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Invasion Day - Capt. Arthur Phillip raising the British flag at Sydney Cove, 26 January 1788
Sorry - On Invasion Day 2008

The Frontier Wars or Resistance Wars were a series of conflicts fought between Aboriginal Australians and European settlers that spanned a total of 146 years between 1788 and 1934.[1] The first fighting took place several months after January 26, 1788 (Invasion Day, sometimes called Australia Day). The First Fleet actually arrived at their original destination of Botany Bay between the 18 - 20 January, 1788, but Botany Bay was clearly unsuitable, so Invasion Day marks when Capt. Arthur Philip raised the British Flag in Sydney Cove.

In many cases Aboriginal people were massacred. The massacres are often ignored or at least downplayed by Wadjela. If the targeted Aboriginal clan has been scattered or silenced then the massacre may be just a footnote in history or even have passed into myth or legend. For example the Tasmanian composer Peter Sculthorpe's String Quartet no 14 "At Quamby Bluff" is in memory of the massacre of 100 Pallittorre people, part of the Northern Tribe of Aboriginal Tasmanians, at Quamby Bluff in 1827 - but the work is described on a webpage for a CD of the piece as being from "the legend of an Aboriginal massacre occurring at Quamby Bluff".[2] (N.B. Sculthorpe later adapted the piece for chamber orchestra "Quamby : for orchestra").[3] In the 1990s the so-called "History Wars" (see below) began where people such as Keith Windschuttle questioned whether so many of these killings and massacres had occurred. This is why the work being done by Prof Lyndall Ryan at the University of Newcastle to document the massacres of the Frontier Wars is so important.[4] So far only Eastern state sites have been recorded, but the project aims to move Westward.[5][6]

For Noongar the wars began sometime after the first European settlement of Western Australia, following the landing of an expedition led by Major Edmund Lockyer on 26 December 1826 on behalf of the New South Wales colonial government.[7] He established a convict-supported military garrison at King George III's Sound, at present-day Albany, and on 21 January 1827 formally took possession of the western third of the continent for the British Crown.[7] This was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of present-day Perth. Relations between Noongar and the military were generally kwop, trouble came later from the settlers. In December 1831 Yagan wer his father Midgegooroo led the first significant Noongar resistance to British settlement and the Swan River Colony. Noongar were massacred at the Kukenarup (Cocanarup Massacre) and the Pindjarup (Pinjarra) Massacre. The Noongar War was over before the end of the 19th century.

The Frontier Wars in the Kimberley were from 1890–1926, during what the colonial government called "Pacification", otherwise recalled as "The Killing Times", when a quarter of Western Australia's police force was deployed in the East Kimberley where only 1% of the white population dwelt.[8]. The last massacres were in 1926 at the Forrest River massacre in the Kimberley and in 1928 at the Yurrkuru (Coniston) massacre in the NT. The wars continued until 1934 in the Northern Territory.[1]

  • The Forrest River massacre occurred in June 1926. An initial police enquiry concluded that sixteen Aboriginal people were killed and their remains burnt. Subsequently, a Royal Commission in 1927 found that twenty Aboriginal people were murdered and burnt at several different locations. Forrest River Aboriginals specified that the massacres had taken place at five different sites, and a German scholar, Dr Helmut Reim, from interviews with three Aboriginal elders, concluded that between 80 and 100 Aboriginal people had been killed in the massacres on the Marndoc Reserve, of which the Forrest River Mission (later renamed the Oombulgurri Community) was a small part.[9] In October 2010, the government of Western Australia announced plans to close the community of Oombulgurri, as its population had decreased from 150 to less than 50. Shortly before Christmas 2011, the remaining residents were relocated to Wyndham.
  • Coniston Cattle Station in Central Australia was developed in 1923 because of a sustainable water supply, the station still thrives today. It is the site of the last massacre of the Frontier Wars at a place called Yurrkuru from 14 August to 18 October 1928. Owing to a severe drought, the traditional owners (people of the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre, and Kaytetye groups) gravitated towards their ancient water sources, which the pastoralists were using for their livestock. Conflicts soon arose. An official Wadjela report found 31 people were killed, but local Aboriginal people say the true number was closer to 170.[10][11]

For the impact of disease on Aboriginal populations see the section "The coming of the wadjela" on the page Wadjela.

Follow the next stage of the genocide in the story of Na-gein Koorloongar - Noongar Stolen Generations.

History Wars

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In 1992 with the Mabo Decision overturning the concept of Terra Nullius, the controversy over Australian land ownership erupted into the so-called "History Wars". One side in these history wars tried to downplay the number of Aboriginal people killed and minimise the culpability of the Wadjela perpetrators, see for example the book "Massacre Myth" by Rod Moran (1999), about the Forrest River massacre (see above).[12]

Another "cultural warrior" and revisionist historian in these history wars is Keith Windschuttle who seeks to minimise the traumas faced by Aboriginal people. In 2009 he wrote "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881–2008",[13] which seeks to argue that the Stolen Generations is a myth.[14] Previously he had written in 2002 "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803–1847",[15] which seeks to drastically reduce the figures for the Tasmanian Aboriginal death toll and claims their society was primitive, dysfunctional and on the verge of collapse, because of their maltreatment of their women.[16][17]

Robert Manne is a "cultural warrior" batting for the other side who edited the 2003 anthology "Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History"[18] as a rebuttal of Windschuttle.[17] Stuart Macintyre is another eminent historian who opposed Windschuttle's views and techniques who co-wrote with Anna Clark in 2003 the important book "The History Wars".[19] Windschuttle uses the typical approach of a revisionist historian by being selective and inconsistent with his sources, using "a loose reading of the work of those historians and a close reading of their treatment of massacres."[16]

See also the article "Museums, history and the creation of memory: 1970–2008" for a detailed view of the history wars as they affected Australian museums and their displays of Aboriginal history.[20]

Invasion Day or Survival Day or Australia Day or Day of Mourning?

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The 26 January is celebrated by some as Australia Day, or commemorated by others as Invasion Day or Survival Day or Day of Mourning. See this NITV article "Australia Day, Invasion Day, Survival Day: What's in a name?".[21]

The 26 January has been commemorated annually since 1938, the 150th anniversary of British annexation of Australia, as the "Day of Mourning". The Day of Mourning protest was originally organised by the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA).

There are bigger issues facing Aboriginal people today than the choice for Australia Day as the anniversary of the date of the annexation of Australia by Great Britain. However, it is incredibly insensitive to make that choice and until people come to see for themselves how insensitive it is then it is pretty clear Aboriginal people will be second class citizens in our own country. That the date needs to be moved is recognised by the West Australian newspaper, which ran an article "Comment: Australia Day should be an expression of national unity. January 26 is no longer that".[22] When the date is moved it might be better to have it on a particular Monday to make a long weekend holiday, and whilst we are about changing the date it would also be an opportunity to move the main Australian holiday season from the peak bushfire seasons of Birak and Bunuru to the cooler season Djeran, as suggested after the Black Summer bushfires of 2020.[23]

See also

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  • In 2012, a docu-drama film titled "Coniston" presented oral history and recollections of Aboriginal people, including descendants of massacred victims. Directed by David Batty and Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, it was aired throughout Australia by the ABC on 14 January 2013.[25]

See next

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Ngiyan waarnk - References

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Australian Frontier Wars". thrivalinternational (a de-colonization website). Retrieved 8 March 2019
  2. "TP206 Peter Sculthorpe The String Quartets, Vol. 3 Goldner String Quartet". Tall Poppies Records. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  3. "Quamby : for orchestra". Australian Music Centre. Retrieved 14 April 2019
  4. "Professor Lyndall Ryan". University of Newcastle. Retrieved 13 February 2019
  5. Bridget Brennan 2017. "New map records massacres of Aboriginal people in Frontier Wars". ABC News. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017
  6. Bridget Brennan 2018. "Map of Indigenous massacres grows to include more sites of violence across Australia". ABC News. 27 July 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 "King George's Sound Settlement". State Records Authority of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 March 2019
  8. Rachel Perkins, Marcia Langton (2010). "First Australians". The Miegunyah Press. p.xxi
  9. Loos, Noel (2007). "White Christ black cross: The emergence of a Black church". Aboriginal Studies Press. p 105. ISBN 978-0-855-75553-9
  10. Tim JAPANGARDI. "Yurrkuru-kurlu". Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages. Story in Warlpiri and English. Retrieved 10 March 2019
  11. Steven Schubert. "Coniston Massacre anniversary sparks push to create day of remembrance and formal apology". ABC News. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2019
  12. Rod Moran (1999). "Massacre myth : an investigation into allegations concerning the mass murder of Aborigines at Forrest River, 1926". Access Press. ISBN 0864451245
  13. Keith Windschuttle (2009). "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three: The Stolen Generations 1881–2008". Macleay Press
  14. Dr Naomi Parry. "Debunking Windschuttle's benign interpretation of history". 12 February 2008. Archived 16 February 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  15. Keith Windschuttle (2002). "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803–1847". Macleay Press
  16. 16.0 16.1 Macintyre, Stuart (2003). "Reviewing the History Wars". Labour History Vol. 85. pp 213–215. doi:10.2307/27515939. "It works by a loose reading of the work of those historians and a close reading of their treatment of massacres."
  17. 17.0 17.1 Robert Manne. "The introduction to the major rebuttal of Keith Windschuttle". Evatt Foundation. Archived 15 April 2005. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  18. Manne, R., ed. (2003). "Whitewash. On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History". Pub. Black Inc. Agenda,Melbourne. ISBN 0-9750769-0-6
  19. Stuart Macintyre, Anna Clark (2003). "The History Wars". Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0-522-85091-X
  20. Margaret Anderson. "Museums, history and the creation of memory: 1970–2008". National Museum Australia. Understanding Museums. Retrieved 8 March 2019
  21. Karina Marlow. "Australia Day, Invasion Day, Survival Day: What's in a name?". NITV. 24 Jan 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2019
  22. Gareth Parker. "Comment: Australia Day should be an expression of national unity. January 26 is no longer that". The Western Australian. 25 January 2020. Paywall. Retrieved 26 January 2020
  23. David Bowman. "As bushfire and holiday seasons converge, it may be time to say goodbye to the typical Australian summer holiday". The Conversation. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020
  24. "The Killing Times: the massacres of Aboriginal people Australia must confront". The Guardian, Australia Edition. Special Report. Retrieved 9 June 2019
  25. "Coniston". ABC Television. Synopsis. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2019