Goldfields Region alone the amount could amount to $150 million. The NSW Government set up a compensation scheme in 2005, and the Queensland government set up a special compensation fund of $56 million in 2002.[25]
  • 21 June 2007 Australia’s Aborigines were stripped of the right of self-rule after the Government declared the widespread sexual abuse of Aboriginal children to be a national emergency equivalent to the Katrina Hurricane in the USA. John Howard, the Prime Minister, banned the sale of alcohol across an area the size of France and imposed restrictions on access to pornography. He also announced tight controls on welfare benefits, which will be cut if children fail to attend school. Aboriginal families will be required to spend at least half their fortnightly welfare on food and essentials.
  • 25 July 2007 The Federal Government Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Mal Brough announces his intention to abolish the Community Development Employment Program, a "work for the dole scheme" which enabled Aboriginal people in many remote areas to obtain work working in not-for-profit Aboriginal-run organisations providing subsidised services to remote Aboriginal communities, not provided by conventional government or industry. As this is the major source of employment for these areas, unemployment in remote Aboriginal communities is likely to rise from 30% to over 50%, and the quality of life experienced by people living in such centres is expected to fall.
  • 5 August 2007 The high rate of suicide in indigenous communities in Western Australia will be scrutinised by the State Coroner, Alastair Hope. The ABC reported the coordinator of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Wes Morris, says there was a recent public meeting of 180 residents concerned about the high number of suicides. "In addition to the suicides there is also the large number of accidental deaths and we know that one of the root causes of both the suicides and the accidental deaths is the high rate of alcohol use in this community," he said. "There's absolute despair in the community. There's so many families within the community who have been affected in such a deep and personal way."[26]
  • 5 September 2007 The results of the 2006 Census show the average life expectancy of Aboriginal people is 17 years less than non-Aboriginal Western Australians. Survival at birth for Aboriginal people in Western Australia is less than that for rural Bangladesh.
  • 14 November 2007 The Hope Inquest into Aboriginal Deaths in Fitzroy Crossing, held in Broome, Western Australia, is told that the WA Department of Indigenous Affairs lacks a plan for indigenous public housing, drugs, alcohol or life skills in the Kimberley.
  • 26 November 2007 The election of the Rudd Labor government, puts many of the Aboriginal changes foreshadowed by John Howard's Liberal Party government on hold. Kevin Rudd indicates that he will give a formal apology to the Aboriginal people for their suffering as a part of the Stolen Generations.
  • 13 February 2008 Sir William Deane and former Prime Ministers Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser were all seated on the floor of the Parliament to hear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd deliver upon the recommendation of the "Bringing them Home" report, a formal apology on the part of the Australian nation for the suffering inflicted as a result of the stolen generations. Conspicuous by his absence was the former Prime Minister, John Howard. Western Australian polls show this state to be least in favour of an apology.[27]
  • 26 February 2008 The final report of the Hope Coroner's report into 22 deaths in the Kimberley reports that conditions have been worsening, remedial education is not available for children who get left behind in education, fetal alcohol syndrome stunts the development of many Aboriginal children, and suicide rates are high. Despite spending $1.2 million a year on the problems, there was a lack of leadership at State and Commonwealth levels and the funding was divided between 22 non-government and government programs. The Aboriginal owned pub at Fitzroy Crossing, has not returned profits to the owners in 18 years (all profits being taken by white managers). The government is accused of ignoring the earlier report of General John Sanderson in these issues[28] Carol Martin, the first Aboriginal woman in Western Australian parliament, says that the Hope report has nothing that people did not already know. The Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC) says that despite their submission there was no recommendation concerning specialised services for the young.[29]
  • 28 February 2008 Aboriginal leader Robert Bropho is jailed for 3 years for pedophilia. District Court judge Peter Nisbet said Bropho, 78, was arrogant, a bully and a repeat liar who had committed an act of "cynical depravity" when he bailed the young girl out of a juvenile detention centre, then raped her on the way home. After hearing DNA evidence, Judge Nisbet found Bropho was the father of two of the victim's children[30]
  • February 2012 A Noongar Tent Embassy set up on Heirisson Island to oppose the West Australian government's proposed $1 billion over 10 year native title deal with southwest Aborigines. After 3 police raids the tents were removed by WA Police on 22 March.
  • 6th March 2012 Under past legislation such as the Aborigines Act 1905 and the Native Welfare Act 1963, employers of Aboriginal people, including successive state governments between 1905 and 1972, held 75% of the wages and property belonging to Aboriginal people in a complex network of trust accounts, which was never delivered to them. The Western Australian Government announced that it would recompense each Aboriginal person still living and able to give evidence that entitlements were withheld from them $2,000 for these Stolen Wages, becoming the 3rd Australian state to attempt some reimbursement. Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier said most of the documentation about the accounts and monies held in trust had been lost, along with verification of who was affected and how much was held.[31] Payments for Aboriginal victims of Stolen Wages were labelled “an insult” by local Aboriginal businessman and cultural awareness trainer Kado Muir.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Siebenhaar, W "The Abrolhos tragedy" The Western Mail 24 December 1897
  2. ^ See Daisy Bates
  3. ^ Statham-Drew, Pamela (2205), "James Stirling: Admiral and founding governor of Western Australia" (UWA Press)
  4. ^ Bourke, Michael J. "On the Swan: A history of the Swan district of Western Australia" (p. 30)
  5. ^ Ibid p. 68
  6. ^ Ibid p. 51
  7. ^ Ibid p.70
  8. ^ Ibid p71
  9. ^ a b Roynolds, Henry (1998) "This Whispering in Our Hearts"
  10. ^ Green Neville, "Broken Spears" op cit
  11. ^ Biggs, Hazel (1997). Exploring in Western Australia. Western Australian Museum. pp. pages 35–40. ISBN 0-7309-8395-1. 
  12. ^ This tale is told to Daisy Bates in 1907 by Joobaitj, grandson of Yellagonga, who was at that time a Beedawa (=uninitiated boy) witnessing the corroboree
  13. ^ Parliamentary Hansard, Western Australia 1883
  14. ^ Western Australian Hansard 1897
  15. ^ http://www.noongarculture.org.au/contact-history/coolbaroo-league.aspx
  16. ^ Haebich.A. Spinning the Dream:Assimilation in Australia 1950-1970, Fremantle Press, 2008, p.280.
  17. ^ Mann, Robert, (2001) "In Denial: the stolen generations and the Right". (Black Inc)
  18. ^ Indigenous Land Corporation
  19. ^ Mann, Robert, (2001) "In Denial: th stolen generations and the Right". (Black Inc) pp.4–5
  20. ^ Gordon Inquiry, Western Australia
  21. ^ Indigenous Land Corporation, (2005) "Land Matters"
  22. ^ Commonwealth of Australia "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Amended) [1]
  23. ^ "Editorial: Taking the fight from native title". The Australian. 21 September 2006. 
  24. ^ "The Australian" Monday 21 May 2007
  25. ^ Perth Independent Media Centre perth.indymedia.org/index.php?action=default&featureview=514 – 31k – 7 Jun 2007
  26. ^ Coroner to investigate high suicide rate in Aboriginal communities – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  27. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 13 February
  28. ^ "Hope report blames lack of leadership". 24 February 2008. [dead link]
  29. ^ ABC TV 7.00 News, 26 February 2008
  30. ^ "Robert Bropho, 78, jailed for sex assault on girl". 27 February 2008. [dead link]
  31. ^ The West Australian Newspaper 6th March 2012