Letter: Settlement deathsby Bruce BreslinNews Weekly
, November 3, 2001
Keith Windschuttle's views (History, News Weekly
, October 6) on the role of Aboriginal-European conflict in the period at and immediately after first contact have no basis in Australian history.
The shipwrecked sailor, James Morrill, spent 17 years living with the Aboriginal people in north Queensland (1846-63) and was an eyewitness to the conflict which occurred on the frontier.
In the published account of his life with the Aborigines (Sketch of a Residence
) published two months after he rejoined the settlers in 1863, Morrill reported the indiscriminate killing of his Aboriginal friends by the Native Mounted Police.
He spoke of the "shooting down of the tribe I had been living with" (p. 14) at Cape Upstart and the killing of about fifteen of his companions who had been on a fishing trip.
Rather than readily embrace the invaders, Morrill explained that the Aborigines were hoping for a flood in the coming wet season in 1863 which would "drown all the white troublers, with their horses, cattle and sheep". (Maryborough Chronicle
, March 19, 1863.)
When Morrill explained to the Aboriginal people that the well-armed white invaders had come to take away their land, his friends' last wish to him was to ask the whites "to let them have all the ground to the north of the Burdekin and to let them fish in the rivers" (Sketch of a Residence,
The answer was sent from the rifle and the Aborigines were left with no alternative but to rise and resist.
Windschuttle's assertion that Aboriginal resistance in defence of their land is simply ideology "derived from the anti-colonial movements of Asia and Africa in the 1950s and 60s" dismisses the evidence presented before the Australian public in the 1860s.Bruce Breslin
Trinity Beach, Qld