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Bargwanna, Stephen: Australian War Memorial needs to tell stories of Frontier Wars in colonisation of Australia

Stephen Bargwanna

Australian War Memorial needs to tell stories of Frontier Wars in colonisation of Australia‘, Canberra Times, 29 July 2022 (pdf from our subscription)

The author is a descendant of WJ Wills of Burke and Wills fame, who died partly because he was ignorant of Indigenous culture. He is also a baby boomer, who realised how little he knew of Indigenous culture, in comparison with the knowledge held by his children and grandchildren.

He writes that reconciliation around Uluru would be helped by greater recognition of the Frontier Wars, the Aboriginal resistance, and its heroes like Pemulwuy, Tongerlongeter, and Jandamarra, people who ‘were truly heroic fighting with spears, woomeras, and clubs against the overwhelming power of guns, horsemen, police, and a military machine’. They shed blood for their land, just like the men and women whose names appear on the Roll of Honour at the War Memorial.

We have monuments scattered across the country to our war veterans and the dead in the 234 years of our settlement history. Let’s now find a place to tell the stories of those Aboriginal leaders and their people who fought the pioneer wars to preserve their 60,000 years occupation.

And the obvious place to do this is in the extensions to the War Memorial, currently being built. ‘What a great story this recognition of the Frontier Wars and its leaders would tell of Australia’s first defenders in the nation’s capital, at our War Memorial.’

The hard copy Canberra Times on page 38 carries the op ed under the headline ‘AWM needs to recognise Frontier Wars’. Honest History/Heritage Guardians campaign on this issue, including related material. The heading for our post is ‘Frontier Wars commemoration at the Australian War Memorial would express the Spirit of Uluru’, which is pretty much what Mr Bargwanna says.

David Stephens