Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Wild blacks" and other interesting things

Useful comment from Will on my post The Australian Aborigines - problems with personal perceptions pointing me to a book I hadn't read. This deals with the work of Harry Lourandos and the intensification debate about the nature of change in Australian Aboriginal life during the Holocene period.

I said at the end of my brief response that I was trying to stand back to some degree from some of the academic debates with their broad sweep to focus just on Northern NSW. This is partly a matter of self protection, I don't know enough, partly because I feel that the narrower geographic focus is likely to lead me to ask different questions of the evidence.

Take, for example, the question of wild blacks or Myalls. This term was often used by European settlers to describe Aboriginal groups that were seen as still posing a threat. Use of the term moved with the frontier.

But the term or something like it also seems to have been used by the Aborigines. What, therefore, does it mean when used by an Aboriginal group?

Clement Hodgkinson's book Australia from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay (1845) is not just a travel yarn, but contains some fascinating material. My thanks to Sheila Pegum for sending me an excerpt published by Pilot Books on two of Hodgkinson's journeys from the Macleay Valley into the two adjoining then still unsettled river valleys.

Hodgkinson travelled with Aboriginal companions. The book provides some fascinating insights into relations between Aboriginal groups. But more on this will have to wait.

No comments: