Henry Dana

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Henry E. Pultney Dana (1820–1852) established the Native Police Corps in the Port Phillip District (later Victoria) in 1842. Dana was born in England, his father being Captain William Pulteney Dana of the 6th Regiment. Henry Dana migrated to Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) in 1840, but in 1842 he relocated to the Port Phillip District where he renewed acquaintance with Superintendent Charles La Trobe, whom he knew in London. The two men became firm friends and Latrobe appointed Dana to establish a native police corps.[1]

Twenty-five Aborigines from various Gippsland tribes were enlisted at the depot at Narre Warren, and trained for mounted police duty by Dana and his second-in-command, Dudley Le Souef, under the general supervision of the assistant protector of Aborigines, William Thomas.[1] Dana's police force lasted longer than the original corps set up by Christiaan de Villiers in 1837, partly because Dana made some allowances for the Aborigines' traditional way of life. For example, during summer the troopers were generally allowed to rejoin their communities to take part in cultural activities.[2]

The Corps was controversial due to Dana's emphasis on the use of force, rather than arrest. For example, one trooper is reported to have said: "Captain say big one stupid catch them very good shoot them, you blackfellows, no shoot them me hand cuff you and send you to jail."[3] The Native Police Corps is estimated to have killed 125 indigenous Australians between 1835 and 1850.[4]

Dana made no real use of the tracking skills of his troops and used them in the more traditional role of mounted police. While they proved useful to the pastoralists who were rapidly taking over traditional Aboriginal land. Requiring Aborigines to arrest and even shoot down their own people proved demoralising for both sides.[1]

When the Gold Rush began in Victoria in 1851, the Native Police Corps was the only organised government force in the areas to which miners began to flock, and were used to enforce the authority of the early goldfields commissioners. However, Dana antagonised the gold diggers at Ballarat in September 1851 with his rigorous attempt to collect the first licence fees.[1]

On 24 November 1852 Dana died of pneumonia, having suffered severe exposure while on a search for bushrangers, and the corps was disbanded early in 1853. Dana was married and had four children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Norman, Marilynne I. "Dana, Henry Edward Pulteney (1820–1852)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  2. ^ "Dana's Native Police Corps (1842-1853)". Tracking the Native Police. Public Reacords Office Victoria. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  3. ^ "Conflicts in the Field, and Criticism of Methods (1843)". Tracking the Native Police. Public Records Office Victoria. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  4. ^ Ben Kiernan, 2008, Blood and Soil: Modern Genocide 1500-2000, Carlton, Melbourne University Press, p.295