This video from Australia says about itself:
Protest march in Sydney June 21, 2008 to mark the first anniversary of the racist federal government intervention in Northern Territory remote Aboriginal communities.
By Mary Beadnell in Australia:
2 December 2008
The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police by Jonathan Richards is a valuable exposure of the systematic military-style violence employed against Aboriginal people in the Australian state of Queensland during the second half of the nineteenth century.
The Native Police force, which consisted of indigenous men, recruited and led by former British military officers, was used to crush indigenous resistance to the forcible acquisition of communal lands. The unit operated from 1859, when the self-governing colony of Queensland was proclaimed, until the onset of World War I in 1914.
Richards, a research fellow with the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas at Queensland’s Griffith University, spent 10 years working on The Secret War. He has drawn together information from a variety of sources—including police and public service records, personal letters, newspaper reports and letters to editors. His book, produced with the help of a dedicated team of archivists, librarians and other researchers, meticulously details the systematic terror used by the colonial authorities.
Capitalist development was in full swing when Queensland was proclaimed a colony. Land was being acquired at a rapid rate, sugar cane was being farmed across wide areas of the coastal region to the north of the major centre, Brisbane, and there were gold rushes in the north.
As The Secret War notes, the central object of capitalist colonisation was “the acquisition of land, minerals, timber and other resources”. The Queensland Native Police force was therefore instituted as part of a wider assault on Aboriginal people, a war of dispossession that began soon after British settlement of Australia, first in New South Wales in 1788 and then in Tasmania and Victoria.
The original Queensland unit was initiated under the control of the colony of New South Wales between 1848 and 1859, with Aboriginal troopers recruited from the Murray and Murrumbidgee districts in the south. Like its Victorian equivalent, the ostensible purpose of the Native Police force was the protection of frontier farmers or “squatters”; its principle role, however, was the suppression of all Aboriginal resistance.
The practice of recruiting Aborigines from areas distant to those being patrolled was in keeping with Britain’s divide-and-rule policies. Aborigines, moreover, were considered well suited to the job because, unlike the European settlers, they were able to operate in the most difficult of conditions, including the tropical swamps and impenetrable scrub of remote Queensland.
Another important consideration was that Aboriginal police could be paid a pittance. Recruitment, in fact, was based on the offer of a gun, a uniform, a horse and a small amount of money, and, where this didn’t appeal, at gunpoint. Not surprisingly, mass desertions were common, with many Native Police troopers tracked down after they had fled, and forced to return to their posts.
The Secret War provides numerous examples of the savagery perpetrated against Queensland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. For this reason, it is a gruelling and at times distressing book to read. On page 32, Richard writes:
“In 1890, the naked body of an Aboriginal girl aged 12 to 14 years was found at Albert River near Burketown. She had been ‘tied to a bar of iron with a wire rope at ankles, knees, waist, neck and wrists, two iron bullock-bows were through the arms’. According to one source, former Sub-Inspector William Armit ‘used crucified captives for target practice.
As Anzac Day approaches, campaigners want Australia’s war memorial to recognise the forgotten Aborigines killed by white settlers: here.
Ancient aboriginal art treasure threatened by industrial development: here.
Australian media whips up anti-refugee campaign after asylum seeker boat tragedy: here.
- How aboriginal poverty was created by Australian governments (fredleftwich.com)
- Good intent has always had bad outcomes for aboriginal people (fredleftwich.com)
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- DisabilityCare faces challenges as national scheme rolls out to Indigenous communities (abc.net.au)
- NACCHO good news story: Indigenous Australians honoured by Australian Post (nacchocommunique.com)
- NAIDOC week: f-ck the festivities, let’s talk politics (crikey.com.au)
- NACCHO political alert: What is the future of Aboriginal leadership and activism ? (nacchocommunique.com)