Daley, Paul: The legacy reverberates: how a repulsive image reminds us of our ugly past

Paul Daley

The legacy reverberates: how a repulsive image reminds us of our ugly past‘, Guardian Australia, 19 June 2017

Riffs off Every Mother’s Son is Guilty: Policing the Kimberley Frontier of Western Australia 1882-1905, by Chris Owen, the cover of which shows one hundred Indigenous prisoners, chained by the neck, at Wyndham in the late 19th century. Owen’s book, says Daley, impels us to ‘ask ever more questions about a frontier in which so many famous, long dead, white pioneering figures are still eulogised as rugged egalitarian heroes when they might more appropriately be remembered as complicit in extrajudicial killings of Indigenous people’. As well, they ‘amassed fortunes off proceeds of what often amounted to slavery’.

Daley – and Owen – note the elisions and omissions in popular narratives of rural Western Australia, notably those by Mary Durack. The euphemism ‘dispersal’, meaning ‘killing’ is but one example. The Honest History website has many resources on massacres and ill-treatment of Indigenous Australians. Just use our Search engine with appropriate search terms, or scroll through the items under the thumbnail ‘First Australians’.

Paul Daley’s chapter in The Honest History Book is called ‘Our most important war: The legacy of frontier conflict’. The chapter asks why frontier conflict has been glossed over in our mostly Anglo-Celtic presentation of history.

 

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