|Regions with significant populations|
|Bunganditj language, English|
|Australian Aboriginal mythology, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Ngarrindjeri, Dhauwurd wurrung, Bindjali, and Jardwadjali
see List of Indigenous Australian group names
According to Christina Smith in her 1880 book on the Buandig people - The Boandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language -
- "The aborigines of the South-East were divided into five tribes, each occupying its own territory, and using different dialects of the same language. Their names were Booandik, Pinejunga, Mootatunga, Wichintunga, and Polinjunga."
The largest clan, according to Smith, was the Booandik who occupied country from the mouth of the Glenelg River to Rivoli Bay North (Beachport), extending inland for about 30 miles. The other clans occupied country from between Lacepede Bay to Bordertown. The Buandig shared tribal borders with the Ngarrindjeri people of the Coorong and Murray mouth to the west, the Bindjali and Jardwadjali to the north and the Gunditjmara people to the east.
Anthropologist Norman Tindale argued in 1940 and again in 1974 that at the time of European settlement the Buandig were under territorial pressure from the Jardwadjali people to the north forcing the Buandig territorial boundary south from Gariwerd towards present day Casterton. However Professor Ian D. Clark counter claims that the ethnohistoric and linguistic evidence doesn't support Tindale's claims regarding the boundaries between the Buandig and Jardwadjali.
The Buandig were divided into two marriage classes: Kumite and Kroke, with children being assigned their mother's class. Within the Kumite class there were five major animal totems (fishhawk, pelican, crow, black cockatoo and snake), and within the Kroke class there were four major animal totems (owl, teatree, edible root, and the white crestless cockatoo). Other animals, plants, and inanimate elements were assigned a class. These totemic items were treated as the friend of a person imposing restrictions on eating these totems, except under extreme circumstances when due sorrow and remorse was expressed.
The Buandig people are likely to have occupied this area for tens of thousands of years. Midden heaps on the foreshore of Lake Eliza in the Little Dip Conservation Park have been dated at around 10,000 years old.
First contact between the Buandig and Europeans occurred in the early 1820s. Panchy from the Buandig recounted to Christina Smith the story of the first sighting of ships at Rivoli Bay in either 1822 or 1823, and his mother's abduction for 3 months before she was able to escape when the ship put in at Guichen Bay.
Conflict and dispossession
In November 1834 Edward Henty settled near Portland, starting the movement of European settlers and their sheep, cattle, horses and bullocks across the Western plains of Victoria and the south east region of South Australia. Settlement occurred rapidly over the following two decades with significant frontier conflict taking place involving theft of sheep, spearings, massacres and poisoning of the natives.
According to Pendowen, Neenimin and Barakbouranu narrated to Christina Smith:
- We tasted the mutton, and found it very good ; but we buried the damper, as we were afraid of being poisoned.
In 1843 Henry Arthur joined his brother Charles in establishing a sheep run at Mount Schank. Trouble with Buandig people and dingoes, however, drove the Arthur brothers to sell up in 1844. The Hentys also had problems with their Mount Gambier sheep runs with theft of their sheep and shepherds speared to death in 1844. Such heavy losses occurred that the Henty's were forced to withdraw all their flocks from the Mount Gambier run, according to a report in the Portland Mercury on 24 April 1844. The Leake brothers on their Glencoe Station also reported problems losing 1000 sheep from their 16000 flock during 1845. Hostilities are reported to have continued around the Glenelg River region for the next two years.
Mistreatment of aborigines was at a level in 1845 where the commissioner of police drew attention to the atrocious treatment in the Rivoli Bay District:
- ... damper poisoned with corrosive sublimate … [and] driving the Natives from the only watering places in the neighbourhood. The Native women appear likewise to have been sought after by the shepherds, whilst the men were driven from the stations with threats.
In 1849 the Avenue Range Station Massacre occurred in the Mount Gambier region of South Australia. At least 9 indigenous Buandig Wattatonga clan people were allegedly murdered by the station owner James Brown who was subsequently charged with the crime. The case was dropped by the Crown for lack of European witnesses as blacks were unable to testify under oath. Christina Smith's source from the Wattatonga tribe refers to 11 people killed in this incident by two white men. The cause of the massacre was the theft of sheep for food.
A report by Mr Smith to Dr Moorhouse, the Protector of Aborigines, in April 1851 reveals that "the natives belonging to the Rivoli Bay Tribe (Buandig) are all quiet, and most of them usefully employed in one way or another by the settlers." The report also raises with concern that "infanticide has been and is still practiced among the natives here.", and "relations existing between native woman and the Europeans are very discreditable."
Even by 1854 settlers felt threatened by the Buandig people. The Leake Brothers of Glencoe Station erected 'Frontier House' in 1854 - a 'large homestead with slits in the walls through which rifles could be used against any likely intruder' according to local historian Les Hill.
Gradually a certain accommodation was made with Buandig people working as station hands, shearers and domestic servants while remaining on their own land.
According to Bell and Marsden, aboriginal people made encampments of wurleys on the edge of Kingston and even moved into cottages at Rosetown on Kingston's northern side in 1877. The people often moved camp seasonally gathering and using traditional foods and using the traditional local burial ground. They record that the Blackford Reserve on the Bordertown Road was another locality where aboriginal people lived until the 1970s. Kingston and Bordertown were the territorial border shared between the Buandig and the Ngarrindjeri.
In the Penola to Coonawarra area it was reported that the Buandig had lived in the region for tens of thousands of years but that the last local aborigines died in 1902.
There are many people in the region who identify as Buandig people today. Descendants of the Buandig and the Meintangk continue to nurture and protect their culture through the Kungari Aboriginal Cultural Association based in Kingston SE.
- Christina Smith, The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language, Spiller, 1880
- Ian D. Clark, Understanding the Enemy - Ngamadjid or Foreign Invader? Aboriginal perception of Europeans in Nineteenth Century Western Victoria, Monash University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Working Paper 73/98, November 1998. From Google scholar accessed 15 September 2011.
- Parks SA, Little Dip Conservation Park, Parks SA website. Accessed 14 September 2011
- Christina Smith, pp25-26 The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language, Spiller, 1880
- Foster, Robert, Richard Hosking, and Amanda Nettleback (2001), pp47, 77, 82, 83, 113, Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory, Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001 ISBN 1-86254-533-2 There are a number of reports of poisoned flour or damper being given or left for natives in the settlement of Victoria and South Australia at the time.
- pp101, Occasional papers in aboriginal studies, issues 12-15, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
- Leith Macgillivray, ‘We Have Found Our Paradise’: the South-East squattocracy, 1840-1870,
- Peter Bell and Susan Marsden, Kingston SE – An Overview History, sahistorians.org.au via Google Scholar. Accessed 14 September 2011. The quote is from Jenkin, Graham, Conquest of the Ngarrindjeri, Rigby, Adelaide, 1979, pp 63
- Foster, Robert, Richard Hosking, and Amanda Nettleback (2001), pp74-93, Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory, Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001 ISBN 1-86254-533-2
- Christina Smith, pp62, The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language, Spiller, 1880
- Christina Smith, pp36-37 The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language, Spiller, 1880
- Les R Hill, pp 26-29 Mount Gambier, A city around a cave, A regional history., Published by the author, 1972. 333 pp, photos.
- Peter Bell and Susan Marsden, Kingston SE – An Overview History, sahistorians.org.au via Google Scholar. Accessed 14 September 2011.
- Penola, The Age, 1 January 2009. Accessed 14 September 2011
- District Council of Robe, Aboriginal History, Accessed 14 September 2011