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Wp/nys/Moore River Native Settlement

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Moore River Settlement Hospital about 1920

The Moore River Native Settlement was established in 1918 by the West Australian Government at Mogumber, 50 kilometres south-west of Moora and near the source of the Moore River. The settlement was originally intended to accommodate 200 Noongar people commonly referred to as fringe dwellers in a sustainable farming settlement. During the early 1920’s however the role of Moore River Native Settlement changed from a Noongar farming community to the imprisonment of Aboriginal people from yennar over Western Australia. In 1951 it became Mogumber Mission, run by the Methodist Church from 1951 until 1974 when it closed.[1] The land was then taken over by an Aboriginal Land Trust. Currently the settlement is leased to the Wheatbelt Aboriginal Corporation and is known as Budjarra.

According to the "Bringing Them Home" report, the numbers at the camp swelled from 19 in January 1919, to 330 in June 1927 and 500 by the 1930s.[2]

Following the closure of the Carrolup Native Settlement, the residents were relocated to Moore River Native Settlement. See the section "The Stolen Generation" at the bibool "Carrolup Native Settlement".

Cemetery[edit | edit source]

There is a cemetery which lies in an overgrown part of the camp marked by a scattering of small, rusting iron crosses standing in the sandy ground and low scrub. Research, by the Western Australia's state 'Aboriginal History WA' unit, shows that most of the 374 people who died in the settlement were children and many succumbed to treatable respiratory and infectious diseases. The data shows the number of deaths peaked during periods of the 1920s, during the Great Depression, and during World War II when funding was scarce, showing that at times poor nutrition had contributed to the death rate. Deaths reduced markedly after 1951, when the WA government ceded control and Moore River became the Mogumber Methodist Mission.[2]

With typical humour, the children made up a song sung to the tune of "There is a Happy Land” by Andrew Young:[3]

There is a happy land
Far, far away
Where we get bread and scrape
Three times a day.
Bread and butter we never see
No sugar in our tea
While we are gradually
Starving away.

Punishment[edit | edit source]

A leather cat o' nine tails pictured with a U.S. dollar bill for size comparison.

Use of the cat o' nine tails for beatings continued at Moore River Native Settlement at least until 1940.[source?] Jack Davis was at Moore River Native Settlement as a child. In his play "No Sugar" which is partly set in the settlement, the seven month pregnant Mary Dargurru, rather than be sexually abused by the character Mr A. J. Neal (the Superintendent of Moore River Native Settlement), submits to being whipped by him with a cat o' nine tails whilst being held over a pile of flour bags by a black tracker to prevent her collapsing from the blows. This scene is based on documentation contained in the Moseley Royal Commission of 1934, where Noongar woman Annie Morrison describes how trackers would hold girls over a sack of flour while Mr Neal beat them until they wet themselves. The flour would then be given to Aboriginal people on the settlement to eat.[4]

The "Boob"[edit | edit source]

A corrugated iron shed — known by residents as "the Boob" — was used for punishment. Thought to measure 3.5 metres square, newspaper reports from the time indicate several people could have been locked in there for days at a time.[2] If caught escaping, people would be locked up in the "Boob" after being beaten. Children would be kept in isolation in the "Boob", in pitch darkness and with no sanitation facilities, for up to a fortnight.[3] What was worse, being kept in isolation or being packed in like sardines?

See also[edit | edit source]

Koorlingah Moore River Native Settlement - Some of the people incarcerated in the Moore River Native Settlement[edit | edit source]

Frank Nannup[edit | edit source]

Jack Davis[edit | edit source]

Gladys Martha Kelly, first wife of George Cyril Abdullah[edit | edit source]

Lorna Little[edit | edit source]

Queenie and Andy, parents of Ben Cuimermara Taylor[edit | edit source]

Edward "Ned" Mippy[edit | edit source]

Sam Dinah[3][edit | edit source]

Joan Saylor[3][edit | edit source]

Isobel Bropho[3][edit | edit source]

Kevin Barron and his mother Betty[2][edit | edit source]

Carmel Clare Ellis[2][edit | edit source]

Kenneth Morden[2][edit | edit source]

Jack and Maude Ranjal, first people held 25 May 25 1918[2][edit | edit source]

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Missions : Moore River Native Settlement". Kaartdijin Noongar - Noongar Knowledge. South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council. Retrieved 7 November 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Nicolas Perpitch. "A journey into 'hell on Earth' ". ABC News. 27 May 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "The story of Moore River Native Settlement : out of sight, out of mind". Lolobiblio. Web documentary. Published 23 September 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2019
  4. edited by Sue Hosking, Dianne Schwerdt (1999). "Extensions: Essays in English Studies from Shakespeare to the Spice Girls". Wakefield Press, Kent Town, SA 5071. Chapter - Aboriginalities: Jack Davis and Archie Weller. p. 146. ISBN 1 86254 498 0
  5. Doris Pilkington (1996). "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence". University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0-7022-3355-2