Wahlquist, Calla: Map of massacres of Indigenous people reveals untold history of Australia, painted in blood

Calla Wahlquist

Map of massacres of Indigenous people reveals untold history of Australia, painted in blood‘, Guardian Australia, 5 July 2017 updated

Reports a paper by Professor Lyndall Ryan (University of Newcastle) at the Australian Historical Association conference in Newcastle. Detailed research on massacres is starting to produce a map of massacres from 1794 on, using rigorous evidentiary criteria.

It is the untold history of Australia, painted in blood …

The accounts are brutal, and Ryan said the history they present will be upsetting to Indigenous Australians and is also likely to be quite confronting and traumatising to non-Indigenous Australians, who are often ignorant [of] this history.

“Aboriginal people, of course, know all about it, have always known all about it, and are deeply traumatised,” she said …

“I would like to hope that over the next five or 10 years there will be a much wider acceptance that this was a feature of colonial Australia, and it will change the way we think about Australia,” she said.

ABC report, including interview with Lyndall Ryan. More ABC. Fairfax. SBS. University of Newcastle, including the interactive map. Update 27 July 2018: more massacres reported, based on more recent research. More resources. Update 12 March 2019: thoughtful article by Ben Wilkie in Medium on massacres. Update 16 April 2019: Brendan Beirne photographs of massacre sites.

David Stephens of Honest History on Pearls and Irritations blog. The Pearls and Irritations piece was republished in Crikey and attracted some comments. Paul Daley, Guardian Australia. Henry Reynolds in Pearls and Irritations. Richard Broinowski in Pearls and Irritations has some international comparisons.

There is a mass of material on the Honest History website about the Frontier Wars and massacres. Either go to our ‘First Peoples’ thumbnail or use our Search engine with the terms ‘Frontier’ and ‘massacre’.

Update 22 June 2022: Progress in mapping massacres of First Nations people.

Paul Daley of Guardian Australia, one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, has a chapter in The Honest History Book, entitled ‘Our most important war: The legacy of frontier conflict’. It includes this key paragraph:

Australia should engage in a mature discussion about the conflicts that raged across the frontier and perhaps cost some 65 000 lives in Queensland alone – more than the 61 000 Australian deaths in World War I, the conflict that has so embedded itself in Australian consciousness. If settler Australia is ever to deal properly with frontier conflict and its continuing legacy, that body-count comparison would be a good place to start.

On the other hand, there is this alternative view of one Tasmanian incident. Keith Windschuttle some years ago is also relevant.

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