Flash of Recognition: Photography and the Emergence of Indigenous Rights

Inspired by the shocking photograph of two Aboriginal men in neck-chains on the cover of Charles Rowley's 1970 classic, The Destruction of Aboriginal Society, this original and highly illustrated book uses photography to tell the bigger story of the struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia. While many of the images are confronting, it shares the positive story of the way in which photography has been used as a tool for change and to argue for recognition of a shared humanity. Starting at the turn of the 20th century and continuing to the Northern Territory Intervention in the present.

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T h e Fl ash o f R ecog n it ion

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T he F l ash o f Rec o g n i tion Pho tograp hy and the emer gence o f Ind igenous rights

Jane Lydon

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For Tim A NewSouth book

Published by NewSouth Publishing University of New South Wales Press Ltd University of New South Wales Sydney NSW 2052 AUSTRALIA newsouthpublishing.com © Jane Lydon 2012 First published 2012 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Inquiries should be addressed to the publisher. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Author: Lydon, Jane, 1965– Title: The flash of recognition: photography and the emergence of indigenous rights/ Jane Lydon. ISBN: 9781742233284 (pbk) 9781742241227 (epub) 9781742246123 (epdf) Subjects: Aboriginal Australians – Land tenure – Pictorial works. Aboriginal Australians – Social condition – Pictorial works. Dewey Number: 333.20994

Design Di Quick Cover photograph Mervyn Bishop Printer 1010, China Warning: This book may contain sometimes confronting historical images of Aboriginal people, as well as photographs and names of people who have passed away. Where possible, their use has been discussed with the relatives concerned and permission has been granted. Nevertheless, the book should be used with care by Indigenous Australians. All reasonable efforts were taken to obtain permission to use copyright material reproduced in this book, but in some cases copyright could not be traced. The author welcomes information in this regard. This book is printed on paper using fibre supplied from plantation or sustainably managed forests.

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Co n t e nt s Acknowledgments

7

1: Bearing witness

11

2: Behold the tears

37

3: A veil of convention 4: We are eagles

63

100

5: Aboriginal Overlanders 6: Looking is deadly

140 174

7: Gather round people, let me tell you a story 8: Out of sight and out of mind? References

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222

264

284

Notes

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Index

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acknowledgmen t s

This has been a difficult book to write. I wish to express my gratitude and love to friends and colleagues who have responded honestly and kindly along this gruelling journey, even where they did not, perhaps, share my sense of its importance. In particular, I thank the many Aboriginal people who have generously responded to my questions and requests. Photographs are powerful and subjective objects and I have learnt a tremendous amount from Indigenous colleagues whose research has shown me how the personal and intellectual histories of these images are integrally entwined. Research was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant and a Future Fellowship and has benefited from the research environment offered by the Monash Indigenous Centre at Monash University. I thank Sari Braithwaite for her imaginative assistance in locating archival evidence, as well as Zena Cumpston and Eve Vincent for their research assistance. Camille Nurka provided excellent editing skills at a crucial stage, and Alison Moodie oversaw the final stages. At NewSouth I thank Phillipa McGuinness for her support and encouragement, also Uthpala Gunethilake and Di Quick. Thanks to Richard McGregor for his meticulous indexing. I am honoured to have Mervyn Bishop’s specially commissioned photograph on the cover. For comments on chapter drafts, I am deeply grateful to Fay Anderson, Liz Conor, Isobel Crombie, Ann Curthoys, Neville Green, Melinda 7

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Hinkson, Melissa Miles, Roslyn Poignant, Sue Taffe, Mitchell Rolls and Deane Williams. For their support I thank my Monash colleagues John Bradley, Lynette Russell, Jane Carey, Beverly Thomson, Shannon Faulkhead, Gwenda Baker, Susie Protschky and Christina Twomey. For discussion and advice at various junctures I am grateful to Jock Given, Joanna Sassoon, Penny Edmonds, Heather Goodall, Lisa Milner, Mary Flynn, Donna Oxenham, Lawrence Bamblett, Richard Broome, Nicolas Peterson and Graham Smith. For moral/cultural permissions and advice I acknowledge the great generosity of June Barker, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Rachel Perkins, Brenda L Croft, Mervyn Bishop, Djon Mundine, Qawanji Ngurku Jawiyabba (Vincent Brady), the Northern Land Council (Victoria River Downs), Daryl Smith, Floyd Grant, Nancy Harrison, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre at Nhulunbuy, Agnes Abbott, Kevin Namatjira, Tiriki Onus, David Warapuwuy, Suzanne Ingram, Andy Tjilari, Arron of the Collarenebri Local Aboriginal Land Council. For copyright assistance and permissions I especially thank Robert McFarlane, Jon Rhodes, Ben Tweedie, Michael Aird, Brook Andrew, Roslyn Poignant, Rolf de Heer, Shaike Snir and Yosl Bergner, Chris Coomer, Peter Yanada McKenzie, Jason Wing, Will Stubbs, Thierry Thivisol, Perpetua Durack Clancy and Michael F Clancy, Dorothy Wiliyawuy, John Dallwitz, Dora Dallwitz and Linda Rive of the Ara Irititja Project, Roanna and Darin of Tranby Aboriginal College, Peter Tybingoompa, the Aurukun Shire Council and Esme Bamblett of the Aborigines’ Advancement League and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia. Many individuals have been remarkably kind and helpful, above and beyond their professional roles. I thank the delightful Maggie Finch, Isobel Crombie and Jennie Moloney of the National Gallery of Victoria; Lindy Allen, Heather Gaunt, Jason Gibson and Philip Batty at Museum Victoria; Gael Newton and Nick Nicholson at the National Gallery of Australia; Richard Dodd, Jane Hodson, Rebecca Koser and David Avery of the Central Land Council; Denis French, Almaz Berhe and David Kaus of the National Museum of Australia; staff of the National Library of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. I also thank the Taylor & Francis Group for permission to draw from three articles, originally published as ‘Behold the Tears: Photography as Colonial Witness’, History of Photography, vol. 34, no. 3, 2010; ‘Photography and the 8

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Recognition of Indigenous Australians: Framing Aboriginal Prisoners’, Australian Historical Studies, 2012; and ‘Bullets, Teeth and Photographs: Recognising Indigenous Australians between the Wars’, History of Photography, 2012. Most of all I thank my family, and especially Roy, Dash and Tim.

A u thor’s note: Tec h ni c al i s s u es I use both ‘Aboriginal people’ and ‘Indigenous people’ to refer to the original inhabitants of this continent. The noun ‘Aborigine’ has fallen out of favour as being overly determinist, and I use the currently preferred adjective ‘Aboriginal’, denoting simply one aspect of a person’s identity. The spelling of ‘Indigenous’ follows the Australian federal government Parliamentary Counsel, Drafting Direction No 2.1 on English usage, which calls for capitalising ‘Indigenous’ when it refers to the original inhabitants of Australia but no capitals when used in a general sense to refer to the original inhabitants of other countries.1 Where I have reproduced certain historical terms that are now deemed offensive in their original context, I have done so in order to make specific historical arguments. I signify their origin and my distance from them through the use of quotation marks.

ac k nowl e dgm e nts

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1: B e a r i n g w it n e s s

B e aring witn e ss

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Failure to bear witness may be even more unendurable than the act of recollection. WJT Mitchell, Picture Theory, 1994

Every Koori I know would kill for a photo of their grandmother they lost. Ask a Koori person: ‘What’s more important? The photos or the diamonds?’ La Perouse photographer Peter Yanada McKenzie

This book explores the role of photography in prompting recognition of Indigenous Australians and in campaigning for Indigenous rights. I want to start by considering an image I first encountered as a student, around 15 years ago, on the cover of Charles Rowley’s The Destruction of Aboriginal Society (see page 33).1 It shows two Aboriginal prisoners chained to one another by heavy metal neckchains. They look gravely at the camera and at us. This image had a profound impact on me. It showed me, beyond any doubt, that chaining Indigenous people by the neck was a historical practice – something I hadn’t known before – but it also affected me viscerally, emotionally. It aroused my pity and anger on behalf of those men. —— I realised a few years ago that I was not alone in my response. Photographs of neck-chained Aboriginal prisoners have, in recent decades, become a symbol of colonial injustice, used by white and Indigenous people as shorthand for a 12

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larger history of oppression. As mainstream Australia becomes more willing to acknowledge Indigenous experience, these images are seen as graphic evidence that colonisation’s impact was cruel and unequivocal. In these more recent uses the photograph of the chained Aboriginal prisoner has become a significant way of remembering the colonial past. To take just three examples: the image of the neck-chained prisoner features conspicuously in the film, The tracker, directed in 2002 by Rolf de Heer, to highlight the invincibility of the Aboriginal hero (see page 34). Played by David Gulpilil, the chained prisoner ultimately escapes and defeats his captors, triumphing over colonial racism. The chains act to signify injustice and colonial oppression, thrown off at the film’s climax in a kind of parable of reconciliation. —— Similarly, a painted detail, based on a photograph taken in 1906 by Hermann Klaatsch, features in a large street mural at the Aborigines’ Advancement League in Northcote, Melbourne (see page 35). Artist Megan Evans researched and designed this mural in 1984–85, in collaboration with members of the Koori community, including Les Griggs, Ray Thomas, Millie Yarran and Ian Johnson. Alongside a range of images from across Australia’s history that project Indigenous strength, here the chained prisoner has become a pan-Aboriginal symbol of injustice and identity. —— My third example comes from the 2008 historical documentary, First Australians, directed by Rachel Perkins.2 Its fifth episode tells the story of assimilation policies in Western Australia, including the experience of men arrested for cattle-killing. As the camera moves slowly over a photo of a dozen neck-chained Aboriginal prisoners from Rottnest Island prison in Western Australia, we hear the voice of Indigenous academic Marcia Langton, narrating the scene. ‘Try to imagine the thoughts of one man, in one of these chained gangs, who walked thousands of kilometres across Western Australia, to an almost certain death. It must have been an absolutely terrifying experience.’ B e aring witn e ss

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I have since looked at these images so often that it is hard to recapture exactly my initial feelings. But I am reminded of them sometimes when I show these images to others. Some viewers react as I did – they wince, or turn their heads away. The physical blow of this picture registers clearly on their bodies, as it did on mine. So, as a historian, I found myself wondering whether these images had been used to prompt such responses in the colonial past. I assumed that they would have provoked a reaction, similar to my own, of empathy and outrage on behalf of the prisoners. However, when I examined their historical circulation and reception I found that this was not the case. In 1905, for example, at the time of the Roth inquiry into Aboriginal conditions in Western Australia, these images were seen by mainstream settler society as evidence for safeguarding progress and for a threat contained, as chapter 2 explores. So my question then became, how and when did these images assume their present power to confront and shock us? And more broadly, how did photographs of Aboriginal people come to be seen as evidence for a shared humanity, and to be used in arguments for the better treatment of Aboriginal people? The resulting story traces the development of mainstream Australia’s growing recognition of Aboriginal people as human beings, who are entitled to be treated that way. I also pursue a number of related questions: How have photographs aroused empathy with Indigenous suffering and discrimination, and moved viewers to action on their behalf? What have been the limitations of these ways of seeing? And how have they changed over time? In our own generation, photography has come to hold a privileged place as proof of distant events – such as the death of a foreign terrorist, or the plight of victims of natural disaster. The power of the image, both to create empathy and to prove what is, has made it an essential tool in the hands of humanitarians and human rights activists attempting to intervene in distant wars or tragedies. Yet such visual strategies have drawn strong criticism for dehumanising their subjects, for effacing the abstract causes that lie behind a situation, for pretending that we all belong to a single human family, or even for inciting the violence they record. One example of photography’s dual power to elicit or to halt violence comes from Bangladesh in 1971, during the war of independence from Pakistan. Two days after the Pakistani army surrendered, Bihari prisoners were paraded before 14

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a crowd at the Dhaka race track by the Bengali Liberation Army. A group of foreign journalists were among the spectators, including Magnum photo-journalist Marc Riboud, as the soldiers began to torture their prisoners in a most horrible way. Riboud felt that this spectacle was being performed for the benefit of the foreign photographers and found himself unable to take pictures. He later said, ‘I could not photograph such a scene behind the torturers, taking no risk.’ He left without taking any photographs, but instead arranged an audience with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in Delhi. In due course the photos of the event were published – on the front page of the New York Times, for example – and gained Horst Faas and Michael Laurent a Pulitzer Prize in 1972. When Riboud was ushered into Gandhi’s presence he sat quietly, unable to say anything, not knowing where to start: ‘I could not even tell the story of the blood or what I saw.’ But Gandhi herself finally broke the silence and told him that she already knew why he



The photograph may prove oppression and arouse us to take action but may be profoundly complicit with injustice.

was there, because she had seen the photos; she said that they shamed India before the world and she assured him that something would be done.3 The pictures of torture at Dhaka were complicit in the violence – the presence of foreign photographers may even have incited the soldiers to cruelty – but they also served to reveal it to the world and so prompted intervention. This rather extreme example throws photography’s ambivalent powers into sharp relief: the photographic image may prove oppression and arouse us to take action yet, at the same time, it may be profoundly complicit with injustice. As I explore further, over the twentieth century the power of images of suffering to shock has steadily increased. At the same time, however, such uses have been criticised for their ambivalent powers – seeming to numb or, conversely, entertain us as often as they move us to act. B e aring witn e ss

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Vi s i b i li ty For most non-Indigenous Australians, ideas about Aboriginal people have always been formed through images and narratives, rather than relationships with real people. This is a function of distance – both geographic and social – as well as the minority status of Indigenous people, who make up a little over 2 per cent of the population. As Marcia Langton famously argued in 1993: 4 The densest relationship is not between actual people, but between white Australians and the symbols created by their predecessors. Australians do not know and relate to Aboriginal people. They relate to stories told by former colonists.

She also pointed out that ‘Aboriginality’ is a ‘field of intersubjectivity’ that is ‘remade over and over again in a process of dialogue, of imagination, of representation and interpretation. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people create “Aboriginalities”’.5 This shared space of meaning continues to determine intercultural relations, as Indigenous Australia for the most part remains inaccessible to non-Indigenous people. In Australia, historians of photography have tended to emphasise the medium’s role in exploiting and distancing its Indigenous subjects. Quite correctly, they have shown how ideas of primitivism structured the ways that photos of Aboriginal people were circulated and viewed in Australia and around the world, particularly during the 19th century. Even before Darwinism became scientific orthodoxy, ideas that Aboriginal people were ‘humanity’s childhood’ were prevalent, and photography often argued for their status as living remnants of Stone-Age man, doomed to give way before Western civilisation. We all know these images: neatly dressed children lined up before the mission dormitory; naked bodies posed for the camera as if they were scientific specimens.6 Blinded by the logic of colonisation, settlers were often unable to recognise the experience of Indigenous people recorded in visual imagery. However, another aspect of this history has been overlooked; that is, the ways that the medium has been called upon specifically to argue on behalf of Aboriginal people to reveal Aboriginal suffering to mainstream Australia, to 16

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demonstrate Aboriginal humanity, and to urge their treatment with respect and equality. Visual evidence has much to offer historians as Australians have in recent years become increasingly prepared to examine our colonial past. By understanding past visual cultures, and the ways that photographs and other visual media were given meaning within particular historical and cultural frameworks, we may better understand how ideas about Aboriginal people, white people and the nation were disseminated among large audiences. We gain insight into the relationship between ‘expert’ views of Aboriginal people, such as those advanced by anthropologists, missionaries and government officials, and popular attitudes. Was reform triggered by individual humanitarians – obsessives and outsiders – as has been suggested by some historians, or was it the more complex effect of global and local cultural changes, including in the visual sphere, with the dissemination of new ideas and images? More fundamentally, was mainstream white Australian ignorance of Indigenous suffering a matter of not knowing, or not caring? Ultimately, invisibility is the easiest form of racism.7 This question of the visibility, or mainstream acknowledgment of Aboriginal conditions, was framed by historian Henry Reynolds as ‘why weren’t we told?’8 – a question criticised by some as masking the more accurate formulation, ‘why didn’t we want to know?’. In 1968, anthropologist WEH Stanner argued that white disregard of Indigenous experience was ‘a structural matter, a view from a window which has been carefully placed to exclude a whole quadrant of the landscape’.9 His powerful visual metaphor captured the role of interpretive frameworks in shaping what a society allows itself to see, or rather, how it understands what it sees. ‘Recognition’ denotes a process of comprehension that relies upon visibility, and which conflates knowledge and vision in a fashion typical of the Western tradition.10 Stanner’s ‘window’ evokes the importance of recognition as a process that is profoundly visual, yet his metaphor was also literally true – even today it is hard for most Australians to see what goes on in ‘remote’ regions. This is one of photography’s contributions to our understanding of the colonial past; despite the complex and sometimes destructive ways that photographs have been interpreted and deployed, they have also allowed urban audiences to virtually witness the treatment of Indigenous people, and enabled stories of injustice to take hold of the popular imagination. B e aring witn e ss

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Nonetheless, as I show in this book, recognition is never transparently beneficial for Indigenous people, and may require them to comply with impossible ideals.11 To be considered authentically Indigenous, they must be exotic and ‘other’, as signs of transformation are perceived as evidence for loss of identity. Yet by the same token, such difference is often construed as primitivism and incapacity, becoming the rationale for intervention and control. Recognition requires that Aboriginal people assume specific forms of culture and identity that are acceptable to mainstream Australian society.

E m pathy a nd m e No ‘we’ should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people’s pain. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003

The story of how Aboriginal people have come to be recognised by settler Australians is also relevant to international debates about the development of a visual language of human rights. For centuries, observers have noted that to feel empathy with distant suffering we must somehow be brought into proximity with its victims. By empathy I refer to the recognition of another’s emotional state and, to a degree, identification with it. (Empathy overlaps considerably with sympathy, but entails a greater depth of emotional involvement. Given the endless debate about these terms, I prefer to use them broadly and more-or-less interchangeably.) Humanitarian narratives emerged during the late 18th century as part of a culture of sentimentalism and the growing moral expectation that one should care about others. Such narratives often relied on detailed accounts of the suffering body, in an attempt to move the viewer from feeling to action. By the late 19th century, the term ‘humanitarian’ had come into use.12 Historians of human rights have shown that in many contexts humanitarians successfully deployed graphic scenes of distress as a powerful prompt to sympathy – contributing to the abolition of slavery, for example – yet the very intensity of such images often became suspect for their titillating and anaesthetising effects, serving to distance, rather than embrace, the subject.13 18

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Ultimately, some have concluded, humanitarianism itself relies upon a notion of the human that is partial, limited and exclusive. Lynn Festa, for example, argues that ‘[t]he subject produced by sentimental antislavery is granted only a diluted form of humanity grounded in pain and victimhood, a humanity that lasts only as long as the recognition of the metropolitan subject who bestows it’, creating a divide between viewer and the imagined object of sympathy.14 Marcus Wood’s analysis of the imagery deployed by the anti-slavery movement also concludes that slaves were represented as passive beneficiaries of white compassion, reflecting abolitionist perceptions of black men and women as human, but not equals.15 These scholars suggest that humanitarian narratives have acted as a potent mechanism for the distribution of power, including the power to justify when and where to intervene, and who is deserving of the ‘gift’ of rights. Such limitations also reveal that despite the close historical and intellectual relationship between ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘human rights’, these are distinct and sometimes incommensurable concepts.16 Human rights are conceived as those rights all human beings have just by virtue of being human, while Indigenous Australians have argued for distinctive rights as the original peoples of this land, including the right to a distinct status and culture, the right to self-determination, and the right to land.17 While rights are often secured through an appeal to the humanitarian principle of ending unnecessary suffering, these orientations may exist in tension, as exemplified by the slave owner who campaigns for the kinder treatment of slaves or, conversely, the abolitionist who nonetheless submits to the apparatus of slavery in order to buy and free the enslaved. Such concerns have only multiplied in an intensified global visual culture that places ever more weight upon photographic evidence for distant suffering. Photos excite empathy. Photos bring their subject closer and allow the misrecognition of ourselves in another’s suffering – a form of visual recognition that is central to a concept of humanity. Yet just as with humanitarianism itself, visual narratives of suffering may act to reduce and distance the sufferer or appropriate their pain. Many argue that such identification effaces racial difference, denies agency to the sufferer or gives the viewer a feeling of benevolent largesse that never actually changes anything. For centuries, the balancing act of empathy has been viewed with suspicion for straying too far toward sensationalism, even pornography or, B e aring witn e ss

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alternatively, for blunting sensibility and allowing us to consume suffering as spectacle … and then put it aside. Since the 1970s in particular, critics have scornfully termed images of suffering ‘victim photography’, and judged them to have shored up the status quo. This hostile interpretive tradition has emphasised photography’s tendency to distance its subjects, providing titillating visions of another world and its alien inhabitants.18 Over recent years, an interpretive shift has occurred in ways of seeing documentary images of violence or suffering, as a renewed interest has emerged in the ways that images can move us, through creating empathy and a sense of ‘common humanity’. Despite the anti-humanist critique of such notions, we continue to believe in the idea of a universal humanity that forms the basis for empathy. This was the rationale for The Family of Man, Edward Steichen’s 1955 blockbuster photography exhibition depicting the common experience of humankind through themes such as birth, work, family, education, children, war and peace, privation, illness and death. Yet Roland Barthes criticised the exhibition for effacing difference and naturalising the status quo, and suggested, ‘[W]hy not ask the parents of Emmet Till, the young Negro assassinated by the Whites what they think of The Great Family of Man?’ Where their son had been tortured and murdered because he was black in the Jim Crow south, how could they not see the differences and inequalities that divide humanity? But more recently Courtney Baker has argued with respect to the lynching of Emmet Till, now acknowledged to have been a key event in prompting the African–American civil rights movement, that the mechanics of visual recognition are central to a concept of humanity. When Till’s mother courageously insisted that images of her mutilated son be shown around the world, they generated feelings of shock and sympathy that had concrete political effects. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that empathy is produced within networks of power relations that enmesh both viewer and image. Images of Indigenous Australians frequently express the white photographer’s preoccupations and desires even as they appear to record Indigenous experience. Continuing inequalities are bolstered by assumptions of benign whiteness, where a supposedly universal human experience is in practice defined by the privileged white.19 Sara Ahmed has recently explored the politics of affect, or emotions, 20

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with respect to past national wrongs, arguing that empathy and other emotions may have the unfortunate effect of allowing citizens to draw a line between past and present, victim and self; that is, to once again distance the victim and sustain the ‘violence of appropriation’. For Ahmed, forms of ‘fellow-feeling’ such as charity and compassion involve fantasy in that ‘one can “feel for” or “feel with” others, but this depends on how I “imagine” the other already feels’.20 What is dangerous, however, is that feeling bad about the other’s suffering allows the West to forget its complicity in creating the conditions that caused the suffering. Australians’ expressions of shame about the past – such as the ‘Sorry Books’ that followed the public revelation of the history of the Stolen Generations – are acts that Ahmed argues align one with other well-meaning individuals and transfer bad feeling to the subject of shame, quickly allowing one to move on, absolved. Expressing shame becomes evidence of the ‘restoration of an identity of which we can be proud’.21 Where structural disadvantage continues, this closure is troubling; instead we must acknowledge that historical injustice lives on in present suffering. Despite the mistrust many have expressed toward imagery, feeling sympathetic does not inevitably entail distancing the image’s subjects, nor closing off the past. The politics of these emotions depend upon how they are experienced and deployed. Guiding questions for my research have therefore been: Who benefits from the production of empathy and in what circumstances? Who should feel empathy for whom? What change has such imagery brought about? While empathy may do little but make the viewer feel benevolent and shore up inequalities, conversely it may also be radically unsettling. It may entail action and intervention. As I show through historical examples throughout this book, it may lead to acknowledgment of past and present inequalities, with the effect of bringing about change.

Bea ri ng wi tnes s As a middle class, white academic, I am wary of either distancing or appropriating the experience of Indigenous people through the identification afforded by photography, but I also consider that photos provide a means for the radical B e aring witn e ss

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interrogation of white privilege. I believe we should acknowledge moments of compassion with the potential for change, lest we lose hope in the possibility of reconciliation and justice in the present. I have written this book because I think that through the act of ‘bearing witness’, we further our understanding of these processes and counter historical amnesia – the desire to forget difficult pasts and to pretend that they have left no legacy in the present.22 Where aspects of the Australian past continue to be contested, it seems to me that visual evidence creates a proximity and truth that refuses to be denied. Photographs insist on our obligation to the past, summoning it into our present and keeping it alive. Conversely, the failure to bear witness entails a choice to forget the past and its victims, which thereby remain distant and invisible. I adopt an approach to the past that emphasises its usefulness in the present. I’m with Meaghan Morris in arguing for ‘critical proximity’, a relationship between a lived past and its representation, that aims to effect change. Such history entails some self-reflection and consideration of one’s own context and motives.23 As many have pointed out, while living white Australians did not participate personally in colonisation, nonetheless we continue to benefit from its results every day. This is reason enough to seek a history that will make us question ourselves; or, in Greg Dening’s gnomic voice: ‘The dead need history for the voice it gives them. The living need history, not to be made to feel guilty for a past they are not responsible for or cannot change. The living need a history disturbing enough to change the present.’24 A crucial aspect of photography’s affect is its realism – our awareness of the medium’s dual character as reality and unreality, its ambiguities and contextual shifts in meaning, have not succeeded in undermining its status as proof. Crimes demand evidence and a photograph is a witness that cannot be dismissed. John Taylor, for example, questions what might have happened to our memory of events such as the Holocaust if photographic evidence had been sanitised or restricted by considerations of civility and good taste, or if such images ceased to circulate, or were never seen in the first place. He asks, ‘What would it mean for civility if representations of war crimes were always polite? If prurience is ugly, then what is discretion in the face of barbarism?’25 I believe all Australians have an obligation to remember the colonial past and understand its legacies in the present. In choosing to look at photographs 22

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that document difficult pasts, we participate in a form of remembrance that some argue is both an ethical act and a sign of cultural maturity. However, such imagery also raises ethical issues that are especially pertinent in Australia today, where Indigenous communities demand control over the display and use of photographs of their ancestors. Such images were often produced within unequal power relations and were used to exploit or control Indigenous people, and there is a risk of reproducing these degrading effects – perhaps looking will implicate us in the violence and aggression that produced the image or re-animate the degradation and misery of the historical, photographed, moment. Perhaps our viewing of this image will cause distress to the subjects’ living relatives, black and white. These risks are very real, even a century later. The capacity for images to ‘bear witness’ is compromised by their implication within these power relations, as well as by respect for traditional restrictions on knowledge, as I discuss further. Yet ‘bearing witness’ is also important to the negotiation of Indigenous identity by Indigenous people themselves, and to the work of remembrance. Since the 1970s, Australian visual culture has been shaped by a distinctive and powerful convergence of anxieties about picturing Indigenous subjects. These fears often concern the photographed person’s rights to privacy and dignity, and are shared by many across a global photographic community. Such rights may be breached by the display of historical images that dehumanise or degrade their subjects. In 2011 I was criticised by an Aboriginal woman for displaying such an image in a public talk, in a salutary reminder of their power to stir emotions in the present. But disquiet also stems from the peculiarly Australian fear of breaching practices within many traditional Indigenous Australian cultures that restrict knowledge or disclosure. Diverse Indigenous cultural protocols surrounding viewing are important and sensitive and, traditionally, access along such axes as gender, seniority and ‘sorrow’ (mourning) were intended both to protect people from spiritual power as well as to maintain social authority.26 One case during the 1970s brought these matters to national attention. Between 1932 and his death in 1978, anthropologist Ted Strehlow was given a large number of secret-sacred objects (tjurunga) by Arrernte men of Central Australia, and amassed a significant collection of associated documentation. Unfortunately, in 1978, photographs that he had sold to a German magazine were re-published in the Australian B e aring witn e ss

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People Magazine in an article titled ‘Secrets of the Arandas’, with the result of offending and angering Arrernte people.27 While it is impossible to generalise highly variable and rapidly changing practices such as prohibitions upon viewing the recently deceased, transgression continues to cause deep offence and distress to Indigenous people. As a result, mainstream acknowledgement of Aboriginal culture has incorporated the notion of concealment, exemplified by anthropologist Eric Michaels’s 1988 guide to ‘restrictions’ on photography. Although Michaels advocated collaboration with Indigenous people and explicitly warned against turning his four principles – not showing inappropriate traditional cultural knowledge, images of the deceased, private or negative images – into ‘rules’, for many Australians they have become just that, largely defining Indigeneity in terms of what cannot be seen.28 Popular views about such practices continue to substitute for actual contact with Indigenous people themselves. Respect for Indigenous culture and people is now linked by many sympathetic and knowledgeable observers to concealment. Yet La Perouse photographer Peter Yanada McKenzie points out how this may actually prevent Indigenous people’s access to their own heritage, where visual records are so important: Things are changing so fast for Kooris, we need to take photos because things will be different tomorrow. Photography is particularly pertinent because in the Aboriginal household the most prized possession is the photos in the photo tin. In many cases, photos are the only link to ancestors whose names were never registered in official records and might have disappeared from memory.

McKenzie calls the warnings about depictions of deceased before television programs ‘political correctness gone crazy. Every Koori I know would kill for a photo of their grandmother they lost. Ask a Koori person: “What’s more important? The photos or the diamonds?”’29 As I explore further, respect for Indigenous culture and rights has come to be linked with concealment and anxiety about transgressing traditional restrictions on viewing, or infringing Indigenous people’s rights. One of this book’s central themes is the tension 24

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between making visible, on the one hand, and concealing or restricting access to Aboriginal lives, on the other. In acknowledgment of the important role of photographs in constituting Indigenous identity in the present, and the moral right of Indigenous people to have a say in their current use, cultural protocols surrounding the viewing of colonial imagery have come to involve Indigenous control over representation.30 I have followed these protocols in obtaining copyright and usage permissions for all images reproduced in this book as required under Australian law and, in a procedure that is becoming standard ethical research practice, I have also sought in each case to obtain moral or cultural permission from the image’s subject or their family or community. Despite the difficulties of witnessing, in its performance, photographic history offers a means of remembering, and continuing to remember, that may prevent foreclosing or compromising the historical Indigenous subject.31 I have tried to develop a way of looking at these photographs that is ‘testimonial’ rather than passive. I have attempted to identify the power relations that define the interaction between viewer and image and the conflicts represented within them.

H um ani tari ans , hi s t o ry and p h o t o g r ap h s The history of Australian visual culture changes how we understand the past. For example, it reveals how change is brought about through the interaction of individual and broader social forces. Visual culture expresses shared meanings across professional and popular spheres and explains how certain ideas are widely circulated – or suppressed – at particular times. This approach re-evaluates the place of ‘humanitarians’ (missionaries, officials or concerned private citizens) and the emergence of human rights in Australian history by showing that they must be understood within everyday culture. Since Henry Reynolds’s ground-breaking study of 19th-century humanitarians who campaigned for the rights of Aboriginal people, This Whispering in Our Hearts, a growing historiography has traced the emergence of Indigenous rights in Australia, joining the recent upsurge of interest in the B e aring witn e ss

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history of human rights at a global level.32 Feminist historians have demonstrated the important role of middle class white activists who pioneered the use of international media to focus attention on Australian conditions and galvanise public opinion between the wars. A somewhat parallel strand of analysis has considered the role of missionaries in working to improve Indigenous lives.33 In addition, Elazar Barkan’s study of the ‘retreat’ from scientific notions of biological race among scientists in Britain and the United States between the wars has been influential in criticising the view that long-term structural changes explain historical shifts, arguing instead that the move away from racism was prompted as much by political and social factors and scientists’ outsider status as by new scientific understanding.34 However, amongst a broader audience there has been a troubling tendency to evaluate these humanitarians in terms of the extent to which they were either complicit with or resistant to colonialism, as if they somehow stood apart from everyday culture. This question of the status and motives of ‘humanitarians’ whose views differed from the majority of the settler population, was raised by Henry Reynolds in noting that ‘the Aboriginal cause often did attract outsiders, eccentrics, obsessive personalities’.35 His observation has been taken up by other historians, emphasising the role of individual campaigners and their psychological background and motivations, and has been influential within histories of Indigenous rights and activism in Australia. However, in attending to the status of activists as ‘outsiders’ we must be careful not to dismiss the political significance of their critiques, nor to neglect the motives and ideas of those who controlled Aboriginal affairs, who are thereby assumed to represent the norm. In other words, we need to examine such people in cultural and historical context. This book aims to explore the important role of visual culture in actively shaping as well as expressing public attitudes. Defining visual culture has itself been the subject of much reflection in recent decades.36 This approach examines the cultural meanings of the visual and relations between images and viewers against a specific social background, not just the image itself. In our own, ever-more visual society, photographs have assumed an enormously important place. Yet, while they are the focus of this study, visual culture merges popular and ‘low’ cultural forms – media and communications – with the study of ‘high’ cultural forms, such as fine art and design. I therefore 26

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move at times across multiple forms and media, in acknowledgment of the ways visual meaning migrates from one form to another. This book begins in 1900 and ends in the present, from the emergence of the dominant forms of visual media and communication to their current place in the postmodern world. This is what anthropologist Faye Ginsberg refers to as a ‘mediascape’; that is, the ‘interdependence of media practices with the local, national and transnational circumstances that surround them’.37 By exploring transformations in the way media is conceived, produced and circulated in specific historical context, I hope to show how developments in media have contributed or run parallel to social change. I attend to the impact of popular representations and especially the work of Indigenous campaigners themselves, often in close collaboration with white activists, to reveal the role of visual imagery in communicating ideas and endorsing specific arguments about Aboriginal people. Put differently, how did the ideas of the men and women who led campaigns for rights for Aboriginal people articulate with popular views? What role did popular forms, such as images, play in disseminating their ideas? By exploring how professional or specialist views were disseminated and popularised, most effectively via the force, clarity and accessibility of the photographic image, this book examines how certain ideas and events seized the popular imagination and prompted change – or how they failed to do so.

T he s tory I begin at the turn of the 19th century, in Western Australia, exploring the very powerful constraints upon the ways viewers saw Aboriginal people at this time, despite the power of an international visual language to argue against ‘slavery’ elsewhere. In Britain, the turn of the 19th century saw a resurgence of anti-slavery protest prompted by the so-called ‘new slaveries’ of European imperialism in Africa. Photography became an important tool for these activists, symbolising African slavery via images such as the neck-chained African prisoner. But Australian campaigners had limited success in mobilising support for their cause, although they did prompt an inquiry into Aboriginal B e aring witn e ss

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administration, headed by Walter Edmund Roth, which caused a huge public scandal in Australia and overseas. While Roth and his network of allies argued urgently for reform, photos of Aboriginal prisoners were seen as evidence for containing a threat, as just retribution for criminal acts, and as safeguarding progress, as local pastoralist interests obscured recognition of Indigenous misery. Chapter 3 traces how the image of the chained prisoner in northern and western Australia gradually came to be seen as a symbol of slavery and inhumanity over the following two decades, acting to arouse popular outrage and support in the cities of the south. What prompted this shift? On one level, change can be charted through responses to three key public scandals between 1927 and 1934, marking the ambiguous boundary separating authority and violence, the normal and exceptional. Popular ideas of justice and rights were increasingly structured by these events and played an important part in the shift toward better treatment of Aboriginal people. First, in 1926 the Forrest River Massacre sent shockwaves across Australia and overseas, becoming the catalyst for a wave of concern about the treatment of Aboriginal people. The evidence tendered to the subsequent inquiry was narrowly forensic and focused upon dates, places and human remains, alongside three photographs of the outback crime scenes. These inscrutable photographs are powerful and troubling in themselves and mark attempts to bring these distant atrocities into proximity with modern, urban viewers. Yet the image of the neck-chained Aboriginal prisoner was taken up as the immediately recognisable symbol of ill-treatment, slipping easily from referencing specific events to become an emblem of slavery and injustice. The following year another scandal erupted over events in Central Australia, now known as the Coniston Massacre. A few years after that, public outrage effectively prevented a further punitive expedition to Caledon Bay in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. Together these three scandals marked the end of the ‘killing times’ in northern Australia and indirectly prompted many reforms, giving activists in the south the ammunition to campaign for rights more broadly. The mainstream perception of these events as ‘massacres’ was facilitated by new media that from the mid-1920s allowed events in remote places to be witnessed by mass audiences around the world. Newspaper photography and 28

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popular picture magazines now assisted the work of activists and humanitarians arguing for Indigenous policy reform, helping to popularise their cause and mobilise support, including in Britain. Yet the growing recognition of Aboriginal Australians was qualified by ideas about their nature and place in society. In addition, conventional limits on what could be said or shown continued to constrain their photographic representation in ways defined by contemporary taste. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 explore the profound shift in ways of seeing and thinking about Aboriginal people that took place during the late 1930s and 1940s. In chapter 4 I explore how popular forms of visual media offer evidence for sweeping changes in public attitudes. This was the era of picture magazines such as American Life and Australian Walkabout. Indigenous leaders such as Jack Patten and William Cooper began to use the media for their own ends,



... neck-chained Aboriginal prisoners have, in recent decades, become a symbol of colonial injustice.’

as with the first Day of Mourning and Protest in 1938. At the conclusion of the World War Two, the revelation of Nazi atrocities via photo-journalism offered the medium of photography a new legitimacy and created an intensified role for photographic evidence in reporting distant atrocity. This visual shift intersected with new understandings of the pernicious effects of racial thought, and it became increasingly common for observers to draw an analogy between the Jewish and Aboriginal experiences of displacement and oppression, as well as the treatment of other ‘subject races’. A range of factors, including the radicalisation of Indigenous activists, and an acute awareness of international developments surrounding racial thought and the persecution of the Jews, shaped a complex postwar visual culture that entailed a new recognition of Australia’s Aboriginal people. B e aring witn e ss

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Chapter 5 explores one aspect of this visual transformation in greater depth. The overlanders is widely acknowledged to have been a landmark event in Australian film history, but little attention has been paid to its place within a radical postwar shift in representing Aboriginal people. The film itself alluded to the plight of Aboriginal people in ways that, for the time, were uncontroversial but pointed. It also brought Indigenous social roles to prominence by introducing the figure of the Aboriginal stockman into popular idiom and circulating this image among international audiences as the ‘Aboriginal cowboy’. In addition, the film-makers spoke out publicly against Indigenous ill-treatment. Perhaps most importantly, the making of the film can also be seen as a significant historical event in bringing ‘outsiders’ into contact with Indigenous people and the north, and drawing together a network of young documentary filmmakers and photographers, including Harry Watt, Axel Poignant, John Heyer, Ralph Smart, Dahl Collings and Geoffrey Collings, who were to go on to significantly shape visual representations of Australian Aboriginal people. Contemporary ‘taboos’ regarding good taste remained a powerful constraint upon the portrayal of Aboriginal people, yet the work of Axel Poignant and Geoffrey Collings marked a new vision of Indigenous Australians. Despite the humanist critique of such photography for its potential to efface difference and appropriate the other, such imagery aroused empathetic recognition of Aboriginal Australians. In chapter 6, I examine how photography was pressed into the service of assimilation after the war, as a distinctive popular visual language emerged in the hands of photo-journalists and film-makers experimenting in social documentary. Mainstream media accounts of rural ‘camps’ drew upon a long visual tradition of ‘slummer’ journalism, enhanced by the growing impact of photographic evidence for atrocity, to show Aboriginal ‘fringe-dwellers’ as marginal and pitiful. However, this ‘victim’ iconography was quickly subsumed into a more optimistic story of uplift and transformation, reflecting new ideas about the place of Aboriginal people within Australian society. Documentary imagery could also serve more radical purposes in the hands of activists. The red thread of communism runs through this story, a bright note of compassion and camaraderie that has often been overlooked by accounts of the mass media of this period. From the work of local communist film-makers such as 30

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Ken Coldicutt and Cecil Holmes who documented Indigenous campaigns and rights violations, to Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev’s powerful critique, this oppositional movement was systematically discredited, and often obscured from mainstream audiences. Activists made use of graphic, sometimes shocking, imagery to accomplish political advances during the 1950s and 1960s, and the international scope of these campaigns allowed viewers around the world to see what was happening to Indigenous Australians. Within this intensified media and visual culture, the revelation of Indigenous conditions became a tool of reform, relying upon compassion for the Indigenous subjects. The tension between the use of such images for political effect, and their transgression of their subjects’ rights to privacy and dignity, continues to be a central sticking point in the politics of the visual representation of Indigenous Australians. By the early 1960s change was afoot as Aboriginal activists themselves developed new visual strategies to promote their cause and demand equal rights. Chapter 7 traces the emergence of a grass roots civil rights movement from the 1960s and its development of an astute visual politics. Drawing on international activism to assert a new, charismatic, Aboriginality, a youthful leadership captured the national imagination and made substantial political gains. From the 1970s the Indigenous rights agenda prompted new consciousness of the need to demonstrate a long and continuous connection to land and fuelled an engagement with the colonial archive, providing an accessible and irrefutable Indigenous history. From the 1980s Indigenous photographers began to rework these historical images and to produce their own, radically new visions of identity and culture. The last two decades have seen the struggle over the visibility of Aboriginal Australia take on new urgency. Chapter 8 examines debates about the homelands movement and the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention) that centre upon what to show or say about ‘problems’ in remote communities. Some frame this as a battle between culture and rights on the one hand and modernisation on the other, invoking the old opposition between a stark difference from or an inevitable sameness as mainstream society. This is often framed as a choice between ‘closing the gap’ or preserving cultural difference, rather than finding ways to do both. Central to this debate is the B e aring witn e ss

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long-standing question of whether Aboriginal problems should be imaged or whether such images violate their subjects’ rights, privacy and dignity. Media accounts that pathologise Aboriginal culture have been used to enlist support for a specific political agenda, perpetuating an older discourse of abjection and pity that overlooks Indigenous perspectives. Where recognition has required Indigenous Australians to conform to particular, often abject, stereotypes, we need to understand their limitations in order to transcend and overcome them. Indigenous images of culture and identity mark one alternative to these conservative and politicised uses. I conclude by asking how we can move beyond the limits of humanitarianism to recognise Indigenous rights. My selection of examples is in no way intended as a comprehensive overview. My path through the last century-plus has been determined by my specific interests in the way that visual culture and especially photographs have shaped or expressed Australian history and race relations. In examining specific moments or images in cultural and historical context, I have been primarily concerned with debates in history and visual culture, although I also draw from the wideranging and interdisciplinary literature known as Indigenous studies. No doubt different images, moments and processes will occur to others.

Map of Australia, showing places mentioned in the text 32

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Cover of Charles Rowley’s book, The Destruction of Aboriginal Society 33

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Courtesy of Rolf de Heer

34

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Sari Braithwaite, Monash University. Designed by Megan Evans. Painted by Millie Yarran, Ian Johnson, Ray Thomas, Les Griggs, Elaine Trott and Megan Evans, Moral/cultural permission Aborigines’ Advancement League

Courtesy of Rolf de Heer

< Matt Nettheim, ‘Group with rifles’, still from The tracker

Northcote Koori Mural, Aborigines’ Advancement League, Melbourne, 2008

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Medallion, jasper ware, chained kneeling slave in relief in black, with inscription above, set in an oval gold mount, Trustees of the British Museum

The emblem of the abolitionist movement, the kneeling slave in chains, surrounded by the words ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother?’ 36

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Medallion, jasper ware, chained kneeling slave in relief in black, with inscription above, set in an oval gold mount, Trustees of the British Museum

2: B e h o l d the t e ar s

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Behold the tears of such as were oppressed and had no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors there was power. Ecclesiastes 4:1

I was caught by [policemen] Jack Inglis and Wilson. Some others, named Manulla and Goominyah, were with me and other men … Wilson asked me if I killed cattle. I said ‘No’. Wilson and Inglis then talked together, and they said they would shoot me. Inglis put a cartridge in his rifle, pointed it at me, and said he would burn me at a rock. It frightened me, and I then said I did kill a bullock … He took me, and some other blackfellows, who were also frightened. They all said they had killed a bullock because they were frightened. The policemen put handcuffs on our legs and hands … Wilson got a gin [Aboriginal woman] and took her into a gully. I have seen Policeman Wilson ‘marry’ plenty of gins. We were taken to Hall’s Creek. Boodungarry, aged 14, Wyndham gaol, sentenced to two years’ hard labour for cattle-killing, 1904

Boodungarry was an Aboriginal boy who gave evidence to the Royal Commission inquiry, headed by Walter Edmund Roth in 1904, into Aboriginal administration in Western Australia.1 His experience of being forced at gunpoint to confess to cattle-killing, and subsequent sentencing to two years’ hard labour in Wyndham gaol, was borne out by other witnesses who revealed in shocking detail the prevailing police practices of arrest without warrant, imprisonment ‘on the chain’ and travel on foot across vast distances to the nearest magistrate. Roth concluded that pastoralists and the British justice system had failed the Indigenous people of north-western Australia, and critics described their treatment as slavery. In the raging debate unleashed by Roth’s controversial findings there are few Indigenous accounts such as Boodungarry’s. There are, however, many photographs of Aboriginal prisoners. While these seemingly provide a straightforward glimpse of Aboriginal experience, as a 38

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form of historical evidence they have been framed in complex and sometimes unexpected ways. These images, produced across northern Australia from the mid-19th century until after World War Two, are unusual within the visual discourse of Australian colonialism in their graphic revelation of the physical coercion and oppression of Aboriginal people.2 Until recently, photographic evidence has not played a large part in Australian debates about colonialism; yet, while the meaning of such images is often diffuse relative to the spoken or written word, they were a powerful means of communicating ideas about indigenous peoples. This was especially the case during the decades around the turn of the 19th century which, in Britain, marked a transition from an evangelical tradition of anti-slavery rhetoric to a new discourse about human rights. The campaigns against the ‘new slaveries’ of European imperialism in Africa made



... the New Hollander is a man and a brother.

highly effective use of photographs of colonial atrocities, and the Congo Reform Association in particular was successful in mobilising support through the use of photographs of neck-chained African prisoners. Yet the campaign against the ill-treatment of Aboriginal people of Western Australia, waged at precisely this time, was limited in its capacity to arouse popular interest either domestically or in Britain. The 1905 Roth inquiry into Western Australian conditions caused tremendous, if short-lived, concern; yet images of neck-chained Aboriginal prisoners came to be framed in popular media as evidence for containing a threat, as just retribution for criminal acts, and as safeguarding progress. Despite attempts, following Federation in 1901, to protect Aboriginal people from forced labour and physical ill-treatment through an appeal to a new sense of national honour and a vociferous newspaper and humanitarian campaign B e h old t h e t e ars

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waged in Australia and Britain, pastoralist interests prevailed. This story must be understood in terms of the distinctive frontier culture that prevailed within the country’s isolated western colony.

A ‘s lav e s tate’? A crown colony was established in Western Australia in 1829 and settlers quickly came to rely upon Aboriginal labour in developing two major industries – pastoralism and pearling. From at least the 1840s, white police assisted by black trackers would arrest groups of Aboriginal people, secure them by neckchains (a practice that was first applied to convicts) and march them to the nearest magistrate where they were sentenced to imprisonment. Aboriginal people complained about this when given the opportunity.3 In this region the British justice system evidenced a ‘race-specific organisation’ that functioned to quell resistance and introduce Aboriginal people into the pastoral industry, as prisoners were subsequently released to stockmen as workers.4 This practice had broad ramifications for Aboriginal society, destabilising the traditional economy and increasing women’s vulnerability and dependence on white men.5 By the 1890s violent conflict with Aboriginal people on the north-western frontier had largely reached a form of accommodation with pastoralists, but cattle-killing remained a source of tension. In this context the treatment of Aboriginal people was framed by settler interests as maintaining the rule of law, but conversely by humanitarians as slavery. From the establishment of white settlement in Australia in 1788, a time when the British anti-slavery movement was near the height of its influence, the evangelical lobby had more or less successfully sought to ameliorate colonists’ treatment of Indigenous people, often applying abolitionist symbolism to the Indigenous population. For example, a celebrated sermon delivered by the Baptist minister John Saunders in 1838 declared that ‘the New Hollander is a man and a brother’.6 Such rhetoric evoked the emblem of the abolitionist movement – the kneeling slave in chains, surrounded by the words ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother?’ (see page 36). While abolitionist imagery became less powerful in Britain over the second 40

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half of the 19th century as it was applied to many different social causes, it continued to be invoked by those attempting to control violence and the illtreatment of Aboriginal people on the Western Australian frontier. From the mid-19th century such campaigns derived their power from international publicity and censure. The globalisation of travel, communication and trade allowed distant suffering to be witnessed, as well as providing the means for intercession through a global network of scandal and intervention.7 In 1885 Anglican missionary the Reverend John Gribble journeyed to the Western Australian frontier and was shocked by the ill-treatment taken for granted there, including neck-chaining Aboriginal prisoners. His outspoken condemnation of this treatment as ‘slavery’ prompted great hostility from white settlers, a protracted and unsuccessful lawsuit against the West Australian newspaper, and his dismissal by the church. However, his accusations were taken up by the Aborigines Protection Society and colonial government, with the result that when Western Australia was granted self-government in 1890, a special provision unique among the Australian colonies ensured that authority over Aboriginal people remained an Imperial responsibility.8

T he new s lav eri es The turn of the 19th century marked a transition from the Victorian era of abolition to the rise of labour law and human rights protest among international governments. At this time there was a revival of British anti-slavery protest, prompted by the so-called ‘new slaveries’ of European imperialism in Africa, leading to campaigns against slavery in the Congo Free State and Portuguese West Africa, and what some termed ‘Chinese slavery’ in South Africa. Condemnation focused on coercive systems of labour taxation and indentured servitude, and the atrocities they entailed. Despite the emergence of secular concepts of human rights, an older evangelical agenda continued to influence anti-slavery politics. Toward the end of the century the new media of lantern-slide lectures (allowing an image to be projected from a glass plate on to a surface that could be viewed by a large audience) and press photographs became powerful instruments of missionary propaganda. Such imagery effectively popularised B e h old t h e t e ars

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the Congo Reform Association’s campaign and played an important role in establishing the foundations of 20th-century international government and labour law under the League of Nations.9 Missionary lantern-slide lectures drew huge audiences and mobilised widespread popular support for the campaign. Yet the contemporaneous campaign against the ill-treatment of Aboriginal people of Western Australia struggled to capture the public imagination, either at home or abroad. Between 1890–1897, the colonial parliament passed a series of acts giving increasing control to pastoralists over Aboriginal matters, culminating in the abolition of the Aborigines Protection Board in 1898, which transferred responsibility for Aboriginal affairs to the Western Australian government.10 Around this time, a handful of campaigners loosely identifiable as ‘humanitarians’ were to attempt Aboriginal policy reform; in fact they represented a range of motives and approaches linked by little more than a shared concern for Aboriginal treatment on the frontier (and, interestingly, Irish birth). This group included clergymen such as the Catholic Bishop Matthew Gibney and the Presbyterian Reverend John Laurence Rentoul, but also politicians such as Hugh Mahon and Thomas Walker, and the Irishman Walter Malcolmson.11 Their arguments were seemingly given impetus by Federation in 1901, when bad publicity concerning state treatment of Indigenous people became a matter of concern to all Australians. In July 1901, in an often-cited speech, Mahon, Member for Coolgardie, moved in federal parliament for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate conditions of Aborigines ‘north of the 30th parallel’, marking the boundary between remote Western Australia and the settled regions around Perth, and to look into the advisability of transferring Aboriginal affairs to federal government. Mahon also wrote an article for the Catholic magazine, the Austral Light, arguing for the assumption of responsibility for ‘native affairs’ to the federal government on the basis of national pride, and making an explicit international comparison:12 If a nigger be lynched in Georgia or South Carolina we think and talk of it as an American outrage. So when a native is shot or flogged to death in the lonely interior of this continent, the mass of mankind – if the record of the 42

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deed ever leaps to light – will debit it to Australia. No geographical lines or constitutional limits will be taken into account.

However, Mahon’s position was not typical; nor did he see Aboriginal people as equals, describing them as ‘half devil and half child’, and advocating ‘sympathetic but undeviating treatment’.13 His sympathy, limited as it was, was unusual at this time when the White Australia Policy was created by the new federal parliament passing a package of legislation, including the Immigration Restriction Act, aimed at excluding all non-European migrants. Perhaps the most persistent and effective of the pro-Aboriginal agitators was Malcolmson, who had spent some years working in the ‘nor’-west’ – the especially inaccessible region of north-west Western Australia – but returned home to Ireland to conduct his letter campaign. In December 1901, the London Daily News published a scathing attack by Malcolmson, headlined ‘Slavery in West Australia’. Malcolmson began, ‘Sir, it is commonly believed that freedom exists wherever the British flag flies; however, after living for several years in the north-west portion of the above State, I have no hesitation in stating that brutal slavery is in full swing in this part of the Empire.’ He described how ‘native prisoners’ were ‘worked in chains, most of them connected in pairs by a chain, the ends of which are padlocked round their necks, the said chains being about 12 feet long, and quite strong enough to hold a pair of bullocks’. He also claimed that Aboriginal people were starved on the pastoral stations and ‘flogged with the cat-o-nine-tails’, in reference to the brutal Bendhu Station case of 1897 in which two Aboriginal women and a man had been flogged to death.14 These charges prompted some minor reforms during 1902.15 Malcolmson had an important ally in the Irish-born Reverend John Laurence Rentoul, Master of the University of Melbourne’s Ormond College since 1881 and a prominent figure in the Presbyterian Church.16 Bishop Gibney, head of the Catholic Church, also weighed in, reminding the press of accusations he had himself made 11 years earlier, which had never been satisfactorily investigated. The Irish-born Gibney was a famously muscular Christian who, while travelling by train from Benalla to Albury in 1880, had learned that Ned Kelly’s gang was under siege at the nearby Glenrowan hotel and was shooting it out with police. Gibney left the train to intervene, and ended up giving Kelly and his B e h old t h e t e ars

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henchman, Martin Cherry, the last rites.17 Malcolmson’s press campaign, conducted in Britain’s biggest newspapers and framed uncompromisingly in terms of slavery (emphasising cruelties such as whipping, chaining, child labour, eating offal, and so on), eventually succeeded in forcing the establishment of the Roth Royal Commission.

S ca nda l Roth’s report, presented in late January 1905, caused huge controversy. The evidence given to this inquiry provided a stark and vicious picture that documented the great gap between the law and accepted police practice. Arrests were made without a warrant in the case of cattle-killing, and there was widespread use of neck-chains for suspects and also witnesses, who were usually young women or girls. They were chained together in a line often for weeks and were completely at the mercy of the police during this time. The rape of female ‘witnesses’ emerged as a major source of concern, as well as sexual relations between Asian pearlers and Aboriginal women. Roth made detailed investigations of the nature and use of neck-chains and drew upon photographic evidence for this practice. He noted that sometimes in addition to neck-chains they might be further secured with wrist-cuffs, ‘as your Commissioner has seen in photographs of constables escorting the chain-gangs’.18 Perhaps Roth would have drawn more heavily upon the visual evidence, as a scientist who had made considerable use of photography in his anthropological research, if he had not been under attack in the Queensland parliament over these months for his allegedly ‘pornographic’ images of Aboriginal people. In 1897 Roth had published an ethnographic study of his research among Aboriginal people of northern Queensland that included photographs of men and women ‘in coitus’ to demonstrate an argument concerning the social role of initiation practices. These ‘scientific’ images were perceived to transgress contemporary codes of sexual propriety but they also provided ‘frontier lobbyists’, who resented Roth’s policing of moral and social conventions, with effective ammunition against him. It was a scandal that led to his resignation the following year.19 44

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Roth’s report prompted an immediate public outcry in both Australia and Britain.20 The treatment of the Aboriginal people of the north-west was deemed slavery by many critics but the pastoralist lobby argued that neck-chains were the most humane method of restraint, fully justified by the need to defend white settlement. The West Australian denounced Roth’s findings as overly sensational, interviewing a wide range of officials and frontier ‘old hands’ who challenged the nature of his evidence, ‘so framed as to be the starting-point of a scandal and a scare, rather than the beginning of a sober reformation’.21 Argument centred upon the status of Roth’s evidence and many drew upon their outback experience to challenge the picture drawn by Roth’s report. A former pearler, for example, argued that neck-chains were ‘scarcely worse than a modern linen collar, and the total weight of the gear is nothing compared with the loads the native women sling from the neck when in the bush’.22 ‘Old Nor’Wester’ complained that: 23 … we are asked, on the mere ipse dixit [hearsay] of a perfect stranger to our country, who has merely rushed through a small section of a district within a few weeks, examining a few witnesses … to virtually believe accusations and insinuations that would imply that most of these large-hearted, true-minded pioneers were merely a kind of superior class of slave-dealers. Rubbish!

Sir John Forrest, premier from 1890–1901 and then member of the new House of Representatives (a position he was to retain until 1918), typified the official response in attacking the report’s ‘somewhat sensational character’, questioning whether the neck-chain was as ‘inconvenient to the aboriginal as the wrist-chain’, and arguing that the chains ‘are not heavy and are protected by coverings so as to avoid that portion which presses close to the skin being unduly uncomfortable during the hot weather’.24 Some churchmen were closely aligned with settler interests, sharing popular views of Aboriginal people as primitive and childlike. For example, the Reverend WT Kench of Perth’s Congregational Church, speaking on the subject of ‘The White Man’s Burden’, said that the ‘moral consciousness of the white community had been thrilled with shame, indignation and disgust since the publication of Dr Roth’s report’. Although, he also commented B e h old t h e t e ars

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that ‘the Australian Aborigine was admittedly low in the scale of humanity, and the moral code accepted within civilisation could not be applied to him’.25 Many among the church leaders and general population of Perth were shocked and outraged by the inquiry’s findings, noting that Gribble had been vindicated in his accusations made two decades before. The Reverend H Wilkinson of Perth’s Charles Street Methodist Church was not alone in delivering a sermon on Roth’s report, nor in taking as his text Ecclesiastes 4:1: ‘Behold the tears of such as were oppressed and had no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors there was power.’ Significantly, Solomon’s comments have been interpreted as expressing resignation to an inevitable, quasi-natural state of affairs, rather than being a cry for justice.26 In exhorting his audience to scrutinise the inquiry’s findings and acknowledge the plight of the Indigenous people that it had brought to light, Wilkinson deployed a powerful visual metaphor for the act of bearing witness – an act that implies responsibility toward what one has seen.27 While the people of Western Australia were ‘not to blame for things which had been done and of which they had no knowledge’, they ‘could no longer plead ignorance’ and must ‘see that in the future there was sufficient protection for the natives’.28 Yet such responses betrayed considerable ambivalence as the citizens of Perth struggled with what they were seeing. Wilkinson agonised over the veracity of Roth’s findings, asking repeatedly, ‘Is it true?’. As historian Chris Healy has recently reminded us, settler colonialism has been characterised by a complex process of recognition and disavowal of Aboriginal presence, as Indigenous people are too often imagined to be absent despite evidence to the contrary. Put differently, the problem is not that settler Australians did not know about Indigenous experience, but that they did not care to understand it.29 Wilkinson’s reflections also expressed the fallibility and partiality of the witness, and the widespread anxiety about how to respond to Roth’s findings. Settlers were confronted with the colonial paradox that disciplining ‘uncivilised’ people through the use of force could seem the only way to correct their behaviour, even though that very violence appeared as the antithesis of civilised government. By the mid-19th century, Aboriginal people had been argued to be British subjects and entitled to ‘equal’ treatment under the law, yet this argument 46

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for sameness carried the ‘perverse corollary’ of making them accountable to laws of which they were unaware, and naturalising their many disadvantages within the British justice system.30 Few acknowledged the fundamental injustice of invading Aboriginal country, dispossessing the inhabitants and destroying their means of subsistence, and expecting them to conform to an alien code of behaviour. The logic of colonialism obscured such recognition – as Wilkinson had noted, ‘it was proverbially easier […] to see other people’s faults and to review other people’s failings than to see and review one’s own’.31 Such myopia surely led the former Comptroller of Prisons, Octavius Burt, to state that ‘at the first glance, it would appear to be cruel to chain natives together, but the lives and properties of men in the Nor’-West must be protected’.32 Images such as those cited by Roth were reproduced in newspaper debates, framed by the commonsense assumptions of the Western tradition, that privileged



It is not so many years ago that I saw white prisoners at Fremantle chained by the legs.

visual evidence and especially photography as unmediated testimony – and that was expressed particularly clearly in this debate through the language of visibility and witness.33 In this popular context, photographs of Aboriginal prisoners were displayed in ways that hindered their appearance as proof of inhumanity, and instead gave them a limited range of meanings by white settlers within the context of prevailing ideas of progress, Indigenous savagery and white humanity, as well as specific local arguments that neck-chaining was the most humane method of restraint. Perhaps West Australian viewers would have also been reminded of the once-common but now shameful sight of white convicts in chains. As the parliamentarian RF Sholl commented, ‘It is not so many years ago that I saw white prisoners at Fremantle chained by the legs.’34 To inheritors of the penal system, such treatment may not have appeared so shocking after all. B e h old t h e t e ars

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The conservative rural weekly, the Western Mail, was typical in providing a lengthy analysis of the evidence for chaining and quoted Burt in its arguments that the practice was humane. Further, the broadsheet claimed Burt had ‘known of eight out of a gang of blacks run away when chained to wheelbarrows and to each other’ and despite immediate pursuit by a horseman, ‘they had found some way of liberating themselves’. Its photograph supplement – normally filled with images of rural industry, community and entertainment – featured ‘The Treatment of Aborigines – Prison Life in the Nor’-west’. A portrait of one prisoner overlooked by a warder was captioned ‘Lembie – A Notorious Criminal. This aboriginal escaped from Wyndham gaol four times, on the last occasion, releasing 42 prisoners’. Other photographs included ‘Aboriginal Bathing Gang’ and ‘A Band of Cattle-killers en route to Wyndham’. Such images belonged to a genre produced from at least the 1890s through to the 1920s as a regular component of the West Australian ‘views trade’, a long colonial tradition that expressed civic pride and the desire to publicise settler progress. Professional photographers such as Joseph John Dwyer and Ernest Lund Mitchell produced albums that typically featured, among views of frontier towns such as Wyndham and Broome and industrialising landscapes like Kalgoorlie, at least one image of Aboriginal prisoners. Such views reflect a general interest in documenting the progress of western civilisation in these places and, as a corpus, they reflect common white settler attitudes including a desire to maintain race, gender and class boundaries, and a tendency to de-contextualise them with the effect of exaggerating their ‘primitive’ status.35 Perhaps the best known photographic record of West Australia over several decades, Mitchell’s images express a view of ‘the north’ as a racially divided and hierarchical society with few places of interaction between Aboriginal people and whites beyond the ‘strict order of gaol’, where racial difference and social control are particularly evident.36 In this way, the public response to Roth’s findings invoked photographic evidence as proof of both the savagery and primitivism of Aboriginal people, as well as their humane containment. At a crowded public meeting on ‘the Aboriginal question’ the colourful bushman and prospector William Carr-Boyd hinted at his riotous outback deeds and offered to tell the government what he knew of the ‘wild’ frontier, noting that ‘anybody could see the snapshots he 48

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‘The Aborigines Question’

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Western Mail, 18 February 1905, p. 12; and the Western Mail, illustrated supplement, p. 24, Newspapers Collection, State Library of Victoria

> ‘Lembie – a notorious criminal’

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‘A band of cattle-killers en route to Wyndham’

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The Aborigines question’, Western Mail, illustrated supplement, 18 February 1905, p. 24, Newspapers Collection, State Library of Victoria

had taken of natives, wild as kangaroos and emus’.37 One journalist vouched for ‘The Evidence of Photographs’ as proof of the good health of ‘matrons’ at one remote pastoral station, of whom ‘there was no necessity to add that the party was extremely happy. Contentment was written all over the features of these well-fed and well-clothed dames’.38 A powerful combination of text and image worked to refute allegations of Indigenous ill-treatment and blinded contemporary observers to the injustice of practices recorded by photography. Such blindness underlines the importance of historically specific world views in determining photographic meaning. Despite these images’ seeming objectivity and realism and their distasteful subject matter – so shocking to us now – a range of complex factors involved in their production, circulation and consumption determined how they were understood. As photo critic Vicki Goldberg claimed, photographs have ‘an extremely limited capacity to convince those who do not want to be convinced’, a conclusion that many have endorsed.39

S peaki ng up i n th e o ld c o u nt ry In this furore, constant reference was made to international opinion and precedents as humanitarians strove to bring the situation before the British public, and their opponents strove to conceal it. Already in January 1905, The Anti-Slavery Reporter published by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, had summarised a telegram it had received reporting the Roth inquiry’s findings.40 In March the Reporter produced a fuller account, describing Roth’s report as ‘very startling’, and ‘revealing facts of a shocking and most deplorable character’. In sum, it was a ‘terrible report’.41 The Times also commented on Roth’s ‘unfavourable’ report, which, it claimed, ‘disclose[d] brutal and outrageous conditions’.42 Roth himself came under sustained attack for his findings. In late March he privately sent a package of documents and reports to the Reverend Rentoul in Melbourne, writing ‘I am so thankful to learn that you intend speaking up in the old country on behalf of these poor down-trodden people. Are they not as worthy of consideration as the Chinese of the Transvaal?’43 Roth’s parcel included a copy of his 1905 report, proposed amendments to the police system, 52

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and a copy of the new Aborigines Act 1905 (WA). These were based on Roth’s own Queensland system, but as he urgently pointed out to Rentoul, ‘the whole is stultified by limiting the area of the reserves in each magisterial district to 2000 acres … This is a matter upon which I would beg of you to give every publicity in the English pulpit and press, and am purposely giving you the following information thereon.’44 The parliamentary debate prompted by Roth’s report was conducted between pastoralist interests represented by members such as Frederick Piesse on the one hand and, almost alone in his views, the colourful iconoclast Thomas Walker on the other, who argued passionately for the need to end ‘slavery’ and to create large reserves.45 This debate drew heavily upon British anti-slavery rhetoric and made constant reference to international opinion. For example, Walker argued that a few squatters owned ‘territory large enough for kingdoms, yet we propose in each district to give a few acres for the blacks … It is a matter of our national honour.’46 Roth’s findings were also corroborated the following year by the German anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch in photographic evidence provided through his fieldwork at Wyndham in northern Australia. Klaatsch was a prominent physical anthropologist and professor at the University of Heidelberg and at the University of Breslau. Klaatsch had stayed with Roth upon his arrival in Australia in 1904 and had spent some time examining Roth’s private scientific collections in Brisbane before travelling around northern Australia until 1907.47 In July 1906 Klaatsch went to Wyndham and his description of the chaining and maltreatment of the Indigenous prisoners there (which he presented to the 1907 Adelaide Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science) attracted international attention – it was taken up, for example, by the Anti-Slavery Reporter.48 In his lecture, Klaatsch distanced himself from the emotive local debate by emphasising his objective view as a scientist. He stated: ‘Deeply regretting the extinction of the Tasmanians, I think everyone will agree with me if I suggest that a more enlightened treatment of the Australian aborigines is justifiable on scientific grounds alone, apart altogether from humanitarian questions.’49 His photograph of chained prisoners subsequently circulated in Europe as evidence for Aboriginal ill-treatment in the context of an emerging international natural conservation movement led from Switzerland.50 B e h old t h e t e ars

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Hermann Klaatsch, prisoners, Wyndham, July 1906

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13/08/12 3:42 PM ‘Sclussbericht uber meine Reise nach Australien in den Jahren 1904–1907’Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 39 (1907), Tafel VII, No 4

‘Sclussbericht uber meine Reise nach Australien in den Jahren 1904–1907’Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 39 (1907), Tafel VII, No 4

G ha s tly , b ut ... … British sensitivity over the treatment of its native subjects hindered the work of anti-slavery campaigners. As debate surged around Roth’s findings in March 1905, the British Foreign Office explained its reluctance to act against the Congo colonial administration by referring to its embarrassment about Western Australia. Lord Lansdowne, the Foreign Minister, wrote of the Congo situation, ‘Ghastly, but I am afraid the Belgiums will get hold of the stories as to the way the natives have apparently been treated by men of our race in Australia.’51 As leaders of the Congo Reform Association (CRA) and colonial administrators had acknowledged, Australian controversy was a threat to their African interests. A member cautioned CRA leader Edward Morel, ‘Do not let us forget, Chinese labour, West Australian irregularities, and Nigerian expeditions are the deadly foes of our Congo movement.’52 Conversely, despite the success of the CRA at the turn of the century, and its use of very similar iconography in the form of photographs of chained Congolese slaves, Australian campaigners at that time had failed to shock local viewers into action. Unlike the African campaigns, the treatment of West Australian Aborigines did not become a popular cause in Britain. (It was not until the 1920s that such comparisons were successful in Australia, discussed in chapter 3.)53 The British Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote to the Governor of Western Australia but the new Aborigines Department insisted that chaining was the most humane method of restraint.54 Nor did local attempts meet with success. Among the Roth report’s immediate effects were the release of all juvenile prisoners and the cessation of arrests unless absolutely necessary, while in mid-May the use of neck-chains was prohibited and prescribed hours of prison labour were reduced. Nonetheless, the pastoralists won the battle over legislation. The 1905 Aborigines Act (An Act to make provision for the better protection of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia) was passed but failed to provide for cash wages, field officers, and limited the size of reserves to 2000 acres. As historian Peter Biskup concludes, the new law ‘was not a measure “for the better protection and care” of Western Australia’s aborigines but an instrument of control, and ruthless control at that’.55 Among the report’s most resented results was to give the Chief Protector greater powers of intervention, ushering in the era of child removal.56 B e h old t h e t e ars

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‘ ‘Trophy ’ photos Throughout the debate over the treatment of Aboriginal people, photographs of prisoners functioned less as proof of inhumanity than as a means of naturalising the subjugation of Aboriginal people. Following the changing meanings of one such image demonstrates how they could be framed by settlers as evidence for the effectiveness of the colonial justice system, as well as their radically different meanings in other contexts. Typically, this image shows the Aboriginal prisoners lined up to face the camera, flanked by white policemen, while black trackers occupy the margins. It records the moment of triumph as the ‘wild’ Aboriginal 56

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Francis Birtles, ‘Through the unknown territory’, Lone Hand, 1 March 1911, Francis Birtles motor car tour collection, ca. 1899–1928, National Library of Australia, Bib id.99824. Moral/cultural permission Northern Land Council, Victoria River Downs

Francis Birtles, ‘Native Prisoners in Chains’

was safely contained, rendered harmless and distant from the viewer. It is a trophy. This photo was taken by Francis Birtles, a legendary ‘overlander’ who travelled vast distances between the continent’s capital cities, at first by bicycle and then, from 1912, in the earliest motor car expeditions. Such journeys through the outback during the first decades of the 20th century were framed as intrepid adventures, explorations of exotic and harsh territory by heroic pioneers.57 Birtles’s photo was produced during his bicycle ride around Australia in 1910 and appeared the following year in a photo-essay titled ‘Through the Unknown Territory’, in the popular magazine the Lone Hand, where it was captioned:58 B e h old t h e t e ars

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National Library of Australia

58

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Native Prisoners in Chains. After many weary weeks of hunting these natives were caught. They were wanted for the murder of a white settler. Tracking is slow, tedious work; but the police, with their organised methods of food and water supplies, have the advantage over the aboriginal, who has to lose priceless hours in seeking for food and water.

This essay constructed the Northern Territory as remote, wild and mysterious, in the process of being tamed by pioneer whites, although at risk of being plundered by ‘Afghans, Chinamen and assorted halfcastes’. In drawing a celebratory opposition between the policemen’s achievements and the ‘aboriginal’, Birtles overlooked the presence of the Aboriginal policemen, or ‘black trackers’ who had, no doubt, actually located the prisoners. He emphasised the hardship and danger to be endured, such as a lack of water, endless desert, and ‘“bad” niggers’, but noted the growing demand for land on the Territory tablelands and the ‘amazing fertility of the soil’.59 Birtles’s narrative defines the Indigenous prisoners merely as game to be hunted down by superior white skill and ‘organised methods’, as part of the process of taming the outback.

N ga ri nm an m ea ni ng s

National Library of Australia

More recently, some historians have addressed the Indigenous meanings of images such as these. Anthropologist Deborah Bird Rose has explored the ‘hidden histories’ of the Ngarinman people of the Victoria River Downs region of the Northern Territory, seeking to uncover the black experience of white settlement. Rose explains that this image (pages 56–57) records the capture by Mounted Constable Dempsey (far left) and two black trackers of

Photographer unknown, ‘Francis Birtles on his bicycle’

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four Ngarinman suspects, including ‘Old Turkey’ Majala (left in the chained group) and Fishhook (second from right in chained group, and father of Daly Pulkara). These men were arrested following the murder in 1910 of William Day Ward, known as ‘Brigalow Bill’, a white man who lived beside the large pastoral station of Victoria River Downs. In the police pursuit of Ward’s murderers, conflict between local Aboriginal people led to the shooting of local Ngarinman man Gordon, whom Rose terms ‘the last of the truly great Victoria River warriors’. As she shows, Gordon and his relatives were defeated by ‘a set of social structures, processes, loyalties and hostilities which he was powerless to control’. For Rose this event exemplifies the final stage of Ngarinman resistance to white invasion. For her Aboriginal teacher Daly Pulkara, to whom she spoke in the 1980s, the image evoked anger and grief, as he remembered the conflict and destruction it commemorated.60 We should, however, note that this was a story he wanted to share with Rose and her readers. For some Aboriginal people, such images may also hold more recuperative meanings. As a range of studies have shown, photographs are embedded within Aboriginal relationships with both the living and the dead. In practice, within Aboriginal communities, they assume meaning as they are enmeshed in stories, structured according to genealogies and memories.61 As Elizabeth Edwards has recently argued in relation to Aboriginal engagement with photographs, here they are not ‘merely visual’ but are social objects that derive meaning from their material and sensory uses: ‘it is the fusion and performative interaction of image and materiality that gives a sensory and embodied access to photographs’.62 Photographs are also important to Aboriginal communities, not only as an extension of tradition but in new ways resulting from colonial dispossession and loss. Contextualised within Indigenous narratives, photographs help to constitute technologies of Indigenous memory, serving a range of recuperative purposes that work to counter white amnesia and, in the words of Gaynor Macdonald, ‘the non-writing of the past, the secret and silent histories, and the past distorted by imperial histories.63’ Aboriginal people give these disturbing images formerly unknown meanings in a range of practices that construct the past in the present, as they reveal ancestors lost during the displacements of colonialism and substantiate Indigenous stories and experiences once hidden from view. 60

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According to some Indigenous scholars, such as Donna Oxenham, a Yamatji woman from the West Australian north-west coast, when descendants look at these images of prisoners, they see past the chains to their relatives recorded within the photograph, bringing those distant in space and time into the present, in a process that creates and extends identities and relationships. Donna says:64 To me it is important for the viewer … to understand that although these atrocities – such as neck-chaining, slavery and murder – occurred and should invoke … the full sense of disgust for our colonial past, it is also an avenue for Aboriginal people today to find images of their loved ones and ancestors and to be able to place them into physical contexts.

She added: ‘When researching my own ancestral history [through photographs] I was able to explain how our pasts, present and futures are intrinsically linked – so that they no longer remained in the past, but are a part of who we are today.’65 As a way of remembering Indigenous oppression, these photographs have lost their original connection to the people they record and their circumstances; instead they have become symbols.66 This shift is achieved first and most effectively when the image loses its specific connection to the time, place and identity of its subjects. Observers often refer to ‘the famous neck-chain photo’ as if there is one, archetypal image, but this obscures the enormous number of photographs in archives that document hundreds of moments, people and stories, and the range of practices that constituted the colonial justice system. In some uses these images are appropriated into a symbolic framework of significance established by the long British tradition of abolition, in which their Indigenous subjects are defined as slaves. The chains in these images become the focus of our regard, assuming a physical, material status that seems to need no explanation. Objects such as whips and shackles are powerful signifiers for human agony.67 In the West’s cultural tradition, such artefacts are monumentalised and seem to speak for themselves directly to the viewer, with no need for the mediation of the historian. They help to transform the image into an object, an artefact of slavery and its brutal treatment of the black body. Ironically, one effect of this shift is to universalise the Aboriginal subjects and strip them of their individuality and strength. Another is to create a simplified version of the past that comes B e h old t h e t e ars

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to constitute collective memory, obscuring the range of contemporary views, including the broader effects of such practices upon traditional Aboriginal society and especially Aboriginal women and children, left beyond the frame. As Susan Sontag warned, images of suffering may simultaneously become clichés, eclipsing reality and undermining their power to move and inform. We should acknowledge that the historical understanding imparted by such photographs has its limitations, as these images are easily detached from their cultural and social context, rendering their subjects anonymous and silent. They regain their humanity when they are enmeshed within Indigenous narratives, identified as relatives, as historical actors with biographies and objectives. In the aftermath of colonialism, it is important to note that these images may serve recuperative purposes; for example, by reversing the excision of Aboriginal people from the national story. Where Aboriginal people have been marginalised until recent decades, such photographs confirm the truth of a history otherwise known only through family stories. Using photography as witness to colonial history also suggests the medium’s utility in countering colonial amnesia and providing an Indigenous perspective on the past. In the context of debates about Aboriginal treatment in the early 20th century, historical constraints upon photographic meaning transformed apparently neutral evidence into a narrow view of colonial culture. In 1905, despite the plea of clergymen such as Wilkinson and Rentoul to ‘behold the tears of the oppressed’, most of their contemporaries were unable to fully recognise the experience of Indigenous people recorded in visual imagery. As Wilkinson noted, recognition of Indigenous experience was easier for those distant from the intimate daily logic of settler conflict. It is significant that of the few men who spoke up for the Aboriginal people of the nor’west in the early 20th century, most were born and bred elsewhere and sought to act via European networks. Such acknowledgment did not, however, entail a concept of Aboriginal people as equals. In its intersection with a range of popular, evangelical, scientific and administrative discourses, photography potentially reveals how scientific theories and political arguments were articulated and popularised through the accessibility, clarity and impact of visual imagery. In the contest over their shifting meanings, such images map the complex pattern of acknowledgement and denial, recognition and blindness that has characterised the colonial relationship. 62

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3: A v e i l o f c o n v e nt i o n

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One is horrified at the sight of these two men in chains. James Ferrier, the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, 1927

During the 1920s, the image of chained prisoners in north-west Western Australia came to be seen as a symbol of slavery and inhumanity, acting to arouse popular outrage in the cities of the south. What prompted this shift? On one level, change can be charted through responses to three key public scandals between 1927 and 1934 in the Forrest River and Coniston massacres, and the violent confrontation between Yolngu people and Japanese fishermen – and subsequent killing of a white police constable – in Caledon Bay. These events marked the ambiguous boundary between authority and violence, the normal and exceptional, helping to structure popular ideas of justice, national identity and Indigenous rights. The mainstream perception of these events as scandals constituted a watershed in public attitudes, framed by new media that from the late 1920s and 1930s allowed events in remote places to be witnessed by mass audiences around the world. In the absence of photographs of murder and brutality, arguments about Indigenous ill-treatment were subsumed into a more acceptable, long-standing visual tradition associated with the abolition of slavery – Aboriginal men in neck chains. Photographs of the ill-treatment of Indigenous people made frontier conflict in the north visible to an urban, southern public, shaping the public context for humanitarian and official debates and helping to mobilise support for reform, including in Britain. However, it is important to note that new forms of media did not simply open a window that allowed viewers to transparently ‘see’ remote regions of frontier Australia. In exploring one strand of the visual culture of the interwar period, I have assumed that audiences then, as now, were selective and active consumers of imagery, frequently reluctant to abandon long-cherished beliefs and prejudices in response to what they saw. Popular assumptions about race and Aboriginality were premised upon the evolutionism that had shaped anthropological thought since the mid-19th century. Within this paradigm, Australian Aboriginal people occupied the lowest rung of a racial hierarchy believed to reflect temporal as well as cultural distance from European modernity. Indigenous Australians were 64

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regarded as ‘humanity in the chrysalis stage’, and their traditional way of life a survival from the Stone Age that was doomed to extinction following contact with whites.1 Such notions were disseminated by ‘experts’ – scientists such as Baldwin Spencer – through popular, profusely illustrated anthropological publications.2 Nonetheless, photographs allowed urban audiences to virtually witness the treatment of Indigenous people in Central and northern Australia, and enabled stories of slavery and murder to take hold of the popular imagination, as new ideas about human rights and Indigenous people began to circulate in the public domain.

Forres t Ri v er The first of these events, now known as the 1926 Forrest River massacre, prompted international scandal as events were closely followed by humanitarians across the British Commonwealth.3 Here I explore the tentative, innovative ways photographic evidence was brought into the official inquiry in an attempt to substantiate allegations against the accused white men. It is important to note that a range of books and papers have recently disputed that any atrocity occurred at Forrest River.4 Such debate should be seen in the context of the Australian ‘history wars’, sparked in 1993 by historian Geoffrey Blainey’s argument that ‘black arm band’ historians had exaggerated black suffering following colonisation.5 Since the 1970s, an increasing mainstream willingness to recognise Aboriginal people has entailed profound revision of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and intense scrutiny of the moral basis of the nation. The resolution of such questions in the present relies heavily upon our interpretation of the past. The Forrest River Anglican Mission had been established in 1913 northwest of Wyndham, in the east Kimberleys, in north-west Western Australia.6 This was the traditional country of the Arnga, Andjedja, Yeidji and Wembra peoples. In December 1913, Anglican priest Ernest Gribble took charge. As noted in the last chapter, in 1885 his father, John Gribble, had also travelled as a missionary to Western Australia’s then-remote Carnarvon region and had been A v e il of con v e ntion

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At Umbali there was people camping near the river. They shot the old people in the camp and threw them in the water. They got the young people on a chain, they got the men separate, shot the men only. While they was on the chain the policeman told the police boys to make a big bonfire. They threw the bodies in the flame of fire so no one would see what remained of the bodies; they were burned to bits. They took the women on a chain to a separate grave, then the police boys made a big bonfire before the shooting was. When they saw the big flame of fire getting up, then they started shooting the women. When they were all shot they threw them in the flame of fire to be burned to bits.

Between late May and early July 1926, the mission head, the Reverend Ernest Gribble, began to note in his private journal and in the mission log rumours reported to him about the shooting of around 30 Aboriginal people by a police expedition which was looking for the Aboriginal murderer (a man named Lumbia) of a white man (named Frederick William Hay). In July, Gribble wrote the first of a series of letters to Inspector EC Mitchell of the West Australian Aborigines Department, accusing the police party of the ‘murder of Aborigines’. He later compiled a list of 29 Aboriginal people who had once attended the mission but who had not been seen since the patrol began.9 Between August and November, Gribble, accompanied by the Aboriginal deacon Reverend James Noble, Aboriginal Inspector Mitchell and some Aboriginal trackers, made visits to the campsites of the police patrols. They identified the tracks of the police party and local Aboriginal people and collected charred and burnt human remains. 66

GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission of Inquiry into Alleged Killing and Burning of Bodies of Aborigines in East Kimberley and into Police Methods when Effecting Arrests, Perth, Government Printer 1927, p. xvii Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

shocked by the abuse and ill-treatment of Aboriginal people he had witnessed. His outspoken public critique alienated both settlers and his supporters and he was driven from the colony in disgrace, although doggedly reiterating his allegations in his book, Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land.7 His accusations were later vindicated by the 1905 Roth Royal Commission into conditions in Western Australia but his hostile reception exemplified prevailing social attitudes on the late 19th-century frontier. Forrest River resident Daniel Evans was six in 1926 and as a grown man he told his people’s version of what happened in late May of that year:8

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GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission of Inquiry into Alleged Killing and Burning of Bodies of Aborigines in East Kimberley and into Police Methods when Effecting Arrests, Perth, Government Printer 1927, p. xvii Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

‘Mowerie fire spot, where three women alleged to have been shot and burnt. Rev Gribble (left) and mission boy Ronald (right) searching amongst ashes and charred bones. Exhibit A.’

Evans’s account went into considerable detail about the process of tracking and finding clues. He related how the (Aboriginal) police tracker Frank Mitchell found the site of a grave: ‘They went over, and “There’s the spot right there,” he told them, “in the rock, right there. They couldn’t find any remain of the bodies, it was burned to bits. It was very hard for Canon Grubul to believe”.10 ‘Then he stooped down and scratched the grave, to see if any body bone remained. So he couldn’t find any bones, but he found “one teeth”. He put it in his pocket.’11 A v e il of con v e ntion

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‘Dala, scene of fire on rocky bed of creek. Jam tin marks centre of fire. Exhibit B.’ GT Wood Report

Government Printer 1927, p. xvii. Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

‘Dala, where four prisoners alleged to have been chained and shot. Left lower limb marked as if by bullet. Exhibit C.’ GT Wood Report

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‘Then they went to Gulgudmeri River, to the main pool, where they dived into the pool and got some bones. Got the bones, put them in a bag. They asked the boy, Frank Mitchell, if any more graves. He told them: ‘See that bough over there hanging, that’s where the women’s grave.’12 ‘And so Canon Grubul picked up more teeth, had the burial service, came back to Umbali station, camped there, and brought what remained of the bones back to the mission.’13 Perhaps Evans’s account pays such attention to the search for human remains because the subsequent official inquiry focused upon the detailed forensic evidence: dates, campsites, distances, cartridge box lids, fireplaces – how big, how hot, evidence for covering over, chipping rocks clean – charred bone fragments, human teeth, a bloodied rock and the hairs adhering to it. After Gribble’s report to the Aboriginal inspector in Wyndham, to Western Australia’s Chief Protector of Aborigines, AO Neville, and to the Australian Board of Missions, police recorded traces of human remains. In December 1926 the Police Commissioner recommended the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the complaints. Perth-based Senior Stipendiary Magistrate George Tuttle Wood was appointed Commissioner in January 1927, and commenced hearing evidence in Darwin, Wyndham, Forrest River Mission, Dala, Derby and Perth.

Government Printer 1927, p. xvii. Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

Forens i c ev i dence Four photographs in total were produced as exhibits to the Royal Commission.14 They record the aftermath of massacre, required to bear witness to the truth of events bitterly contested, then and now. As evidence, these visual records were intended to seek justice for Aboriginal people. Their origin is unknown, although a similar image was sent to Neville by Inspector Mitchell of the West Australian Aborigines Department in September 1926. As the photographs show investigators searching for evidence at the crime scenes it is likely that they were made by department officials such as Mitchell, or perhaps by the Gribble faction, all of whom were involved in the initial site inspections.15 The portrait of the elderly man Gumbool is most likely to have been produced by the missionaries and is reproduced within the report alongside the crime scenes. A v e il of con v e ntion

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Government Printer 1927, p. xvii. Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

Whole page from Wood Report, p. xvii. GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission of Inquiry into Alleged Killing and Burning of Bodies of Aborigines in East Kimberley and into Police Methods when Effecting Arrests, Perth

< Gumbool. GT Wood Report

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Government Printer 1927, p. xvii. Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant

As evidence, the photographs were intended to complement other traces of what had happened in these places. They introduce the evidence presented to the inquiry, setting the scene by showing the places where these terrible events occurred. At first glance, they appear inscrutable – blurred, grainy, almost pointless. Yet they were supposed to prove certain facts to the commission and its public audience – that a bullet was fired at a particular place, lodging in a tree; that a huge, very hot fire burnt at another place; that an elderly man named Gumbool could be identified from his portrait as a man seen ‘caught and chained up at Dala’.16 They index Gribble’s account of his journey to the alleged massacre sites and are referred to without discussion simply as ‘exhibits’, as if they were transparent windows into these remote and inaccessible places.17 Much of the evidence, including the photographs, is circumstantial, yet was explored by the court in minute detail. They were seen, however indirectly, as objective data. Given the extraordinary lengths to which the perpetrators had gone to cover their tracks, as well as difficulties such as the inaccessible terrain, complete denial by the accused white men, and a lack of witnesses, such images served as forensic evidence. They offer not a landscape but details, partial views standing alongside charred bone and teeth as artefacts, evidence of atrocity. The image of the Dala site, where four prisoners were ‘alleged to have been chained and shot’ reveals little to the viewer. It centres upon a tree, framed by the statement that its ‘left lower limb [was] marked as if by a bullet.’ The image and its caption therefore challenged the testimony of Sergeant Buckland, in charge of the Wyndham police station, who had done his best to refute Gribble’s allegations. When first questioned by the inquiry, Buckland stated:18 Mr Gribble, jun., pointed out the place where he said the natives had been chained, but I could see no evidence of natives having been chained … About a foot from the ground (on a bloodwood tree) was a mark which young Gribble said was a bullet mark. It did not look like a bullet mark; it seemed to be a bruise that had been made with a stone or blunt instrument. I poked it with a knife but there was no trace of any bullet.

Recalled for further examination, Buckland admitted that in fact he had seen and collected a bullet ‘taken from a tree’ and had ‘omitted to mention it when I was A v e il of con v e ntion

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giving my evidence. It was quite an oversight.’19 Wood pronounced Buckland’s testimony ‘unreliable and unsatisfactory’, asking ‘What reliance can be placed on such evidence?’. The bullet was eventually produced and identified as a .44 Winchester rifle bullet, as had indeed been used by the police party.20 The two ‘scenes of fire’ were specifically intended to prove the intensity and extensive area of burning, highly significant in a region where the Indigenous people’s campfires were always small and short-lived. While two scenes simply show the landscape, the third is explicitly a crime scene, our attention going straight to the two crouching, searching figures of Gribble and Ronald. Their presence generates a narrative about clues and detective work, and the archaeological, narrowly referential meaning of the evidence. But the fourth image, of Gumbool, has a different effect. Where the primary evidence for the deaths of many local people was simply their absence from the mission roll from the time of the police expedition, the importance of Gumbool’s portrait is that it asserts his existence and humanity. The portrait was probably produced by Gribble or his staff as part of a record of the life and achievements of the mission, as was long-standing mission practice. Awkwardly cropped at the head, his body has been over-drawn with black ink and white paint to emphasise his silhouette, to deepen shadow, and highlight features such as his waist-belt and facial painting. It is significant that the other images, difficult to read as they are, have remained untouched, their value residing in the objective, dispassionate record they constitute. In the context of the commission report, the truth of Gumbool’s portrait lay primarily in rupturing the faceless anonymity of the victims of frontier violence, breaching the comfortable blindness of a distant audience for whom such conflict was an inconceivable, unimaginable affair with no human casualties. His portrait individualises a people, insisting on the victims’ humanity and enlarging the meaning of the visual narrative. It assumes the symbolic value of a memorial. The arrangement of these four images mimics the long-standing visual strategy of showing Aboriginal people ‘before’ and ‘after’ ‘civilisation’ by missionaries. Yet, where this technique normally showed traditional customs juxtaposed with assimilated lifestyles to argue for uplift at white hands, the organisation of these images within the Wood report contrasted human life with the empty landscape – the aftermath of massacre. 72

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Daniel Evans concluded his account of the massacre at Forrest River by telling how:21 Nowadays, now, at Umbali, you can hear ghosts crying in the nights, chains, babies crying, troopers’ horse, chains jingling. I didn’t believe it, but I went there, mustering cattle for droving to the meatworks, I heard it too. We was camping at Umbali station couple of weeks. We were there sleeping still. It was all silence. You could hear woman rocking her baby to sleep, ‘Wawai! Wawai, Wawai!’ like this, rocking the baby to sleep.

Historians might continue to debate what happened at Forrest River in 1926, but the Indigenous community will never forget this event. The violent struggle for Australian soil was long disregarded, disavowed by city dwellers or considered the price to be paid for white settlement. The acknowledgement of the Forrest River massacre through the establishment of a Royal Commission in 1927 marked a new attitude of refusal to sanction such violence. The repercussions of Forrest River were felt around the nation and overseas as politicians, humanitarians and the general public debated the Royal Commission’s findings.22 The photographs, unsatisfying as they might seem as evidence, on aesthetic or technical grounds, or even as a historical narrative, expressed a new determination to recognise injustice and inhumanity toward Indigenous Australians. Where attempts to erase evidence were excused by one policeman as ‘quite an oversight’, such images insist on showing us what happened. They define and frame such atrocity for the first time, and they insist that we see it too.

From cri m e s cenes t o vi c t i m s The photographs introduce the evidence presented to the inquiry, setting the scene by showing the places where these terrible events occurred. They serve as forensic evidence, or court ‘exhibits’ but they also, I suggest, have another function, as seeming windows into the remote, chopped-up country of the east Kimberley that was so hard to penetrate by foot or on horseback. They showed A v e il of con v e ntion

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white viewers the site of these brutal murders, and the ‘dark deeds in a sunny land’ that the missionary Ernest Gribble’s father had first revealed in the 1880s. They had the effect of bringing these events closer, insisting that they occupied the same world as civilised city viewers. Historian Katrina Schlunke’s study of a massacre said to have taken place at Bluff Rock in New England, New South Wales, during the early days of white settlement, concluded that the event did not in fact take place there and she asks, ‘why say it did?’23 She concludes that by placing the massacre in rough country, we can imagine that it all happened away from our homes, gardens, towns and cities. If we can separate the violence from our civilised spaces, ‘we will never remember the cars and the roads and the reservations and the barristers and the cities which made the systematic dispossession and dispersal of Aboriginal people possible. That is far away.’24 The photographs bring these places and events closer again. As Susan Sontag argued of war photographs, they establish a proximity that keeps us alert to the human cost of war, famine and destruction in places that may be distant, both geographically and culturally.25 The Wood report marked an important shift in how Australians thought about the conditions of Aboriginal people in the north. Historian Neville Green traces the growing public disquiet as fragments of information began to be reported, beginning with the Daily News in September 1926, which announced ‘Seven natives shot and burned – sensational happening in Aboriginal camp’.26 While the Western Australian press, always a supporter of settler interests, was slow to publish details, the eastern tabloid Truth attacked with a series of sensational headlines, announcing the ‘mutilated bodies of natives found in Kimberleys’.27 From January 1927, Australian newspapers closely followed the inquiry, with around 200 stories appearing throughout the year. The papers detailed the evidence presented to the commission, its finding in May that the police patrol had killed 11 Aboriginal people and fabricated evidence, the trial of two accused white men in July, and their subsequent discharge due to ‘insufficient’ evidence. In March alone, as the commission gathered evidence, there were 114 media reports of the ‘frightful allegations’ of ‘native atrocities’, and the ‘gruesome’ and ‘startling’ evidence of ‘native slaughter’, in what became known as the ‘the WA sensation’.28 In a rare illustrated feature, the conservative Western Mail reproduced the commission report’s selection of photos in its 74

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photographic supplement alongside a group portrait of the commissioner and his colleagues.29 At this time, photographs were not juxtaposed with articles, although this would begin to happen just a few years later. ‘Massacres’ had of course been going on since white invasion, and although it is tempting to see this event as the cause of public reactions, really its very recognition and definition as mass murder required a new acknowledgement that such actions lay beyond the bounds of civilisation. Gribble’s insistence on telling the authorities what had happened might be attributed to his idiosyncratic personality, but the official decision to investigate Wood’s finding that Aboriginal people had indeed been murdered by the police party, and the outraged public response, constituted a new perception of what was acceptable. But the forensic photographs produced as evidence for the Wood report were not themselves widely circulated in the newspapers. Instead, newspaper reports of the events at Forrest River were more commonly illustrated with a photograph of Lumbia, an arrested murderer, who now occupied a contradictory symbolic space; as a ‘criminal’ (enchained) he represented a white desire to contain black threat but he now also symbolised white atrocity. For example, one response that framed the image of Lumbia, headlined, ‘Tragedies in the Kimberley District of Western Australia’, declared that:30 It would be no exaggeration to say that the Australian public has been shocked by the allegations of an almost wholesale massacre of Kimberley natives made against various persons by the Rev ERB Gribble, superintendent of the Forrest River Mission, and reported in this week’s newspapers. It seemed incredible that such deeds could be possible on this continent.

More importantly, though, from around the time of the Forrest River affair, it was the image of the neck-chained Aboriginal prisoner that became an immediately recognisable symbol of ill-treatment, slipping easily from being a record of specific events to becoming a universal emblem of slavery and injustice. For example, evangelist James Ferrier, the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald to lament this same photograph of Lumbia, describing it as a ‘sinister picture’ showing ‘one aboriginal man chained to another’. He singled out the prisoners’ circumstances A v e il of con v e ntion

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Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant and Daryl Smith

‘Tragedies in the Kimberley district of Western Australia: natives Under Sentence of Death and Two Black Trackers’. ‘The Aborigines: Conditions in the North’, 12 March 1927, Sydney Morning Herald, p. 131

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for critique, linking Lumbia’s treatment as shown in this image to John Gribble’s accusations of ill-treatment in the 1880s, and declared:31

Moral/cultural permission Floyd Grant and Daryl Smith

One is horrified at the sight of these two men in chains. Surely the ordinary manacles would be sufficient for ensuring detention of such men. At all costs the use of such methods as chaining in the manner depicted should be avoided … This chaining of innocent people is another instance of gross injustice towards helpless and dependent members of a child race. I propose to use every effort in my power to raise public opinion against this and any other outrages against our aborigines.

Ferrier’s response was typically paternalistic and proprietary, presenting the prisoners as passive and needing to rely upon white generosity. Significantly, his letter marked a shift from media discussion of events specific to Forrest River and the understanding of shackling as justifiable, to a more generalised focus upon shackling as a marker of injustice and inhumanity. Humanitarian appeals such as Ferrier’s invoked abolitionist symbolism and the emblem of the anti-slavery movement – the kneeling slave in chains, asking ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother?’ (see page 36). Such images began to be placed directly alongside reporters’ stories and became the target of explicit critique, beginning to circulate overseas in newspapers and the new photo-journalism magazine format, combining reproductions of photographs with a powerful narrative told by pictures and words.32 The intensified circulation of the photographic image of neck-chained Aboriginal people during the late 1920s and 1930s served to ‘prove’ the existence of such treatment with all the medium’s evidentiary force, while simultaneously harnessing the moral power of this familiar iconography. Activists began to make use of the symbolic power of such imagery in campaigning against Indigenous ill-treatment. A few months after Wood’s report was handed down in July 1927, Newcastle journalist Dorothy Maloney pointed to photographic evidence of brutality in the north in the form of neck-chained prisoners to argue for Aboriginal rights in NSW. Maloney was a non-Indigenous supporter of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association led by Indigenous activist Fred Maynard and based in the north coast of NSW. As historian John Maynard has A v e il of con v e ntion

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shown, this strong Indigenous movement, in alliance with Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, battled with the Aborigines’ Protection Board from 1924 until the end of the decade. Writing in the Newcastle paper, the Voice of the North, Maloney deplored forced Aboriginal labour in chain-gangs in Western Australia and likened this ill-treatment to African slavery. For Maloney, photographs constituted irrefutable proof:33 [T]he camera cannot lie; and now Australia must be ranked with the Congo and Soudan in its treatment of human beings … I never dreamed that the Southern Cross, which floated on the Peninsula of Gallipoli, would wave over conditions as delineated in that gruesome picture.

Finally, in mid-1927, the sight of Aboriginal people in chains could be described in popular accounts as ‘gruesome’, ‘sinister’, as evidence for ‘gross injustice’ and for ‘outrages against our aborigines’. Far from northern conditions, city agitators in the south drew upon this frontier imagery with great effect, building upon public outrage about outback scandals over the following decade.

C oni s ton Indignation over Forrest River swelled the following year as another scandal – now known as the Coniston Massacre – erupted over events in Central Australia. In August 1928 a dingo hunter, Frederick Brooks, was killed by Aboriginal people at a place called Yukurru, on Coniston cattle station in central Australia. Police Constable William Murray led three separate patrols over the following two months that were thought to have resulted in the murder of at least 31 Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye people.34 During the trial of the Aboriginal men accused of murdering Brooks, Murray was asked why he shot to kill and he responded in shockingly casual terms: ‘What could I do with a wounded blackfellow hundreds of miles away from civilisation?’35 Where authorities such as Murray reduced Aboriginal people to wild animals, images could argue for their full humanity. Anthropologist and MP Herbert Basedow, for example, explained that severe drought had caused near 78

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starvation in the region, which was the cause of conflict: ‘the wild aborigine does not spear the cattle of the white man with any more criminal intent than the white man shoots his kangaroos’. Basedow had previously lobbied government for better treatment of Aboriginal people, and campaigned for improving Aboriginal health. In 1919, he instigated a public meeting about South Australia’s neglect of Aboriginal people which led to a series of medical relief expeditions. Basedow personalised the ‘central region’ people in describing how they adorned their hair and bodies, and argued that they had usually been helpful to white settlers in showing them water and the best travelling routes. A photograph of two ‘Warriors from Barrow Creek’, said to be typical of those attacked, served a similar function to the image of Gumbool at Forrest Creek. By showing the victims as individuals in their own social context, they are given human status.36 As a result of adverse press coverage and sustained lobbying from missionary and other humanitarian societies, a Board of Enquiry was appointed into all three of Murray’s police patrols but its independence and integrity was compromised from the outset.37 The Board concluded that the shooting was justified and that there was no evidence of any starvation of blacks. No provocation was given and ‘under rigorous cross-examination, each of the witnesses stated that it was absolutely necessary to shoot in order to save their own lives’. The inquiry exonerated the police officers involved.38 This evident injustice had a great impact upon reformers and humanitarians such as Mary Montgomerie Bennett, who subsequently became prominent in the Aboriginal cause, working tirelessly for three decades to secure support through feminist and Empire networks.39 Bennett was particularly struck by a photograph of neck-chained Aboriginal prisoners published in late 1929, to judge from her discussion of it and attention to the Coniston massacre in her 1930 book The Australian Aboriginal as a Human Being and a range of pamphlets published between 1935 and 1957.40 Like other sympathetic observers of this period, Bennett made effective use of the figure of the chained black body, describing the plight of Central Australian Aboriginal people gaoled for killing stock during drought and how ‘they served their sentences neck-chained to each other with heavy chains’.41 This image crystallised her argument that Indigenous treatment in the north constituted slavery. She continued to make such claims over subsequent years, for example, at the 1933 annual conference of the A v e il of con v e ntion

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Moral/cultural permission Andy Tjilari, through the Ara Irititja Project

‘Aborigine [sic] Prisoners at the Alice Springs Gaol’ 80

Herald (Melbourne), 18 November, 1929, p. 22

‘Warriors from Barrow Creek’ [sic] [Actually Pitjanjatjara men dressed for Pintiralpa ceremony]. Herbert Basedow, lantern slide, National Museum of Australia, 1985.60.3052

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A v e il of con v e ntion

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Herald (Melbourne), 18 November, 1929, p. 22

Moral/cultural permission Andy Tjilari, through the Ara Irititja Project

London-based Dominion Women’s British Commonwealth League, in a paper that made London and Australian newspaper headlines. These accusations were instrumental in prompting the 1934 Moseley Royal Commission.42 In 1930, Bennett commented on the ‘irony’ that the massacres were committed at the very time that an official was in the Territories for the express purpose of investigating charges of ill-treatment of the natives, which she considered evidence for ‘how reckless and blunted settlers and police have become through immunity from the consequences of their crimes’.43 Historians such as Charles Rowley have also since noted the timeliness of the Commonwealth government’s decision to appoint John William Bleakley, Queensland’s Chief Protector, to visit Central and North Australia to review conditions and make ‘enlightened recommendations, at a time when interest in stories about ill-treatment of Aboriginal people was growing’.44 The upsurge in public interest, official reform and humanitarian activism was more than coincidental, however. As these earlier observers noted, this conjunction should be understood as part of a wide-ranging shift in mainstream ideas about Indigenous people and their place in society. One innovative aspect of their public narration was their visual representation in the popular media. For committed humanitarian activism to be effective – even by missionaries such as the Gribbles and Ann Lock, who were prepared to encounter great personal hostility – a receptive political, official and popular climate was required. Framing Forrest River and Coniston as ‘outrages’ or ‘massacres’ involved isolating and defining particular events from a process of frontier violence as old as colonisation itself. By the late 1920s, the photographic image of the Aboriginal prisoner in chains had become a symbol for frontier violence in the north, and for Indigenous Australian slavery.

‘Thi s place i s a di s g r ac e ’’ Despite the increasing visibility of frontier violence and the growing debate about the treatment of Aboriginal people, there were still powerful conventional limits on what it was acceptable to show or discuss. Certain sights, such as disease or physical suffering, were now seen as shameful, even shocking, and so were 82

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deemed unfit for public consumption. The image of the Aboriginal prisoner in chains emerged as a dominant symbol of Indigenous oppression in part because it masked, or stood in place of, these other pictures of injustice. As a range of discriminatory practices became the target of reform during the 1920s, visual evidence began to circulate in the public domain. Using a visual language of abjection, images of suffering presaged a critical genre of documentary photography and precisely mapped the bounds of contemporary taste and civility. Unlike the familiar image of the chained prisoner, these shocking images nonetheless impelled a similar form of partial and compromised recognition. In 1928, for example, Adelaide doctor and keen amateur photographer William Delano Walker attempted to force action on medical treatment in remote communities, yet his insistence on proving his allegations with photographic evidence was obstructed by contemporary ideas of decorum. Walker and his wife travelled for 18 months through Central Australia, encountering appalling living conditions in the Alice Springs town camps and at the Bungalow, a home for ‘half-caste’ children constructed of corrugated iron. Walker photographed widespread disease and unhygienic conditions, submitting a report to the Minister of Home and Territories in August 1928 that included 50 photographs, still shocking to the modern viewer, documenting his claims.45 Walker’s submission was noted by the government which had already appointed, in May 1928, the Queensland Chief Protector of Aborigines, JW Bleakley, to conduct an inquiry into ‘the status and conditions of aboriginals and half-castes in Central and North Australia’.46 Bleakley’s report sought to apply Queensland policy across the north, recommending reforms such as the creation of large reserves that would allow the maintenance of a traditional way of life. Bleakley incorporated some of Walker’s less explicit and confronting photographs into an album of over 170 images. A single page illustrating acute medical conditions, titled ‘Sores, Granuloma, Syphilis and Yaws from Infection by flies seen by Dr Walker in Central Australia’, is included among an assemblage of classic ‘Top End’ tourist sights, ranging from ‘primitive types’, interesting rock formations and the ruins of Port Essington, to Aboriginal people working on missions and going to church. Bleakley’s bland selection of photographs – like his report itself – bowdlerises Indigenous conditions. In particular, his view of children standing before the Bungalow contrasts with A v e il of con v e ntion

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‘This place is a disgrace’. William Delano Walker

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National Archives of Australia, Series A1, Item 1928/10743, ‘Illustrations. Accompanying Report on Aborigines by Dr WD Walker’, p. 16

Walker’s ‘flashlight photographs’ (taken at night) of children and adults sleeping on the ground outside the overcrowded Bungalow.47 Walker’s captions detailed their circumstances, declaring:48 … this place is a disgrace. Male and female sleep alongside one another just as close as sardines in a tin. They sleep in the same clothes as they have on all day long. It is an impossibility for them to all lie down within the place. If it rains they must go inside and stand up.

National Archives of Australia, Series A1, Item 1928/10743, ‘Illustrations. Accompanying Report on Aborigines by Dr WD Walker’, p. 16

A close look at this particular image hints at the participation of the ‘sleepers’ – a dog stands in the centre of the image looking with great interest at two small boys on the right, who are wrestling with each other, while the others resolutely keep their eyes shut.

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The Sydney Bulletin later published these scandalous images, quoting Walker’s comment that ‘babies are born amongst this tangled mass of half-whitehalf-black humanity without any privacy whatsoever’.49 In what appears to be a direct result of this powerful visual critique, the Aboriginal Children’s Home at Jay Creek was completed shortly afterwards to house the Bungalow’s inmates. Walker’s advocacy for better medical services also bore results, with a resident medical doctor appointed to Alice Springs the following year and an aerial medical service in 1934.50 Yet Walker’s more explicit images of dirt and the suffering Aboriginal body transgressed the bounds of propriety, and were not made public. When he gave his report to the Adelaide Register in March 1929, it responded with scandalised distaste:51 His photographs were not taken with a view to their reproduction in a bluebook, but to make it impossible for anyone to reject as incredible such a story of misery and squalor as, in this country at least, ought to be beyond belief as, in detail, it is unfit for public discussion.

The disgust and shame expressed by newspapers precisely delineate contemporary notions of civility and concealment. (Indeed, I have also chosen not to reproduce them; in part this is because I consider them to breach their subjects’ privacy and dignity.) The journalist lamented the fact that ‘considerations of public decency’ prevented Walker’s photographs being shown across the Commonwealth, noting that ‘civilized communities’ were ‘strangers to the grosser sort of candour, and see no small part of life through a veil of convention, which, however desirable from one point of view, is no aid to the sense of vision’. The journalist argued that ‘among the unpleasant truths which are largely hidden from the people of Australia, is the truth about the detribalised aborigines of this country’, and that ‘it would not do to permit this revelation to leave Australia’.52 While Walker’s and, to a lesser extent, Bleakley’s use of photographic imagery to document the terrible conditions prevailing in the north testifies to the medium’s power as proof, the very impact of the more explicit images of deformity and sickness prevented their public circulation in the popular media. 86

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Mainstream reluctance to view such ‘obscenities’ has had a lasting power to restrict public acknowledgement of the Aboriginal predicament, an unwillingness that continues into the present.

C a ledon Bay While Forrest River and Coniston had been violent clashes that were deplored as object lessons after the event, Caledon Bay was even more scandalous. In this case, public anxiety managed to prevent such violence taking place. In 1932 five Japanese trepangers who entered the Aboriginal Reserve at Caledon Bay in East Arnhem Land without a permit were killed. An investigating police party encountered a group of Yolngu on Woodah Island and the warrior Dhakiyarr speared and killed Mounted Constable Albert McColl.53 A ‘punitive expedition’ was proposed, prompting a huge public outcry in Australia and in Britain in defence of Aboriginal people, described by the Times as ‘a remarkable display of feeling in the Commonwealth’.54 No punitive expedition was sent to Caledon Bay but instead a small ‘peace’ party led by missionaries persuaded the Yolngu to voluntarily go to Darwin. On 6 August 1934, Dhakiyarr was sentenced to hang but, following a successful appeal, was released from Fannie Bay Gaol, only to disappear the next night.55 By now it was standard practice to include photographs alongside newspaper stories, as well as in supplements. The tremendous press interest in the case expressed a range of views, with many reporters framing photographs of Yolngu people as a threat; they were termed ‘wild blacks’ and often shown holding spears or other weapons. As the scandal grew, however, counter-arguments for Indigenous cultural difference, or for their child-like incapacity, were advanced as the basis for mercy. For example, Aboriginal people from Groote Eylandt mission were illustrated as an example of their essential humanity. Much attention was also paid to the white clergymen who led the ‘peace party’. A series of photos taken of the Yolngu men as they arrived in Darwin showed them smiling and happy, in what some reports termed a ‘vindication’ of the mission. Yet other accounts gave their happy demeanour a sinister inflection through captions terming them the ‘Caledon Bay Killers’ who had ‘confessed A v e il of con v e ntion

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Moral/cultural permission Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Nhulunbuy

to murder’, and a photo of McColl’s coffin borne by seven ‘police comrades’.56 Their relaxed and smiling appearance is most unusual in imagery of this period, and is probably due to the presence of their friend, trepanger Fred Gray, as well as their complete ignorance of what awaited them. The Reverend Alf Dyer of Oenpelli is shown carefully posing the bashful Dhakiyarr for the camera, in a rather ironic visual metaphor that captures his disingenuous manipulation of his photographic subject. Between September 1933 and August 1934, as debate surrounding Caledon Bay gathered momentum, the use of neck-chains focused criticism of Indigenous treatment, appearing in the press increasingly often. The Australian Women’s Weekly, for example, ran half a dozen articles about Aboriginal policy in the north and was strongly critical of official policy which had failed to protect Aboriginal people, especially women, from Japanese aggression.57 The Weekly took a strong interest in the Caledon Bay affair, arguing in several editorials for Aboriginal reserves and special courts. It campaigned against hanging the eight men sentenced by Judge Wells, and proudly trumpeted its advocacy for special courts. The general public now understood the need to recognise cultural difference in legal proceedings, following Judge Wells’s callous and widely reported remark that ‘possibly the best and kindest thing to do to them is to hang them. It is difficult to decide what to do with them’, before sentencing them to 20 years imprisonment. He had also ventured somewhat beyond his brief in commenting that ‘the people killed are the subjects of a friendly nation’, giving the matter an unwarranted international significance that incurred an official reprimand.58 The usually unsympathetic Bulletin summed up widespread recognition that it made no sense to punish people leading a traditional way of life through alien means in its comment that ‘the poor devils were, of course, merely meting out justice to the invaders according to local custom’.59 Norman Lindsay’s cartoon pointed to this absurdity, in showing the accused men as pawns in an international political game. In a grotesque kind of pidgin English the court interpreter asks the accused, ‘You savvy, Mow? You savvy, Narkayah? You savvy, Natchelma? No more you blackpfella – you big pfella international issue. No more Gubment gibbit flour, gibbit blanket – you catchem twenty year longa lock-up.’ In January 1934 John Perkins, the Minister for the Interior, instructed the flash of recognition

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Moral/cultural permission Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Nhulunbuy

‘The Caledon Bay Killers’. The CourierMail, 16 April 1934, p. 14 A v e il of con v e ntion

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the Bulletin, vol. 55, no. 2843, 8 August 1934, cover

Norman Lindsay, ‘Interpreting It’ 90

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police to discontinue the practice of chaining and it was reported that ‘Protests were made recently in England that Australian authorities were driving natives in “chain gangs”, and the Government’s decision is interpreted as a partial concession to overseas opinion’.60 Newspaper features directly juxtaposed images showing neck-chained prisoners with articles and letters deploring or defending the practice, such as the West Australian’s feature of 16 January, which quoted Mary Bennett explaining ‘how chaining natives can be avoided’ through provision of large reserves. Over the following months, further protests were reported such as that of the Reverend AT Holden, the President-General of the Methodist Church and head of the Methodist Inland Mission, who objected to the ‘unnecessary use of irons’, arguing that Aboriginal people ‘were only children, having no understanding of the white man’s point of view’ and, with an eye to appearances, he suggested that ‘methods less apparently cruel should be used in the official treatment of blacks’.61 In June 1934, JR Wilkinson of the Methodist Home Mission gave a talk in Shepparton in which he claimed widespread murder and ill-treatment and displayed a photograph of ‘blacks in prison, chained together with neck chains and leg irons’.62 As Holden had observed, neck-chaining was a conspicuously inhumane practice and in the hands of humanitarians its image became a powerful emblem of ill-treatment more generally.

the Bulletin, vol. 55, no. 2843, 8 August 1934, cover

Perfectly com fortable i n t h ei r c h ai ns The battle over Indigenous treatment was structured by a concern for appearances throughout this period as officials denied or dismissed reformers’ claims of suffering, instead asserting their own successful management. International opinion remained a potent force and conflict often focused upon the status of visual evidence as a key source of information. Unprecedented public concern prompted the appointment of Henry Doyle Moseley as Royal Commissioner to an inquiry in 1934, set up to investigate the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal people. Moseley downplayed accusations of ill-treatment and poor conditions in Western Australia (although acknowledging that leprosy had become an ‘urgent matter’).63 The inquiry’s fourth term of reference addressed A v e il of con v e ntion

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The West Australian, Tuesday 16 January 1934, p. 10

A group of Aboriginal people being brought to trial in neck chains. ‘Avoiding the Evil: Adequate Reserves Advocated’

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‘allegations which [had] appeared in the Press’ since 1 July 1930 regarding ill-treatment in Western Australia, alluding to Mary Bennett’s ‘Allegations of Slavery’. Moseley dismissed ‘the many general statements of this nature made by this witness, [that] really provided nothing specific into which I could inquire’, and deplored her technique of appealing to British sentiment instead of informing local authorities.64 Turning to the issue of neck-chaining, he commented that:65

The West Australian, Tuesday 16 January 1934, p. 10

… the practice has been described by one witness before the Commission as one causing the greatest misery and degradation. With all respect to that witness – a lady whose views show unmistakably her well-intentioned, but I think extravagant, ideas of what should be done for the native – I noticed no such effect. Indeed, they seemed perfectly comfortable in their chains, they had every freedom of action, and apparently did not notice them. Other witnesses of great experience amongst natives – men of humane ideas and expressing their honest conviction – have said that the practice is not only necessary in many cases but, properly carried out, inflicts no hardship on the native.

Moseley concluded, ‘I do not see how chaining can be avoided. It would appear to be necessary, both from the point of view of the safety of the escorting constable and also in order to prevent escape … the prisoners showed no sign of any adverse effect either physical or mental’.66 Moseley’s report was accompanied by nine photographs showing the neat buildings and Indigenous inmates of missions he had visited in a long tradition of depicting the successful management of such places through emphasising European housing, clothing, Christianity, and spatial and bodily order. The assemblage concludes with a group portrait of ‘Teacher and Children at Kunmunya Mission School’, illustrating his comment that the school work was ‘carried out on sound lines, and the results as seen by me were encouraging’.67 This photo showed neatly dressed, smiling children with their white teacher, representing hope for the future (‘It is to the children, I think, that the missionary should look chiefly for any real response to religious training.’) No visual evidence for disease or ill-treatment was presented and indeed Moseley downplayed such evidence, claiming that Aboriginal camp-dwellers along the line of the Trans-Australian A v e il of con v e ntion

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Railway aimed ‘to make themselves look as poverty stricken as possible in order to enlist the sympathies of travelers in their begging tactics’, and concluded ‘It is not to be wondered at that stories are taken overseas of the wretched conditions of our blacks’.68 A few months after Moseley’s report was released, Reverend W Morley, secretary of the Association for the Protection of Native Races, showed Minister for the Interior, Thomas Paterson, photographs of Aboriginal people chained to one another by ‘heavy metal chains’ arguing that ‘the iron rings around the necks of aborigines, to which the chains were attached … caused sores which were attacked by insects while the natives were on the march’. Paterson, however, reiterated Moseley’s conclusion.69 So the practice of neck-chaining continued, despite protest by humanitarians making use of visual evidence. In the struggle over visual evidence about



Dr Duguid, in his lectures, autobiography, and in popular magazine accounts, told and re-told the story of his own shocking encounter.

Indigenous conditions, the ‘commonsense’ view advanced by officials arguing for the status quo denied the visual import of photographs of Indigenous prisoners in the outback and deprecated ‘appearances’ as misleading. Campaigners, however, persisted in protesting chaining using photographic evidence, increasingly published in popular forums. Like William Walker’s expeditions through Central Australia, activist Dr Charles Duguid was able to bring Indigenous living conditions to the public’s attention precisely through his effective use of the image of the chained Indigenous prisoner. In his lectures, autobiography, and in popular magazine accounts, he told and re-told the story of his own shocking encounter. Duguid himself had been impelled to action by seeing filthy conditions in Alice Springs in 1934, launching his career as a campaigner for Aboriginal 94

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people.70 Duguid’s biographer Rani Kerin suggests that he subsequently employed a strategy of persuading audiences to the cause through re-enacting this experience. By shocking his audience, he hoped to ‘incur’ what he termed the ‘upset which follows a revelation of the situation’ and so spur them to action.71 Duguid made clever use of visual imagery to simulate this ‘revelation’. His commonsense approach, grounded in both his scientific credentials as a doctor and his involvement in the Presbyterian church, offered these images as incontrovertible proof. Through visual examples, he contrasted ‘degradation’ with redemption, picturing the results of white beneficence. A double-page photo-essay in the popular English magazine the Weekly Illustrated, contrasted different views of Aboriginal capabilities: ‘“Lowest Type of Human Being Known,” say the settlers, of the Australian Aborigine. “Most Under-rated People in the World” say the Missionaries and Anthropologists.’ Quoting Duguid, the article juxtaposes a full-length photograph of an Aboriginal man in chains with a neat photographic portrait of the ‘same man, after 3 months’ humane treatment.’72 This was an established visual technique to tell a story of progress, usually showing the transition of an Indigenous subject from savage to civilised, but here the transition is enacted by white humanity toward the black subject. Duguid discussed this man’s case in his autobiography, describing how an Aboriginal said to be a ‘dangerous lunatic’ was brought in to a police station. When he examined him, he found that he was ‘painfully thin, with depressions above and below the collarbones. His wrists and hands were swollen, with recent chafes on the back of the right hand and lower part of the left forearm – possibly from the handcuffs’. He also described a series of recent and older scars and marks from ill-treatment and neglect. After seeing him fed properly, Duguid had

>> ‘Lowest Type of Human Being Known’ say the settlers, of the Australian Aborigine. “Most Under-rated People in the World” say the Missionaries and Anthropologists.’ A v e il of con v e ntion

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Weekly Illustrated 13 November 1937, pp. 6–7

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the man transferred to the Adelaide Mental Hospital where after two months he was ‘discharged restored to physical and mental health’.73 Where Bennett was easily dismissed by Moseley as vague and ‘extravagant’ in her claims, Duguid’s authority gave him great status within Indigenous affairs. He was careful to provide specific information, and framed his photographic assemblage in medical, objective terms, appealing to a commonsense language of decency that defined chaining as inhumane and a medical threat. While Duguid’s Aboriginal patient is defined in part by his subordination, victimhood and his passive role as beneficiary of white assistance, for Duguid and his audience the image of the chained Indigenous prisoner stood for a lack of white humanity. In the Australian context, a range of scholars has pointed out the ways that recognition by mainstream institutions has constrained Indigenous identities and culture in requiring them to conform to ideals of authenticity; for example, through academic critique and the native title process.74 Anthropologist



Visual culture both revealed and obscured Indigenous Australians, who had to assume certain, acceptable forms.

Elizabeth Povinelli has pointed out the importance of moral feeling existing alongside a more ‘rational’ political sphere, which may be deeply divisive within liberal forms of multiculturalism. She calls this the ‘cunning of recognition’. However well-intentioned, modernist liberalism inspires minority peoples to identify with the ‘impossible’ goal of an authentic self-identity that must not offend mainstream moral sensibilities.75 The politics of recognition relies upon Indigenous conformance to conventional notions of propriety, which may act to conceal or mask the abhorrent. It was only as the frontier days were perceived to be ending that it became possible for mainstream Australian society to acknowledge the profound cost 98

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to Indigenous people living on the last frontier of the north, to take action to prevent further conflict, and to attempt to ameliorate the condition of surviving groups. The confluence of several factors had engendered a new attitude toward Aboriginal people between the wars, including protests by Aboriginal people; new international ideas about rights and Indigenous people, a mainstream sense of moral distance from the remote frontier, a sense of shame before international opinion, and visual proof of outback conditions conveyed via photography. These structural forces shaped the period’s visual culture, seeing the operation of a complex interdependence of images and arguments between professionals such as policy-makers and humanitarians, and the general public. In 1920s and 1930s Australia, popular moral sensibilities allowed the figure of the Indigenous prisoner to be subsumed into a centuries-old visual tradition signified by the iconic chained slave, becoming an emblem of injustice that campaigners were able to deploy with great effect both at home and internationally. Yet such images, scandalous but familiar, were safely confined within the period’s bounds of propriety and civility. They worked to arouse empathy through pity for the ill-treated Indigenous subject, considered too childlike and primitive to speak for her/himself. These images lacked the shocking impact of more explicit records of Indigenous disease and squalor which, as a result, paradoxically, were censored and hidden from the public gaze. Visual culture both revealed and obscured Indigenous Australians, demonstrating how perception is dependent upon its object assuming certain, acceptable forms. The many photographs of neck-chained prisoners that circulated during these years constituted a partial and abstract view of Indigenous ill-treatment, defining the limits of recognition of Indigenous Australians within the modern global visual culture that flourished during the 1920s – the shocking sights ‘belonging to another world’ yet simultaneously, indubitably, belonging to our own.

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4:We are e ag l e s

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It has taken a Polish Jew to interpret the Aboriginal realistically, sympathetically, as a struggling people, without patronage or sentimentality. Noel Counihan to Bernard Smith, June 1943

Many have argued that the decade spanning World War Two marked a transformation in the status of Indigenous Australians that was expressed in policy, literature and art.1 In this and the following two chapters, I explore the profound shift in ways of seeing and thinking about Aboriginal people that occurred during the late 1930s and after the war. Some point to the effects of war in spurring demands for rights, yet it must be remembered that widespread changes were already afoot during the 1930s; some of these were simply put on hold during the war. Popular forms of visual media such as picture magazines were taken up by Indigenous leaders for their own ends, as with the first Day of Mourning and Protest in 1938. At the conclusion of the war, the impact of Holocaust imagery upon Australian audiences created an intensified role for photographic evidence in reporting distant atrocity. This shift in visual culture intersected with new understandings of the pernicious effects of racial thought, and it became increasingly common for observers to draw an analogy between Jewish and Aboriginal experiences of displacement and oppression, as well as the treatment of other ‘subject races’. Anthropologist WEH ‘Bill’ Stanner was one engaged observer in Indigenous affairs who argued in 1968 that the change in attitude toward Aboriginal people, from accepting their degradation and oppression to developing more ‘positive’ thinking about their advancement, had begun during the 1930s. Stanner claimed that by the end of that decade ‘the whole world had changed its attitude towards dependent peoples, and we responded at least as much to events and sentiments outside Australia as to events and sentiments within it’ in a case of ‘not by eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light’.2 Stanner was quoting Arthur Clough’s long-forgotten 1855 war poem ‘Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth’, to express this gradual, almost imperceptible and enveloping sense of transformation, which concludes: In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly! But westward, look, the land is bright! W e ar e e agl e s

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Stanner nominated 1938 as a ‘turning point’ when the new Minister for the Interior responsible for Commonwealth Aboriginal policy, JW ‘Blackjack’ McEwan, placed before parliament proposals for a ‘New Deal for the Aborigines in the Northern Territory’ for economic and social assimilation. A policy of assimilation was eventually implemented in 1951, under the new Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck. The aim of assimilation was to raise the status of Aboriginal people so that they could qualify for full citizenship, although it was an agenda contested then and now.3 Stanner’s description of the way that Aboriginal people remained invisible until the 1960s as the ‘great Australian silence’ has become an axiom of Australian public memory, continuing to resonate in the present.4 His periodisation continues to be broadly accepted, including his argument that these supposed ‘turning-points’ involved only a handful of already-involved people.5



In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly! But westward, look, the land is bright!

More recently, however, historians have added nuance to his account. Mitchell Rolls has argued for a much greater public interest in Aboriginal people than Stanner – who put many categories of texts ‘to one side’– allowed. Rolls states that if we consider a wider range of media, and particularly contemporary press coverage of Indigenous activism and of issues concerning Aboriginal welfare, a more general interest can be perceived.6 Ann Curthoys also argues that ‘the change that occurred was at least as much driven by Aboriginal people, voices, and politics, and that Stanner was an important register and publicist of these voices and these changes rather than their sole originator’.7 As I explore in chapters 4 to 6, visual media, including illustrated magazines and newspapers, provide evidence for Indigenous campaigns and widespread public responses to issues of race and Aboriginal policy during these years of sweeping change. 102

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I n di genous m edi a The first Aboriginal Day of Mourning and Protest was held on 26 January 1938, the sesquicentenary celebration of white settlement. Organised by the Sydneybased Aborigines’ Progressive Association (APA), the protest comprised of around 100 Aboriginal people who gathered at Australian Hall in Elizabeth Street to finalise their demands for ‘ordinary citizen rights, and full equality with other Australians’.8 In telegraphic style, Man magazine reported that:9 On January 26, 1938, while Australia celebrated, New South Wales aborigines mourned the coming of the white man, passed resolutions of protest after all-day indignation-debate, asked full citizens rights. Protested Organising Secretary Ferguson, ‘We have been “protected” for 150 years, and look what has become of us.’ Added Fitzroy footballer Douglas Nicholls, ‘We are not chickens, we are eagles.’

Pastor Doug Nicholls was referring to a traditional Native American fable about the eagle who was raised as a chicken, unable to free himself of others’ views of his identity, a narrative still very popular as an inspirational parable today. Called upon to free himself from the chicken coop and fly, the eagle demurred and ultimately died as a chicken. As an activist and mediator between Indigenous and white worlds, Nicholls and other Indigenous leaders were acutely aware of the importance of perception; the ways that others see us plays a fundamental role in how we see ourselves. Activists such as Jack Patten, President of the APA, had by now come to realise the importance of the media and visual imagery as a weapon in their war against oppression. This theme was prominent in the association’s campaign. Two weeks before the Day of Mourning, a pamphlet written by Jack Patten and Bill Ferguson, Aborigines Claim Citizens’ Rights!, had been widely distributed with the support of newspaper owner Percy Stephensen. This strongly worded manifesto complained of the poor treatment of the ‘Old Australians’, reviewed the failures of NSW protection policies and argued for citizen rights; it called for ‘equal education, equal opportunity, equal wages, equal rights to possess property, or to be our own masters – in two words: equal citizenship!’ One paragraph headed W e ar e e agl e s

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‘Comic cartoons and misrepresentation’ criticised media imagery of Aboriginal people, declaring:10

The Day of Mourning was represented in very different ways in white and Indigenous forums. It was first reported in Man magazine, an Australian version of the glossy American Esquire, which specialised in good-quality Australian fiction and non-fiction articles as well as risqué cartoons and photographs by such renowned figures as Max Dupain and Laurence Le Guay, in an expensive art deco style. In reporting the meeting, Man’s double-page picture story emphasised Aboriginal people mourning the supposed loss of traditional life and the degradation of ‘fringe-dweller’ conditions. On the left-hand side was shown a group of unidentified Aboriginal people in ragged European clothing. Below this appeared the image of a naked, unidentified Aboriginal man, kneeling on the ground, captioned by a fictitious, rather twee, lament for a vanished age: ‘“I do not know the name of my sadness,” runs song of desert eagles. “Once plenty kangaroos sat on the hills.”’11 His hair adornment and appearance suggests that he was from Central Australia. Below this and across the right-hand page were images from the protest meeting, the first captioned ‘Section of the Aboriginal meeting in Australian Hall, Sydney, organised by Aborigines’ Progressive Association mourners’.

Day of Mourning and Protest 1938. ‘Current Camera History: Australia’, Man, March 1938, pp. 84–5 104

Moral/cultural permission courtesy of June Barker and Suzanne Ingram

The Popular Press of Australia makes a joke of us by presenting silly and out-of-date drawings and jokes of ‘Jacky’ or ‘Binghi’, which have educated city-dwellers and young Australians to look upon us as sub-human. Is this not adding insult to injury? What a dirty trick, to push us down by laws, and then make fun of us! You kick us, and then laugh at our misfortunes. You keep us ignorant, and then accuse us of having no knowledge. Wake up, Australians, and realise that your cruel jokes have gone over the limit!

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Moral/cultural permission courtesy of June Barker and Suzanne Ingram

On the facing page, the caption read: A large blackboard displayed outside the hall proclaims, ‘Day of Mourning’ Leaflets warned that, ‘Aborigines and persons of Aboriginal blood only are invited to attend.’ At 5 o’clock in the afternoon resolution of indignation, protest, was moved, passed.

President Patten reads resolution, ‘We representing THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA … on the 150th Anniversary of the whitemen’s seizure of our country, HEREBY PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people … AND WE APPEAL to the Australian Nation of to-day … for FULL CITIZEN STATUS and EQUALITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.

Day of Mourning and Protest 1938. ‘Current Camera History: Australia’, Man, March 1938, pp. 84–5

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Moral/cultural permission courtesy of June Barker and Suzanne Ingram

This image has become famous as a record of the event and a symbol of Aboriginal activism and has been used in publications, websites and posters. As Suzanne Ingram has explained, it shows (from left to right) adults William Ferguson, Jack Kinchela, Doris Williams, Louisa Agnes Ingram and Jack Patten. The children have also been identified as Isaac Ingram, Esther Ingram, Arthur Williams (Junior), Phillip Ingram, and the baby in Louisa Ingram’s arms is her daughter, Olive.12 Men, women and children stand around the roughly-chalked board reading ‘ABORIGINES CONFERENCE – DAY OF MOURNING – ABORIGINES ONLY’, with some holding posters saying ‘ABORIGINES CLAIM CITIZEN RIGHTS’. They stand with dignity, serious yet courteous, all dressed neatly in the fashion of the day. The campaigners’ urbane and dignified demeanour is characteristic of this period and accords with their demands for equal rights on the basis of equal abilities. Below this appears a photo from inside the meeting, showing the panel of key office-bearers: Tom Foster, Jack Kinchela, William Cooper, Doug Nicholls, Jack Patten and Bill Ferguson. The image is captioned:13

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Moral/cultural permission courtesy of June Barker and Suzanne Ingram

While the images and captions presented the association’s point of view accurately, as far as they went, the overall photo-essay constructed a narrative of loss and degradation, arguably acting to muffle the concrete agenda of the campaigners. The vaguely elegiac quality of the unidentified ‘tribal’ figure’s ‘lament’ (‘I do not know the name of my sadness’) and the equally anonymous placeless line-up of ragged kids somewhat undermined the extremely forthright and explicit demands of the activists. This displacement was further effected by the central text which focused on the photographer’s coup in ‘capturing’ the images against the organisers’ intentions, stating that the ‘following pictures, the press was told, “Could not be got.” White-man photographers and reporters were politely refused admission to the meeting. MAN, only, made the meeting, got pictures’.14 Man’s ‘cameraman’ was Russell Clark, better known as the prolific ‘Gilbert Anstruther’, the nom de plume he adopted for his popular short stories and novels which celebrated ‘pioneer’ bravery and conquest (it is unknown how Clark obtained entry to the APA meeting). Notably, Clark had written a major series on inland exploration for the new Walkabout magazine, launched in 1934 by tourism entrepreneur Charles Holmes of the Australian National Travel Association. In line with the magazine’s celebration of progress, Clark’s Walkabout series sought to show white settlers subduing a wild land and its people and, as Jillian Barnes has noted, ‘used a language of violence, sacrifice and domination’ to describe explorers heroically forging a path across the continent, constantly threatened by ‘wild blacks’, always in conflict with Indigenous people and country.15 The Man picture-story, very probably also written and composed by Clark, contrasted the ‘primitive’ and dispossessed tribal man with his degraded descendants, suggesting that the activists’ mourning was for their own culture and heritage.

The Aus tra li a n Abo C all The Aborigines’ Progressive Association (APA) made use of his photos, reprinting two in their periodical, The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines. Here, the message was unswervingly about addressing identifiable and particular wrongs in the present – Aboriginal mourning and protest was 108

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directed at the legacy of invasion in the form of continuing injustice and illtreatment. While it included historical features, there was no suggestion of mourning for lost culture; rather, Patten’s introduction explicitly declared that ‘we do not want to go back to the Stone Age’.16 The APA and its Melbourne contemporary, the Australian Aborigines’ League led by William Cooper, advanced a vision of future progress that was couched in terms of equality with whites. The Abo Call was edited by Patten, and again financed by Stephensen, its banner reading ‘The Australian Abo Call: the voice of the Aborigines, representing 80,000 Australian Aborigines. We ask for Education, Opportunity, and Full Citizen Rights’. Its first edition, in April 1938, began ‘“The Abo Call” is our own paper. It has been established to present the case for Aborigines, from the point of view of the Aborigines themselves.’17 This echoed William Cooper’s radical belief in ‘thinking black’; that is, that only Aboriginal people could understand the Indigenous experience and represent Aboriginal views. In this way, Cooper challenged and extended existing thinking about equal citizen rights for Aborigines but he also, as in this campaign, made use of white strategies such as meetings, letters and petitions to demand Aboriginal representation.18 Closing the meeting to whites was another expression of this view, although not yet understood by the white press of the day. Clark boasted of his intrusion into, and ‘capture’ of, private Indigenous matters. In dismissing the ban on white attendance, he misunderstood its political significance as an assertion of self-determination, seeing his exclusion as a challenge to be overcome rather than a principle of Indigenous autonomy. The Abo Call reported in detail on the conference of 26 January and Patten’s opening speech, which claimed:19 White people in the cities do not realise the terrible conditions of slavery under which our people live in the outback districts. I have unanswerable evidence that women of our race are forced to work in return for rations, without other payment. Is this not slavery? Do white Australians realise that there is actual slavery in this fair progressive Commonwealth?

As I have shown, appeals to the image of slavery had become a persistent theme in campaigns despite the diversity of their specific concerns and demands. The W e ar e e agl e s

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The Abo Call grew out of Patten’s realisation that publicity was essential to the cause.20 The April issue set out the association’s proposed constitution and rules, the first being ‘to conduct propaganda for the emancipation and betterment of Aborigines’, and the fourth, ‘to print, publish and circulate books, papers, pamphlets and leaflets to promote the objects of the association’. Patten focused on providing detailed facts, writing about conditions on reserves, about education, poor housing and starvation, while information about specific problems, such as repressive application of laws, removal of children and poor conditions, was published in each issue. In May, Patten reiterated ‘Our Huge Task’, which was to accomplish full citizen rights, noting again that ‘We have been for too long the victims of missionaries, anthropologists, and comic cartoonists. The white community must be made to realise that we are human beings, the same as themselves. Persecution of Aborigines here is worse than the persecution of Jews in other countries.’21 The cover image showed the two Ingram boys, Isaac and Phillip, holding signs on the Day of Mourning that read ‘Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights!’, with the caption ‘Why should these little ones be penalised from birth? It is for our children as well as ourselves that we claim Education, Opportunity, and Citizen Rights’.22 This emphasis on children became a theme of the campaign and photography became a powerful means of insisting on their humanity, capacity and needs. In the August edition, a group of healthy, well-dressed children was captioned: The above picture, taken at Collarenebri, NSW, in July, 1938, shows a group of Aboriginal children who are debarred from attending the Collarenebri Public School. They are growing up without education on the outskirts of the town. The parents of these children are self-supporting, and have reared

Cover, The Australian Abo Call: the voice of the Aborigines, no. 1, April 1938 110

Sydney, NSW Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, MLMSS 1284 / 49X

Call also printed an extract from Xavier Herbert’s new novel, Capricornia, recently published by Stephensen, that explored contemporary race relations in northern Australia. The photo from inside the Day of Mourning conference appeared on the front cover, centred upon President and editor Jack Patten.

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Sydney, NSW Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, MLMSS 1284 / 49X

112

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Moral/cultural permission Collararenebri Local Aboriginal Land Council

Moral/cultural permission courtesy of Suzanne Ingram

Moral/cultural permission Collararenebri Local Aboriginal Land Council

< Isaac and Phillip Ingram. The Australian Abo call: The voice of the Aborigines, no. 2, May 1938

‘The above picture, taken at Collarenebri, NSW, in July, 1938, shows a group of Aboriginal children who are debarred from attending the Collarenebri Public School’. The Australian Abo call: the voice of the Aborigines, vol. 5, 1938, p. 1 113

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the children healthily, as can be seen from the photograph. Why are these children debarred from school?

The children indeed appear happy and cared-for. The medium’s power as proof argued against recurring discrimination against Aboriginal children across the south-east. The final, September edition demanded again to know why the Aboriginal children of Collarenebri were ‘debarred’ from the school, and reminded readers that ‘last month we published a photograph of sixteen of these children, showing that their parents keep them as neat and clean and healthy as any white children’.23 The NSW government refused to negotiate with the movement and by the time The Call closed down, as historian Heather Goodall notes, it had come to express ‘bitter disillusion’.24 Patten turned his attention to Cummeragunja, where he had family links, exposing poor conditions there in the press in December 1938. William Cooper had been campaigning against repression at Cummera since early 1937. On 4 February 1939, Patten was arrested and removed from Cummeragunja Mission after trying to address the local people and in response as many as 200 residents walked off the mission and crossed the Murray River to Victoria in defiance of the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board — the first organised Indigenous strike. While some in the mainstream NSW press responded negatively, representing the strikers as irrational and influenced by fascists, officials were also embarrassed by media reports of living conditions, exposés that contributed to legal reform.25

S eei ng for them s elves Between September 1939 and May 1945, World War Two was waged and Aboriginal affairs fell into abeyance. International events had a powerful effect upon Australian audiences and notions of race, eugenics and social evolutionism received a sharp check worldwide following World War Two as anti-racist scientific arguments found a wider audience.26 Media representations of the liberation of the Nazi camps had a radical impact on Australian visual culture. Photographs of atrocity became an international reference point, driving home the truth of

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distant suffering and sharpening public understanding of the relationship between race, oppression and new ideas regarding human rights. Some observers drew a specific analogy between treatment of Indigenous Australians and Jews, noting the equivalence of Nazi and official Australian assimilationist views of race as the basis for social engineering, with the concomitant injustices of exclusion, discrimination and oppression. In 1935 The Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonisation sought to create an Australian homeland, and was provisionally offered around 16,500 square kilometres in the Kimberleys. However, officials tightened the borders of a White Australia against Jewish refugees who were considered to be racially undesirable immigrants who would ‘import’ a ‘racial problem’, as Australia’s delegate to the Évian Conference, Colonel TW White, claimed in 1938.27 By 1941, film reviewers noted that ‘producers have not been slow in depicting for an enraged civilisation the horrors of Nazi warfare, Nazi concentration camps and Nazi brutality and devastation’. At this time, too, photographs of cremation ovens at Lublin, Poland, were being printed ‘by airmail’ as ‘evidence of gas murders’.28 In mid-1942 it was apparent to some that a systematic program of murder was underway, finally linking loss of rights and liberty, deportation and mass killing. From around August 1944 the Australian press reported that in London ‘the newspapers’ were publishing ‘sinister official Soviet photographs’ of ‘cremation ovens’ and described the ‘heaps of charred human bones [that] still lie in the foreground of the photographs’.29 In January 1945 the ‘first official report on German atrocities’ was reported by the British Army in Belgium and Holland.30 However, as historian Fay Anderson notes, in the Australian press coverage of the Holocaust, local understanding of the Jewish genocide was obscured by editorial practices that reported events in isolation, rather than as a deliberate Nazi program. Events such as Kristallnacht received extensive coverage in Australia but were not seen in the context of earlier stages of the Nazi campaign of persecution and extermination. Throughout the war, not a single editorial was written about the Jewish question and editors were sceptical of sources such as anonymous informants or escaped Jews, instead demanding ‘official confirmation and extensive photographic evidence’.31 News of the liberation of concentration camps only received widespread attention in Australia when their full horror was revealed in April 1945, by W e ar e e agl e s

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advancing Allied forces sending reports to the London papers. Witnessing via photographic evidence and first-hand accounts was central in conveying the enormity of Nazi brutality. Following the Allied liberation of the camps, Churchill sent a delegation to witness the terrible conditions as a ‘first-hand study’, and reports titled ‘Seeing for themselves’ framed photos showing how ‘British Members of Parliament view[ed] with horror the grim human evidence of unspeakable Nazi crimes at the Buchenwald concentration Camp’.32 It seemed especially important to show German citizens what had been happening in their own country. They were escorted through Buchenwald to ‘see for themselves’, while in May 1945 it was reported that ‘every German will be made to see a film of the inhuman torture which went on in Nazi concentration camps’, a decision by General Eisenhower and endorsed by the Supreme Allied Headquarters’ Psychological Warfare Department.33 For Australians, the news was first reported in words, not images – it took a few days for the photos to be printed in Australian papers so the first accounts, on 20 April 1945, simply described the images and what they proved of the atrocities, as well as the reactions of eyewitnesses such as Eisenhower. These second-hand, advance reports stated the images’ meanings in so many words, making their status as evidence abundantly clear by defining for the viewer the meaning of what they had not yet seen. For example, ‘Morning papers yesterday published some of the war’s most gruesome pictures, taken in German concentration and slave-labour camps which the Allies in the West have liberated. They confirm the written descriptions of the Germans’ appalling brutality.’34 For Australians, this textual form of witnessing, where sights were rendered in words, focused on the process of revelation experienced by British soldiers and audiences.35 Australian newspapers reported that British viewers were ‘enraged’ by ‘horror camp pictures’, and that ‘[r]ecent revelations of the horrors of German concentration and prisoner of war camps have shocked and angered the people in Britain as probably nothing has done throughout the war’.36 British reactions were described thus:37 The newspaper illustrations of conditions within the camps have for days excluded all other topics of conversation, and Letters to the Editor columns are overflowing with suggestions as to the treatment of those responsible. En116

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largements of official photographs displayed in windows of London’s business premises are surrounded all day by large crowds, whose comments leave no doubt as to the mood of the ordinary man and woman. For years Moscow reports of similar atrocities have been largely discounted as propaganda, but the British people today know different, and they are grimly determined that it shall not be allowed to occur again. When moving pictures taken in the camps were screened they provoked demonstrations never before known in British cinemas. Hisses met each view demonstrating German sadism, as evidenced in piles of slaughtered bodies, groups of blinded and maimed, and long rows of disease stricken victims housed in the foulest conditions.

By Monday, 23 April 1945, Australian readers were able to see the camps for themselves. The Sydney Morning Herald, for example, showed a full page: ‘German Camp Horror Which has Shocked the World’.38 For Australian audiences, the meaning of these images was doubly determined; they had already shocked the rest of the world and now it was Australia’s turn. As an archive, photographs such as those taken by the Allied forces when they liberated the camps in 1945 have been assigned great historical significance – although many have also questioned their complex effects as a form of historical remembrance. Historians concur that the liberation photographs became a core element of European journalism at this time, when the reality of the camps could not be conveyed entirely in words and for contemporaries these pictures were accepted as straightforward and unambiguous reality.39 For many viewers since, this archive has remained the most extreme expression of National Socialist ideology and extermination practice. Susan Sontag remembered her first encounter with these photographs as a ‘negative epiphany’ and subsequently divided her life into two parts: into the time before she saw them at the age of 12 and the time after.40 Since the early 1990s many scholars have argued that the Holocaust lies beyond the limits of representation and criticise photography both for its failure to communicate the truth of the traumatic experience or Nazi crime, and at the same time for dehumanising its subjects. Cornelia Brink’s lucid analysis of the liberation images identifies what is for many the central problem of these photos (and as many have argued of photography more generally) – that as we see W e ar e e agl e s

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Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 23 April 1945, p. 5

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these images over and over again, ‘the visible makes us blind’. In other words, they come to stand for what is unrepresentable – the evil whole behind these terrible moments. Brink concludes that despite their dual character as reality and unreality, their ambiguities and contextual shifts in meaning nonetheless serve an important role in our ‘struggle for accuracy’, because ‘[c]rimes of this sort demand evidence’.41 Certainly when these images were first circulated around the globe, they changed photo-journalism and visual culture forever. By May, films of ‘Nazi Camp Pictures’ were available to Australian audiences, shocking them into ‘grim silence’.42 Mrs M Wright of South Brisbane said, ‘It’s dreadful! But I feel that everyone, except children, should see it. You read of these horrors and just pass them by but seeing makes you realise them properly.’43 These films continued to be shown at cinemas across the country over following months.44 In Melbourne, screenings had a strong impact and one viewer’s account is worth quoting at length:45

Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, 23 April 1945, p. 5

… whatever the reason, whether it was a desire to verify printed reports or a morbid curiosity, the release of the concentration camp films attracted what must have been a record attendance for a first day’s screening. The queues at the theatrettes were more than the seating accommodation could absorb at any time during the day. At one theatre it was noticed that many of those who saw the film were foreigners and that they left in tears. The spectacles presented were harrowing for anyone. What they must have been to those who had reason to believe that their own people were probably among the victims does not bear contemplation. To sit through that concentrated horror was a nightmare experience. Yet I think that the film should be seen by everyone old enough to understand its implications. It conveys a grisly reality that is beyond the reach of print or the spoken word.

Through visual evidence, Australian audiences became personal participants in European events as the revelations of photography made them, too, witnesses, persuading them to accept the ‘grisly reality’ of Jewish suffering and the misery ‘German Camp Horror Which has Shocked the World’

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caused by race hate. Closing geographical distance, the revelation of the camp photos had a great impact on Australian audiences, as indeed they shaped a global visual culture that placed increasing emphasis on photographic evidence for atrocity and suffering. While it is difficult to measure the nature and extent of the empathy Australians felt, and its tangible or lasting effects, the impact of photographic evidence for Nazi atrocities significantly changed how Australians saw world conflict and racial discrimination.

A s trug g li ng peo p le Not only did photography become a touchstone of empirical evidence for distant atrocity, attuning Australian viewers to the nexus between race, evil and its visual image, but some were quick to draw a direct parallel between Nazi Germany’s discrimination on the basis of race and Australia’s ill-treatment of Aboriginal people. Over the following years, persecution of the Jews as evidenced by photography remained a reference point for those campaigning for Aboriginal people, as I explore further in chapter 6. One man who insisted on this link was Indigenous leader and activist William Cooper, secretary of the Australian Aborigines League. Under the mentorship of the missionary Daniel Matthews at Maloga Mission, Cooper and other residents had already come to liken their plight to that of the Israelites, as narrated by the Book of Exodus.46 This analogy stemmed from the first attempts by Indigenous people to take up land and had been applied to Taungerong and Wurundjeri leaders travelling to their new reserves during the 1850s: Protector William Thomas described these people as ‘wending their way to their Goshen’, referring to the Israelite trek to the Promised Land.47 Cooper repeatedly pleaded for better treatment on this basis, as when he wrote to Thomas Paterson, Minister for the Interior, in February 1937, that ‘while suffering is the portion of the aboriginal, the cry of the people goes up to a God of deliverance. You are the only Moses who can lead the sufferers into the Promised Land’.48 Extending this analogy to the ongoing persecution of Jews, already in July 1938 Cooper was accusing the West Australian government of ‘out-Hitlering Hitler in the way of hounding a harmless and well-meaning race’.49 120

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One remarkable episode that ensued from the perceived commonality between Jewish and Indigenous oppression deserves to be more widely known. Following Kristallnacht, the November 1938 pogrom against German and Austrian Jewish communities, Cooper led a protest deputation of Kooris from the Australian Aborigines League to the German Consulate in Melbourne. Cooper’s deputation attempted to present a resolution ‘condemning the persecution of Jews and Christians in Germany’, but the Consul-General, Dr RW Drechsler, refused to meet with them.50 This was the only such protest registered by Australians and is still remembered with gratitude by Israel today. Cooper, aged 77, was at that time protesting treatment of his people at Cummeragunja, and continued to emphasise this parallel in general terms in arguing that ’we are not an enemy people and we are not in Nazi concentration



Whatever display of force was shown by the aborigines was in the nature of resistance.

camps. Why should we then be treated as if we are?’51 His great-nephew and equally famous Aboriginal leader, Doug Nicholls (also born and bred at Cummera), took up this line of attack. In speaking at the Unitarian Church in Melbourne, his comments were widely reported: ‘Australians were raving about persecuted minorities in other parts of the world, but were they ready to voice their support for the unjustly treated aboriginal minority in Australia?’ Nicholls’s argument forced state protectors such as Bleakley in Queensland to respond.52 Others agreed and at the conclusion of the war public reactions against racial discrimination grew stronger, and occasionally humanitarians explicitly linked ‘racial pride’ with ill-treatment of Indigenous Australians, as I explore further below. International principles were developed and while the 1946 Declaration of Human Rights contained no reference to the rights of ethnic and national minorities, a sub-commission provided a definition of such rights in 1949. W e ar e e agl e s

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Already in October 1943 Canon AH Garnsey criticised the intense competition of nations at the expense of humane treatment, warning that ‘We must be very vigilant in our conduct towards other peoples, nor should we forget our past treatment of the aborigines.’53 Other comments on racism became common, sometimes appealing to photographic evidence as a touchstone of proof. In May 1945, one returned digger wrote to object to the ‘Fascist filth [of] racial hatred’ in the form of protests against granting free naturalisation to enemy aliens who had served in the forces. He demanded, ‘Surely, after seeing photographs of the horrors of German concentration camps, these people would not have us tread the same path. It was to escape such bestiality that these unfortunate people came here, and if they have proved themselves good citizens, why hound them with insults and humiliations?’54 It was apparent that ‘bestial’ treatment of the nation’s Indigenous peoples was not yet in the past when a shocking incident at Mt Dare, in Central Australia, made headlines across the country in December 1945.55 Thirty-one-year-old station manager Rex Lowe was fined £179/12 by a magistrate in Oodnadatta for assaulting several Aboriginal men (Mike Terone, Freddy, Walter, Albert, Jimmy James, and Jackey) and chaining them by the neck for several days to a tree, a fence and a dray. Lowe’s lawyer, RC Ward, argued in his defence that it had been the practice in parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory for many years for police to chain Aboriginal prisoners and witnesses while travelling hundreds of miles. He pointed out that ‘the case, so far as he knew, was the first of its type, and Lowe was the first offender in this type of charge to be brought before the court’.56 As the first instance of prosecution for such treatment, this case was significant. Magistrate Gillespie declared that ‘common decency demanded that if white men insisted in employing aborigines they must treat them as living beings and not as human chattels or beasts of burden’. Dismissing Lowe’s argument that he had been acting in self-defence as a fabrication, Gillespie stated, ‘I am firmly of the opinion that whatever display of force was shown by the aborigines was in the nature of resistance to a completely unlawful and unjustified intrusion on their rights as humans.’ 57 Public responses to this event were mixed. Locals were sceptical. While the case was in progress, ‘Oodnadatta’s unofficial parliament met on the verandah 122

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of the Transcontinental Hotel’ and debated its implications. Terry Fanley, the ‘wag of Oodnadatta’, was quoted as saying that ‘now he does not know if he should kiss his aboriginal boy instead of kicking him’, and ‘a lot of other people in the north are wondering what will happen’ if Lowe is convicted, and that it would ‘be most difficult to control the natives any longer’.58 ‘Extremists’ said it would be ‘the end of the north’ and that:59 … this was the first shot in the war for regular wages and workable conditions for the employment of natives. Generally it was contended that most natives on stations were contented to be fed and clothed, given pocket money when they came in to town and that most natives needed a kick occasionally to keep them up to scratch.

Indigenous activists seized upon the case as a gross violation of ‘citizen rights’. Bert Groves, a Kamilaroi man, ex-Digger, and member of the Sydney-based Aborigines’ Progressive Association, was prominent in a demonstration against Lowe, calling for a gaol sentence rather than a fine. He proposed to petition Prime Minister Chifley for direct representation in parliament and full citizen rights. In the Sunday Times, Groves declared ‘I don’t want a chain round my neck’, one hand laid across his breastbone in a graphic gesture of negation.60 One contemporary viewer who was deeply affected by this event was the 25-year-old Jewish artist Yosl (Joseph) Bergner, who had arrived in Melbourne in 1937. Bergner read one of the newspaper reports about the Mt Dare incident and later said that he was moved to tears by the headline: ‘Chattels, not living beings’, and the parallels he perceived with the Jewish experience in Europe.61 His response was a painting showing four Aboriginal men chained to a tree (see page 133). There is no evidence that Bergner was familiar with this practice as a technique of the British justice system or that he had seen photographs of Aboriginal prisoners. When first exhibited, in the Studio of Realist Art show at David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney, in 1946, the painting was poorly received. It was particularly criticised as an example of how these artists (also Herbert McClintock, Roy Dalgarno and Hal Missingham) were ‘obsessed by single ideas’. One critic wrote:62 W e ar e e agl e s

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1 24

‘Abos Claim Rights’

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Their view is too immediate (too material also, especially when dealing with political matter) to be of universal value. This materialism of expression may of course have been actuated by a certain idealism about social conditions; the artists wish to alleviate suffering and raise the standard of living. Surely no one could quarrel with such aims, but they are too concerned with their message to take into account the many elements which belong to art alone. With this emphasis on the purely documentary, they are as far removed from art as the pre-Raphaelite illustrators of the last century. Their role indeed becomes that of the propagandist.

He singled out Bergner’s painting for a particularly scathing attack:63

Sunday Times, 20 January 1946, p. 6

There is little finesse about Bergner’s enchained ‘Aborigines’. The revulsion one experiences in front of this canvas is not evoked through sympathy for the undoubted suffering of the original Australians, but through the cheap symbolism here presented … True satire is rapier-like and animated by a finely judged element of wit and is to be used only by the cultured. In their effort to appeal to the quite uninformed these paintings naturally descend to such a level.

Despite this negative view, art historians have long acknowledged Bergner’s formative influence upon the Melbourne art scene, and specifically the Contemporary Art Society and social realists including figures such as Albert Tucker, James Wigley, Noel Counihan and others. Bergner had begun to draw and paint Aboriginal people in 1938 and insisted on the parallel between the experience of Jews and Aboriginal people. On first arriving in Melbourne, he later remembered, ‘I saw an Aborigine ... somehow, to me, he looked like a Jew, with a hat on ... So then I painted Aborigines, identifying them with Jews.’64 He told one interviewer later that ‘My real inspiration was the strangeness for a European immigrant of the Melbourne city lanes with their metho-drinkers, some Aborigines, market scenes.’65 During the early 1940s he painted two parallel series of Aborigines – while mobilised in Tocumwal with an ordnance unit – and of the Jews in the Ghetto. Bergner’s views contrasted sharply with prevailing views of Aboriginal people as primitive and romantic and his influence increased in the decades W e ar e e agl e s

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following the war. Over following years, other, now better-known artists such as Boyd and Nolan took up the theme of Indigenous life.

Jews a nd A b ori gi nal p e o p le Bergner was not alone in seeing the parallel between Jewish and Aboriginal experience. Such comparisons became increasingly common over following decades, as the Holocaust was represented and remembered in proliferating ways and genres. As I explore further in chapter 6, visual campaigns to improve Indigenous living conditions during the 1950s drew on photographic evidence that was frequently explicitly compared with concentration camp imagery. In 1955, for example, Murray River camp settlements were described as ‘shocking’ because they were ‘second-class concentration camps’.66 The 1957 film Their Darkest Hour, showing drought-affected Ngaanyatjarra people from the Warburton Ranges in West Australia, was compared to images of the Nazi death camp at Bergen-Belsen.67 One Western Australian viewer wrote to the Department of Native Welfare of their shock: ‘I must say I was appalled at the absolute indifference shown by responsible people in high places to the shocking conditions of these unfortunate human beings. It is doubtful if Hitler could have produced worse human wrecks out of his concentration camps as these original Australians.’68 Around 1954, Elizabeth Durack made this analogy explicit in visual form in a watercolour titled Displaced Persons, which pictures fleeing, unmistakeably Aboriginal women and children. Its flowing lines and shadows give her image a sense of flickering haste, evoking urgency and fear. Some linked the Indigenous Australian and Jewish experiences through focusing on human rights. In 1935 Brian Fitzpatrick and others had formed the Australian Council for Civil Liberties (ACCL), initially to oppose censorship regulations but from 1938 it increasingly gave attention to the maltreatment of Jewish refugees, publishing a series of booklets to promote its cause. The ACCL also took up the Indigenous cause, being a founding member of the Council for Aboriginal Rights in 1951 and the following year published Not 126

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Slaves, Not Citizens: Condition of the Australian Aborigines in the Northern Territory by Yvonne Nicholls.69 In 1957 a Jewish member of the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism told a Board of Inquiry into the Aborigines Act of 1928 in Victoria that ‘as a member of the Jewish people who have known persecution over the ages, I feel it is my duty to help such people as the Australian Aborigines who have been denied any rights and opportunities’.70 In 1963, Council Secretary Stan Davey published a pamphlet entitled Genesis or Genocide? The Aboriginal Assimilation Policy, which criticised the policy for endeavouring to destroy Aboriginal identity and for failing to achieve equal legal status for Aboriginal people or to meet international standards. He challenged readers who condemned ‘elimination by extermination’ in Nazi Germany and communist Russia, asking whether they thought this should be ‘condoned in Australia because of a different method of achieving the (same) objective’.71 Conversely, in 1961, during Adolf Eichmann’s trial, his lawyer Robert Servatius had drawn an analogy between Aboriginal and Jewish experience in arguing that Eichmann was merely following orders, and was not directly involved in setting in train ‘inhumane events of enormous extent’, such as ‘the genocide of Indians, Mexicans, Peruvians, etc after the discovery of North and South America, the abduction of slaves from Africa, the extermination of the aborigines in Australia, the persecution of Jews in Spain, and the murder of the Huguenots in France’. This caused great official embarrassment to Australia.72 Literary representations also drew on this analogy. Patrick White’s Riders in the Chariot (1961) explores four outsider visionaries, including an old Jewish refugee and an Aboriginal artist, who are possessed of a purer vision because of their outcast status. Xavier Herbert’s 1970s epic, Poor Fellow My Country, also drew close parallels between the experience of Jews and the treatment of Indigenous Australians. Its protagonist, the beautiful ‘half-caste’ boy Prindy, and his white grandfather Jeremy Delacy (a thinly disguised version of Herbert himself) shelter two Jewish refugees, sharing the experience of marginalisation; the Jewess Rifkah adopts Prindy as her son. To take just one of many possible examples of their equation, Delacy writes an article that achieved ‘wide circulation throughout the land, in which he likened Anti-Semitism to the century-and-aW e ar e e agl e s

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State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 1955. Courtesy of the estate of Elizabeth Durack

Elizabeth Durack, Displaced persons, 1954, brush, chalk and wash, 53.3 x 76cm

half of relentless persecution of the Australian Aborigines simply because they wouldn’t accept the whiteman’s gods’.73 This link has continued to be made. During the heady days of Black Power and the 1972 Tent Embassy (see chapter 7) activists such as Paul Coe drew an analogy between Israel and the Northern Territory, especially Arnhem Land, which they wished to become an Aboriginal state.74 In this way, awareness of the evils of race hate – as exemplified by the Holocaust and witnessed around the globe via the camp liberation photos – was increasingly extended to domestic affairs in these explicit and concrete comparisons. 128

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State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased 1955. Courtesy of the estate of Elizabeth Durack

T he m i s ery of the s c e ne By December 1946, these shifts in visual culture had created a climate in which it was possible for anthropologist Donald Thomson to deploy photography as a form of witness to appalling cruelty and injustice at Aurukun Mission. Shortly after Bergner’s first display of his painting, and a year after the Mt Dare incident itself, Thomson finally published a photo he had taken of an event that had taken place 14 years earlier, during his third expedition to Cape York; it appeared in December 1946 in the Melbourne Herald. Raised a Presbyterian, Thomson had always been an active church-goer and during this trip spent considerable time in the vicinity of the Presbyterian Mission at Aurukun. December 1932, as his biographer Nicolas Peterson explains, marked a watershed in Thomson’s life. Not only did he observe Aurukun’s brutal regime, punishing even trivial offences with head shaving, flogging, chaining and imprisonment but, for Thomson, its worst feature was the power of the superintendent to have people exiled for life ‘simply on his own word, and without any trial’.75 In December 1932 he witnessed what he later termed a ‘shocking travesty’ of justice when five people were summarily arrested, the men neck-chained and marched off on foot to Laura. His photograph of this event and the terrible conditions at the mission became the basis for his activism after the war. Below his image of the prisoners leaving Aurukun, he provided a detailed statement of the event in his private notes, reading in part:76 The five natives, two women and three men who were sent away to Palm Island Penal Settlement at the request of Mackenzie, and handed over by him to the police troopers who came at his request in December (Dec 15th) 1932. The three men are chained with heavy chains, neck to neck. Each had to carry his own blanket with his sole worldly possessions, although the police escort had pack horses, and in this condition they were driven hundreds of miles to Laura near Cooktown in December – the hottest times [sic] of the year – by police troopers.

He was particularly outraged by the superintendent’s punitive role, in spite of his being an ordained Minister of the Church, and described with disgust how:77 W e ar e e agl e s

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Thomson concluded, ‘In the previous year another party of natives was also sent for life to Palm Island on the word of Mackenzie. One of them, named Donald, never even reached the place of imprisonment, but died on the road from the cruelty and privations.’ His faith in the value of eyewitness testimony is also expressed in his note, ‘The above notes were made at the time the photograph was taken and have been copied verbatim. Nothing has been added or deleted.’78 Other photos he took at this time documented punishment – showing a woman chained to a tree – and poor conditions on the settlement. He wrote of the Boys’ Dormitory at Aurukun, that ‘this galvanized iron shed, with bare earth floor and window space and door barred like a gaol, is “home” to all the boys gathered into the Mission from the entire reserve of hundreds of square miles’. He described how ‘at an early age’ the children were usually ‘bought from their parents for a bag of flour and a lb of trade tobacco, and thereafter entirely removed from their control’. Of the crude dormitory building he bitterly concluded:79 This dormitory is the only home that the boys know for the years in which they are growing up – during which time they lead a life that is nothing short of slavery. Each night they are locked in this shed, to be released in the morning, and their days are taken up with school (under untrained and unqualified teachers) and compulsory work in the Mission – carrying water,

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Courtesy of the Thomson family and Museum Victoria (TPH4701). Moral/cultural permission courtesy of Aurukun Shire Council

When the police troopers arrived at Aurukun on Sunday morning December 11th 1932, the Rev, WF Mackenzie threw himself into the task of organising a manhunt. He abandoned his Church not even waiting to conduct the afternoon service – and armed with a rifle, he led the police off up one of the rivers in the Mission’s launch – having first tried to get me to take the party in my boat. He sent natives out to try to surprise his victims, and hold them for the police – an ordained man on a Presbyterian Mission Station. The natives not only had no friend and protector, but were betrayed by their own Minister. Nothing can ever restore their faith in a man who talks God to them. There was never a pretence of a trial on this occasion, or on the numerous other occasions when Mackenzie ill-treated, abused, and imprisoned men, women and children at Aurukun.

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cutting wood, and working in the garden – in gangs under constant ‘supervision’. (I must remind you of what this must mean to little children removed straight from the freedom of the camps of a nomadic hunting people, to whom freedom is life, and who wander all their lives.)

Of his photograph of the chained exiles, Thomson’s private notes record that ‘terrible though this picture is, it gives no idea of the misery of the scene, with the relatives of the prisoners wailing and weeping and screaming good bye to their

Courtesy of the Thomson family and Museum Victoria (TPH4701). Moral/cultural permission courtesy of Aurukun Shire Council

The Boys’ Dormitory at Aurukun Mission, December 1932. Photograph by DF Thomson.

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Moral/cultural permission courtesy of Aurukun Shire Council

Donald Thomson, ‘Justice for Aborigines: Shocking Travesty’. Melbourne Herald, 28 December 1946, p. 5

kin who they know from long experience they will never see again.’ 80 Unlike the great majority of his images, as anthropologist Peter Sutton notes, those of the party being readied for their overland walking journey are ‘candid action shots conveying a sense of immediacy and urgency’.81 On his return to Melbourne, he discreetly took the matter up with the Presbyterian Church in Melbourne, but was refused a hearing. A deeply disappointed Thomson was to oppose missionary influence in Indigenous affairs from this point onwards.82 132

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Source National Gallery of Victoria. Courtesy of Yosl Bergner

Yosl Bergner, Aborigines, 1946 133

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Department of Territories, Government Printer, Canberra, 1957

Our Aborigines, cover (see pages 173, 195) 134

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Commonwealth Department of Territories, Government Printer, Canberra, 1959

Fringe Dwellers, cover (see page 195) 135

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William Grayden (1957), Frank Daniels, Perth

Adam and Atoms, cover (see page 201) 136

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Finally in December 1946, Thomson printed this image in the first of a series of articles in the Melbourne Herald titled ‘Justice for the Aborigines’. Thomson had joined the Herald as a cadet in 1925 after graduating from Melbourne University, and it was always to provide him – and Indigenous issues – with a sympathetic forum. The paper editorialised that ‘no man in Australia knows more about our aborigines than Dr Donald F Thomson … In another attempt to arouse the public conscience on what is a grave national scandal, he has written a series of articles, shocking in their revelations, challenging in their implications.’ The second article, titled ‘Slow Extermination of Our Natives’ discussed the rapid ‘decline’ of Aboriginal culture following white settlement and was illustrated by a photo of a group of Aboriginal people in European dress, captioned ‘What “civilisation” has meant to the Aborigines – scene in a camp of the once splendid seafaring [Tjungundji] peoples of the Lower Batavia River, Cape York Peninsula’. Thomson clearly intended the viewer to perceive these people as degraded, framed by his argument that missions had produced ‘unbelievable misery and tyranny’. His third article argued for land rights.83 Thomson’s series should be seen in the context of his own long-running advocacy for Indigenous people, before and during the war. From this time, he was to contribute to both the campaign against the Woomera rocket range and, working with Brian Fitzpatrick and the ACCL, an agenda for a conference on ‘native rights’ before abandoning political activism after 1947. But Thomson was not alone in raising the issue of Indigenous rights at this time. Over the year or so following the war, Indigenous issues quickly became prominent in the popular press and two scandals in particular, domestic and foreign, immediately presaged his series. First, ‘revelations’ of conditions ‘amounting to slavery’ in the Northern Territory were widely reported around a month earlier when the Reverend Ian Shevill, Secretary of the Australian Board of Missions, claimed that ‘natives were like slaves’ in the Northern Territory. He was supported by a range of other figures, such as J Walker of the North Australia Workers Union, and British film director Harry Watt, whose landmark film, The Overlanders, had recently premiered (see chapter 5).84 In addition, a few weeks before Thomson published his first article, Australia’s mandate over New Guinea had been agreed following a ‘stormy passage’ through the United Nations Assembly. Many Australian observers W e ar e e agl e s

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were cynical, mocking the nation’s regional ambitions in light of its embarrassingly poor Indigenous record. A Rockhampton man, for example, wrote to his local newspaper, referring to a report of the American Federation of Labour which suggested that the Papuan and New Guinea natives were ‘kept in slavery for the benefit of wealthy Australian plantation owners’, commenting that ‘there is much being talked and written about improving conditions for aboriginals. It has certainly taken a long time for people to realise something should be done and the Government is no doubt afraid the United Nations might take a hand.’85 Thomson was thus not alone in noting a ‘curious discrepancy between domestic and external attitudes toward natives’, drawing a potent contrast between such domestic ‘revelations’ and official concern for the welfare of ‘subject races’ outside Australia.86 As his activism continued over this period, Thomson capitalised on the new



Instead of dwelling on loss, the Indigenous agenda was resolutely focused on redressing disparities.

authority that photographs had assumed as evidence for injustice and brutality, his photo making visible the ‘shocking travesty’ of Aboriginal treatment in the north. He again deployed photography as a form of witness following the Victorian Aborigines Welfare Board’s announcement in 1962 that Lake Tyers reserve would be closed. Again, Thomson sought to harness the medium’s capacity to document events and outrage the viewer by recording the squalid conditions at the settlement as evidence for its poor management by officials.87 In a postwar climate of growing concern for human rights and Aboriginal conditions, the heightened value of photographic evidence was increasingly called into service by activists and humanitarians. Aware of the importance of perceptions in shaping how others treated them, Indigenous campaigners employed a range of visual tactics that drew on mainstream conventions, 138

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beginning with the dignified 1938 Day of Mourning which introduced the radical principles of self-determination and specifically Indigenous rights. Instead of dwelling on past loss, their agenda was resolutely focused on redressing the many existing disparities between their own circumstances and those of white Australia and they increasingly drew upon the language of human rights to do so. Shocking imagery defined the revelation of Nazi atrocity at the end of the war, shaping a global visual culture that subsequently demanded photographic evidence for distant events. In this context, explicit photographs became crucial evidence for distant Aboriginal suffering. Where in 1929 the Adelaide Register had censored William Delano Walker’s photographs of squalor in Alice Springs as ‘unfit for public discussion’, after the war such images were increasingly demanded as necessary proof. Today, this process is complete. As Susan Sontag argued, ‘something becomes real – to those who are elsewhere, following it as “news” – by being photographed’.88 As I explore further in chapter 6, the iconography of emaciation, dirt, ragged clothing and squalor was applied to local events and processes over following decades and given specific local meanings in a visual language of abjection. However, a growing understanding of concepts of human rights also caused many Australians to acknowledge a larger story of racial persecution and oppression, and to turn critical eyes on the failures of Aboriginal policy.

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5: Ab o r ig i n a l Ov e r l and e r s

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I’m a full-time stockman and only a part-time film actor. Henry Murdoch, 1946

When The overlanders, Australia’s first internationally acclaimed ‘docu-drama’, first screened in Darwin in December 1946 it had an enthusiastic reception from its Aboriginal audience.1 This is not surprising as there was a strong local tradition of enjoying westerns and particularly cowboy horsemanship across the ‘Top End’, and from the 1930s onwards, films screening in regional towns were a major draw-card for Indigenous people. In 1927, the Aboriginal audience that quarter-filled Broome’s picture theatre responded with indifference to the ‘seductive wiles of the carmine-lipped vampire’ and the ‘final kiss at the end’:2 But the cowboy picture! Sounds that were supposed to be ‘hurras!’ came from a hundred throats, the galloping of horses down a winding path set a hundred black feet in motion and they followed the scenes with interest, having no idea of the plot beyond the fact that the cowboys were good horsemen. They yelled and stamped with pleasure as a dozen horsemen swept round a corner at an angle and when ‘God Save the King’ sounded their faces showed the rapture they had felt at such a display of horsemanship.

In 1937 one young viewer was so delighted with a Mickey Mouse cartoon that he ‘returned to his tribe and danced for them what he had seen on the screen’.3 It was said that ‘the Australian aborigine loves the movies’, and frequently walked ‘hundreds of miles’, for two or three days, through the Northern Territory, ‘jealously guarding in their pockets the fare into the Darwin movies … On Wednesday nights the Darwin theatre shows a programme specially selected for the coloured races — roaring action tales of cowboys and Indians’. In fact, in that year a film was made in Darwin about a ‘corroboree’ (ceremony), causing great excitement among the Larrakia. They participated with gusto, and:4 … several weeks later the newsreel of the corroboree was air-mailed to the Darwin theatre. The date of this programme had been advertised, and for days previous to the filming, groups of aborigines were to be seen on the A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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walkabout from as far as a thousand miles away, ‘Going walkabout alonga Darwin, seeim movies.’ Never did the most side-splitting comedy bring forth such howls of unceasing mirth, as did the short corroboree newsreel in the Darwin open air theatre.

However, white observers also sought to restrict Aboriginal viewing; in Darwin in 1923 it was thought that ‘picture shows’ had a ‘baneful effect’ upon Aboriginal audiences, who were ‘stirred to emulate the tragedies depicted in the wild cowboy films’.5 (Of course, the 1912 ban on the popular Australian genre of bushranger films for fear of their subversive effects had prompted the dominance of American cowboy films in the first place.) Despite these paternalistic views, it is clear that Aboriginal people greatly enjoyed films whose subjects were meaningful and relevant to them and, given the chance, participated with enthusiasm in their making. The overlanders’ Indigenous audience may also have relished the fact that it starred two Aboriginal stockmen (Clyde Combo and Henry Murdoch) and many extras, and had largely been filmed on location in the Territory, south of Darwin, including around Alice Springs and on the Roper River. Understood as a historical event, The overlanders marked an important moment in Australian film history, but it was also significant in shifting how Aboriginal people were seen by mainstream viewers. The film itself acknowledged the experience of Indigenous people under colonisation, albeit in a ‘restrained’ way acceptable to contemporaries. Its director, Harry Watt, and lead actor, Chips Rafferty, spoke out strongly against the ill-treatment of Indigenous people and intervened in public debates. Perhaps most importantly, the making of the film can also be seen as an important episode in its own right – bringing ‘outsiders’ into contact with Indigenous people and the north, and bringing together a group of young documentary film-makers and photographers, including director and ‘Pied Piper’ Harry Watt, Axel Poignant, John Heyer, Ralph Smart, Dahl Collings and Geoffrey Collings, who went on to significantly shape Australian visual representations of Aboriginal people.6 The overlanders was Australia’s first international smash hit and the ‘first full-scale Australian documentary film’, seen as an Australian western that combined drama and documentary. In 1943, the Australian government had asked the British Ministry of Information to make a film to publicise Australia’s war 142

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effort. Ealing Studios sent filmmaker Harry Watt, a leading figure in the 1930s British documentary movement. Watt chose to tell the story of how 85 000 head of cattle had been driven south from northern Western Australia to protect them from the Japanese attack. Watt’s screenplay ‘brought together a set of strong characters projecting his sense of Australian values: self-reliance, bush toughness, ingenuity and egalitarianism. The resulting film flattered Australian self-image as it exploited the wild northern landscape to the fullest for foreign audiences’.7 The overlanders can be seen both in terms of the British tradition, exemplified by the work of John Grierson, as well as the 1930s American ‘New Deal’ social documentary movement, known through the work of photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Gordon Parks and Marion Post Wolcott, who were employed by the US federal government to document the plight of poor farmers. Like these movements, the film aimed to construct a sense of a unified national interest that transcended local differences and argued for the role of government in fixing national problems – an agenda enhanced by the backdrop of the war.8 Shooting began in April 1945 and the film premiered at Sydney’s Lyceum Theatre in September 1946. The making of the film caused tremendous interest in Australia and was closely covered by newspapers and magazines, such as the Women’s Weekly. International audiences loved it. In Britain it was described as ‘the first great film of the Australian scene. It has quality and drama, which held the preview audience breathless’.9 It put ‘Australia on the film map as never before’, and ‘it is everybody’s picture and we must have more like it,’ said the London Daily Mirror.10 At the 1947 Venice International Fair of Cinema Arts it was acclaimed for its ‘authentic artistic values and poetic quality which emerges naturally’.11 In 1947, the United States’ National Board of Review of Motion Pictures included it in its listing of the ten best films of the year.12 Australian reviewers were equally enthusiastic and the Sydney Morning Herald declared that:13 It is as fine a piece of work as the present-day cinema has produced, and the finest that has come from Australia … Although founded on fact, the great overlanding of cattle from the Northern Territory when a Japanese invasion seemed imminent, the film is more than cinema fiction-history. It might be described as a great feature-documentary. A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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The pas t da y s of h i s p eo p le The film is predicated upon white settler possession of the land, yet recent viewers have also suggested that Watt did ‘what he could’ within the era’s constraints to acknowledge the situation of Indigenous Australians, ensuring that mainstream Australian sensibilities were protected. Film critic Dean Ashenden, for example, suggests that Watt saw: … with the eyes of an outsider, a lefty, and a man who made his name in social realist documentaries. Watt’s solution to the problem comes in several parts: a smidgin of realism (a couple of glimpses of fringe-dwellers); a dash of saccharine (amiable myalls return the drovers’ wave); two Aboriginal stockmen who are as deferential to Dan as he is respectful toward them; and, most striking, an expression of empathy, and regret.

But, as Ashenden concludes, ‘that, in the depths of “the great Australian silence” of the 1940s and 1950s, was the best that Watt could manage’.14 Paul Byrnes, however, goes further to suggest that the film broke new ground in showing an Aboriginal man (and a white woman) performing the heroic deed that saves the day – of removing a fallen tree from across a narrow hillside track to prevent a cattle stampede:15 Very few Australian films before this one have a scene such as this ... The overlanders was unusual in the amount of screen time it afforded both women and Indigenous characters. Jacky and Nipper, the two Aboriginal stockmen, are integral members of the droving team, as are Mary and her mother and sister. Harry Watt made sure to give each character a significant role in the success of the venture, stressing the idea that it was a collective effort, based on fairly equal roles. Chips Rafferty’s character is clearly in charge, but he’s just as clearly a man willing to grant autonomy to all of what he calls his ‘plant’ – the droving team – regardless of sex or race.

Again, Combo’s and Murdoch’s horsemanship becomes the centre of action when the cattle scent fresh water and stampede. Heroically, they ride straight 144

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into the mob, almost lost in a cloud whirling dust and cracking stockwhips as they check the cattle with unmistakeable skill. At the time of its release in 1946, Australian reviewers praised the film’s subtlety on this score, one noting that:16 Only two national problems are touched on, and then with delicate restraint. One of these is the future of the Northern Territory. The other, concerning the position of the aboriginal, is reduced to simple terms in the remark made by one of the characters who is asked to explain a song being sung by an aboriginal tracker – ‘I expect he is singing of the past days of his people, when they were happy.’

This same critic considered that Clyde Combo (who played ‘Jacky’), the ‘principal aboriginal actor’, represented the ‘skill and loyalty of the “civilized” members of his race with quiet dignity’.17 The experiences of these actors was one of marginalisation within the industry and widespread discrimination in broader society, mirroring the problems confronting actual Aboriginal stockmen during the assimilation era, as I explore further below. Combo was an experienced drover who, according to the Women’s Weekly, had worked all his life around the Dawson River in central Queensland. He went on to work on other film projects, and was to spend his life fighting to support his family and evade the control of the Queensland Protection Board.18 The other stockman role, Nipper, was played by Henry Murdoch, also a full-time stockman, from the Rockhampton region. Fellow actor Chips Rafferty referred to Murdoch as ‘thoroughly well educated and carried a volume of Shakespeare because he liked that author’.19 Murdoch later played stockman roles in two more Ealing Studios films, Eureka stockade (1949) and Bitter springs (1950).20 He was described in the following way by one reporter:21 Tall and slim, he speaks in a quiet, cultured voice, the result, he said, of speech training. ‘I’m a full-time stockman and only a part-time film actor,’ Murdoch said. ‘Ralph Smart, Ealing’s director, picked me for the part of a stockman in The overlanders in 1945. I went back to the Rockhampton station, thinking that was the end of my film career. Then I got another part as

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National Film and Sound Archive no 663830-4. Canal + Image UK Limited

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‘Jacky’ (Clyde Combo) and ‘Nipper’ (Henry Murdoch) stopping a stampede, The overlanders

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a tracker in Eureka stockade. I’d like to be a full-time actor and a part-time stockman. Film work’s good— if there’s enough of it.

Watt went further after film-making concluded, speaking out about the treatment of Aboriginal people in the north. As chapter 4 explored, allegations of ‘slavery’ in the north aroused widespread public interest just a few months after The overlanders premiered, in the context of a range of public campaigns against ill-treatment. Watt stated that ‘he had been shocked by what he had heard and seen of the way aboriginal workers were treated in the Northern Territory’, claiming that they were exploited but also the victims of ‘colonial’ injustice and ill-treatment.22 He told a story of harsh treatment meted out to an Aboriginal cast member attached to his unit when they were on location 200 miles from Alice Springs:23



. . . the land ’ s sort of sacred to them. They don’t budge easy.’

It was a cold day, and the aboriginal – a particularly good worker whom we all liked – took shelter in the cabin of a white man’s truck. When the white man turned up, he abused the native for daring to sit inside and turned him out. Later, the aboriginal remarked to an Australian Army driver that he’d have liked to have ‘donged’ the white man. Apparently the driver talked, for a policeman came 200 miles from Alice Springs and arrested the aboriginal on a charge of having ‘uttered a threat against a white man’. The prisoner was taken to ‘the Alice’ … but after a strong protest had been made by the film unit he was freed, and was back within 24 hours.

Watt said his unit was criticised in the Northern Territory for ‘spoiling’ the aboriginal workers. They were paid full white man’s award rates, given ‘adequate 148

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meals’, and ‘where possible provided with proper bedding and beds … even the local authorities charged with protecting the aborigines objected because the men were paid in full’. Watt continued, ‘apparently, we should have paid the aboriginal workers something like £1 a week, and given the remainder to the Government Department controlling them’. In Alice Springs, Watt met a man who said ‘he had made £42,000, admittedly with the help of aboriginal labor, yet housed his workers in shocking bag humpies, and provided indescribably poor living conditions’.24 As the Mail reported at the time, Watt thought that Australia needed:25 [a] really adequate system of inspection, control divorced from the police, equality of pay for workers whether they were white or black, and most important of all a positive and vigorous education policy. Teachers specially qualified, who were prepared to make the education of aborigines their career, should be chosen. Good results in educating aborigines could not be expected merely by appointing teachers on some sort of a roster system. ‘I make these criticisms not because I want to hurt Australians, but because I have grown so fond of this country that it hurts me to hear its treatment of aborigines held up to scorn in other parts of the world,’ said Mr Watt.

The Minister for the Interior, Johnson, responded that ‘it was difficult to understand why he did not report what he had seen at an earlier date’.26 Some members of the public refuted Watt’s claims, but others endorsed his account. Michael Sawtell, Member of the Aborigines’ Welfare Board of New South Wales wrote:27 I can understand how the film producer, Mr Harry Watt, feels about the aborigines in the north. But making pictures is not quite the same as producing cattle. And running a cattle camp with twenty or thirty stock boys is not quite such a glamorous job as producing The overlanders. In a cattle camp, in the interests of everybody, the white man must be boss, and undue familiarity with aborigines is fatal. A boss who is competent, and just but firm, has the respect of his stock boys. I write as an old drover and a ‘poddy dodger’

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Screen capture, Bitter Springs

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(a bush name for a cattle pirate). All these grandiose schemes for paying wages to the aborigines in the north can do as much harm as good.

The film’s lead, Chips Rafferty, supported Watt’s claims. During a talk at the Lyceum Theatre in Sydney, he made an earnest plea for further assistance to Aboriginal people and told of the ‘good work’ that had been done by them.28 Rafferty was responsible for giving another Indigenous actor, Steve Dodds, a part on the film and Dodds went on to have a long and respected acting career.29 Both Rafferty and Dodds made Bitter springs, directed by Ralph Smart, a truly radical film that focused squarely on the issue of Indigenous dispossession and frontier conflict.30 When the in-coming white settlers, the King family, find that their land is already occupied by the ‘Kalgarni’ people, conflict ensues, resolved only at the conclusion with a final assimilationist glimpse of the two groups shearing together, and by implication sharing the land. Bitter Springs was new – and remains rare – in depicting frontier violence and prior Indigenous occupation of the land. As the sympathetic Trooper Ransome explains, ‘there’s a tribe on every water-hole – and two tribes can’t survive on one waterhole – wouldn’t be enough food to go round. Besides … the land’s sort of sacred to them. They don’t budge easy.’31 Visually, the film was also innovative in showing Aboriginal people as individuals, in close-up. Its theme was perhaps only possible for British film-makers although the original ending, of a massacre of the Aboriginal people, was changed under pressure from Ealing Studios. Many viewers, including activist Dr Charles Duguid, considered that this attempt to conform to propriety was ‘ludicrous’. One reviewer argued that:32 … your sympathies are with the blacks, and you feel they have been treated shamefully not only by the Raffertys, but by the director. At any time in the story they could have killed off the Raffertys, and they meant to do it. But because of false plot development they aren’t allowed to. They are made to look pathetically ineffectual – simply for the sake of letting everything end happily for the Raffertys – these characters who haven’t got our sympathies anyway.

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The film’s production was also marred by controversy about the treatment of its 115 Indigenous extras, transported from Ooldea to Quorn in appallingly uncomfortable conditions.33 These landmark films reveal some of the contradictions and tensions surrounding the imagined place of Indigenous people during the assimilation era.

D inkum A us s i es Part of The overlanders’ legacy is the later work of photographers and filmmakers such as Geoffrey Collings and Axel Poignant. I focus on these two in particular because their photographs offer a remarkable vision of Aboriginal people that presaged the more respectful acknowledgement of subsequent decades. Their work circulated in very different ways. Poignant became a well-known photographer whose photographs have been discussed by many scholars, most notably his wife, historian Roslyn Poignant. Collings’s career took a different direction as film-maker, and his Overlanders photos remained little-seen and almost unknown until the 1980s. Despite their differing public effects, they share a new contemporary vision of Indigenous Australians that emphasised their humanity. Axel Poignant has long been seen as a progenitor of the documentary movement in Australia, and a pioneer in portraying Aboriginal people as dignified individuals, situated in the context of their work and families. Following the acquisition of a Leica camera in 1934, Poignant had begun to travel out of Perth to experiment with photo essays, such as ‘Logging Pemberton circa 1934/35’, which presented the timber workers in idealised ways, ‘heroicizing their labour rather than illustrating the sheer exploitative nature … of the industry.’34 From 1931 he kept a cuttings book that displayed an interest in ‘characteristically’ Australian things: local history, the bush, and Aborigines. In 1941 an exhibition in Perth showed his now-famous photographs of Aboriginal women (stockworkers), and a family of Aboriginal people (‘Jack and his family’) for the first time. An interest in Aboriginal people was to remain a feature of Poignant’s work throughout his career. Roslyn Poignant notes that the photo of ‘Jack and his family’ was exhibited as ‘dinkum Aussies’ and explains their A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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National Library of Australia, . Courtesy of Roslyn Poignant

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Axel Poignant, ‘Jack and his family, Pingelly, Western Australia’, 1938

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popularity in terms of a more inclusive notion of Australian national identity. ‘Jack and his family’ expresses a notion of shared humanity that transcends any differences of race or class. Jack, the handsome head of the family, is sitting in a cart with his wife and their seven kids. The adults’ hands take our attention, holding the two littlest children securely. Some of the kids grin. This un-posed image records a moment in the sun, on the move, showing ties between these people that are immediately recognisable and utterly familiar. During a trip along the Canning Stock Route in 1942, Poignant made more images of bush workers, Aboriginal stockmen and women. These were not publicly displayed until 1947 when they appeared in the first annual of Australian photography, published in conjunction with a sesquicentenary exhibition in Newcastle. His stockman, perhaps like his earlier timber-getters, focused on the man’s stature as a worker. He looks intently skywards, slightly work-stained, a type of hero. Yet this is a portrait, distinguishing Poignant’s stockman from the stereotype that proliferated swiftly from this time. Roslyn Poignant asks why these two portraits, ‘so startlingly different from the rest’, were given such prominence.35 In the Australian context, they mark a radically new vision of Aboriginal people at a time when policy and science overwhelmingly argued for Indigenous incapacity and the need for intervention. Photo historians have sometimes emphasised Poignant’s place within an emerging Australian modernist movement, or even within a reformist documentary tradition most familiar to us from the images of the United States’ Farm Security Administration, which aimed to record poverty in order to prompt social change.36 But Poignant’s portraits of Aboriginal people lack the overtly reformist intent of New Deal documentary and there was little interest in this approach among Australian photographers more generally. It is true that some Australian documentary photographers began to argue that the lives of ordinary people were being overlooked. In 1946 Geoffrey Powell declared that ‘progressive artists’ of the day were ‘interested primarily in realism’, and criticised the popular press for its focus on trivia, asking ‘how often do we see the atrocious living conditions of the lesser privileged, the worker vainly searching for the means to enjoy what little leisure he does get?’.37 However, scholars have concluded that Australian photographers were less concerned with documentary as a means of prompting social reform than as a mode of challenging pictorialism in their adoption of 156

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conventions such as unusual camera angles, clarity of focus, tightly composed and often abstracted forms, and modern subject matter.38 An explicitly reformist approach was instead left to Australian photojournalists; as chapter 6 will explore, postwar ideals of uplift and assimilation relied upon a visual language of abjection that worked to show people in need of help and intervention. By contrast, Poignant’s portraits disregard their subjects’ material circumstances in favour of declaring their humanity, personality, individual dignity and warmth. Poignant himself wrote in 1978 that ‘I was socially motivated in my approach to a subject, as anyone would be who had lived through the dark side of the Depression, but I wasn’t a conscious reformer. Rather, I sought to make my photographs meaningful, whatever the subject’.39 This difference emerges from a comparison of Poignant’s ‘Portrait of an Aboriginal Mother and Baby’ with an icon of the Depression years, Dorothea Lange’s portrait of a ‘Migrant Mother’ made in California in early 1936 – sometimes described as the most reproduced photograph ever. Although there is a strong formal resemblance between Poignant’s mother and Lange’s, the former is beautiful, soft, glowing and happy; the latter is lined, worn and desperate. Although the subjects’ backstories remain beyond the frame, each turns their image of mother-love to very different ends – Lange’s sought to prompt pity for her impoverished, anxious subject, while Poignant’s calls forth our admiration and recognition. Significantly, Roslyn Poignant rejects New Deal photography as a specific influence on Axel – as his wife and amanuensis, and a historian of Australian photography in her own right, in recent decades her research has brought Poignant’s work to a wide audience. Instead she suggests that Poignant’s Aboriginal portraits reflect ‘an undercurrent of changes in the wider community’, concluding that Poignant’s interest in characteristically Australian, including Aboriginal, affairs was part of his search for a ‘new’ or ‘modern’ way of seeing.40 She also notes Poignant’s concern with Aboriginal people well before the Overlanders project. More important was his experience working on another project the following year with Lee Robinson and Charles Mountford: Namatjira the painter (1947)41 was unusual in focusing on an Aboriginal man and his life in Australian society at a time when ‘ethnographic’ films such as Mountford’s Tjurunga: The story of stone age man (1946)42 and Walkabout (1946)43 were standard. Poignant was A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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gelatin silver photograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Courtesy of Roslyn Poignant

gelatin silver photograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Courtesy of Roslyn Poignant

working for the film division of the Department of Information for Commonwealth Film Board Release, to ‘publicise the country abroad and educate the people at home to something of a national pride’, and the film’s message was strongly delimited by its official purpose and assimilationist message. Namatjira the painter formed part of a series of films, including projects examining voting arrangements and education in the Territory, the Hermannsburg plan to ‘decentralise aborigines’ and the Harts Range mica fields.44 Poignant regarded this film both as a learning experience in relation to Aboriginal peoples and culture, and formative in the development of his own photographic approach through his journeys to painting locations with Namatjira and kinsmen such as the Pareroultja brothers.45 In 1946 Poignant also visited Wave Hill where he photographed Aboriginal life on the pastoral station, including stockmen, ration distribution and other scenes of work such as ‘Aboriginal stockmen’s camp, Wave Hill cattle station, Central Australia’, and ‘Aboriginal woman receives her food ration at Wave Hill Station, Northern Territory’.46 This was followed by a trip to the Kimberley the following year. Several of the photographs taken during these years Axel considered amongst the most significant of his work, but they were not to be circulated until two decades later when they were exhibited in support of the land rights movement.47 Poignant’s universal themes of family and work differ from the motif of abjection usually employed to depict Indigenous people in settled Australia at this time. They seek to show not degradation and loss, the preoccupation of those debating assimilation, but to document living experience and people. His images of Indigenous Australians anticipate the 1955 exhibition The family of man, curated by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This blockbuster comprised 503 photographs from 63 countries and toured the world, showing the seemingly eternal dimensions of human life – birth,

Axel Poignant, ‘Head stockman, Canning Stock Route, Western Australia’, 1942 A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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National Library of Australia, N4463084, Courtesy of Roslyn Poignant

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play, work, marriage, death. It is now remembered in terms of theorist Roland Barthes’ anti-humanist critique of its exoticising and incorporative effects, and its emphasis on a transcendent sense of shared humanity. Barthes considered the exhibition to efface cultural and historical differences, and naturalise the status quo. As I discussed in my introduction, this critique of the appropriative effects of ‘humanitarianism’ and empathy, and its expression in the form of documentary photography, was to become orthodoxy from that time on. As Barthes wrote:48 This myth of the human ‘condition’ rests on a very old mystification, which always consists in placing Nature at the bottom of History. Any classic humanism postulates that in scratching the history of men a little, the relativity of their institutions or the superficial diversity of their skins (but why not ask the parents of Emmet Till, the young Negro assassinated by the Whites what they think of The great family of man?), one very quickly reaches the solid rock of a universal human nature.

Poignant’s work does indeed operate in this register, drawing his Aboriginal subjects into a vision of equivalence. But more recent work on the development of empathy as the basis for mobilising intervention in the context of humanitarianism and the protection of human rights, has pointed out its radical potential in arousing sympathy and moving viewers to act. Empathy relies upon narrative strategies that create a sense of proximity and common ground and here photography has been acknowledged as a powerful force. Visual theorist Courtney Baker has argued precisely with respect to the lynching of Emmet Till in the Jim Crow south, that the mechanics of visual recognition and the misrecognition of ourselves in another’s suffering are central to a concept of humanity. Following his murder in 1955, 14-year-old Till’s body was returned to his mother in Chicago and

Axel Poignant, ‘Portrait of an Aboriginal mother and baby’, Canning Stock Route, Western Australia’, 1942 A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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she insisted that it be put on public display. Media representation made this case uniquely visible and it is now acknowledged to have been a key event that prompted the African–American Civil Rights movement. Baker argues that seeing the photographic subject as potentially oneself is a misrecognition that is the crux of a visualised humanity, a rhetorical strategy that relies on a consensual investment in the idea of a universal humanity. Despite the critique of empathy on the grounds of its often troubling assumption of a shared humanity, many agree that it nonetheless remains a necessary basis for moral life.49 Poignant’s work should also be seen in the context of growing popular interest in new ideas about human rights that were beginning to circulate internationally after the war. More Australians began to acknowledge the situation of Aboriginal people. Formal statements of these ideas were embodied in the 1946 Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and the establishment of the United Nations’ Sub-Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities in 1948, which laid down a definition of minority rights in the following year.50 Poignant was one of the first non-Indigenous observers to ‘recognise’ Aboriginal people, and his photographs have become icons of Indigenous humanity.

D i s cov ered at las t ! By contrast, Geoffrey Collings’s photographs are still barely known to the public. Collings’s portrait series from the Alice Springs set of The overlanders are a remarkable record of the encounter between the film crew and local Arrernte ‘visitors’ to the Alice Springs set and surrounding locations such as Narweitooma station, on Anmatyerr country. Collings had been working in documentary photography since the early 1930s. He and his wife Dahl had bought a Rolliflex camera as an aid to their design work in 1933 and Geoffrey soon began to produce images shaped by a modernist sensibility, featuring sharp focus, dramatic angles and bold compositions, and a concern with the ‘seemingly ordinary events in life’ drawn from documentary film.51 Collings had encountered film-makers such as Grierson, Watt and Robert Flaherty when working in London between 1935–37 and he later recalled the immediate appeal, given his socialist leanings, 162

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of putting ‘the ordinary common man’ on screen.52 Collings had a close familiarity with US and British traditions – he later produced a series of photographs in the Mallee that were inspired by American New Deal documentary and Pare Lorentz’s film about erosion, The plow that broke the plains (1936).53 Collings’s interest in photography was sidelined by film work during World War Two, when it became a vehicle for government propaganda, especially after the foundation of the Australian National Film Board in 1945. Collings actively promoted documentary film as an official medium, for example writing The Use of Film in Wartime (1941) in which he advocated film’s potential role in acquainting the ‘public with the work being done by their Government in the National Interest’ and raising morale to ‘help bind the nation together’.54 In these ways he may be seen in terms of an international Anglophone documentary tradition that worked to support national unity. While Collings’s images are fresh and strong to our eyes, their impact was not felt by their contemporaries. As Isobel Crombie pointed out in 1989, his work differed from that of his peers and because he was not primarily a photographer he was overlooked by many of the first Australian histories of the medium. When the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) acquired the series in 1985, Collings wrote, ‘I think your idea for an exhibition called Events is beaut and I feel thrilled to think my Overlanders pictures might be included (discovered at last!).’55 Hence it was not until some 40 years after he made the images that they received recognition from curators and the public, though Collings remains a little-known figure. Collings’s series is interesting in several respects. As well as scenes from the film project, he documented Arrernte visitors to the set, some of whom have recently been identified by relatives and Arrernte elders. Collings apparently did not see Aboriginal people as an object of intervention and compassion. Unlike the welfare-sponsored ‘fringe-dweller’ imagery that proliferated after the war, his portraits focus on the local Arrernte people’s faces, appearance and personalities, expressing a friendly curiosity and respect. Albert Williams’s portrait, for example, shows him as strong, self-contained and capable, small details of dress signifying his occupation and hinting at an interesting life, full of work and challenge. Mary Williams is a more cautious, even suspicious, subject. They express a moment of encounter and engagement. A boriginal O v e rland e rs

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This interest was mutual, as local Arrernte people became participants in the film event. Many worked with horses and were drawn in as extras or with their families. Some of the Arrernte who visited the Alice Springs location, including Agnes (‘Aggie’) Abbott, remember the film-making well. At the time the film was made, Aggie was living with family out of town and came in to watch. She saw the cattle being thrown from the cliff at Heavitree Gap and remembers the film crew camped at Kurrajong Drive toward Undoolya. Aggie identified one of the Aboriginal stockmen as Albert Williams from Uleperte, and ‘Aboriginal Tribal Elder’ as Cowell Bob, from Uleralkwe country in the north-west Simpson Desert, whom she looked after in his old age.56 The

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National Gallery of Victoria, PH39-1986 /10415. De103779_RGB. Moral/cultural permission Gregory Johnson

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Geoffrey Collings, ‘Aboriginal station hand’ (Albert Williams), The overlanders series, 1946

portraits express a strong interest in individual character — Albert Williams’s portrait, for example, shows him as strong, self-contained and capable. As Crombie noted of his earliest photographs, the portraits are tightly composed and cropped to the subject, as Collings has moved in close to produce these intimate encounters. From the clean, harsh light of central Australia, Collings has drawn strong contrasts to achieve a sense of volume – the circle of card-players, for instance, is composed of a series of three-dimensional forms chiselled out by light and shade. The stockmen’s hats cast shadows that strongly frame their faces.

National Gallery of Victoria, PH39-1986 /10415. De103779_RGB. Moral/cultural permission Gregory Johnson

National Gallery of Victoria, PH36-1986/ 10412. De103776_RGB. Moral/cultural permission Riley Williams

Geoffrey Collings, ‘Aboriginal tribal elder’ (Cowell Bob), The overlanders series, 1946

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Geoffrey Collings, ‘A game of cards to pass the time’, The overlanders series, 1946

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Collings also memorably records a central aspect of the film through his interest in the Indigenous stockmen working as actors and extras on the set. The Aboriginal actors, Henry and Clyde, are shown in their roles as stockmen: ‘Osmond Borradaile directing Henry and Clyde’, for example, shows Axel Poignant and his camera to one side, the scene redolent of dust and sweat. Other images, including ‘Clyde waits for another camera set up at the watering scene’, ‘Clyde with rope for tree blocking the track sequence’ and ‘Contract team of Aboriginal stockmen’ show the riders as monumental and heroic, especially Clyde Combo on his horse at the Gap, gazing into the distance; we look up at him, poised and still. A line-up of extras on horseback (including ‘boy stockmen’) gives a greater sense of work in progress and the droving ‘plant’. These images defined a popular admiration of the Aboriginal stockman that stemmed from actual conditions within the pastoral industry, but quickly became a stereotype of the north and of assimilation. In 1930, one pastoralist asserted:57

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A b ori g i na l cowbo ys

Geoffrey Collings, ‘Clyde with rope for tree blocking the track sequence’, The overlanders series, 1946

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Geoffrey Collings, ‘Osmond Borradaile directing Henry and Clyde’ (‘Nipper’ and ‘Jacky’, Axel Poignant to one side), The overlanders series, 1946

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Geoffrey Collings, ‘Contract team of Aboriginal stockmen’, The overlanders series, 1946

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The true value of the aboriginals as stockmen is fully understood only by the cattle men. They are, as a matter of fact, indispensable. When I use that word I believe it is no exaggeration. Under conditions which have existed during the past few years the cattle industry in the Far North could hardly have been carried on without them. Many stations would have gone out of action. I can say with truth that the semi-civilised blacks are doing a great service for the economic development of this State and throughout the far North of Australia.

Experts considering the north’s agricultural possibilities concurred. In 1938 a Professor Prescott stated that ‘no cattle station in the north could carry on without aboriginal stockmen’.58 Aboriginal horsemanship had been widely admired



The prestige, skill and hard work signified by the stockman became an enduring symbol of outback Australia . . .

at rodeo performances from at least 1913, their representation circulating prominently in popular and rural magazines such as Hoofs and Horns. In 1932, the Brisbane Royal National Rodeo Carnival enthused that ‘As an additional attraction a party of wonderful aboriginal stockmen is being brought over from the border ranges.’59 Despite this undoubted admiration for the stockman’s skill and picturesque appearance, historians have presented very different views of the stockman’s experience. Some have seen their role in the pastoral industry as harmonious and cooperative — a way of doing meaningful work that enabled families to maintain connections to each other and to country. Others, however, have emphasised their exploitation as they were denied wages or conditions equal to white workers up until the late 1960s.60 As assimilation became the dominant policy after the war, the figure of the Aboriginal stockman seemed to show 172

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Indigenous people successfully accommodating change. One romantic vision of the Aboriginal stockman, neatly dressed in full cowboy regalia, served as the ‘cover-boy’ for the 1958 assimilation pamphlet, Our Aborigines (see page 134). The prestige, skill and hard work signified by the stockman became an enduring symbol of outback Australia and was taken up by sympathetic painters such as Russell Drysdale and Darryl Lindsay during the 1950s and 1960s.61 As an assimilationist ‘success story’, this motif represented a limited form of respect that could obscure the relative disadvantage of Indigenous pastoral workers. While these images may have been partial and conditional, such acknowledgement was important in signifying a new readiness to consider Aboriginal people as having rights. Collings and Poignant developed their interest in Aboriginal people in different ways. Much later, during the 1960s, Collings’s film production company made two films about Indigenous art, The dreaming (1963) and Pattern of life (1964).62 Collings’s 1989 memoir reveals an essentialising, romantic conception of the remote ‘station aborigine’, whose ‘strange and infinite knowledge of his world’ emerged from ‘the hushed and haunted land’.63 Nonetheless, Collings’s brief encounter with the Arrernte expressed a genuine curiosity and sympathy for these fellow workers on the film project. At a time when Aboriginal people were primarily represented either as subjects of transformation on missions and fringe camps (as the following chapter explores) or, alternatively, still leading a traditional, unchanged way of life in remote desert Australia, this period saw the beginnings of significant changes as photographers and film-makers began to express new visions of Indigenous Australians, such as Aboriginal families and their ‘essential humanity’, or the heroic stockman, characterised by strength, dignity and exceptional bushcraft.

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6 : L o o ki ng i s deadly

1 74

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Kurnta [shame], it’s shaming to be seen like that. Don’t show that film. It’ll be like discrimination … Put that film away. Put it away, for history. Hold it, but don’t show it to people. They still look at Aboriginal people. They don’t recognise and still think that Aboriginal people in that time, eating that meat and the flies, they think still they doing that today. Yes, they used it for the referendum, I understand that [but] they made it bad, because they didn’t understand what they were doing. It’s still the same now … Instead of encouraging them to stand on their feet, they put them down. Show the worst things. Livingston West, senior Ngaanyatjarra man, 2006

After World War Two, as notions of rights and the evils of racism began to circulate, Aboriginal people became more visible. Assimilation policies were implemented and a welfare movement emerged that was focused upon improving the domestic environment of Aboriginal people as a means of social uplift. Official visions of an Indigenous future demonstrated by individual ‘success stories’ relied upon an imagined modernity and equality, defined by reference to a primitive past. Aboriginal activists also demanded better conditions and claimed equal rights. In March 1940 the Victorian Australian Aborigines League presented a petition to the Premier that protested the ‘terrible housing conditions under which we live’.1 Photos of appalling living conditions became ammunition for reformers in a visual culture that increasingly valued photographic evidence for distant suffering. A graphic visual language of degradation and suffering was applied to rural Aboriginal camps by politicians, Aboriginal activists and white social workers to argue for intervention. This discourse of abjection drew from a revitalised genre of urban slum imagery, enhanced by the role of photo-journalism and its revelations of distant atrocity following the war. Sometimes observers explicitly compared these images with Nazi imagery; for example, in referring to Aboriginal people living in ‘second-class concentration camps’.2 Such accounts were structured by a narrative of revelation, suggesting that the residents had been ‘forgotten’ and ‘hidden’ from white citizens.

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Half Castes in Native ‘Slums’: Allegations that 30 half caste aborigines were living in squalor and animal-like conditions on the banks of the Wimmera River, at Dimboola, were made by police yesterday. Police said that they were disgusted by the apparent apathy toward the half-caste population, which lived in squalor, neglect and filth. Dwellings were humpies made of 1 76

Moral/cultural permission Nancy Harrison

This new popular discourse was prominently circulated by illustrated newspaper articles, echoing the familiar visual language of urban housing reform. A ‘slum’ genre had first emerged in mid-19th-century London, combining sympathy with titillation, as slums become a tourist attraction and reaffirmed middle-class values.3 ‘Slummer’ journalism was re-emerging in Melbourne at just this time, due to a widespread housing crisis and a campaign driven by a coalition of social reformers, the labour movement and the press, led by crusader Oswald Barnett. Barnett made effective use of photographs of inner Melbourne to demonise women, advocate the rescue of children and promote the ideal family.4 Documentary film also became a significant tool for reform in 1946, when Father Gerard Tucker, founder of The Brotherhood of St Laurence and an ally of Barnett, commissioned a group of Melbourne film-makers to make three films exposing the poverty and squalor in which many of Melbourne’s working class lived. The Communist Party-supported Realist Film Unit was founded by Ken Coldicutt and Bob Matthews in 1945 and aimed to produce documentaries in the socialist–realist tradition, focusing on issues of social justice. Their ironically titled Beautiful Melbourne (1947), revealed Melbourne’s squalid slum housing to mainstream audiences, and was followed in 1948 by These are our children and in 1950 by A place to live.5 These films provided an immediate example for reporters to follow – representing rural Aboriginal camps as dirty and immoral, and their residents as helpless and primitive, justified official intervention. While a pseudo-ethnographic interest in Aboriginal ‘camps’ had been expressed since first contact and produced innumerable photos that circulated as postcards and popular views, now such conditions were perceived to reflect poorly upon Australian society as a whole. For example, in March 1948 the visit of a Melbourne policewoman prompted widespread attention to conditions at Dimboola, in north-western Victoria. The Age reported on the living conditions of:6

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Moral/cultural permission Nancy Harrison

‘Half-castes at Dimboola live like this’. Sun, 19 March 1948, p. 9 177

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flattened kerosene tins, along the bank of the river. Some were made of bags, and in most cases bags were used as blankets. Rags were used to clothe the men, women and children. Many of the children had told them they did not like going to school because they were called ‘niggers’ by the white children. Not far away were the clean and comfortable houses of the whites, who seemed unaware of these conditions. Although reformers such as Barnett came to recognise that environment was not a symptom of character but rather of poverty, mainstream viewers continued to link setting and the residents’ capacity through a potent visual device. Aboriginal leader Pastor Doug Nicholls attempted to point out this crucial distinction between cause and effect in his slogan, ‘Australian Aborigines are not a primitive people but a people living in primitive conditions.’7 Framing the Aboriginal camps as slums worked to ‘prove’ reformers’ arguments about social conditions, emphasising Indigenous difference and showing the camps as another world, characterised by transience, disorder and primitivism. Such images conflated poverty with savagery and opposed these outcast populations to modernity and progress. They fit easily into the category photo-theorist Martha Rosler contemptuously termed ‘victim photography’, turning people – usually of another class or race – into abject, less-than-human ciphers. This way of interpreting documentary photography became orthodoxy during the 1980s, entrenching the notion that ‘the documentary act’ constituted a ‘double subjugation’ of the subject.8 Within a critical framework shaped by the emerging paradigm of poststructuralism, theorists emphasised the complex relationship between power, knowledge, surveillance and governance. For this school of thought, these images are ‘moralizing, but not revolutionary’.9 Their victims are distanced and dehumanised without disclosing the encompassing, abstract framework of injustice. Such critique stems from a much older suspicion of humanitarian narratives: historians of human rights have shown that in many contexts humanitarians successfully deployed graphic scenes of distress as a powerful prompt to sympathy – contributing to the abolition of slavery, for example – yet their very intensity often served to distance rather than embrace the subject. Ultimately, some scholars have concluded, these narratives rely upon a notion of the human that is partial and exclusive.10 178

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Yet they also express an impulse to create empathy with distant suffering, bringing the viewer into proximity with the Aboriginal subjects. As demonstrated by the photography of figures such as Hermann Klaatsch, William Walker, Charles Duguid, Donald Thomson and many others in the postwar period, there is evidence that this sense of otherness could be an effective political tool. Historian Corinne Manning suggests that such imagery created a strong public awareness of Victorian Aboriginal marginality with the consequence that in 1955, following Henry Bolte’s Liberal Country Party election win, the new government was able to rapidly implement legislative reforms aimed at improving housing standards for Aboriginal people.11 At a time when ideas of equality and equal rights were gaining ground, appalling living conditions attributed by campaigners to white neglect, ‘forgetfulness’, or ignorance, became a powerful spur to reform, successfully arousing the sympathy and concern of mainstream audiences. In this way, ‘fringe-dweller’ imagery moves uneasily between distancing the Aboriginal campers, and the assimilationist agenda of uplift and absorption. In attempting to prompt sympathy and reform, they enact strategies that seem fundamental to the western tradition of humanitarianism.

From this … to THIS ! The campaign to improve Aboriginal conditions can also be seen in the international context of decolonisation and a burgeoning interest in human rights. A pro-assimilation campaign was waged through newspapers, magazines and official pamphlets and films, giving visual form to new ideas about the place of Aboriginal people in Australian society by showing Aboriginal people successfully becoming modern. A narrative of progress was created by drawing upon a much older visual tradition of missionary propaganda. By juxtaposing camps with newly-built homes occupied by neatly dressed parents and children, these picture-stories contrast ‘tradition’ and a lifestyle condemned as dirty and primitive, with Western ‘civilisation’, in a technique that had been used to argue for successful management of the missions since at least the mid-19th century. Popular accounts of the assimilationist housing program represented it as a before-and-after narrative of transformation. When the first housing built for L oo k ing is d e adly

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‘New homes for Aboriginals’, Jack Cannon. Herald (Melbourne), 20 July 1959, p. 13

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Moral/cultural permission Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative

Victorian Aboriginal people was completed at Rumbalara, in Mooroopna, in July 1959, images of ‘humpies’ were placed beside the new houses, generating a visual movement from the primitive past to a modernised present.12 These accounts argued for the effective management of the Aboriginal population, endorsing Premier Bolte’s claims that Rumbalara inaugurated a ‘new deal’ for Aborigines. Such newspaper stories reproduced the logic of transformation, ‘from this to THIS!’. What was new was the sight of Aboriginal people taking their place as equals in a modern society, becoming ideal suburban middle-class families. Magazines such as the Australian Women’s Weekly promoted assimilation – a new form of social engineering designed to merge Aboriginal people into the mainstream population. It was implemented by Paul Hasluck, who was appointed the Commonwealth Minister for Territories in 1951. Hasluck saw the ‘Aboriginal problem’ in social rather than racial terms, believing in the principle of equal opportunity to overcome disparities of class and race. While assimilation was by no means a singular or uncontested policy, it took strength from a widely shared vision of a modern, unified nation, modelled on an ideal Anglo-Celtic culture and ancestry.13 The Australian Women’s Weekly imagined assimilation through picture stories such as one which featured ‘model housing schemes for aborigines on Lachlan River’, showing happy children and the football team and explaining that the ‘recently opened Murrin Bridge Aboriginal Station’ was ‘the most advanced station of its kind in Australia and the first of 10 new stations.’14 Despite the rhetoric of equality, some pointed out the hypocrisy of providing inferior dwellings and resources through these schemes; they were often implemented as a means of instructing Aboriginal people, rather than given to them as a right.15

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Moral/cultural permission Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative

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Bla ck C i nderellas One case that drew national and international attention was that of Ruth Daylight, a 15-year-old girl from Hall’s Creek who had been sent to meet the Queen Mother on her tour of Australia in February 1958. Douglas Lockwood, Darwin correspondent for the Melbourne Herald, received the 1958 Walkley award for his report. It was a three-part feature, including a short front-page 182

Herald (Melbourne), 24 March 1958, p. 1. Copyright courtesy of Newspix

Films and pamphlets distributed to Aboriginal people themselves were overtly patronising; examples include Dawn magazine, launched by the NSW Aboriginal Welfare Board in 1952, or films such as the 1958 Areyonga,16 produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit, Department of Territories. Areyonga was a ‘first stage’ settlement for Pitjantjatjara people south-west of Alice Springs and a showpiece of assimilation. Typically, this film constructed a narrative of progress by contrasting traditional Aboriginal culture – construed as a barrier to education, health and housing – with residents shown on the threshold towards a sedentary lifestyle. As the authoritative voice-overs explain, ‘If they’re moved into modern cottages they mistreat them or if a death occurs, abandon them. But eventually Aborigines must live in permanent homes; they must be guided through this period of transition.’ 17 Many of these films stress the need to separate the school child from allegiances of family and community, showing residential colleges as happy, friendly places that are contrasted with the constraints of old law and especially the ‘walkabout’. In this way, official visions of assimilation created a stark opposition between traditional culture, which it consigned to the past, and a modern future. This ‘either-or’ formulation had structured views of Indigenous people from first contact and it remains influential today, leaving no room for Aboriginal people to both retain cultural heritage and adopt modernity. As Aboriginal activist Bert Groves argued vehemently in 1958 to the first Federal Conference of Aboriginal Organisations, assimilation implied, as well as citizenship and equal status, ‘the disappearance of the Aboriginals as a separate cultural group, and ultimately their physical absorption by the European part of the population … We feel that the word “integration” implies a truer definition of our aims and objects.’18

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Herald (Melbourne), 24 March 1958, p. 1. Copyright courtesy of Newspix

‘She curtsied to the Queen Mother at Canberra. Now Ruth is back in native hovel.’

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Moral/cultural permission from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks Herald (Melbourne), 25 March 1958, p. 4

account framing two large photographs, the first showing Ruth curtseying to a smiling Queen Mother, above another of Ruth repeating her curtsey to her mother outside their ‘humpy’ at Hall’s Creek. Lockwood wrote, ‘But instead of the imposing walls of Yarralumla, the Governor-General’s residence in Canberra, the backdrop today was a filthy hovel, only 3ft. high, where Ruth lives with her mother and four other Daylight children.’ The stark visual contrast, with further graphic images of Ruth and her family in their humpy, was contrasted with the comments of ‘surprised’ officials, who had ‘heard that she is very happy’. These images effectively reversed the usual assimilationist image of progress through its riches to rags story.19 Ruth was called an ‘Australian Cinderella’ – her plight was common among ‘de-tribalised’ Aboriginal people, but might have a ‘happy ending’ if it ‘stings public opinion into demanding that this heart-breaking gap between black and white’ should be abolished.20 Her story was used to make a larger argument criticising Hasluck’s ‘complacency’ and ‘defensiveness’ and the Melbourne Herald ran a series of critical articles declaring that ‘the clearing up of shamefully bad conditions calls for a more spirited attitude’. Ruth’s situation was pityingly contrasted with that of young Aboriginal girls adopted into Melbourne families, where they were shown as Cinderellas moving ‘from lean-to to luxury’, or from ‘mission to mansion’, awaking to a ‘glittering world’ of affluence.21 Poor Ruth was relentlessly scrutinised as officials and her family debated what she should do – she complained that her life had been ruined by all the attention. In 1959 the public was informed that the ‘black Cinderella gets her chance’, as Ruth had successfully completed her first year of technical training in Derby.22 Ruth’s story earned more ‘unfavorable publicity for Australia’ when the photos were published in two London papers under the headline ‘The Two Worlds of Ruth Daylight’.23 Overseas interest in Ruth persisted into the 1960s. Other criticism within popular media contradicted the official line by depicting the hardships and even the impossibility of assimilation. The popular film Jedda (1955),24 directed by Charles Chauvel, told the story of a little Aboriginal girl adopted into a white pastoralist family. As a young, seemingly Europeanised woman, she was seduced by Marbuk, a handsome tribal man who ran away with her. Ultimately, pulled between two cultures, Jedda was dragged to her death by her lover, reiterating widespread pessimism about the possibility of assimilation. the flash of recognition

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Moral/cultural permission from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks Herald (Melbourne), 25 March 1958, p. 4

‘Jedda heroine wields a duster’. The Australian Women’s Weekly, 28 May 1958, p. 7

< Cartoon, ‘Cinderella in her humpy’. ‘Once upon a time there was a young aboriginal girl who was taken to the big city. There she curtsied to the Queen Mother …’ 185

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Predictably, the Australian Women’s Weekly attempted to reclaim Jedda, showing the actor, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (as she is now known), working as a house-keeper for an Adelaide family. In this narrative, she has successfully returned to European domesticity with a potential future as an artist. The Australian Women’s Weekly actively promoted assimilation during these years and beyond, running many features on Aboriginal ‘success stories’, such as the artist Albert Namatjira, singer Harold Blair, model Lois O’Donoghue, singer Georgia Lee, boxer Lionel Rose and tennis player Evonne Goolagong. Having made it in a white world, these individuals were always shown smiling and triumphant, well-dressed, often surrounded by admiring crowds, betraying no signs of cultural difference. (Namatjira became the troubling exception to this rule, as I discuss further.) The Weekly’s stories denied racial prejudice, suggesting that these individual examples stood for wider possibilities. In a sense, they were all ‘Cinderellas’, men and women shown magically rising from their underprivileged childhoods to international fame and fortune. Pride in Indigenous heritage was also a recurring theme. Cairns singer Georgia Lee was immediately successful when she performed in London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1954 and reportedly ‘objected when an announcer described her as Trinidadian’. She said, ‘I was indignant. I wanted to be known for what I was – an aboriginal girl! I’m proud of it!’ Her mother was Aboriginal and her father a Torres Strait Islander, and she sang Islander ‘folk songs’ to ‘a sophisticated night-club audience’.25 Alongside these optimistic assimilation stories, depictions of exotic tradition symbolised a ‘real’ but disappearing Indigeneity. Ironically, images and motifs drawn from Indigenous culture became tremendously popular in Australian decorative arts and interior decoration at this time, even as the actual circumstances of Aboriginal lives remained unknown.26

P ub li ci ty a b road Despite the elaborate official propaganda, critics were able to draw upon this imagery to challenge official policy and Australia’s international standing on human rights. Amid increasing international interest in Australia’s treatment of

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its Indigenous people, critique at the United Nations and in the world media was an effective means for the Soviet powers to deflect Western criticism and to undermine Australian policy in particular. Australian officials became almost obsessively aware of how the nation was perceived by others. Sympathy with the plight of Indigenous Australians was central to the communist agenda but the Communist Party also made effective political use of Aboriginal ill-treatment to reject criticism of its own policies and undermine its opponents. In 1931 the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), following the Comintern’s lead, published a pamphlet, ‘Communist Party’s Rights for Aborigines Draft Program of Struggle against Slavery’, in which it defined Aboriginal people as the ‘slaves of slaves’ and declared that ‘no struggle of the white workers must be permitted without demands for the aborigines being championed’.27 The CPA made consistent use of this analogy with slavery in actively supporting a range of campaigns. It developed a detailed policy on Aboriginal rights, including the concept of self-determination, published by prominent Central Committee member Tom Wright in 1939 as A New Deal for Aborigines.28 During the following decades, communists engaged with a range of Aboriginal issues, supporting the 1946 Pilbara strike, resisting the Woomera rocket range, objecting to poor conditions at the Warburton reserve in 1957 and, much later, advocating land rights. Unfortunately, much of its work was ignored by mainstream media and so was obscured from view. Despite the work of journalists such as Douglas Lockwood, who wrote stories about Aboriginal issues in the Tribune and other communist publications, anticommunist sentiment was often used to discredit these campaigns. Nonetheless, Soviet criticism in the United Nations and other international forums became a powerful form of external scrutiny, as photographs of prisoners and ‘fringedwellers’ transcended barriers of language and culture to become effective ammunition against Australia. In May 1946 Aboriginal pastoral workers walked off stations across the Pilbara in Western Australia in a landmark campaign that later developed into the self-supporting Pindan Cooperative Movement. The Pilbara Strike was coordinated by senior Aboriginal leaders Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna, and white unionist Don McLeod, who was a member of the CPA for a short period. The movement was supported by the CPA, which provided its publicity L oo k ing is d e adly

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through newspapers such as the Tribune. In 1947, strike leaders Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna briefly succeeded in gaining international attention for the cause. Prompted by a local Committee for the Defence of Native Rights, they appealed to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, securing sympathetic media coverage. ‘The McKennas’ (as the journalist termed the claimants) cited instances of inhuman treatment and illegal imprisonment. Unfortunately the United Nations Office had no powers to enforce human rights principles and was still in the process of drafting a bill of rights.29 With an eye to international censure, the Commonwealth Investigation Branch (intelligence organisation and national security service) sent a ‘secret memo’ to the Department of External Affairs blaming the Australian Communist Party in Western Australia for this ‘agitation’.30 Throughout 1949, in particular, the Tribune attacked the official treatment of Aboriginal workers, its most effective tactic being to revive the association between neck-chaining and slavery, no doubt still fresh in popular memory following the Mt Dare and Aurukun scandals of a few years before (see chapter 4). The Tribune’s views were graphically expressed by front-page photographs of Aboriginal prisoners that were taken up around the world. In their original publication they were captioned:31 Not imaginary Russian ‘slave camp’ inmates, such as have Dr Evatt’s sympathy, but Australian Aborigines are here pictured in chains in a real Australian slave camp. They were held at Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia, for 18 months while police vainly sought evidence on which they could be tried for tribal murder. Then they were freed – but they had served 18 months’ hard labor in chains for an offence which had not been proved.

‘Dreamtime for Georgia: Aboriginal girl singer’s success in London.’ Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 March 1954, p. 7

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Moral/cultural permission Wilma Reading

‘Not imaginary Russian “slave camp” inmates, such as have Dr Evatt’s sympathy, but

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Moral/cultural permission Wilma Reading

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Tribune, 5 March 1949, p. 1

‘Not imaginary Russian “slave camp” inmates, such as have Dr Evatt’s sympathy, but Australian Aborigines are here pictured in chains in a real Australian slave camp.’

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The issue was taken up overseas by the British Anti-Slavery Society and the Soviet government, which re-published the photographs.32 Domestic debate ensued and the Minister for the Interior argued that the prisoners were held in Western Australia and were therefore a state responsibility.33 In April, the Polish delegate to the United Nations, Jan Drohojowski, launched a sustained attack on Australia’s human rights record, asking:34 Who is coming to the rescue of alleged violations of human rights in Hungary? From the antipodes comes Australia, a country whose original immigrants have almost entirely exterminated the aborigines. As a matter of fact, Australia seems to consider the remaining aborigines as zoological specimens.

Tribune, 5 March 1949, p. 1

He linked this to official treatment of the labour movement, suggesting that:35 … some arrests in Australia and especially the arrest of labour and trade union leaders could also be brought to the attention of the assembly in order to find out whether a charge of sedition is not a violation of human rights and if so whether human rights have not been violated.

One week later, the USSR attacked the White Australia Policy and the Soviet delegate on the Political Committee, Jacob Malik, asked:36 Suppose that, tomorrow, the question arose here of Australia’s treatment of her aborigines, or of her discrimination against Asiatic peoples, particularly, against a citizen of the Philippines, or the White Australia policy generally, what would be the attitude of the Australian Government?

In May, the Sydney Tribune blared: ‘ABORIGINAL STRIKERS IN WA SEIZED AT REVOLVER POINT, PUT IN CHAINS’. It argued that the strikers’ treatment was unconstitutional and breached the Anti-Slavery Act of 1843, which had guaranteed that ‘never again would slavery be allowed through the Empire’.37 McLeod wrote to the Perth Workers’ Star that ‘While Dr Evatt used UNO to attack the People’s Democracies for dealing out justice

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to traitors, Australian Aborigines have been put in chains for the “crime” of agitating for better working conditions’.38 In October, speaking in the UN Political Committee debate on the violation of human rights in Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrey Vyshinsky, attacked the Australian government’s ‘total disregard’ for the human rights of Aboriginal people. The External Affairs Minister (Dr Evatt) replied ‘bluntly’ in the House of Representatives, accusing the Russians of deflecting attention from their own record on religious persecution.39 Evatt argued that any ill-treatment lay in the long-ago past. However, a few weeks later, Senator Donald Grant complained that ‘for many months photographs had been appearing in periodicals overseas depicting Western Australian aborigines in chains’, and requested that the Commonwealth Government halt the practice of chaining across the country, noting that while it had no jurisdiction in Western Australia, ‘the Government would be gravely concerned about anything said abroad that would reflect on Australia’s good name’. The new Commissioner for Native Affairs in Western Australia, Stanley Middleton, quickly challenged the images’ status as evidence, claiming that ‘all of them had been taken long ago’, and concluding that ‘natives were seldom chained in Western Australia nowadays, and then only in cases where they had to be transported by motor truck’.40 A Broome man then wrote to refute him, claiming that the photos ‘were taken not more than two years ago’ and that they ‘show the aboriginals, chained together, clearing a site for a new post-office at Fitzroy Crossing’. Middleton admitted chaining of natives in Western Australia and tried to excuse the practice by claiming that the chains were only light ones.41 The Pilbara strike formally ended in August 1949 but many refused to go back and work for white station owners. The communist press continued to frame the treatment of Aboriginal people in the region as a ‘violation of human rights’, repeatedly returning to the potent visual symbolism of the chained prisoner.42 In Central Australia in 1951, when strike leader Fred Waters was summarily arrested and ‘shanghaied’ to Haast’s Bluff, another Larrakia man said feelingly, ‘more better put a chain around neck and drag around town like a dog’.43 Nonetheless, chaining was in use as late as 1958, when an article by Douglas Lockwood deplored the practice and ridiculed the idea that neckchains were more ‘humane’ than handcuffs.44 192

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K hrus hchev a nd ‘f ri ng e - dw eller s ’ During these years, widespread concern also greeted the decision to establish the restricted-access defence force village and Long Range Weapons facility, Woomera, around 450 km north of Adelaide in 1946–47. But the campaign against Woomera was ultimately defeated, perhaps in part because it failed to effectively visualise the plight of the affected Aboriginal people. The area was considered remote and unproductive, although the vast restricted area overlapped with the Central Aborigines Reserve and was the traditional country of Kokatha and Pitjantjatjara people. During this debate, the range was portrayed as empty space, not the valued home of Indigenous people. The diagrammatic map used to explain the threat perhaps seemed to reinforce rather than challenge the idea



Nikita Khrushchev used conditions in Aboriginal camps, as shown in Fringe Dwellers, to attack Australia at the United Nations.

of an empty interior. Soviet support for the Aboriginal campaign was effectively challenged on the grounds that it was concerned not so much for the Indigenous occupants as for the limitation of Western technological development. Against the background of a worsening Cold War, and popular distrust of communism, the rocket range was ultimately condoned.45 By the mid-1950s, communists again took up the cause of Indigenous rights, abandoning their former distinction between ‘tribalised’ and ‘detribalised’ peoples. They continued to deploy Australia’s Indigenous policy as a weapon of international diplomacy, drawing from photographs published in official assimilation pamphlets. While these pamphlets were intended to serve as propaganda for the success of assimilation, they presented visual evidence that was used to challenge such claims. Overseas, Australian legations were required to keep these pamphlets in stock: Our Aborigines, Assimilation of Our Aborigines, L oo k ing is d e adly

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Fringe Dwellers, Commonwealth Department of Territories, Government Printer, Canberra, 1959, pp. 8, 9, 12 and 13

Fringe Dwellers, Commonwealth Department of Territories, Government Printer, Canberra, 1959, pp. 8, 9, 12 and 13

Fringe Dwellers, Progress Towards Assimilation, The Skills of our Aborigines and The Policy of Assimilation. These glossy, highly illustrated booklets aimed to show Australia as an appealing, exotic place and its government as dealing humanely with its Indigenous ‘problem’. Our Aborigines, first issued in 1957, expressed a paternal, benevolent attitude, its cover bearing a stereotypical image of a stockman (see pages 134–35), and noting under ‘Citizenship’, that the position of Aboriginal citizens:

‘European-type dwellings are replacing shacks in many places.’

< ‘Many fringe dwellers live in shack communities, such as this, on the outskirts of towns.’

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… is somewhat like that of a minor who is basically a citizen but who, because he is under the age of 21 years, may not be able to do everything that other inhabitants of Australia may be able to do, and who may be protected and assisted in ways in which the adult is not protected and assisted.

Again, these pamphlets were structured by the narrative of transformation and uplift in the same way as the housing programs. However, while Australian officials attempted to envisage Aboriginal people undergoing transformation into a future improved state, overseas observers were appalled by their current circumstances, which they perceived as evidence for the violation of their rights as human beings. Typically, these photos aimed to contrast poor conditions, representing the past, with modern, hygienic circumstances, standing for their future. They revealed the poor circumstances of the camps many Indigenous people lived in, by now familiar to domestic viewers, but clearly more shocking to overseas audiences. In 1959, Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev used conditions in Aboriginal camps, as shown in Fringe Dwellers, to attack Australia at the United Nations. The communist Chinese press also quoted this pamphlet in describing how Aboriginal people were removed from their homelands to make way for economic development and dumped on wastelands where they survived ‘only on the fringe of hope and often on the fringe of despair’.46 Communist critique was joined around 1960 by that of 17 new African and Asian nations admitted to the UN, forming a vocal majority voting bloc. Another key event that raised international outrage was the March 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when South African police opened fire on black anti-apartheid demonstrators. Black-and-white photos of scattered corpses documented the bleak aftermath.47 Sharpeville focused attention on indigenous treatment around the world. In October 1960, at a United Nations Correspondents lunch in New York, Khrushchev was asked a question about colonialism and responded:48 Take Australia – Prime Minister Menzies has spoken here. Why did he not tell of the way in which the native population of Australia was treated? Why did he not tell of that shameful fact, that most of the native population of Australia has been virtually wiped out. 196

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Government Printer, Canberra, 1961

One People, Commonwealth Department of Territories

By 1961 the Department of External Affairs had begun to note that ‘adverse references now appear regularly in the Soviet and Communist Chinese press and radio’, such as when Khrushchev was reported in the Moscow press as having ‘pointed to the eternal shame that rested on the ruling class of Australia for the extermination of the Aborigines’ in the United Nations. In 1961 an Aboriginal camp depicted in the pamphlet One People prompted criticism of Australia in the Moscow newspaper New Times, which was published in eight languages.49 In response, Australia’s Department of External Affairs decided that One People was unsuitable for overseas readers, although the booklet continued to be circulated domestically.50 Worried officials sent out guidelines to Australian overseas diplomatic posts, summarising the main criticisms of Australian policy and the responses to be made to them. The department argued that communist infiltration of Aboriginal organisations aimed to cause ‘maximum embarrassment L oo k ing is d e adly

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to Australian authorities’, advised that overseas public opinion should be guided in a ‘casual, unobtrusive and not defensive’ fashion, and that foreign media should be exploited where unlikely to provoke ‘emotional and hostile reactions’. If posts became aware that foreign governments were planning to raise the issue of Aboriginal treatment, they should ‘discreetly try to discourage such action’ and point out that it was prompted by the Communist Party in Australia to embarrass the government.51 One official in External Affairs suggested:52 Our main problem is Communist propaganda: we should endeavour perhaps to show that we are at least no worse than the uncommitted countries in Asia in our treatment of aborigines. I think pictures of extremely backward nomads (they are so obviously uncivilised in Asian eyes for example) are useful.

And a marginal note agreed with this approach ‘provided we don’t let it be inferred that their State is due in any way to lack of opportunity to advance’.53 But it was too late: this was of course precisely the way such evidence had been understood by foreign audiences. Again, in 1963, using the United Nations as a forum, Moscow accused British colonists in Australia of the near total annihilation of the Aboriginal people.54 Khrushchev’s criticism was highly influential in raising international awareness of Australia’s Indigenous policies, stimulating domestic attempts to address its many acknowledged shortcomings and, among other outcomes, has been credited with the establishment of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.55

Thei r darkes t h o u r Perhaps the most effective criticism of Aboriginal treatment during these decades came from a film made in 1957 by West Australian MP William Grayden about Ngaanyatjarra people in the Warburton Ranges area of the Central Aborigines Reserve, on the south eastern fringe of the Gibson Desert. This film, Their darkest hour (sometimes known as Manslaughter), included graphic, 198

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shocking imagery of suffering Aboriginal people that successfully mobilised public concern across Australia and overseas well into the 1960s, contributing to a growing international concern with racial discrimination. Specifically, it is credited with fuelling a wave of public support for the Aboriginal rights movement, which eventually led to the successful 1967 referendum to empower the Commonwealth in Aboriginal affairs.56 Yet today, its subjects and their relatives resent the film’s shameful exposure of their lives and question the benefits that have ensued for them personally. In 1953 Grayden travelled through Ngaanyatjarra country and first encountered Aboriginal people leading a traditional lifestyle. In his eyes, it was a marginal and impoverished way of life; the Ngaanyatjarra saw it differently, as a tough but sustainable existence. In 1956 Grayden began to push for investigation into the effects of the just-established Giles Weather Station, intended to collect meteorological data for the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera. A select committee identified a range of problems faced by Aboriginal people living in and around the Warburton mission region, eventuating in media controversy. Newspaperman Rupert Murdoch filed editorials criticising the inquiry’s findings then travelled to Giles Weather Station (for a day), returning to declare that residents were ‘in fine shape’.57 In February 1957, Grayden, joined by Indigenous leader Pastor Doug Nicholls, travelled to Ngaanyatjarra country to see the condition of the Indigenous people for themselves. Nicholls had already been a vocal opponent of the Woomera rocket range. They took film equipment; Grayden had always made effective use of the media in his political career and both were aware of the political impact of visual imagery. Grayden filmed ill and malnourished yarnangu (Indigenous people) at Mitika, near Warburton Mission, seeking the most shocking imagery he could find of emaciation, disease and filth (I have chosen not to reproduce these images). Perhaps most startling, the film concludes with the discovery and burial of a human skeleton, and the voice-over, ‘No cairn marks the spot. Human life has little value on the Warburton Reserve.’ This person was not known to the Indigenous community, which is no doubt why his death went undiscovered until Grayden’s arrival, but the film suggests that death was omnipresent, signified by the shots of animal carcasses and circling crows along the way to the Warburton mission and within the reserve. Scenes at the mission settlement, by contrast, L oo k ing is d e adly

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William Grayden, Adam and Atoms, Frank Daniels, Perth, 1957, facing p 96. Moral/cultural permission Gary Murray

show happy, cared-for children and replayed a familiar opposition between the primitive and the civilised. Nonetheless, the film recorded undeniable suffering and Nicholls was especially affected, subsequently championing the plight of the Ngaanyatjarra people as part of his broader campaign for Aboriginal rights. He later told journalists: ‘I wish I had not gone to the Warburton Ranges. I wish I hadn’t seen

‘Pastor Doug Nicholls is able to buy £20 worth of provisions from the manager. He distributes them among the natives and the food relieves their immediate plight.’

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William Grayden, Adam and Atoms, Frank Daniels, Perth, 1957, facing p 96. Moral/cultural permission Gary Murray

the pitiable squalor, the sights of my people starving – the most shocking sights I have ever seen. Never, never can I forget.’58 Grayden’s book, Adam and Atoms (see page 136), which contained many stills from the film, was produced within a few months of the film, dedicated ‘to all who have compassion’. Profusely illustrated with his confronting photographs, its cover showed a lithograph of a senior Aboriginal man with a mushroom cloud billowing behind him; the typeface contrasted ‘Adam’, made of boomerangshapes, with shattered modernist letters spelling ‘ATOMS’. While the film did not depict Maralinga, the site of Britain’s atomic bomb tests between 1955 and 1963, or its effects, many have since mistakenly conflated the two, perhaps because Grayden linked these events in his book. Giles Weather Station was a part of the Weapons Research Establishment and the rocket range was extended to the north-west coast in 1958. Adam and Atoms begins by contrasting Australia’s standard of living for its white population – ‘amongst the highest in the world’ – with the lack of concern shown for the Indigenous (‘nomadic, tribal aborigines’) affected by atomic testing and the proposed weather station, which would also constitute ‘interference’ with ‘natives’ on the Warburton Native Reserve. He was also critical of the Western Australian Native Welfare Act 1954 which permitted the Chief Protector to remove children from their families because it was ‘contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ of the United Nations Council, to which Australia was now a signatory. He proposed that a pastoral station be developed at Warburton instead. Among the wants of its inhabitants he listed water, food, medical attention and clothes, and stated that at the Warburton Mission and camping nearby, 80 per cent of children, 75 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men suffered from trachoma, an infectious disease of the eye. While Grayden may have misunderstood the nature of desert life, there is no doubt that he encountered disease and want, and his actions were intended to reveal it as a means to reform. Of those who dismissed his concerns, he noted, ‘to the guards at Belsen, perhaps the inmates seemed comparatively contented after a few years’.59 The film had an enormous impact on its viewers and was very widely circulated by activists to engage the public in the broad campaign to address disadvantage and neglect. When Nicholls showed it to concerned citizens in Melbourne, it helped prompt their decision to form the Aborigines Advancement League L oo k ing is d e adly

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and, indirectly, helped in the formation a year later of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement. It came at a significant moment: in broad terms, the status of photographic evidence for distant atrocity had become enhanced in the postwar period and audiences expected to see such imagery as requisite evidence for others’ suffering. Pam McGrath also suggests that Grayden’s film led to an escalation of the use of visual evidence in the debate about Warburton, as opposing sides produced negative or happy images.60 In addition, it was screened on television under the uncompromising title Manslaughter only a year after the medium was introduced to Australia. As Frances Peters-Little points out, television marked a significant breach in the ‘invisibility’ of Aboriginal Australians.61 Politically, the film was an important prompt for the campaign for constitutional reform that emerged during the late 1950s, launched by activists such as Jessie Street, who argued against the explicit exclusion of Aboriginal people from Commonwealth control and for the nation’s commitment to the 1948 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. For Street, the public response to the Grayden controversy created ‘the psychological moment’ for action. Calls grew for a referendum to remove discriminatory clauses from the constitution, and a petition was launched at the Sydney Town Hall in April 1957 to give parliament a basis to vote for the holding of a referendum. On the platform with activists Faith Bandler and Jessie Street, was Nicholls who had just returned from Warburton. He showed the film and it deeply affected the 2000-strong Town Hall gathering, mobilising many in the audience to support the campaign. One politician stung into action was the Labor Party’s Gordon Bryant, who became one of the most influential white activists in the ten-year push for the referendum. Others later described how they had become involved after seeing the film. Wyn Garland, for example, had ‘become very emotionally upset’ and her husband suggested that getting involved in the movement would give her a chance ‘to do something about it’.62 In 1958 the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA) was formed to coordinate the campaign for a new national policy. This well-organised national campaign was run by black and white activists working together, who made good use of posters and other media to publicise their cause. Black leaders such as Pearl Gibbs, Bert Groves, Charlie Leon, Faith Bandler, Kath Walker 202

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and Doug Nicholls worked with white allies including Gordon Bryant, Jack Horner, Shirley Andrews and Barry Christophers. A number of active white members were Jewish and were motivated by belief in the ‘equality of all people and the wickedness and destructiveness of prejudice against minorities because of their religion, race, colour or political beliefs’.63 The film was an integral part of FCAA’s 1958 petition campaign, screened for church groups, trade unions and film groups across the country. In May it was shown on Australian television, again generating a strong public response and cash donations. Viewers wrote to express their shock and shame and the Aboriginal subjects were frequently compared to images of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, as detailed in chapter 4. It also attracted attention from the British, New Zealand and Malaysian press.64 One significant response was from African–American singer Paul Robeson during a visit to Australia in 1960. Son of a former slave, Robeson was a committed communist and civil rights activist. Ann Curthoys notes that this shared witnessing was part of a long history of connections between African– Americans and Indigenous Australians.65 Faith Bandler, who showed him this film, described how ‘as he watched the film the tears came to his eyes and when the film finished he stood up and he pulled his cap off and he threw it in his rage on the floor and trod on it and he asked for a cigarette from someone’.66 Robeson was also shown a short film about the Pilbara strike that day, made by communist New Zealand director Cecil Holmes. Tribune journalist Alec Robertson wrote: 67 When he saw two films – one showing the misery of tribal aborigines in a WA desert reserve, and the other showing confident and healthy tribal aborigines running their own mining cooperative at Pindan – Robeson was beside himself with anger, compassion and determination to arouse more international action to assist the emancipation struggle of those he calls ‘the indigenous people of Australia’. ‘Why are you Australians tolerating that?’ Robeson demanded. ‘This is unbelievable. There is nothing primitive about these people’s ability. There are no backward people anywhere – only people held back or forced back, by ‘overlords’ … Australia will hear more of Paul Robeson on this issue’. L oo k ing is d e adly

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Curthoys suggests that Robeson began to speak out strongly on behalf of Aboriginal people after seeing these films, promising to come back to his ‘black brothers, the indigenous people of Australia’.68 Activists used Their darkest hour effectively for years to alert other Australians to the injustices experienced by Aboriginal people and to press governments to take greater responsibility. Both film and book circulated in Australia and internationally well into the 1960s. In 1961, the Department of External Affairs requested information from its embassies regarding local media coverage of Indigenous issues, and the High Commission at Accra, Ghana, advised that Doreen Trainor of the Perth-based Association for the Advancement of Coloured People had sent a copy of Grayden’s book to President Nkrumah and to ‘all other [Commonwealth] Prime Ministers’ requesting them to put the ‘status, treatment and conditions of the Australian aborigines’ on the agenda for their next meeting. Following the Sharpeville massacre, Indigenous delegates to the FCAA Easter 1961 conference alleged that apartheid existed in Australia and decided to target the coming Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference. The diplomat warned that the book contained ‘photographs which could be used in a damaging way’.69 By 1965 ‘adverse publicity’ about Australian Aboriginal people had become high profile news in many other countries. The Australian Embassy in Stockholm translated for External Affairs a series of three articles titled ‘The Living Dead’, published by the Swedish weekly Tidsignal in February and March, containing ‘highly critical propaganda’. The First Secretary noted that: … the Swedish public takes a great interest in racial and human rights issues in far-away places: apartheid is a particular hobby of the Swedish public, especially among student and trade union organizations. It would be most unfortunate for the Australian ‘image’ here if our policies on the treatment of aborigines were adopted as another hobby.70

The original articles reproduced some of Grayden’s photographs of Pastor Doug Nicholls and a small girl suffering from malnutrition at Warburton and, most shocking, a confronting image titled ‘THIS WAS ONCE A HUMAN BEING. Lollylegs’ body after he had been dragged to death behind a lorry. 204

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The photograph was taken by a policeman who was bribed to give away a copy’.71 External Affairs concluded in 1965 that, overall, Australia was ‘not at present the subject of any attempt to discredit us internationally. Nevertheless any stories emanating from Australia which suggested that racial discrimination existed – either in law or in fact – are regarded as newsworthy in other countries and could conceivably form the basis for a campaign should the Communists or others decide deliberately to provoke difficulties for us.’72 Despite its acknowledged impact in the service of the Aboriginal cause, the film was criticised at the time as misleading. William Bodney, a prominent Nyungar elder from Perth, demanded that the government ‘put a stop to such political adventuring and such similar forms of exploitation of our people and get on with its job of giving us equal rights’, a call which was supported by nonIndigenous missionaries and local workers.73 More recently, anthropologists Pamela McGrath and David Brooks discussed the film with relatives of the film’s subjects, whose perspective has, surprisingly, previously been overlooked. Ngaanyatjarra have a long history of being photographed by outsiders, and are sensitive to the ‘shameful’ uses of such images, but had not seen the film until 2008. For Ngaanyatjarra, Grayden’s film produced a negative misunderstanding of their lives, and conveyed the idea that their desert way of life was unviable. They pointed out that the hunger and sickness Grayden had reported was localised and temporary, due to one of the worst droughts in living memory. The film overlooked the strength and richness of their culture, construing ragged clothes and a lack of material comfort as important problems rather than simply an aspect of desert life, which is materially ‘light’. Most significantly:74 When yarnangu today watch this film they do not see suffering strangers, but familiars – grandparents, mothers, children, lovers and enemies – who remain present in their immediate lives or their recent memories.

In 2006 younger members of the Warburton community were shown a multimedia work that incorporated footage from the film and were shocked at ‘seeing their families portrayed in this way’. They asked that the film not be shown publicly without consent. For these relatives, the film constitutes a L oo k ing is d e adly

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violation of their privacy and they see it within a tradition of commoditised media representations of dirt, squalor and poverty within remote communities such as theirs. Artists Noelene Landers and Delvina Lawson from the Warburton Arts Project responded through their work ‘Looking Is Deadly’, framed by the text: LOOKING IS DEADLY PAPULANKUPAYI HARD LOOK KURU WITU WITUMUNU STARE / LOOK / LOOK SAME / SAME PEOPLE / NYAKULAYINU TARRKANU.75

Senior Ngaanyatjarra man Livingston West explained that:76 Kurnta [shame], it’s shaming to be seen like that … Yes, they used it for the referendum, I understand that [but] they made it bad, because they didn’t understand what they were doing. It’s still the same now … Instead of encouraging them to stand on their feet, they put them down. Show the worst things.

McGrath concludes by posing the old dilemma:77 The question remains as to whether or not Grayden’s narrow filmic portrayal of yarnangu lives was, in the end, worth the historical misrepresentation it has since perpetuated. It is emphatically the case that Grayden and Nicholls’ cause was legitimate and humane insofar as they tried to bring the Western Australian government to account for its lamentable failure to engage with the circumstances of remote Indigenous people. Nonetheless the record shows that their efforts gained little ground for yarnangu in terms of material benefit despite the value to the Aboriginal rights movement nationally.

Documentary purports to present reality, to be free from ideological constraint; as ‘pure knowledge’, it appears to escape the bounds of convention. Yet in the very divergence of Grayden’s perception of Ngaanyatjarra existence as doomed 206

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and abject, so clearly opposed to their own acceptance of its travails, we see the construction of the people of Warburton as profoundly ‘other’, playing into mainstream expectations of misery and squalor. Grayden’s film may be understood in the context of a visual culture that placed new emphasis on photographs for evidence of distant suffering in the postwar period, and the growing understanding of the horrors of racial persecution; many viewers drew a direct link between these outback ‘victims’ and camp survivors. The emaciation, dirt, distended bellies, disease and even the nakedness of the subjects evoked the abjection of the camps. For Grayden and many others, the suffering body of the Indigenous subjects enabled a broader argument about the need for acknowledgement and intervention. Like the official pamphlets, Grayden’s film and book were also structured by a narrative of succour and uplift, contrasting tradition with modernity. Despite the later protests of Ngaanyatjarra people that their lives were tough but satisfying, the imagery captured in Grayden’s film and book circulated among Australia’s urban population and overseas to great effect to argue for Indigenous humanitarianism and rights.

Albert Namatjira and Indigenous citizenship Campaigners for constitutional reform began to apply a peculiarly Australian concept of citizenship to a broad array of discriminatory practices. Where similar campaigns in other countries used the language of civil rights, Australian activists emphasised the lack of citizenship rights, such as restrictions on marriage, unequal wages, travel and pensions. They abandoned the appeal to sentiment prompted by images of abjection in pointing out, for instance, that images of ‘humpies’ were evidence not for primitivism but for discrimination. A growing understanding of Aboriginal people as full citizens deserving of equal rights was promoted by a collaborative mixed-race campaign, using a wide array of publicity, including the established tactics of the labour movement such as handbills, posters, parades with floats and placards, public meetings and demonstrations: strategies that gave their cause a very high media profile. Prominent in the 1959 Sydney May Day march, for example, was a portrait L oo k ing is d e adly

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Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe: a history of the Aboriginal-Australian fellowship, 1956–69, Alternative Publishing Cooperative, Chippendale, 1983, facing p. 67

of Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira with the slogan ‘Citizenship … control of liquor not the Aborigines’. Namatjira’s tragic story was later remembered by campaigners as an event ‘that woke people up’, and that ‘perhaps more than any other stirred the conscience of the Australian people’.78 Namatjira had started painting water-colour landscapes of the MacDonnell Ranges and the Alice Springs

‘Citizenship … control of liquor not the Aborigines’, 1959 Sydney May Day march

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Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe: a history of the Aboriginal-Australian fellowship, 1956–69, Alternative Publishing Cooperative, Chippendale, 1983, facing p. 67

region during the late 1930s, quickly becoming famous. The Australian public loved him – as one typical viewer wrote, ‘the water-colour sketches of this native artist are simply wonderful’.79 His accessible, ‘westernised’ art and enormous popularity made him into a publicly recognisable example of successful assimilation. His stature was enhanced by popular texts, such as Charles Mountford’s book, The Art of Albert Namatjira (1944)80 and film Walkabout (1946).81 The assimilationist film, Namatjira the painter (1947)82 quickly followed, with Rex Battarbee’s book Modern Australian Aboriginal Art appearing in 1951.83 By late 1946 newspapers announced ‘Aboriginal Artists Confound Critics: Territory may start Renaissance in art world’, describing the forthcoming exhibition of Namatjira and his kin as ‘the biggest bomb-shell to hit Australian art circles for many years’. Significantly, they were said to ‘pay their own way, ask no favours from anybody, put their surplus cash into the bank. As citizens of the Northern Territory they leave nothing to be desired.’84 Like the story of Ruth Daylight, Namatjira’s career was told as a rags-to-riches, or a ‘camel boy to artist’, tale of magical uplift.85 As his fame spread overseas, it was reported with great indignation that although he lacked citizenship rights, Namatjira was being pursued by taxation officials, a situation satirised by the Australian Women’s Weekly with a cartoon asking, ‘why not investigate children’s money-boxes?’.86 In 1950 Namatjira sought to buy a block of land in Alice Springs, but authorities refused his request. Mentor Rex Battarbee reported that Namatjira said to him, ‘I paid more than £400 income tax last year to the Commonwealth Government, but that same Government prevents me from building my own home on my own land with my own money’.87 This poignant statement was often quoted by supporters, as Namatjira’s situation began to arouse widespread public outrage. Campaigners, led by Charles Duguid, resolved to ask the Commonwealth Government, as a jubilee gesture, to grant Aborigines full human rights under the United Nations Charter. In 1952 Namatjira began to ask for citizenship rights. In 1954 he was brought to Sydney at the time of the Queen’s visit and was mobbed whenever he appeared in public. One newspaper reported that:88 Namatjira, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday, was having his first night glimpse of the city, when he was recognised near the Bourke Street Post L oo k ing is d e adly

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Office. Crowds surged round him, many pushing notepads and paper at him, until the police reached him and escorted him to safety.

National Library of Australia, an24156393, Moral/cultural permission Kevin Namatjira and Ivy Pareroultja

When new Northern Territory legislation was passed in 1957, classifying Aboriginal people as wards of the state, Namatjira was exempted, becoming a citizen by default. Unlike many other Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory, he was then entitled to vote, live where he wished and to purchase alcohol. However, in 1958 he was arrested for supplying alcohol to Aboriginals – his kin. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment with labour. It was

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reduced to three months ‘open’ detention at Papunya, but the experience greatly affected him and he died shortly afterward. Questions over Namatjira’s citizenship rights and his 1958 imprisonment resulted in widespread public outrage and protests to the Northern Territory government.

T here’s no L i ttle R o c k h er e Australians were also very much aware of racial clashes in the United States of America over these years, as key events in the African–American civil rights movement were viewed via television and popular media. As historian Jennifer Clark has argued, change was hastened by a trans-national intellectual context shaped by decolonisation in British and French Africa. An Indigenous civil rights movement emerged and made innovative use of visual imagery to show Aboriginal people as active agents demanding rights, rather than as passive victims. Such imagery continued to serve as eyewitness in popular media, but also documented campaigners’ activism, imaging new leaders and their distinctively Indigenous agendas. In the US, the media and photography had long been powerful tools in black hands, and the civil rights movement made active and comprehensive use of photography, seizing on the ability of photos to convey political meaning. From the late 1950s, the mainstream white press began to show these photographs, favouring sensationalist images that would sell newspapers. In May 1963, the world was shocked by images from Birmingham, Alabama, showing black children and protestors felled by water cannons or attacked by police dogs. In 1964 Martin Luther King praised the crucial role of photographic evidence in ‘imprisoning’ police brutality at Birmingham ‘within a luminous glare revealing the naked truth to the whole world’, and disrupting southerners’ self-image of patience and expertise in managing racial issues.89 Shocking, violent photos became the embodiment of truth. Even before Birmingham, viewers were outraged by the 1957 clash in Arkansas where National Guard troops prevented nine African–American students from entering Little Rock Central High School. The image of a lone and dignified 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford surrounded by jeering L oo k ing is d e adly

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white students made headlines across the world and was broadcast on the new medium of television, becoming an international symbol of this crisis in race relations. Many Australians made comparisons between African–American and Aboriginal treatment, some favourably, some more critically. One Women’s Weekly reader in Wagga Wagga, NSW, wrote that: 90 … very few people in Australia have not been upset and indignant over the attitude of the Governor and people of Little Rock, Arkansas, towards the negroes of that American State. Yet, if we Australians were to stop and examine the situation of our aborigines, we’d find it is no better than that of the negroes. For one thing, an aboriginal is allowed to benefit by few of the social services paid to the white Australians, although he is liable to pay income tax. Surely it’s time we became fully aware of their plight and tried to help them in every way possible. Until this time, we can’t afford to throw stones at others.

‘There’s no Little Rock here’, asserted young aboriginal labourer Reg Clarke, as he stood in the front garden of his neat weatherboard house at Dimboola. Obviously, he is right. Dimboola, a town of 2000 people in the Wimmera, is providing the rest of Australia with a lesson in assimilation. After living for eight months in the same streets as the aboriginals, the white people have changed their minds about them. They now agree that the best way to raise the aboriginals’ standard of living is to accept them as equals. So they have asked the Aborigines Welfare Board to shift another two dark families from their river-side humpies into modern houses in the town.

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Herald (Melbourne), 12 June 1962, p. 1. Moral/cultural permission Nancy Harrison

Throughout the 1960s, as Australia’s own civil rights movement gathered pace, Little Rock remained a touchstone of racial tension and certain country towns were termed ‘Australian Little Rocks’.91 However, Australians sometimes prided themselves on their relatively bloodless progress toward assimilation, as when the north-western Victorian town of Dimboola compared itself to advantage with desegregation in North America:92

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Herald (Melbourne), 12 June 1962, p. 1. Moral/cultural permission Nancy Harrison

‘Dimboola, a brighter life together’

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box 175, Gordon Bryant Papers, 1917–1991, MS8256/11, National Library of Australia, 11

Pamphlet, ‘Right wrongs write YES for Aborigines on May 27’

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T he y es v ote By 1967 campaigners for constitutional reform had successfully pressed the Commonwealth Government to hold a referendum. The decade-long referendum campaign bridged the evolutionist rhetoric of assimilation and a new language of self-determination that was to emerge during the 1960s. Leading up to the vote, campaigners represented the constitutional changes as synonymous with equal rights. As well as a widespread information campaign conducted with the assistance of country committees, the publicity leading up to voting day itself emphasised Aboriginal children, portraying their potential in a visual device that had a long history. White artist Mary Durack argued from Namatjira’s example for the increasingly popular view that if it were ‘possible to rear black children



Why were young Australians attacking racism in America when Australia’ s racism was so virulent?

beside white, free from all social and colour differences and with equal access to the sources of mankind’s accumulated experience’, their achievements would also be equal.93 Respected Indigenous leader Bill Onus, President of the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League, was shown marching in partnership with ‘his youngest supporter’, three-year-old John Bennett. A ‘yes’ vote was a gesture of hope for the future, especially the future of the next generation. An overwhelming ‘yes’ vote endorsed the repeal of two exclusionary provisions in the Constitution and gave the Commonwealth Parliament the power to legislate with respect to Aboriginal people. The 1967 Referendum was seen by many as recognition of Aboriginal people as full Australian citizens and gave the federal government a clear mandate to implement policies to benefit Aboriginal people. At this tumultuous and hopeful time, the referendum took on great symbolic significance.94 L oo k ing is d e adly

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During the 1960s a new rights agenda was emerging in the hands of activists that needed more dynamic, optimistic images. Ann Curthoys’s history of the Australian Freedom Ride points out that, ironically, it originated from student activism on behalf of African–Americans.95 Like the rest of the world, young Australians were shocked by the May 1963 images from Birmingham and demonstrated in support of American civil rights. But as many, including observers in other countries, were quick to point out, why were they attacking racism elsewhere when Australia’s own racial exclusion policies were so strict and racism against its own Indigenous peoples so virulent? In 1963 Aboriginal students Gary Williams and Charles Perkins were awarded scholarships to study at the University of Sydney. Perkins, in particular, was already planning to work for Aboriginal rights and he became a focus for student action, later recalling that the Ride was ‘probably the greatest and most exciting event’ that he had ever been involved in with Aboriginal affairs, and that it was ‘a new idea and a new way of promoting a rapid change in racial attitudes’.96 Peter Westerway, a lecturer in Government at the university, had recently become executive producer of the investigative television program Seven Days. Perkins quickly seized upon the importance of television and visual imagery as a political tool and Westerway advised him, ‘if you wanted to do anything about television you had to be talking in terms of pictures. Without pictures it didn’t work’.97 They came up with the idea of the Freedom Rides, inspired by the 1961 American precedent, and Westerway offered to send a camera crew with them and make a documentary. Publicity was the action’s chief objective. A busload of students sponsored by the Student Action for Aborigines set out on a tour of country New South Wales, aiming to challenge discrimination and raise public awareness of the problems confronting Aboriginal people. High profile confrontations egged on by the Seven Days camera crew received extensive media coverage across Australia and overseas, especially a clash in Moree where Aboriginal people were banned from the public swimming pool. Front-page articles told of this violent confrontation, and comparisons with racial violence in the southern US states were rife: for example, the Daily 216

Sun, 27 May 1967, courtesy of Newspix. Moral/cultural permission Tiriki Onus

Freedom Ri de

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Sun, 27 May 1967, courtesy of Newspix. Moral/cultural permission Tiriki Onus

Bill Onus at Melbourne referendum rally 217

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Daily Mirror, 22 February 1965, p. 1, courtesy of Newspix. Moral/cultural permission Rachel Perkins on behalf of the Perkins family

Daily Mirror, 22 February 1965, p. 1, courtesy of Newspix. Moral/cultural permission Rachel Perkins on behalf of the Perkins family

Mirror’s full front-page coverage on 22 February 1965, headlined ‘Little Dixie’, centred on a photo of Charles Perkins being hustled out of the pool. The Freedom Ride was widely reported around the world. Despite its focus on public demonstrations and places such as segregated theatres and pools, one important result was to reveal the terrible conditions in which many Aboriginal people lived, with the effect of drawing attention to basic health, education and housing. Many journalists focused on Charles Perkins, as Curthoys notes, signifying that in many ways the real story was the emergence of a new and articulate Indigenous voice. As Robert McFarlane’s famous photo of Perkins showed, here was a serious, charismatic presence symbolising a new kind of leader. This portrait showed a thoughtful, tired Perkins travelling home late from evening classes, gazing out of the bus window, caught in a moment of reflection. McFarlane’s portrait bridges the older photos of assimilation ‘success stories’ – such as those featuring Goolagong and Blair – and the countercultural imagery that was to develop during the 1970s, portraying Aboriginal leaders as avantgarde hipsters. His fatigue and stillness contrast with the broadly smiling pinups of assimilation and hint instead at the journey that lies ahead. Literally and metaphorically on the move, Perkins was frequently compared with Martin Luther King during these years, and the setting perhaps evokes the famous 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. For possibly the first time, an Indigenous leader began to be viewed as an important figure in his own right, not simply as a symbol of success in white terms. Assimilation drew upon a visual language of abjection that showed Aboriginal people in primitive conditions, defining Indigenous people as objects of pity trapped in the past. Such images seemingly appealed to a shared humanity, but the empathy they inspired often acted to entrench power relations. Photos of unhygienic conditions, falling-down humpies, rubbish and disease were seen by many viewers as expressions of Aboriginal incapacity rather than a symptom of a cycle of disadvantage and lack of opportunity. Such images

‘Little Dixie: students bring turmoil to a NSW town’

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Moral/cultural permission Rachel Perkins on behalf of the Perkins family

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Moral/cultural permission Rachel Perkins on behalf of the Perkins family

reinforced views of Indigenous culture as primitive and primordial, radically opposed to modernity. Assimilation sought to uplift and transform Aboriginal disadvantage, but positioned Indigenous people as passive children needing to be taught and helped. Visual narratives of transformation rigidly formulated an either/or distinction between primitive past or modern future, in which the terms of the formula were mutually exclusive. In this conditional equation Aboriginal people could remain primitive and disadvantaged, or renounce culture and become the same as everyone else. However, more critical views began to note that such photographs were also evidence for injustice and the transgression of basic human rights. As ideas of Indigenous rights were popularised during the 1950s and 1960s, no longer were Aboriginal people depicted as passive victims and the object of pity, requiring intervention and assistance. Instead, the campaign for constitutional reform and the emerging grassroots Indigenous rights movement developed a new language of activism and strength.

Robert McFarlane, portrait of Charles Perkins riding home on the bus

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7:Gather r o und people, let me t e l l you a s t o ry

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Gather round people let me tell you a story An eight year-long story of power and pride British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari Were opposite men on opposite sides Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly, ‘From little things big things grow’, 1991/1993

The song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ was written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly to tell the story of the 1966 Gurindji Walk-off, a strike that lasted for eight years. It provides a soundtrack to Mervyn Bishop’s iconic image of the hand-back of land to Gurindji elder Vincent Lingiari on 16 August 1975. What began as a fight for equal working conditions by the traditional custodians of Daguragu (Wave Hill) in the Northern Territory expanded into the national struggle for Aboriginal land rights. Bishop’s richly-coloured image – blue sky and red desert sand, with a flash of seventies flared jeans in the background – symbolises hope and pride and the national recognition of demands for Indigenous rights. It records a specific historical moment but has since become an emblem of land rights and a wider process of acknowledgment and restitution for Aboriginal people. It is an icon of reconciliation. As I write in 2012, this moment seems to mark a high point in black–white relations that has never since been equalled. The gains of the 1970s seem to belong to a past golden age of Aboriginal recognition that many remember with nostalgia. In this chapter I review the 1970s and 1980s, an especially turbulent phase in the Aboriginal struggle for recognition by mainstream Australia that has seen notions of self-determination transform ways of seeing Aboriginal people. This necessarily selective account focuses on the popular perception of key events over this period through the political demand for black cultural autonomy and the visual expression of an Indigenous agenda. The emergence of a politicised photography movement during the mid-1980s began to express an explicitly Indigenous perspective that made documentary an important vehicle of critique concerned, for example, with long-term conflicts with white police. The recognition of Indigenous rights in imagery led to the development of protocols designed to involve Indigenous people in how they are represented and give them control in this process. G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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Black i s b eauti f u l Anonymous woman at the Tent Embassy: ‘Good evening, can I tell you something? I think you would help your cause more if you didn’t persist in swearing and blaspheming. I’m sure people would listen to you more …’ Gary Foley: ‘You think my language is obscene? I think that what is going on in the black communities in this country is obscene. I find it very, very, very offensive, the fact that a black person in Bourke, if he sets foot in a bloody pub gets his head kicked in. I find it very offensive that the highest mortality rate in the world is among black kids – that’s offensive to me because they’re my kids that are dying!’

Activist and historian Gary Foley’s lightning riposte makes the fundamental point that Indigenous Australians were no longer prepared to play by white rules – a point that the Tent Embassy itself writ large on the national consciousness. The demand that Aboriginal people conform to an acceptable ideal as a condition of recognition was under challenge by activists demanding rights. In his work as a historian, Foley has more recently drawn attention to the significant but often overlooked place of a black intelligentsia, the ‘urban, militant activists of Redfern, Fitzroy and South Brisbane’ and the role of the Black Power movement in nurturing the higher-profile Tent Embassy protest of 1972. This movement culminated in a powerful gesture of anger and strength that refused the government’s claim to represent Aboriginal Australians. Black Power originated in the US during the mid-1960s and its ideas and strategies were taken up by the Australian land rights movement in its efforts to use effective visual propaganda and the media to reach a wide audience. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the African–American revolutionaries, the Black Panthers, was to transform the ways that black Americans perceived themselves, showing an alternative model of political action through visual means. By 2 24

Courtesy of Mervyn Bishop. Reproduced with permission from the Australian Government

Ningla a-na (Hungry for land), directed by Alessandro Cavadini, 1972

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Courtesy of Mervyn Bishop. Reproduced with permission from the Australian Government

Mervyn Bishop, ‘Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into hand of traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory’, 1975

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Tent Embassy Poster. Gordon Bryant Papers

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National Library of Australia. Courtesy Daryl Cross, Accession number: MS 8256, Series, Folder, Item numbers: 11, Box number: 174

The Tent Embassy. Identity, cover vol. 1, no. 5, July 1972 227

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Courtesy Ben Tweedie

Penny Tweedie, Clay applied to skin 228

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Courtesy Ben Tweedie

contrast with the civil rights movement’s use of photography simply as witness, the US Panthers ‘attempted to expropriate spectacle, not only the state’s power to shock and awe, but also the visual excesses projected onto blackness’.1 The US Black Panthers created symbols of a hypermasculine, militarised leadership in menacing images that embodied the black revolutionary. White observers were openly fascinated by the Panthers’ image – sexy, beautiful, threatening – though they often overlooked the movement’s substance, as Tom Wolfe made gleefully clear in his 1970 novel Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. As Gary Foley writes, Black Power was ‘catapulted into the Australian imagination’ when the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League invited Roosevelt Brown, Caribbean activist and academic, to speak in Melbourne in 1968, sparking a media frenzy. Indigenous use of the radical tactics of Black Power grew out of disillusionment with the effects of the Referendum, as well as demands for land rights and freedom from police harassment and brutality. Like its US inspiration, Australian Black Power was ‘essentially about the necessity for Black people to define the world in their own terms’, a concept that came to be known as self-determination. Its revolutionary militancy marked a break with the more conciliatory tactics of earlier campaigns and signalled a shift from demands for civil rights on the basis of equality with all other citizens, to Indigenous rights on the basis of prior occupancy of the land and historical oppression.2 Foley was strongly influenced by activist leader Bruce McGuinness who had, in turn, been mentored by Bill Onus. Lessons passed down from Onus included how to communicate with a large audience.3 Since the 1938 Day of Mourning and Protest, Indigenous leaders had been aware of the power of public media to promote their cause. Like the US Black Panther Party, Australian campaigners deployed an astute visual politics, using photography to project a specific persona. Activists sought to create new imagery of the movement as modern, revolutionary, hip, and its leaders as strong and charismatic. The late 1960s and early 1970s was a turbulent era when public protest became a popular way of campaigning for change. Australians were protesting Vietnam and conscription, while women were demanding equal pay and access to employment and child care. Feminist activism had reached new heights with the explosive publication of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch in 1970. The anti-apartheid and environmental G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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movements were gathering pace and the Green Bans saw the beginnings of new forms of environmental activism. The year 1971 was particularly tumultuous, with the South African Springbok Tour, the opening of the Aboriginal Medical Service of Redfern, the Gurindji strike in the Northern Territory and numerous high profile demonstrations across the nation’s cities. Besieged Prime Minister Billy McMahon’s major policy statement on Aboriginal affairs on 25 January 1972 was keenly anticipated but when he announced the creation of leases, rather than a system of land rights granting freehold title, Indigenous people were profoundly disappointed. That very night Aboriginal leaders met in Sydney, sending four men – Billy Craigie, Tony Coorie, Michael Anderson and Bertie Williams – to Canberra. When they arrived at Parliament House in the early hours of the 27th, they set up a beach umbrella and declared it the site of the Aboriginal Embassy, explaining that, as McMahon’s statement had relegated them to the status of aliens in their own country, they needed their own representation. This bold and witty stunt quickly caught the national imagination. Opposition leader Gough Whitlam visited the protesters a few weeks later and promised that, if elected, his government would reverse McMahon’s policy. On 20 July almost 100 ACT police suddenly descended on the Embassy and forcibly removed the tents, arresting eight people in a violent clash that deeply shocked Australian audiences viewing it on their televisions that night. Another brutal conflict erupted three days later – also screened on television – and the fear grew, fanned by opponents, that black–white relations would become violent.4 The Embassy was successful in arousing public support and interest, and ultimately has been credited with contributing to the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976. As Larissa Behrendt has pointed out, the tent embassy brought together two key aspects of Indigenous people’s aspirations: equal rights and specifically Indigenous rights. While Aboriginal people wanted to be treated in the same way as all other Australians, the Tent Embassy protest highlighted the fact that Aboriginal people saw themselves as a distinct people within the borders of the Australian state.5 The 1972 Tent Embassy was a stroke of genius for several reasons. As a statement of alienation it was deeply embarrassing to the government in its failure to represent its Indigenous citizens. Second, as an ‘eyesore’ it effectively 230

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disrupted the smooth lawns and symmetrical vistas of Canberra’s monumental landscape, peopling its empty spaces with a scruffy makeshift straggle of campers that precisely illustrated the relationship between comfortable white Australia and the living conditions of most Aboriginal people. As John Newfong pointed out to those who considered the Embassy unsightly, ‘if people think this is an eyesore, well it is the way it is on government settlements’.6 By creating a ‘fringe camp’ within the symbolic heart of the nation, the embassy exploded at a blow all those familiar images of assimilation showing neatly marshalled houses filled with docile black families as proof of successful assimilation and management of the Indigenous population. Its untidiness continued to bother officials right up to 1995 when, finally, heritage managers resolved its troubling status by listing it for its cultural significance, thus bringing it into the consensual heritage fold.



... if people think this is an eyesore, well it is the way it is on government settlements.

Third, what made the Tent Embassy struggles between protesters and police so deeply shocking to Australian audiences was that for the first time interracial violence was made visible, revealing structural organised brutality against Aboriginal people unfolding on their television screens.7 As I have argued throughout this book, such conflict had been invisible for much of the history of white settlement, most clearly hinted at by photographs of Aboriginal prisoners in chains. Indeed, protesters remained acutely aware of this continuing theme as they were, at this time, constantly harassed by police in inner-city suburbs such as Redfern in Sydney. Activists placed contemporary events in a long history of oppression by drawing upon images of colonial injustice. For example, one 1972 ‘March for Black Rights’ rally poster reproduced Francis Birtles’s 1911 photograph of neck-chained Ngarinman people (see image in chapter 2), by now a pan-Aboriginal symbol.8 While such images no longer testified G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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national library of australia

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Ken Middleton, Demonstration with ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ placard at land rights demonstration, Parliament House, Canberra, 30 July 1972

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Gordon Bryant Papers MS 8256, Series 11 ATSI Matters, Box 174: Folder ‘Abschol. Pamphlets’, National Library of Australia

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Gordon Bryant Papers MS 8256, Series 11 ATSI Matters, Box 174: Folder ‘Abschol. Pamphlets’, National Library of Australia

to contemporary practices, they now assumed a historical significance that gave the cause considerable impetus. By revealing past oppression to uninformed audiences, such images garnered mainstream support for Indigenous rights in the present. An important aspect of the movement’s visual impact was its youthful, charismatic leadership. Like the US Black Panthers, the Australian movement had its sexy male leaders, but strong women such as Kath Walker (who in 1987 changed her name to Oodgeroo Noonuccal), ‘Mum’ Shirl, Bobbi Sykes and Isobell Coe also played an integral role in leading rallies and explaining their agenda. Posters advertising the continual rallies, speeches and demonstrations formed the public face of the movement and figures such as Denis Walker were photographed like rock stars, distinctively Aboriginal but also part of an international cultural revolution taking place during these decades. The black media was also important. The magazine Identity (see page 227), launched in 1971 by the Aboriginal Publications Foundation, was the ‘first venture into the national field of commercial publishing’. As journalist Michelle Grattan eulogised, ‘black is beautiful – cool, sophisticated – and politically aware. These are the themes of the new-look all-Aboriginal magazine Identity’.9 Kevin Gilbert explained that its policy aimed at ‘presenting the cultural-social development of the Aboriginal people in a true and unbiased light and providing a forum for Aboriginal views and opinions of all kinds’.10 Articles covered land rights campaigns, such as ‘land title for Lake Tyers people’, with photos of the Governor of Victoria presenting title deeds to Charlie Carter.11 It also told the story of the Tent Embassy as it unfurled and the July 1972 issue pictured the Tent Embassy on its front cover, in an image that emphasised its young Indigenous leaders (see page 227). Charles Perkins argued that the magazine, as its name suggested, should become an important avenue of expression through art forms such as poetry, history and fiction, to allow Aboriginal people to ‘identify as a group’. Whether urban or tribal, they must ‘seek some solid foundation, identity or place’ in the

‘March for Black Rights’ Rally Poster with Birtles’ photograph

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majority society, and the magazine would provide a means of communication and so a shared identity.12 In July 1972 Faith Bandler wrote, ‘Identity – you have helped us identify. The educated read. Those who have been deprived of education look. You helped make us one.’13 In this way, questions of representation and recognition became central to Indigenous identity, and Aboriginal people’s shared experiences of injustice and marginalisation were advanced as the basis for a pan-Australian culture. Leaders such as Perkins and Gilbert asserted Aboriginal distinctiveness in ways that that challenged oppressive stereotypes with the goal of greater self-determination. The magazine also aimed to communicate with white Australia, to make whites understand the historical experience of Aboriginal people as a way of explaining their current and future aspirations. It stated: ‘We could fill the pages of Identity with pictures and descriptions of the wretched living conditions of many Aborigines – on reserves, missions, the fringes of towns and in city slums … But this situation has prevailed for some time and white Australians have become accustomed to it.’ Instead, it wanted to change the ‘outlook of white Australians’ by making them aware of the ‘rich cultural heritage’ and ‘cultural and artistic potential’ of Aboriginal people. Bobbi Sykes argued that the ‘newspaper and television media have ‘done much to publicize the plight of the Black Australian, but have done pitifully little to let the white community know of the radical changes taking place in the minds and attitudes of those same Black Australians’. In place of the ‘lazy Abo’ was ‘a proud black man, on his way up, worthy of respect, and demanding his rights’.14

D ocum enti ng th e c au s e As the movement for Indigenous rights gained momentum during the early 1970s, photographers made the activism of these years publicly visible, expanding the visual field to show Aboriginal people’s everyday lives and for the first time displacing earlier, stereotypical images of romanticised primitives or detribalised fringe-dwellers. Although by now documentary had become unfashionable in the art world, these photographers seized upon the medium as a means to make Aboriginal Australians visible, recording their experience from an Indigenous 236

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perspective; their political project was frequently driven by an intense desire to counter degrading historical imagery. This wave prominently featured non-Indigenous photographers such as Jon Rhodes, Juno Gemes, Penny Tweedie and Sandy Edwards – sympathetic supporters who developed close, often collaborative relationships with their Indigenous subjects, self-consciously recording the energy and vitality of this historic period. In her photographs of ‘the Movement’ from 1978 onwards, Gemes shows Aboriginal people as ‘central, not marginal, to the action’, taking as her model the critical social documentary tradition exemplified by W Eugene Smith’s 1970s images of Japanese victims of mercury poisoning at Minamata. Gemes has explained that she was deliberately trying to counter media images that habitually featured violent Indigenous confrontations with police and



Wandjuk Marika said, ‘ they destroyed all the trees, the sacred areas, the sacred hills ...‘

depicted Aboriginal leaders as ‘angry, dangerous radicals’. She was also aiming to redress a national, colonial amnesia by revealing ‘our own true histories’.15 Self-consciously an eyewitness, Gemes recorded a new social movement of protest and activism. Jon Rhodes began to practise in this genre after joining Film Australia in 1971 as a cinematographer and working with the ethnographic filmmakers Ian Dunlop and Philip Robertson, who were recording ceremonial life with Yolngu people at Yirrkala in north-eastern Arnhem Land. This was the year that the first native title case, Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971), often termed the Gove land rights case, was rejected.16 From the beginning, Dunlop had made collaboration a principle of his work with the Yolngu, who saw the medium as a means of both teaching their children and communicating with outsiders. Rhodes G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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© Jon Rhodes. Reproduced courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria. Moral/cultural permission from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Nhulunbuy

also worked closely with the people of Yirrkala to produce the photographic series Just Another Sunrise? (1974–75). The title alludes to Nabalco’s logo of a rising sun, signalling the irreversible changes brought about by bauxite mining. It is possible to see in this series Rhodes’s early engagement with ‘ethnographic’ film-making, which had ignited his interest in Yolngu culture and shaped his collaborative approach and acute sense of composition. In addition, each photo is situated within a sequence that is intended to be viewed together, as a narrative. What is distinctive about Rhodes’s practice is the viewer’s experience of watching his complex and dramatically composed still images. Rhodes preserves the moment of observation by retaining the image’s original frame so the viewer is drawn into a process of engagement with each element within the chain. In a process that is very different from viewing a film, Rhodes’s panels compel a movement from individual image to the whole that invites reflection and expands time. Each of the 17 panels combines the images in specific ways to show the Indigenous subjects within their own coherent society and landscape rather than as atomised types. Images of bauxite mining and its effects on the landscape are placed alongside untouched landscape and people’s lives within it. Some show change as relatively benign; for example, in the shot of a supermarket above another of a woman gathering food from a wetland. Others depict the relentless advance of a 19-kilometre conveyor belt stretching from the mine to the port at Melville Bay, juxtaposed against a man painted for ceremony. As Wandjuk Marika, a Yolngu (Rirratjingu) leader who played a key part in the Yirrkala 238

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© Jon Rhodes. Reproduced courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria. Moral/cultural permission from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Nhulunbuy

Jon Rhodes, Just another sunrise? 1974–75. Yirrkala, Northern Territory, Australia. Detail of Panel 17: three images of conveyor belt for bauxite, one image of Wakuthi Marawili at Yilpara, painted for ceremony.

land rights case, said, ‘they destroyed all the trees, the sacred areas, the sacred hills, even the Nhulunbuy hills – they cut out a side of the mountain and put in a huge water tank. They spoiled it.’17 While Rhodes’s images are gentler and seemingly less explicitly concerned with politics than the public demonstrations of the south, they nonetheless protest as strongly against the destruction of country. Penny Tweedie’s work also belongs to a long humanist tradition of critical documentary. From the early 1960s the British-born Tweedie chose subjects that focused on social inequalities such as appalling housing conditions in Glasgow, which she documented in her work for the homeless organisation, Shelter. Her deep involvement with Indigenous Australia dated from 1975 when she went to Alice Springs to photograph the making of a BBC film. As she sat with an elder, he drew an ancestral design in the sand and told her, ‘you take picture of this, show those whitefellas’. In August of that year she was present, along with Mervyn Bishop, to photograph the moment when Whitlam poured a handful of sand into Lingiari’s hand and she later told how ‘in being a witness to this historic turning point for Aboriginal rights and future claims to their lands’ she was ‘inspired to continue working with Aboriginal people to help tell their story’.18 She was to stay and work in Australia for 35 years. Tweedie’s work addressed a range of Indigenous issues, including protest events and a series of portraits of leaders. Most recently, for her book Indigenous Australia: Standing Strong (2001), she interviewed 77 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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people. Tweedie remains best known for her images of the people and country of Arnhem Land. Her books and photo-essays produced a visually stunning body of work, premised on a shared humanity that shows the vitality of Yolngu culture. Instead of showing ‘abject’ conditions, breaches of human rights or destruction, they focus on beauty and local values, revealing the Yolngu as strong and powerful in an arcadian vision of peace and plenty. As I look at her images of happy children, playing in stunningly beautiful water holes, on beaches and in the bush, I feel a jealous ache in my chest for my own city-bound sons. By pairing images of the same people in the same places, 12 years apart, we glimpse the strength of life here. Such comparisons reverse the assimilationist story of progress by showing sustainability; they point to the cycle of Yolngu life over generations and the close relationship between people and living, ancestral country.



By pairing images of the same people in the same places, 12 years apart, we glimpse the strength of life here.

These intimate portraits reverse the distancing gaze of the colonial observer; moving close, Tweedie embraces the texture and colour of this seemingly carefree life. White clay slurry is smoothed over a body, clogging around fingernails, highlighting the grain of the skin and its tiny hairs. Tweedie’s working methods exemplify long-term collaboration with Indigenous people and she was careful to check her published work with them before publication. The gorgeous pictures in her book Spirit of Arnhem Land show people who are each named and located in culture and place. Yet the very beauty of these photographs sometimes demonstrates the difficulties of how to visually represent the strength of Arnhem Land culture, landscape and people, without succumbing to the pull of exoticisation. The images reveal few signs of modernity, picturing Yolngu life in uncorrupted innocence. While Tweedie’s work cannot be reduced to its postcard-perfect aesthetic affect, it does point 24 0

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toward the larger problems for Australian, and indeed Western, audiences of viewing Indigenous tradition as though it were outside time. Similar imagery had been familiar to Australian and international readers from at least the 1930s, when popular magazines such Walkabout depicted Aboriginal people as exotic, idealised and naturalised, the counterpart to an imagined western modernity.19 Perhaps most significantly, these non-Indigenous practitioners helped shift emphasis from the image’s content to the relationship between photographer and subject. They pioneered a fundamental shift in cultural politics as it became increasingly expected that Indigenous issues should be photographed in close collaboration with Indigenous people, or by Indigenous photographers themselves.

I n di genous docum ent ary During the early 1980s, a self-consciously Indigenous photography movement began to emerge. Now recognised as the forerunner to this development was the important work of Mervyn Bishop, hailed from the 1970s as Australia’s first Koori press photographer. In 1963 Bishop started working as a cadet photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald, where he worked for 11 years. In 1971 he won the News Photographer of the Year Award for a shot called ‘A Life and Death Dash’, of a nun rushing a child suspected of taking a drug overdose to hospital. Mervyn recalled, ‘it was customary in the Herald that any photographer who’d won the award got promoted, but that wasn’t to be for me. I was quietly told that I wouldn’t get a promotion. The reasons weren’t exactly spelled out, but I knew I’d hit a barrier in what I had to remind myself was still a white world.’20 In 1974, Bishop started work at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in Canberra, a role in which he covered the major developments in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia, including the hand-back of land to the Gurindji on 16 August 1975 at Kalkaringi. As I have noted, Bishop’s famous photo shows Gough Whitlam pouring a stream of desert sand into Vincent Lingiari’s hand, as Whitlam declares, ‘I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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‘On location at Oenpelli’. Identity, October 1974, 2(2), p. 3

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Courtesy of Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Moral/cultural permission Mervyn Bishop

forever.’ In recording the Australian government’s recognition of Aboriginal land rights, this image has become an icon of the land rights movement and Australian photography. Moreover, it stands for restitution and reconciliation between black and white Australia. As an icon, it has come to represent a particular historical narrative that is broader than the single moment it records, gaining more than documentary value by seeming to show something that exceeds words. The story of this image – and of Bishop’s career – is, of course, more complex. Despite its appearance of fortuitous capture, Bishop deliberately recreated this historic moment. The formalities had already taken place in a nearby shed, but Bishop realised that this would not produce a good image. He remembers the event in this way:21 [A]s soon as the ceremony finished, I went over to Mr Whitlam, I said, ‘Mr Whitlam, would you mind coming outside and we’re going to do it again,’ you know, ‘with the nice blue sky, and they can have the same image outside.’ ‘Very well, very well’ [deep voice]. So out he goes and I took old Uncle Vincent out, he had glaucoma and couldn’t see too well, so I said, ‘Uncle, we’re going to do the speech again’. So I led him out, set him up, I said, ‘You hold your right hand out there like that with the deeds in your left hand, and Mr Whitlam, I want to take that picture again’ … so Whitlam, ‘Okay, okay’, he bends down and gathers another handful of dirt.

Bishop remembers how he deliberately left a space of blue sky at the top of the image, to allow for words to be printed, as was necessary in those pre-digital times. Part of the image’s meaning is therefore this expectation of commentary – of captions, headlines, commemoration of a historic performance. But the DAA overlooked this image and it lay in storage, unpublished, for several years. When a politicised and self-reflective Indigenous photography movement emerged during the early 1980s, Bishop was hailed as a pioneer and innovator, and his Kalkaringi photo was first displayed in the pioneering 1986 NADOC (National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee) exhibition. His images also

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Courtesy Ben Tweedie. Moral/cultural permission David Warapuwuy

Reproduced with permission from the Australian Government. Moral/cultural permission Mervyn Bishop

Mervyn Bishop, Warning sign, 30km from Maningrida NT 1975

Courtesy Ben Tweedie. Moral/cultural permission David Warapuwuy

Reproduced with permission from the Australian Government. Moral/cultural permission Mervyn Bishop

Penny Tweedie, ‘David Warapuwuy, Dhulumburrk near Nangalala’, 1976

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Penny Tweedie, ‘David and daughter Darolyn, wearing waterlilies, Dhulumburrk near Nangalala’, 1988

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> ‘Getting to know you: A police officer talks with a child as an official cavalcade descends on Mutitjulu yesterday’. Jo Chandler, ‘A warm welcome in the dust, then talks clear the air’, The Age, 28 June 2007 (see page 273)

Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney Photographer Jason South, Fairfax Syndication. Moral/cultural permission Mutitjulu Aboriginal Corporation

Courtesy Ben Tweedie. Moral/cultural permission David Warapuwuy

> Tracey Moffatt, The Movie Star: David Gulpillil on Bondi Beach, 1985. Type c colour photograph, 48 × 72cm. Edition of 20

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Photographer Jason South, Fairfax Syndication. Moral/cultural permission Mutitjulu Aboriginal Corporation

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Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

photographer angela wylie, fairfax syndication. moral/cultural permission from tanya Luckey

‘Tanya Luckey and 18 month baby Lailarni’, Imanpa near Yulara. The Age, 14 August 2007 (see page 273)

Michael Aird, ‘Kangaroo Island’ 16 January 2010, Woogoompah: My Country – Swamp Country (see page 275)

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photographer angela wylie, fairfax syndication. moral/cultural permission from tanya Luckey Courtesy of the artist

record a growing assertion of Indigenous control over the process of imagemaking and media commodification. At Maningrida, in Arnhem Land in 1974, for example, he photographed a sign tied to an entrance gate, warning visitors ‘do not take picture with camera’ because photos were ‘going all over the world to white men and blacks’.22 The power of this image lies in the contrast between the hand-lettered bit of gal-iron tied on a country gate, and the sophisticated awareness it signals of the global mediascape. Bishop denies being a political activist during the 1960s, during his days as a hard-working press photographer, yet in explaining his concern with producing ‘a record’ to say ‘that was that place at that time’, Bishop clearly perceived his work for the DAA as an important means of recording Indigenous lives and places across the country, with concrete political effects. His photographs were a form of evidence that might prompt official action. Bishop remembers some people living in ‘sad, depressing situations’ being reluctant to be photographed, and in response he asked:23 ‘Would you like to get out of this house and get something a bit better?’ ‘Oh, how’s that going to happen? …’ I said, ‘Well, let’s take pictures of it, show the department’. I said … ‘They’ve got that, they look at it and they show it to whoever’s concerned, you might get some money or get an upgrade’. That did happen in places, you know, and I mean, it might have happened anyway, you know, but it needed those images.

In this way Bishop brought his experience as an Indigenous man who grew up in Brewarrina in western New South Wales to bear on the social documentary tra-dition, recording substandard conditions to effect change. One of these images has been widely reproduced in exhibitions (see page 252). As Bishop remembers it, although he noted this woman’s poor living conditions, he wanted instead to capture the pretty blue of her dressing-gown and the bright red bucket she held. He saw the power cord running unprotected through mud and pools of water, ridden over by kids on their bikes, yet he had also grown up in circumstances that were not too different. Rather than fetishising their circumstances as aberrant or freakish, Bishop instead identified with his subjects and wanted to help them.

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It is apparent that from the early 1980s Indigenous photographers and historians were closely engaged with the colonial photographic archive. They realised that it offered evidence for their historical experience and might be framed by Indigenous narratives in order to counter colonial documentary history. In particular, the legal need to demonstrate prior occupation and a continuous history underlay the recognition of rights to land, and so photography was drawn upon as a means of demonstrating this history factually and clearly, in a language accessible to all. In 1981 Marcia Langton, with Wes Stacey and Narelle Perroux, curated a display of historical photos and accompanying photo-essay – After the Tent Embassy: Images of Aboriginal History in Black and White Photographs – that referred to the impact of images as historical source. It addressed itself ‘initially to Aboriginal people as an assessment of the advances and changes of this period’. In his foreword, land rights pioneer Wandjuk Marika wrote:24 This is a book for Aboriginal people in all parts of Australia, for black people, to tell them what’s been happening in the past and where it started. Now, in all parts of Australia, we are trying to go back to our history. To ask what is the story? What the name, what the tribe, what the language?

As well as documenting Aboriginal demands for land and self-determination, this selection is juxtaposed against historical photos of neck-chained prisoners and the poor living conditions of many communities, again drawing upon the starkly irrefutable status of photography to wordlessly argue for reform. At this time, an Indigenous photography movement emerged that began to represent Aboriginal culture, identity and political claims from an explicitly Aboriginal perspective. Landmark exhibitions held in 1984, followed by the NADOC 1986 Aboriginal and Islander Photographers Exhibition, introduced a range of mostly young, mostly art school graduate Aboriginal photographers to the public, including now famous artists Tracey Moffatt, Brenda L Croft and Michael Riley. As Brenda L Croft relates, Tracey Moffatt told Ace Bourke, the first curator of the Aboriginal Artists Gallery in Clarence Street, Sydney, 250

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that ‘“there are plenty of Aboriginal photographers”, and he had said, “Well, where are they?” She said, “I’ll curate it”, and so she did, with Ace, and that’s how it came about.’25 Curator Gael Newton describes the ‘general excitement’ felt in these years about photography as a ‘youthful contemporary art form; one also seen as an accessible and immediately responsive form of witness’. Significantly, Newton points out that a central theme was identity, sometimes asserted by introducing Aboriginal faces into iconic white scenes, such as in Moffatt’s playful ‘The movie star: David Gulpilil on Bondi Beach, 1985’, which shows the star of the 1971 Australian film Walkabout relaxing ‘in a typical aussie pose’.26 Curator Kelly Gellatly notes that artists such as Moffatt replaced ‘strident politics with strategies of humour and references to popular culture’ prompting the audience to ‘ponder the diversity of Aboriginal experience’ revealed in the photographs.27 Subverting the opposition between ancient and modern, here Gulpillil, in face paint, is lord of all he surveys: Bondi Beach, the nation’s groovy modern heart. Brenda L Croft’s work in the 1986 NADOC exhibition expressed a concern with Aboriginal politics and an engagement with the past through the historic archive, drawing from a 1985 ‘Stop Deaths in Black Custody’ rally in Redfern, where she lived. Croft, a Gurindji/Malgnin/Mudpurra woman, recalls that ‘there was a lot happening at the time’, with an upsurge in cultural activities such as black theatre and radio, and growing political activism leading up to the Bicentennial in 1988. As a young art student, she wanted to ‘represent my community and people I knew’ in an approach that deliberately took issue with the idea of the photographer as capturing the serendipitous moment, as well as visual stereotypes:28 All you ever saw, and I’ve still got copies of Time magazine and National Geographic, you saw really negative images of people in the inner city or stockmen or lovely naked children running around the bush or in billabongs … I wanted to collaborate with people I knew and, for me, it was really important that there was a relationship with the people I was photographing.

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Reproduced with copyright permission from Tranby Aboriginal College, Sydney. Moral/cultural permission Mervyn Bishop and the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council

t h e f Mervyn l a s h o Bishop, f r e c o‘Burnt gnitio n Bridge, 1988’

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Reproduced with copyright permission from Tranby Aboriginal College, Sydney. Moral/cultural permission Mervyn Bishop and the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council

Her ‘Family, Eveleigh Street Redfern, 1985’ shows an Aboriginal family watching the rally go by, part of their neighbourhood scene. More discomfiting is ‘Young Girl’, who glares past us: her accusatory scowl directly engages the viewer, drawing us in as the audience of this performance. Croft remembers ‘so much anger’ in the lead-up to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody established in 1987, in response to the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in gaol, and the appalling number who died in custody. Beginning in Redfern during the early-mid 1980s, this theme was sustained through her famous Conference Call series (1992), showing friends and activists in Redfern. This drawing together of personal and political has become typical of Croft’s work and that of others who explore issues such as conflict with the white justice system. In the hands of Croft and other



Would you like to get out of this house and get something a bit better? Let‘ s take pictures of it, show the Department.

Aboriginal practitioners, such as Ricky Maynard, documentary retains its critical edge, providing testimony to grass-roots activism and an Indigenous rights agenda. The Bicentennial year was a particularly important landmark that focused attention on the nation’s unresolved past, and the present place of its Indigenous citizens. Indigenous photographers such as Southport-based Michael Aird recorded the wave of protest that countered the celebration of white settlement. His photo of Vincent Brady, now known as Qawanji Ngurku Jawiyabba, shows the Black Panther and son of radical Pastor Don Brady leading a Brisbane protest against Bicentennial celebrations. Writer and activist Kevin Gilbert addressed the anniversary through his 1988 exhibition, Inside Black Australia, and explained that:29

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Courtesy of the artist

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Courtesy of the artist

< Brenda L Croft, ‘Family, Eveleigh Street Redfern, 1985’

Courtesy of the artist

Brenda L Croft, ‘Young girl, Eveleigh Street, Stop Black Deaths in Custody Rally, 1985’, Redfern

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These oppositional projects took issue with the celebration of the Bicentennial, rejecting the triumphalist tone of most commemoration. As well as this eyewitness function, the Bicentennial marked a fresh awareness of the significance of the past in demonstrating Aboriginal experience, including links to land and culture, and in explaining oppression in the present. In many ways the mammoth After 200 Years project mounted by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies brought together these diverse strands of work. Twenty-one photographers (of whom eight were Indigenous) were sent out to 19 Indigenous communities between 1985 and 1988 to document the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life in Australia two centuries after European colonisation. The project, coordinated by Penny Taylor, sought to splinter the binary stereotypes of ‘noble savage’ versus ‘fringe-dweller’ by moving into ‘everyday worlds of Aboriginal work, play, home and neighbourhood’. It hoped to counter the ‘media obsession with poverty’ by documenting ‘some of the positive things that were going on, some of their achievements’, and project managers were struck by the difference between media images and the family collections they were shown, which depicted people ‘looking happy [and] interacting with one another’.30

Michael Aird, ‘Vincent Brady leads a protest march, Brisbane, 9 December 1987, inkjet print from the series Everybody is Important: Elders, Leaders and Other Important People

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Courtesy of the artist. Moral/cultural permission from Qawanji Ngurku Jawiyabba

… the full story of horror has not been presented, for to do so would be to reproduce and impose on the viewer scenes as heart rending as the Jewish refugee situation after world war two. At the material level we have been limited in our travel to localities by lack of money and facilities. Once again white Australia has been able to evade a net of factual proof in images that make Australia comparable with white South Africa’s inhumanity and apartheid and as deserving of world wide condemnation.

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Courtesy of the artist. Moral/cultural permission from Qawanji Ngurku Jawiyabba

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Courtesy of the artist, Viscopy and Stills Gallery, Sydney

Taylor later called this project the first ‘national family album of Indigenous Australia’, a humanist description that evokes its universalism and construction of a common pan-Australian identity. Some contributions explicitly communicated a political agenda, such as Peter McKenzie’s image of a protest at La Perouse against the First Fleet re-enactment of January 1788. In a sense, the project’s aim to show community lives and values from an Indigenous perspective was fundamentally radical, given the dominant history of white representations of stereotyped black subjects. Perhaps the After 200 Years project’s most significant legacy was to develop a methodology that would ‘subvert both the cultural bias of the photographic perspective and the authoritarianism of the camera lens which epitomises the subject-object dichotomy of white–black relations’.31 Its careful and ethical approach sought to achieve balance and genuine involvement by the communities selected. The project’s photographers were guided by a highly influential essay written in 1986 by anthropologist Eric Michaels, titled ‘Restrictions on Photography in Aboriginal Australia’, subsequently published in 1991 and again in 1993. Michaels identified four common problems with photos of Aboriginal people: unauthorised transmission of cultural knowledge, showing images of the deceased (‘mortuary restrictions’), invasion of privacy and negative stereotypes. Michaels’s analysis was premised on two key principles. First, that taking a photograph was ‘a kind of appropriation’ that ‘usually benefits the photographer … more than the subject’, an approach that, as I have noted, had become interpretive orthodoxy amongst visual theorists by that time.32 Second, Michaels argued that ‘Aboriginal Law’ carefully regulated ‘traditional restrictions on the communication of cultural knowledge’, and that photographers should also respect such constraints upon secret-sacred information. Michaels’s ethnographic work with the Warlpiri of Central Australia clearly shaped his emphasis upon ‘tradition’. He suggested that Aboriginal people might well be unaware of the implications of mass media, such as photography, and suggested that the source of these difficulties lay ‘in the profound differences between the nature of oral and print/electronic cultures’. Although Michaels advocated collaboration with Indigenous people and explicitly warned against turning his four principles – not showing inappropriate traditional cultural knowledge, images of the deceased, the flash of recognition

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Courtesy of the artist, Viscopy and Stills Gallery, Sydney

Ricky Maynard, Gladys, Wik elder, 2000, from the series Returning to places that name us

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Courtesy Peter McKenzie and Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Peter Yanada McKenzie, ‘La Perouse demo protest against First Fleet re-enactment Jan 1988’

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private or negative images - into ‘rules’, for many Australians they have become just that, often defining Indigeneity in terms of what cannot be seen. Most of all, Michaels stressed collaboration and concluded that ‘what matters most in this act of interpretation is who does the interpreting’, underlining the importance of the Indigenous subjects’ control over how they are represented.33 One of the contributors to After 200 Years exemplifies this approach. Ricky Maynard, who has since become an internationally recognised documentary photographer, is a Tasmanian Aboriginal man of the Ben Lomond and Cape Portland people, and his work engages closely with the colonial past, as in his 1998 contribution Moonbird People. Here, he recorded the muttonbirding season on Flinders Island in Bass Strait, where families continue to operate this local industry despite having been declared ‘extinct’ with the passing of Truganini in 1876. After 200 Years co-ordinator Penny Taylor explains that ‘his family have counted themselves among the “Moonbird People” for many generations and Ricky has learned the traditional skills of muttonbirding and enjoyed its rewards’.34 His exhibition, Portraits From a Distant Land (2005– 09), similarly returns to this mythologised landscape, eulogised by western wilderness photographers and landscape artists for two centuries as an empty paradise, but shown through Maynard’s lens to be strongly marked by traces of its historical and living Indigenous inhabitants. In this way, Maynard is explicitly concerned to produce proof about Indigenous people to counter colonial myths and distortions. For Maynard, photography retains its power to effect social change, despite its ambiguities and potential evils. To this end, collaboration with his subjects that is guided by openness and trust is crucial:35 You’ve got to be very honest because your aim is to make and take honest pictures and an honest representation of what’s before you. And you’ve got to communicate very clearly and very early in the process. Who are you? What are you trying to do?

This is what curator Keith Munro calls ‘the formation of an Aboriginal photographic practice’, and it centres upon ‘co-authorship between image-maker and subject.’36 Maynard’s other work addresses problems facing Aboriginal people, including Aboriginal deaths in custody. The series No More Than What 262

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You See (1994) documented Aboriginal prisoners in South Australia and aimed to ‘create awareness and some strong images that would help provoke thought about what was still a very serious problem’. His series Returning To Places That Name Us (2000), comprised large-format, close-up portraits of elders of the Wik community of Aurukun in Queensland. It sought to record social history and to tell a more celebratory story about the 1996 High Court decision on Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland, whereby pastoral leases could co-exist with native title rights. At the time, there was widespread confusion and anxiety about giving Aboriginal people too much, and Maynard sees his role as creating ‘a body of work that people can understand about native title’. He commented that public emphasis on the political implications of this case overshadowed the people it affected and explained that ‘[t]his is where my feeling and attitude comes in, to play my role in the documentary picture-making, to really want to tell their stories and hear their voice … You only ever saw the image of Gladys Tybingoomba outside the High Court. It was about showing the faces of those people’.37 Maynard’s now famous portraits are incredibly intimate, but at the same time somehow monumental: is Gladys friendly or challenging? Her weathered face testifies to experience and life beyond our view, to battles of which we know little, yet we sympathise with her struggle. Maynard’s beautiful portrait of this senior elder forms a shameful contrast with the tendency within Western visual culture to belittle or dismiss elderly women. His images counter stereotypes by showing the fine-grained reality of Indigenous experience.

G at h e r round p e opl e , l e t m e t e ll you a story

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8 : Out o f s i gh t and o ut of mind?

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If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. Lilla Watson and a group of Aboriginal activists in Queensland in the 1970s

In launching the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the ‘Intervention’) in mid-2007, then Prime Minister John Howard argued that ‘horrifying’ conditions in Aboriginal communities had ‘largely been hidden – in part by a permit system in the NT that kept communities out of view and out of mind’.1 The link Howard drew between invisibility and neglect – as opposed to visibility and reform – is central to current debates about Aboriginality, which frequently oppose those who desire to respect the rights and dignity of Aboriginal people by limiting what can be seen or said about them, to those who wish to counter their invisibility as a means of overcoming disadvantage. In the battle over the Intervention, this long-standing dilemma has been framed even more crudely in some quarters as a battle between culture and rights on the one hand, and modernisation on the other. Such visions continue to be deeply reliant upon inherited imagery, and especially the old opposition between unbridgeable difference and inevitable similarity.2 Despite the political gains made by Indigenous people during the 1990s, and a new mainstream willingness to recognise them, the last two decades have also seen perceptions of a growing ‘crisis’ in Indigenous Australia. The ‘Mabo’ decision was one of the most momentous in the nation’s recent history. In 1992, the High Court of Australia found that some Indigenous citizens retained their rights to land under common law and reversed the doctrine of terra nullius. In 1993 the Keating government passed the Native Title Act, allowing people to establish whether native title still existed and, if not, to claim compensation. Since Mabo, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to demand rights not as a concession but as a matter of justice and law. The relation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians has begun to undergo profound revision and the nation’s sense of its own moral legitimacy has come under intense, anxious scrutiny. Between 1996 and 2007, a conservative government presided over the polarisation of mainstream views regarding Indigenous issues and the ‘history O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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wars’, sparked by Geoffrey Blainey’s argument that ‘black arm band’ historians had exaggerated black suffering following colonisation.3 Intensifying concern about conditions within Aboriginal communities was fuelled by a series of official inquiries that revealed historical injustice against Aboriginal people and their ongoing, structural disadvantage, especially regarding Indigenous deaths in custody (1996),4 the separation of Indigenous children from their families (1997),5 and the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in Northern Territory communities (2007).6 Following the release of the latter report, Little Children are Sacred, the federal government launched the Intervention, a package including restrictions on the use of alcohol and pornography in remote communities, the compulsory acquisition and lease of townships, suspension of the visitor permit system, quarantining welfare benefits and other measures. The Intervention has been highly divisive. I must confess that when it was announced, I felt a flood of relief and I thought thank God someone is doing something. Yet my doubts about the impact of this initiative have grown to outweigh this sentiment. Imposed without consultation with Aboriginal people, supported by some Indigenous leaders and communities but condemned by others, as I write in 2012 it continues to be furiously debated. It is a classic example of the way that Indigenous affairs have become increasingly shaped by media accounts, as most Australians living in cities are simply unable to make informed decisions about the Intervention’s impact on Indigenous people. The shocking revelations of child sexual abuse made on the ABC’s Lateline television program in April 2006 by Northern Territory Crown Prosecutor Nanette Rogers are credited with finally stirring the federal government into action. Prior to this event, a debate about remote Indigenous land ownership had been waged throughout the 1990s, pitting those who defended separate development against those supporting full integration into market society. This debate was accompanied by the growing sensationalisation of media accounts of Indigenous communities and the re-ascendance of negative stereotypes of failure, suffering, and violence. As anthropologist Melinda Hinkson has persuasively argued, a new ‘spectre’ of ‘child sexual and physical abuse’ has emerged, suggesting that ‘a direct link has been made between the figure of 266

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the suffering child as a newly established icon of remote Aboriginality and the attribution of failure to the ‘experiment’ of self-determination’.7 It is significant that stories about the launch of the Intervention prominently featured images of children. In a popular device, these frequently showed silhouetted children performing acrobatics or playing games, emphasising their innocence and joy amid squalor, detached from their actual social and physical circumstances. Age photographer Jason South’s photo of a child turning cartwheels against a glowing sunset at Mutitjulu near Uluru was printed on the same pages as Howard’s announcement of the Intervention in June 2007, with its rationale the need to protect childhood innocence.8 These images signify the exuberance and weightlessness of childhood as, once again, the Indigenous child’s beauty and potential becomes the object of reform. If we locate this debate in a larger historical context it is apparent that representations of Aboriginal children at risk have a much longer history, which has simply intensified in recent decades. In a general sense, depicting Aboriginal people as childlike began with colonisation, providing a precedent for current narratives of self-harm and a potent rationale for official intervention. Charges that Indigenous parents were unable to care for children were also the basis for assimilation and specifically the Stolen Generations. As Anna Haebich’s history of official intervention into Indigenous families has pointed out, during the early 1970s media accounts argued for a crisis in Aboriginal parenting and so for child removal. In 1973, newspaper accounts reached a climax in reporting the breakdown of internal Aboriginal social relations and the increasingly crowded conditions of town camps.9 This period, following the introduction of drinking rights in 1964 and the Pastoral Award that enforced equal wages in 1968, simultaneously saw restrictive legislation and welfare measures phased out, undermining formerly tight administrative control over Aboriginal lives. When public drunkenness was decriminalised in 1973, media attention focused on child health; at this time Central Australia had the highest infant mortality rate in the world, with the appalling death of one in four babies. Haebich suggests that ‘the early 1970s perhaps marked the peak of a period of particular neglect where mainstream welfare services could not attend to the scale of Aboriginal need, which left the familiar drastic and inhumane strategy of removal of children and incarceration of adults’.10 In a pattern that has O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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continued, campers wanted better housing and facilities but resisted removal, and so provisions for child removal under the Child Welfare Ordinance 1958 were deliberately used by officials, against their intention, to remove families and ‘unsightly’ camps from the town. As this example shows, images of Indigenous crisis have been used as a means to address tangential policy goals; the Western emphasis on the ‘unsightliness’ of Aboriginal circumstances was as important as addressing underlying systemic problems. This is not to suggest that problems within Indigenous communities do not exist, but rather to show that their representation and official responses may be shaped by political context. Marcia Langton has criticised media accounts of the Intervention, comparing the very public debate about child abuse in Indigenous communities to pornography in its sensationalising and degrading effects. She likens it to what Jean Baudrillard has termed ‘war porn’, with respect to the photographs from the US prison Abu Ghraib of prisoners being tortured by American soldiers; these images conjured the degradation, ‘atrocious but banal’, not only of the victims but also of the image-makers themselves.11 Even if one does not agree that images of torture taken for pleasure may be compared with those of remote Aboriginal communities, Langton has correctly identified the nasty double edge of such imagery, which prevents empathy by turning the pain of Indigenous people – in this case particularly women and children – into an exhibition:12 … played out in a vast ‘reality show’ through the media, parliaments, public service and the Aboriginal world. This obscene and pornographic spectacle shifts attention away from the everyday lived crisis that many Aboriginal people endure – or do not, dying as they do at excessive rates. This spectacle is not a new phenomenon in Australian public life, but the debate about ‘Indigenous affairs’ has reached a new crescendo, fuelled by the accelerated and uncensored exposé of the extent of Aboriginal child abuse.

With anguish, Langton also criticises journalists’ qualms about reporting horrific cases for fear of sensationalisation, arguing for the urgency of acknowledging and addressing criminal violence against the vulnerable. Langton’s argument for acknowledging suffering without sensationalism is salutary, indeed vital, but where do we draw the line between titillation and revelation? Langton reiterates 268

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centuries-old anxieties about the effects of imagery that may dehumanise and objectify, as well as more recent insights regarding the media’s construction of horror and abjection. Implicit in her critique is the widespread notion that there has been a failure of empathy in global society and that media representation is to blame for desensitising and exaggerating suffering as a barrier to empathetic identification. Supporters of the Intervention, a cohort which includes Langton herself, justify the initiative as a strategy of exposing hidden problems in order to address them. On one level, this impulse resonates with critiques of media ‘censorship’ and arguments for public witnessing. While the media presents suffering as entertainment, it also self-consciously restricts what it considers to be voyeurism in the name of respectability. Such ‘markers of civility’ are difficult to define



Public witnessing need not pathologise remote Indigenous communities.

and police; they rely upon editorial evaluations regarding audience tolerance, squeamishness and taste. The media’s suppression of horror reveals more about forms of public knowledge than about the state of Aboriginal Australia and may in fact prevent its public understanding or recognition. As John Taylor argues, readers of ‘filleted papers … simply do not know what has happened’.13 Those who emphasise the importance of allowing the public to see, know and judge, suggest that our understanding and memory of events such as the Holocaust may have disappeared had we relied upon sanitised or ‘civil’ representations. As visual theorist WJT Mitchell argues with respect to such troubled pasts, ‘failure to bear witness may be even more unendurable than the act of recollection’.14 Yet public witnessing need not pathologise remote Indigenous communities. As I have noted, Howard introduced the initiative with the argument that NT O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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communities had been ‘kept out of view and out of mind’,15 and a new trope of ‘speaking out’ frames reports. One journalist described Indigenous leader Noel Pearson as being ‘more than happy to lift up the rusty strip of corrugated iron and show everyone the resident snake underneath’.16 Reiterating predictions of extinction as old as colonisation itself, journalist Nicolas Rothwell declared ‘everyone can see and no one says’, arguing that in the Kimberley region:17 [a] crisis of grief is unfolding, a spiritual collapse so deep it cannot be held back. The acts of self-harm are not inadvertent, not mistakes, not just the ill-judged results of too much drink and drugs, not something to be solved by simply lowering the levels of intoxication. Those watching struggle for words and fear they may be watching as an entire culture, acting collectively, destroys itself.

Anthropologist Peter Sutton has also been a prominent critic of the ‘relative silence promoted and policed by the Left and by a number of Indigenous activists’ which, he argues, has ‘created a vacuum in public discussion’. Sutton suggests that the exclusion of non-Indigenous voices from debates and a ‘code of silence’ enforced by intimidation within communities has contributed to dysfunction and is promoted by ‘sympathetic liberals’ taking ‘the view that respect for cultural differences and racially defined political autonomy takes precedence over a child’s basic human right to have love, wellbeing and safety’.18 By linking ‘silence’ and criticism of the Intervention to a rights agenda that he opposes to ‘modernisation’, Sutton seemingly reverts to the old formulation that aims to either preserve difference or, alternatively, assimilate Aboriginal people. In Sutton’s analysis there seems no middle path between sameness and difference. These are difficult issues but what is clear is that the debate has licensed many observers to reproduce demonising, stereotypical views of Aboriginal people under the guise of ‘speaking out’. Many accounts of the Intervention’s launch have omitted any detailed encounter with Indigenous individuals or spokespeople, reiterated stereotypes of primitivism and savagery, and dwelt on community dysfunction. I imagine these are the representations Langton considers to be ‘pornographic’. For instance, in July 2007 Simon Kearney, a senior Australian newspaper journalist, reported with pessimism on the 270

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‘enormous task’ facing the Intervention, condemning the Aboriginal residents of Kintore as hopeless and incapable, and the township itself as both forgotten and wild. He began:19 Some of the worst Aboriginal communities targeted by the federal Government’s emergency intervention in the Northern Territory are sheltered by these mountains. Above Kintore, the fortress-like Mt Leisler has a commanding view … [Kintore] artists have paid for a state-of-the-art dialysis clinic in Kintore that stands out amid the squalor of the rest of the town. Amid the red dust, abandoned homes look only marginally worse than the occupied ones. Rubbish is strewn everywhere. There are hundreds of hardened dogs, and each house is home to a wrecked car.

In this account, the residents are solely to blame for their problems. Typical of this type of report, the journalist noted confusion and distrust yet reported ‘significant support’ for John Howard and Brough’s plan, and quoted MP Alison Anderson saying of the former missionary regime that ‘at least “they kept us clean”’. He detailed the lack of jobs, former troubles with petrol-sniffing now replaced by gambling, chronic alcoholism (‘No one out here believes there is such a thing as a dry town; the question is when and where the booze will arrive and what will happen when it does’) and child abuse. According to a local health worker, there were many cases of young women ‘deliberately falling pregnant to receive the federal Government’s baby bonus, which they spend on alcohol’. He stated that ‘child neglect is readily apparent’, and in a final note of condemnation, concluded ‘the wrecked cars that line the roads to these communities are … burnt out, but not because they were beyond repair. Anderson says the owners would simply prefer to salvage what they can and burn them to stop anyone else taking the rest’.20 The reader learns little about the place’s situation or prospects from this article, structured as it is by stereotypes of dysfunction and self-harm. How is one to disentangle fact from sneering hearsay? The unnamed residents of Kintore are made to appear less than human, on a par with their ‘hardened dogs’ in their ‘squalor’, distanced not only by their ‘fortress-like’ encircling mountains but also by their primitivism. These victims do not qualify as worthy, O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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which undermines the reader’s empathy with their plight.21 This journalist’s technique of extrapolating from an individual to a larger story is typical in focusing on the ‘deviant’ behaviour of a few people to identify larger problems.22 This ubiquitous narrative strategy is not in itself destructive, but by inevitably defining these communities as ‘problems’, such accounts have constructed an overly simple and inevitably pessimistic view. As postcolonial theorists have argued for decades, this is how racism works – familiar, derogatory stereotypes stand in for more complex understandings. A month later, the same journalist publicly named two 12-year-old Aboriginal girls who had become pregnant. When challenged (the case was taken up by the ABC’s Mediawatch and was the subject of a complaint to the Australian Press Council), he defended his exposé on the grounds that he had obtained permission from the girls’ relatives and that the information was a necessary part of his story.23 The then Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough, the architect of the Intervention, defended the story and called on other media outlets to review their own coverage, saying:24 It’s important these issues be highlighted, and The Australian has been at the forefront of ensuring coverage is given to the issues facing indigenous Australians in remote communities, particularly in the Northern Territory. While it may be confronting for some, these are issues happening every day in our own country, and rather than criticising a media outlet which is bringing them to public attention, other media outlets should be examining their own treatment of these important issues.

Such reportage continues. A more recent example from Sky News argues that poor conditions in Alice Springs town camps remained unchanged by attempts at reform. When the Labor government took office in 2008, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin had described seeing ‘elderly women sleeping outside on filthy mattresses with just a bit of tin to protect them from the wind’. To demonstrate lack of progress, Sky News filmed ‘identical conditions’ in one of those camps. The film footage precisely reproduces the rhetorical stance familiar from 1940s newspaper accounts; it shows the residents as abject and helpless, but now in animated colour. The news report concluded that ‘it is 272

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expected to take at least a generation to achieve equality in health and education standards’.25 (I have chosen not to reproduce these images). By contrast with these accounts, how do we forge what historian Carolyn Dean terms a ‘critical use of empathy’?26 Some accounts imaged Indigenous leaders, naming them as individuals and showing sober, serious Indigenous decision-making in progress. Many media stories noted the fear within communities about the invading official forces – particularly of child removal – and their confusion regarding the Intervention’s aims and agenda. These stories reminded audiences of a long history of official intervention and Indigenous mistrust, even while framing the initiative in optimistic terms. Such accounts emphasised both the Intervention’s top-down, militarised nature, documenting the arrival of police and army contingents, as well as its elements of hope and goodwill – for example, showing a large police officer shaking hands with a small Aboriginal boy (see page 247).27 Some reporters showed how, in light of long experience, Indigenous leaders were clearly concerned about government promises versus reality. Tanya Luckey, at Imanpa in Central Australia, was reported by Jo Chandler as being ‘neither optimist nor cynic. She’s a supportive, cautious pragmatist … If the action means better houses, come right in, says Ms Luckey. But she is wary of building hopes, and of the already rising expectation that new houses are imminent.’ She is photographed adoringly embracing her baby daughter, in an image of deep motherly love (see page 248).28 Such stories reported a range of problems, but provided detailed accounts from individuals within communities, quoting their views at length and providing a sympathetic view of their challenges. Chandler’s story provides a concrete account of some of the community’s problems, but does not assign blame. It does not focus on the allegations of child abuse; instead, Angela Wylie’s photographic series shows the strong family ties prevailing here. Indigenous voices are rare in this commentary and Hinkson identifies the gulf that exists between ‘simplistic representations’ and the ‘complex and varied ways in which remote living Aboriginal people understand and represent themselves’. Warlpiri people at Yuendumu, 300 km northwest of Alice Springs, were interviewed in a series of stories in the Australian newspaper in 2007, two months after the launch of the Intervention. Like all Aboriginal people, O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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the Warlpiri have long been acutely aware of their representation within the media and have sought to control such imagery, insisting on contracts with visiting photographers and restricting certain ‘shameful’ sights that make them seem abject and ‘other’. Yet Hinkson concludes that while such voices are a ‘much-needed nuanced “view from the ground”’, they need considerable contextualisation to be understood by a mainstream audience.29

C old eels and dis t ant t h o u g h t s Indigenous images and narratives, so rare in mainstream media, perhaps most effectively counter the easy racism of many broadsheet accounts in the form of film and art. Some point to Indigenous film-making as the answer to mainstreaming Indigenous perspectives, arguing that the documentary series First Australians and the arthouse drama Samson and Delilah counter ‘media images that normalize violence and suffering in remote Aboriginal communities’ and re-centre Indigenous experience within a national story.30 Others argue for Indigenous development of their own means of cultural production through radio, television, and multimedia, as has occurred elsewhere.31 Indigenous photographers have also responded directly to, and challenged, media and official representations of Aboriginal men as child abusers, specifically the claims by Brough (providing the rationale for the Intervention) that ‘paedophile rings’ run by senior Indigenous men existed within remote communities. In 2011 Djon Mundine curated Cold Eels and Distant Thoughts, a groundbreaking exhibition that sought to show that Aboriginal men ‘are not monsters’.32 Work by Michael Aird, Mervyn Bishop, Gary Lee, Ricky Maynard, Peter McKenzie, Michael Riley and Jason Wing aimed to demonstrate that ‘Aboriginal men are not all alcoholic, violent and unthinking brutes’, but rather that ‘the everyday common Aboriginal male appears in a variety of roles, many of them positive. What we see are pictures of males in particular moments of action, grace and great expressive humanness.’33 Jason Wing’s series of self-portraits forms a direct response to Brough’s ‘accusations and political manoeuvers’. Jason Wing is a young Aboriginal artist from the western Sydney suburbs of Cabramatta and Blacktown. His father is 2 74

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Chinese (Cantonese) and his mother is an Aboriginal woman from the Biripi people in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales. His work explores a wide range of issues, including bi-cultural and Indigenous political identity, environmental awareness and spirituality, and has a ‘strong commitment to community engagement’.34 His deceptively simple A Government Initiative comprises a series of self-portraits, in which he wears a series of signs, or breastplates, with labels such as ‘alcoholic’ or ‘criminal’, in a pointed allusion to the Intervention and its erection, outside remote communities, of large placards that ban alcohol and pornography. Wing comments that the work was designed to prompt empathy from politicians and asks, ‘how would they feel if the intervention sign was out the front of their home? How would they feel if they were unjustly labelled as alcoholics, rapists, and criminals due to the sign?’35 They show us the artist deliberately positioned in the police frame, like a mug shot, alluding to a history of conflict with white officialdom and particularly deaths in custody. The ‘breastplate’ recalls an even longer colonial past in which white settlers imposed a foreign social hierarchy upon Indigenous people, the better to manage and control them. Wing’s Christ-like naked torso, long hair, and tormented expression point towards injustice and stigmatisation. Less explicitly politicised works in this exhibition explore the diverse lives of Aboriginal men. These tell stories that exceed narrow definitions of Aboriginal people as victims, countering essentialising stereotypes by showing that they are ‘more than the sum of our grievances’.36 Michael Aird learned photography from his mother, growing up on the Gold Coast in Queensland. As a curator and anthropologist, Aird’s research has shown how photography has worked for Aboriginal people. His landmark exhibition and book, Portraits of Our Elders, documented how his own family commissioned dignified studio portraits that demonstrated their success in mainstream society during the early 1900s. Aird has also written perceptively about the current significance of archival photographs for descendants, who see beyond their original circumstances to treasure them as family records. In the Woogoompah: My Country – Swamp Country series, Aird pictures friends and family on the waters and mangrove islands of his traditional country, the Logan and Pimpama River region of south-east Queensland. These images of peaceful camping, crabbing and fishing expeditions along mangrove-lined O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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waterways reveal a long and harmonious relationship with this natural landscape continuing, unseen by tourists, under the glossy façade of Surfers Paradise, which remains a distant skyline. The darkening air and flowing movement conjured by ‘Kangaroo Island’ (see page 248) blend boat and river, evoking the relaxed satisfaction of heading home at the end of the day. As Djon Mundine argues, none of the photographers in this exhibition fit into stereotypical views of Aboriginal identity but are ‘just normal males with varying attributes, attitudes, fears, and hopes and dreams for a better future’.37 In the ugliness of much current debate about Indigenous Australia, it is easy to forget the real gains that have been made over the last few decades. Arguments about the Intervention exemplify the ways that humanitarian responses express the logic of cultural recognition and its limitations. Aboriginal people may receive recognition by mainstream Australia only by conforming to acceptable preconceptions of an authentic identity and culture (as I explored in chapter 3), expressed through familiar visual stereotypes. Conversely, reluctance to acknowledge what is deemed disgusting or obscene continues to restrict public recognition of Indigenous needs.38 Champions of the Intervention have argued for witnessing social suffering as the basis for intercession and reform. But the demand that Indigenous people identify with popular images of authenticity and worthiness has proved limiting for them. As Indigenous scholars such as Noel Pearson and Lawrence Bamblett have pointed out, defining Aboriginal people as passive victims, and non-Indigenous people as victimisers, has been a powerful tool to confront racism and create change, but it has also ‘created an essentialised and constraining image of Aborigines’ that is demeaning and destructive.39 ‘Making visible’ has entailed the pathologisation of Indigenous communities in the cause of creating widespread moral certainty, as public debate has demonised Aboriginal people as incapable victims in need of control and discipline. In the hands of corporate media, the current debate about the

Jason Wing, ‘Criminal’, A Government Initiative

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Courtesy of the artist

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Intervention continues a long-running battle between those who cast Indigenous people as primitive mendicants needing to be assimilated or, alternatively, as bearers of a rich cultural tradition to be preserved unchanged. Supporters of the Intervention prioritise social inequality but oppose this problem to Indigenous rights such as privacy, autonomy or cultural difference. Unfortunately, in seeking to ‘close the gap’, a narrative of self-harm and incapacity has dominated popular media, as proponents of the Intervention have sought popular support, reviving a familiar visual language of abjection. In the conflict between those who argue for showing Indigenous problems in their entirety and those who wish to preserve the dignity and privacy of those depicted, it has been forgotten that there are particular strategies of representation that may explore the problems confronting Aboriginal people without dehumanising them. Between invisibility and exploitation there are many ways of seeing Aboriginal people. Most importantly, the familiar stereotypes preclude the involvement of Indigenous people in their own representation. Mainstream Australians need to see how Indigenous people understand and explain their own circumstances. This is a matter of contextualisation and interpretation, rather than simple exposure. Images on their own may convey radically different meanings to different viewers. As Susie Linfield points out, ‘the salient question is not one of graphic content, which is neither good nor bad in itself … The real question to ask is why such images are shown, and what contexts for debating them are possible.’40 In the hands of the media, the shock value of perceived Indigenous squalor and savagery may be a powerful tool for reform, yet such depictions may also be misused as officials and politicians deploy them to accomplish their own goals. Here, a humanitarian impulse to alleviate suffering has come into tension with the rights agenda of broad structural reform. It is important to ensure that the Indigenous child does not again become an excuse for stripping away hardwon rights, such as happened during the early 1970s in Alice Springs when child removal was the easy alternative to major social reconstruction programs. In November 2011 the federal government introduced legislation that will enshrine the (so-called ‘emergency’) Intervention. The Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory: Policy Statement outlines eight priorities: school attendance and educational achievement, economic development and employment, tackling 278

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alcohol abuse, community safety and the protection of children, health, food security, housing and governance. The statement claims that ‘a partnership approach between the Australian Government, the Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal Territorians is driving reform and improving service delivery’, and endorses the results of the Intervention, which, it states, ‘are improving basic services, infrastructure and safety in communities. There are indications that life is getting better for many Aboriginal people’.41 Opposition expressed by Indigenous leaders focuses especially on childhood education — the federal government’s absence of support for bilingual learning programs, the need for rewards for school attendance (not punishment for non-attendance), Aboriginal content in the curriculum and equal status for Aboriginal teachers. There is strong criticism of the lack of consultation with communities and the ‘blanket approach’ applied across the Northern Territory.42 Whether this future will indeed be stronger for Indigenous Australians remains to be seen.

C oncea lm ent, demo ni s at i o n o r et h i c al witnes s i ng ? The great irony, of course, is that on one level the current struggle over depicting Indigenous problems and communities echoes the colonial suppression of Indigenous ill-treatment – the silence of colonisers who concealed frontier atrocity.43 In recent years Australian audiences have appeared increasingly willing to acknowledge these aspects of the colonial past, a recognition expressed through professional histories, political and legislative gains and the proliferation of popular narratives.44 Such interest also seems to parallel recent responses to long-concealed photographic histories elsewhere, such as the Holocaust, slavery, or the Israel–Palestine conflict. As recent commentary has reminded us, photography was fully complicit with the spectacularised violence that policed the Jim Crow south, as lynching was performed for the camera, resulting in terrifying images that circulated through the American postal service until the 1920s.45 Yet unlike many other painful histories, we lack visual evidence for the worst excesses of Australian colonisation. O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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The Australian photographic archive is distinguished by its relatively polite, disciplined structure. This is not to say that the invasion of Australia by white settlers did not involve murder and violence. However, these acts were never officially sanctioned and were frequently protested by ‘humanitarians’. Such atrocities often went unwitnessed, and were concealed from public view – as I explored in chapters 2 and 3.46 This absence of photographic evidence is in itself significant, reflecting the official narrative of Australian colonisation as a process of civilisation, protection and discipline. Instead, colonisers have used strategies of invisibility to envisage an acceptable Aboriginal subject. In this context, the relatively circumspect photographic evidence we have for colonial coercion has assumed particular power. As I have traced through much of this book, the image of the neck-chained prisoner has, since the 1930s, become a symbol of injustice, pointing toward a wider field of oppression. Familiar but troubling, the neck-chained prisoner has galvanised activism, yet at the same time masked less acceptable, confronting images of Indigenous suffering. Wiradjuri artist Brook Andrew has deliberately attacked this legacy of invisible violence by retrieving photographs that bear traces of colonial trauma from the archive as evidence for the forgotten or concealed tragedies of dispossession. While he is careful to respect the distinction between these disturbing images and those of traditionally restricted secret-sacred subjects, Andrew argues that ‘they should be brought into the light, aroused in the public domain’. In his 2007 series Gun Metal Grey, the violence of colonialism is evoked by this restoration of moments of fear or effacement; gleaming silver shrouds his subjects, like the woman of ‘Ngalan’ (Light), softening and reversing the colonial photographer’s distancing gaze. Using apparently simple techniques of enlargement and metallic foil coating, these overlooked fragments of evidence become ‘unmanageable’, swelling out from the archive, beyond our control.47 Through strategies such as these, the acknowledgement of past injustice and present inequality overcomes colonial amnesia. But photographs have their limitations. As critics have long argued, despite their seeming truthfulness they cannot show broader, underlying, systematic problems. Violence against Aboriginal women and children in particular has been difficult to represent, lying beyond visualisation. I began this book with questions about photographs that have been used to argue for Indigenous Australians: who really benefits 280

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from their circulation, and what changes have they brought about? In the first instance, such images most directly map the white visual imagination, reproducing social hierarchies and obscuring the recognition of Aboriginal experience. Settler Australians have found it hard to acknowledge the injury to Indigenous Australians effected by colonisation, masked by our own white mythologies of hardship and pioneering.48 Yet recognition has come at a cost. In order to be acknowledged by mainstream Australia, Aboriginal people have had to conform to popular notions of what to be and how to behave. Images revealing Aboriginal suffering have been used to suggest the need for intervention into Aboriginal lives, to shore up the status quo, and to fuel ‘benign whiteness’ – the assumption that white identity and mainstream values are naturally the standard to which others should conform. Indigenous activists have long understood and deplored the power of such



Violence against Aboriginal women and children in particular has been difficult to represent, lying beyond visualisation.

representations: in 1938 the Indigenous leaders Jack Patten and Bill Ferguson demanded equal citizenship and attacked media misrepresentation, arguing that ‘the Popular Press of Australia makes a joke of us by presenting silly and out-of-date drawings and jokes of “Jacky” or “Binghi”, which have educated city-dwellers and young Australians to look upon us as sub-human. Is this not adding insult to injury?’49 In response, activists have themselves taken up photography as a form of witness to past injustice and as the basis of demands for rights in the present. Visual arguments have also acted to interrogate white privilege, with the use of imagery to make wider arguments for reform. As I have shown, from the 1920s both black and white campaigners actively sought to assert Indigenous objectives through visual means, deploying photographic evidence of the violation of Indigenous rights to safety, cleanliness, good housing O ut of sig h t and out of mind ?

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Courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

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and education, and inciting powerful emotions of anger, sympathy or shame, impelling some to action and driving popular support for causes and reform. Indigenous experience has been powerfully communicated through the work of photographers, such as Brenda L Croft, Jason Wing and Michael Aird, who challenge and transcend colonial stereotypes. Activists, artists and film-makers (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) have produced images of Indigenous achievements and reconciliation that have become icons of the Australian imagination, such as the Aboriginal stockman, or the loving Aboriginal family. Within current debates about Australian race relations, historical memory, and Indigenous rights, images continue to summarise or prove specific arguments. Rather than accept these as self-evident proofs, we need to understand more of the historical and cultural contexts for these visual stories and to appreciate their political uses. Crucially, however, theorists of visual culture and suffering have recently argued that we need to shift attention from the image itself to our responsibilities as viewers.50 We need to interpret and use images in ways that will address the problems they reveal. And instead of viewing others merely as objects of concern, we must instead view them as subjects of rights. As Brisbane activists argued during the turbulent 1970s, Australians need to move beyond the condescending attitudes produced by humanitarian recognition to a shared political space in which we are all equally concerned, in what phototheorist Ariella Azoulay calls an ‘ethics of spectatorship’.51 While narratives of suffering are vulnerable to political misuse and appropriation, empathy remains an important force for humanitarian and rights objectives. Ultimately, there is no clear solution to the problem of distance and exploitation. The ‘ethical’ use of photographs is always in a state of tension, as their subjects are exposed to our gaze in ways that render them abject, even where our aim is to oppose their condition. What I have learnt from these images is to see the people they portray less as objects of pity or sympathy, than as human beings with rights. Seen in this light they do not plead for our attention, but demand action as a claim we cannot comfortably dismiss.

Brook Andrew, Ngalan (light) Gun Metal Grey series, 2007

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Morning Herald. Narrogin Observer Northern Standard. Northern Territory Times. Preacher’s Townsville Daily Bulletin. Queenslander. Register. Sydney Morning Herald. Sun. Sunday Times. The Age. Townsville Daily Bulletin Tribune. Voice of the North Warragul Gazette West Australian. British Manchester Guardian. The Times. [HD 3] Periodicals The Australian Abo call: the voice of the Aborigines, 1938. The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 1905–1907. Australian Women’s Weekly. Workers’ Weekly.

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notes acknowledgments 1

Australia, Parliamentary Council, drafting direction no. 2.1. English usage, gender-specific and genderneutral language, grammar, punctuation and spelling , Parliamentary Council, Canberra, 2010, p. 6, viewed 10 March 2012, . See ‘Part 4, Spelling of “Indigenous”’.

1: Bearing witness 1

Australian National University Press, 1970 2 The first Australians, program, SBS, Sydney and Melbourne, 2008. 3 James Dawes, That the world may know: bearing witness to atrocity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2007, pp. 167–170. 4 Marcia Langton, ‘Well, I heard it on the radio and I saw it on the television…’ An essay for the Australian Film Commission on the politics and aesthetics of filmmaking by and about Aboriginal people and things, Australian Film Commission, Sydney, 1993, p. 20. 5 Marcia Langton, ‘Well, I heard it on the radio’, pp. 33–4. 6 Important accounts include Catherine De Lorenzo, ‘ Ethnophotography: photographic images of Aboriginal Australians’, PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 1995; Brenda Croft, ‘Laying ghosts to rest’, in Judy Annear (ed.), Portraits of Oceania, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1997. 7 Marcia Langton, ‘Well, I heard it on the radio’, p. 20. See also Frances Peters-Little, ‘The return of the noble savage by popular demand: a study of Aboriginal television documentary in Australia’, Master’s thesis, Australian National University, 2002. 8 Henry Reynolds, Why Weren’t We Told? Penguin

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Books, Melbourne, 1999. WEH Stanner, ‘After the Dreaming’, Boyer Lecture Series, ABC, Sydney, 1972 [1968]. 10 Martin Jay, Downcast eyes: the denigration of vision in twentieth-century French thought, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1993, p. 81. For discussion of the political effects of recognition of minority groups, see especially Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism and the politics of recognition: an essay by Charles Taylor, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1992; Nancy Fraser, ‘Rethinking recognition’, New Left Review, vol. 3, May–June 2000. 11 See, for example, Elizabeth Povinelli, The cunning of recognition: Indigenous alterities and the making of Australian multiculturalism, Duke University Press, Durham, 2002; Francesca Merlan, Caging the rainbow: places, politics, and Aborigines in a North Australian town, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998. 12 Carlo Ginzburg, ‘Killing a Chinese Mandarin: the moral implications of distance’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 21, no. 1, 1994; Thomas Laqueur, ‘Bodies, details, and the humanitarian narrative’, in Lynn Hunt (ed.), The new cultural history, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1989; Richard Rorty, ‘Human rights, rationality, and sentimentality’, in Susan Hurley and Stephen Shute (eds), On human rights: the 1993 Oxford Amnesty lectures, Basic Books, New York, 1993. 13 Karen Halttunen, ‘Humanitarianism and the pornography of pain in Anglo-American culture’, American Historical Review, vol. 100, no. 2, 1995. 14 Lynn Festa, ‘Humanity without feathers’, Humanity, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, p. 9. 15 Marcus Wood, Blind memory: visual representations of slavery in England and America 1780–1865, Manchester University Press and Routledge, New York, 2000. 16 Richard Ashby Wilson and Richard D Brown, ‘Introduction’, in Richard Ashby Wilson and Richard 9

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17

18

19

20

21

22

D Brown (eds), Humanitarianism and suffering: the mobilization of empathy, Cambridge University Press, 2009. For an overview of legal reform in Australia see John Chesterman Civil rights: how Indigenous Australians won formal equality, University of Queensland Press, 2005. While historically our most influential theories of rights emerged from the consolidation of states, groups within them have argued for extending rights through a range of overlapping arguments for self-determination, minority rights, human rights, historic sovereignty and prior occupation: Duncan Ivison, Rights, Acumen, Stockfield Hall, 2008, p. 225. These interpretations emerged in conjunction with poststructuralist critiques of modernism that emphasised the entanglement of knowledge, vision and power: see especially Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the dock: essays on photographic history, institutions, and practices, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991, p. 176; Martha Rosler, ‘In, around, and afterthoughts (on documentary photography)’, in Three Works, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, 1981; John Tagg, The burden of representation: essays of photographies and histories, University Of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1993; Allan Sekula, Photography against the grain: essays and photo works 1973–1983, Nova Scotia University Press, Halifax, 1984; Susan Sontag On photography, Allen Lane, London, 1978, p. 4. For a recent challenge to this paradigm see Susie Linfield, The cruel radiance: photography and political violence, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010. Aileen Moreton-Robinson, ‘Whiteness, epistemology and Indigenous representation’, in Aileen MoretonRobinson (ed.), Whitening race: essays in social and cultural criticism, Australian Studies Press, Canberra, 2004; Lauren Berlant, ‘Compassion (and withholding)’, in Lauren Berlant (ed.), Compassion: the culture and politics of an emotion, Routledge, New York, 2004; Rachel Standfield, ‘A remarkably tolerant nation?: constructions of benign whiteness in Australian political discourse’, Borderlands e-journal, vol. 3, no. 2, 2004, viewed 7 March 2012, . Sara Ahmed, ‘The politics of bad feeling’, Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association Journal, vol. 1, 2005, p. 74. See also Sara Ahmed, The cultural politics of emotion, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2004. Sara Ahmed, ‘The politics of bad feeling’, p. 77, and see Martha C Nussbaum, Upheavals of thought: the intelligence of emotions, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001. For a review of these positions see Megan Boler, ‘The risks of empathy: interrogating multiculturalism’s gaze’, Cultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 1997. For similar arguments, see Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003, p. 104; Dora Apel, Imagery of lynching: black men, white women, and the mob, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 2004, pp. 2–3.

23 Meaghan Morris, Identity anecdotes: translation and media culture, Sage, London, 2006, p. 5. 24 Greg Dening, ‘The history in things and places’, in Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths (eds), Prehistory to politics: John Mulvaney, the humanities and the public intellectual, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1996. 25 John Taylor, Body horror: photojournalism, catastrophe and war, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1998, p. 196. See also Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others; David Campbell, ‘Salgado and the Sahel: documentary photography and the imaging of famine’, in Francois Debrix and Cindy Weber (eds), Rituals of mediation: international politics and social meaning , University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2003. 26 For a discussion of these traditions see Chris Anderson (ed.), The politics of the secret, Oceania Publications, University of Sydney, 1996. For recent discussion of their application and transformation in contemporary Australian communities see Jennifer Deger, Shimmering screens: making media in an Aboriginal community, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2006; Martin Nakata and Marcia Langton (eds), Australian Indigenous knowledge and libraries, UTSePress, Sydney, 2007; Martin Nakata et al., Australian Indigenous digital collections: first generation issues, UTS, Sydney, 2008. 27 For an overview of the ‘changing photographic contract’ between Indigenous people and Australian anthropologists, see Nicolas Peterson, ‘The changing photographic contract: Aborigines and image ethics’, in Christopher Pinney and Nicolas Peterson (eds), Photography’s other histories, Duke University Press, Durham, 2003, pp. 119–45. 28 He later published this 1988 essay as ‘A primer of restrictions on picture taking in traditional areas of Aboriginal Australia’, Visual Anthropology, vol. 4, no. 3–4, 1991, which was reprinted in Bad Aboriginal art: tradition, media and technological horizons, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1994. Popular acceptance of this notion of concealment has been facilitated by the contemporary Indigenous movement for the repatriation of skeletal remains and secret-sacred items from museums across the world: see Jane Lydon, ‘Return: the photographic archive and technologies of Indigenous memory’, Photographies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2010. 29 Karen Pakula, ‘Beyond black and white’, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 2008, viewed 10 March 2012, . 30 See, for example, Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Audiovisual archive code of ethics, viewed 10 March 2011, . 31 Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas, The image and the witness: trauma, memory and visual culture, Wallflower Press, London, 2007; Luc Boltanski, Distant suffering: morality, media, and politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004. 32 Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1988. International

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histories include Lynn Hunt, Inventing human rights: a history, WW Norton & Co., New York, 2007; Gary J Bass, Freedom’s battle: the origins of humanitarian intervention, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2008. 33 For feminism see, for example, Fiona Paisley, Loving protection? Australian feminism and Aboriginal women’s rights, 1919–1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2000; Marilyn Lake, Getting equal: the history of Australian feminism, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1999. For missionary historiography see, for example, Norman Etherington (ed.), Missions and empire, Oxford history of the British Empire, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005; Tony Swain and Deborah B Rose (eds), Aboriginal Australians and Christian missions: ethnographic and historical studies, Australian Association for the Study of Religion, Adelaide, 1988. 34 Elazar Barkan, The retreat of scientific racism: changing concepts of race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, pp. xi, 4. 35 Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, p. xiv. 36 Nicholas Mirzoeff, An introduction to visual culture, Routledge, London, 2010; WJT Mitchell, Picture theory, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1994; Martin Jay (ed.), ‘The state of visual culture studies’, themed issue of Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 4, no. 2, 2005, Sage, London. 37 Faye Ginsburg, ‘Embedded aesthetics: creating a discursive space for Indigenous media’, Cultural Anthropology, vol. 9, no. 3, 1994.

2: Behold the tears 1 2

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Roth, Walter Edmund, Royal Commission on the condition of the natives, Government Printer, Perth, 1905, p. 130. An extensive literature has usually characterised photographs of Aboriginal people in the Foucauldian terms of discipline and punishment, rather than spectacle: but see Helen Ennis, ‘Portraiture in extremis’, in Daniel Palmer (ed.), Photogenic: essays/photography/CCP 2000–2003, Centre for Contemporary Photography 2005, Fitzroy; Catherine De Lorenzo, ‘An interpretation of some photographs of Australian Aborigines’, Working papers on photography, vol. 6, 1980. See, for example, the evidence of a number of Aboriginal witnesses to Western Australia, in Commission appointed by His Excellency the Governor to inquire into the treatment of Aboriginal native prisoners of the Crown in this colony and also into certain matters relative to Aboriginal natives, Government Printer, Perth, 1884. Mark Finnane and John McGuire, ‘The uses of punishment and exile: Aborigines in colonial Australia’, Punishment & Society, vol. 3, no. 2, 2001, p. 280; Mary Anne Jebb, Blood, sweat and welfare: a history of white bosses and Aboriginal pastoral workers, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 2002; Chris Owen, ‘“The police appear to be a useless lot up there”: law and order in the

East Kimberley 1884–1905’, Aboriginal History, vol. 27, 2003, p. 105; Anna Haebich, For their own good: Aborigines and government in the southwest of Western Australia, 1900–1940, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, 1988. 5 Mary Anne Jebb, Blood, sweat and welfare, pp. 43–44; Steve Kinnane, Shadow Lines, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 2003, p. 36. 6 From William Thomas’s diary, cited in Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 25; Deirdre Coleman examines this coincidence of sentiment and colonisation in Romantic colonisation and British anti-slavery, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005. 7 Peter Walker and Daniel G. Maxwell, Shaping the humanitarian world, Routledge, London, 2008. 8 John Brown Gribble, Dark deeds in a sunny land, or, blacks and whites in northwest Australia, Stirling Brothers, Perth, 1905; Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, p. 152; Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens: the Aboriginal problem in Western Australia, 1898–1954, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1973. 9 Kevin Grant, A civilised savagery: Britain and the new slaveries in Africa, 1884–1926, Routledge, New York, 2005; John Mackenzie, Propaganda and empire, the manipulation of British public opinion, 1880–1960, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1984. 10 Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens, pp. 25–26. 11 For accounts of the emergence of the discourse now termed ‘humanitarianism’, see Gary J Bass, Freedom’s battle: the origins of humanitarian intervention, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2008; Peter Walker and Daniel G Maxwell, Shaping the humanitarian world. 12 Hugh Mahon, ‘The native races under the new constitution’, The Austral light: a Catholic magazine, 1 March 1902, p. 200. 13 Hugh Mahon, ‘The native races under the new constitution’, The Austral light: a Catholic magazine, 1 March 1902, p. 200. 14 Walter Malcolmson, ‘Slavery in West Australia: what our readers think. Letters to the editor’, Daily News, 4 December 1901, p. 8. 15 Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens, pp. 57–58. 16 ‘Treatment of Aborigines’, The Age, 12 April 1904; ‘West Australian blacks’, The Age, 18 April 1904; Centre for Creative Ministries, History of the East St Kilda Uniting Church parish, Centre for the Creative Ministries, East St Kilda, 1999, pp. 9–10, viewed 17 March 2012, . 17 In 1892 Gibney’s criticism of the treatment of Aboriginal people by settlers had become a high profile newspaper debate, and he remained a vocal critic: see, for example, ‘The treatment of Aborigines. Bishop Gibney’s charges. Reply by Mr Prinsep’, West Australian, 16 April 1904, p. 3; ‘Our Aborigines. Reply to Mr Prinsep, Chief Protector, by Bishop Gibney’, West Australian, 16 May 1907, p. 2. 18 ‘The Aborigines question. The investigations by Dr Roth’, West Australian, 30 January 1905, p. 5; for a

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selection of newspaper accounts of the inquiry see ‘Dr Roth’s investigations’, West Australian, 1 February 1905, pp. 8–9; ‘The Aborigines question’, West Australian, 3 February 1905, p. 4; ‘The Aborigines question’, West Australian, 10 February 1905, pp. 2–3; ‘The neck-chain system’, West Australian, 13 February 1905, pp. 7–8; ‘Child prisoners’, West Australian, 14 February 1905, pp. 2–3; ‘Female witnesses’, West Australian, 15 February 1905, pp. 2–3; ‘Food question’, West Australian, 16 February 1905, pp. 2–3; ‘Editorial. Vigilans and audax’, West Australian, 18 February 1905, p. 6; ‘Mr Nanson’s views’, West Australian, 18 February 1905, p. 7. For secondary analysis see Anna Haebich, For their own good; Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens; Geoffrey Grey, ‘Walter Edmund Roth: Royal Commissioner of Western Australia, 1904’, in Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (eds), The Roth family, anthropology, and colonial administration, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2008. 19 Ann McGrath, ‘Naked shame: nation, science and Indigenous knowledge in Walter Roth’s interventions into frontier sexualities’, in Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (eds), The Roth family, anthropology, and colonial administration, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2008; Helen Pringle, ‘Walter Roth and ethno-pornography’, in Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (eds), The Roth family, anthropology, and colonial administration, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2008. West Australians seemed unaware of this controversy. Roth was well aware of the medium’s flexibility, having manipulated photographs of Keppel Islanders to support his arguments for leaving Indigenous people on traditional country: see Regina Ganter, ‘WE Roth on Asians in Australia’, in Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (eds), The Roth family, anthropology, and colonial administration, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2008. For discussion of Roth’s career, see Kate Khan, ‘Walter Edmund Roth. His life and times in north Queensland: the first protector, the Australian Museum and scandal’, in Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (eds), The Roth family, anthropology, and colonial administration, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2008. 20 ‘The Aborigines in Western Australia’, The Times, 4 February 1905, p. 12; ‘The Aborigines in West Australia’, The Times, 8 March 1905, p. 2; ‘The treatment of Australian natives’, The Times, 14 April 1905, p. 4; ‘Dr Roth’s report’, The Times, 1 May 1905, p. 14. 21 ‘Editorial’, West Australian, 25 February 1905, p. 5. 22 ‘The Aborigines question. A pearler’s protest in defence of police’, West Australian, 9 February 1905, p. 3. 23 ‘Correspondents’ views’, West Australian, 9 February 1905, p. 3. 24 ‘The Aborigines question. Dr Roth’s report: interview with Sir John Forrest. The difficulty of the native question. The police defended’, West Australian, 4 February 1905, p. 7. See also ‘Alleged ill-treatment of Australian natives’, The Times, 11 January 1907, p. 3. 25 ‘The white man’s burden’, West Australian, 21 February 1905, p. 7. 26 Reverend H Wilkinson, ‘The Aboriginal question: “a

grave indictment – corruption, cruelty and lust”’, West Australian, 6 February 1905, p. 9. This passage was also quoted by Reverend Rentoul, ‘To the editor of the Age’, The Age, 12 April 1904, p. 3. See also Francis Watson, Text, church and world: biblical interpretation in theological perspective, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1994, p. 283. 27 John Durham Peters, ‘Witnessing’, Media, Culture and Society, vol. 23, 2001; James Polchin, ‘Not looking at lynching photographs’, in Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas (eds), The image and the witness: trauma, memory and visual culture, Wallflower Press, London, 2007. 28 Reverend H Wilkinson, ‘The Aboriginal question: “a grave indictment – corruption, cruelty and lust”’, West Australian, 6 February 1905, p. 9. 29 Chris Healy, Forgetting Aborigines, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2008; Meaghan Morris, Identity anecdotes: translation and media culture, Sage, London, 2006, p. 107. 30 Kristyn Harman, ‘Aboriginal convicts: race, law, and transportation in colonial New South Wales’, PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, 2008. 31 Reverend H Wilkinson, ‘The Aboriginal question’, p. 9. 32 Octavius Burt, cited in ‘The Aborigines question’, West Australian, 2 February 1905, p. 8. 33 See, for example, Jennifer Green-Lewis, Framing the Victorians: photography and the culture of realism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1996. 34 ‘The Aborigines question. Was Dr Roth’s inquiry thorough? Opinions of Mr RF Sholl, MLC’, West Australian, 7 February 1905, p. 6. Few photographs of chained white convicts exist. 35 Joanna Sassoon, An archaeology of memory: a biography of photographs taken by EL Mitchell 1908–1930, PhD thesis, University of Western Australia, 2001, p. 146. 36 Sassoon, An archaeology of memory, pp. 116, 148. 37 ‘The native question’, West Australian, 25 February 1905, p. 9; Mary Durack, ‘Carr-Boyd, William Henry James (1852–1925)’, Australian dictionary of biography, volume 3, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1969. 38 ‘Children appeared “bright and neatly clothed”. The other side of the picture: what Dr Camm saw’, Morning Herald, 3 February 1905, p. 3. 39 Vicki Goldberg, Light matters, Aperture, New York, 2005, p. 181. For debates regarding the problems with photography as witness see, for example, Mary Price, The photograph: a strange, confined space, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1994; Allan Sekula, ‘On the invention of photographic meaning’, in Allan Sekula, Photography against the grain: essays and photoworks 1973–1983, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, 1984; Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the dock: essays on photographic history, institutions, and practices, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991. 40 ‘The natives of Western Australia’, The Anti-Slavery Reporter, XXV: 1, January–February 1905, pp. 20–21. 41 ‘The treatment of natives of Western Australia’, The Anti-Slavery Reporter, XXV: 2, March–May

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1905, pp. 39–40; and ‘The treatment of natives of Western Australia’, The Anti-Slavery Reporter, XXV: 4, August-October 1905, p. 109. 42 ‘The treatment of Australian natives’, The Times, 2 February 1905, p. 4. 43 ‘Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Brisbane, communication to Rentoul, 30 March 1906’, in Walter Malcolmson Papers (WMP), 1905–192, Mitchell Library MSS. 1131, b. Notebooks re the Australian aborigines, 1905. Notebook 1, p. 4. 44 WMP, Notebook 1, p. 4. 45 Anna Haebich, For their own good, pp. 70–89. 46 WMP, Notebook 1, p. 32; FB Smith, ‘Walker, Thomas (1858–1932)’, Australian dictionary of biography, volume 6, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1976. 47 John Collette, ‘Hermann Klaatsch’s views on the significance of the Australian Aborigines’, Aboriginal History, vol. 11, 1987; Brigitte Stehlik, ‘Hermann Klaatsch and the Tiwi, 1906’, Aboriginal History, vol. 10, 1986. 48 ‘The treatment of natives in Western Australia’, The Anti-Slavery Reporter XXVII: 1, January–February 1907, p. 31. See also ‘Alleged ill-treatment of Australian natives’, The Times, 11 January 1907, p. 3. 49 Hermann Klaatsch, ‘Some notes on scientific travel amongst the black population of tropical Australia in 1904, 1905, 1906. Read at the Adelaide meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, held January, 1907’, Report of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. XI, 1908, p. 577, viewed 17 March 2012, . 50 Fiona Paisley, ‘Mock justice: world conservation and Australian Aborigines in interwar Switzerland’, Transforming Cultures, vol. 3, no. 1, 2008. 51 Lord Lansdowne, cited in William Roger Louis, ‘Triumph of the Congo reform movement 1905– 1908’, in Jeffrey Butler (ed.), Boston University papers on Africa, volume 2, Boston University Press, Boston, 1966, p. 282. 52 Cited in Kevin Grant, A civilised savagery, p. 70. 53 Nonetheless, an explicit comparison between Aboriginal ill-treatment and slavery in the Congo was noted at the time, and remembered 20 years later, when the Aborigines Uplift Society argued in 1946 that ‘When the British Government protested to the Belgian Government about the horrors in the Belgian Congo, the Belgian king, Leopold, replied: “Have you read Dr. Roth’s report of the treatment of the Aborigines in Western Australia?”’, in Aborigines Uplift Society, ‘The sadness of a dying race’, 1946, Mitchell Library, Pam file 570–573. Loc no. Pam file 572.901/A. NB, Back page quotes, Anti-Slavery Reporter. 54 ‘Alleged ill-treatment of Australian natives’, The Times, 11 January 1907, p. 3; Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens. 55 Peter Biskup, Not slaves not citizens, p. 63. 56 For a recent Indigenous account of the consequences of these policies, see Steve Kinnane, Shadow lines, pp. 34–36. 57 Terry G Birtles, ‘Birtles, Francis Edwin (1881–1941),’ Australian dictionary of biography, volume 7, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1979; Andrew

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Moore, ‘From the Strand to Boorooloola: MH Ellis as pioneer motorist’, Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 81, 2004. 58 Francis Birtles, ‘Through the unknown territory’, p. 363. 59 Francis Birtles, ‘Through the unknown territory’, pp. 362–63. 60 Deborah Bird Rose, Hidden histories: black stories from Victoria River Downs, Humbert River and Wave Hill Stations, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 1991, p. 128. Rose does not discuss the circumstances of Birtles’s making of the photograph. 61 For Indigenous Australian views regarding the uses of photography see, for example, Michael Aird, ‘Growing up with Aborigines’, in Christopher Pinney and Nicolas Peterson (eds) Photography’s other histories, Duke University Press, Durham, 2003; Gaynor Macdonald, ‘Photos in Wiradjuri biscuit tins: negotiating relatedness and validating colonial histories’, Oceania, vol. 73, no. 4, 2003; Jane Lydon, chapter 5, Eye contact: photographing Indigenous Australians, Duke University Press, Durham, 2005; Roslyn Poignant, ‘Wurdayak/ Baman (life history) photo collection: report on the setting up of a life history photo collection at the Djomi Museum, Maningrida’, Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol. 2, 1992; Ben Smith, ‘Images, selves and the visual record: photography and ethnographic complexity in Central Cape York Peninsula’, Social Analysis, vol. 47, no. 3, 2003; Penny Taylor (ed.), After 200 years: photographic essays of Aboriginal and Islander Australia today, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1998; Nicolas Peterson, ‘The changing photographic contract: Aborigines and image ethics’, in Christopher Pinney and Nicolas Peterson (eds), Photography’s other histories, Duke University Press, Durham, 2003. 62 Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Photographs and the sound of history’, Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 21, no. 1–2, 2006, p. 27. 63 Gaynor Macdonald, ‘Photos in Wiradjuri biscuit tins’, p. 239; with respect to oral history see Maria Nugent, ‘Mapping memories: oral history for Aboriginal cultural heritage in Australia’, in Paula Hamilton and Linda Shopes (eds), Oral History and Public Memories, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2008. 64 Donna Oxenham, personal communication, 20 May 2009. Donna Oxenham has been a researcher on the Aboriginal Histories Project based at Monash University. The project website can be viewed at . 65 Donna Oxenham, personal communication, 20 May 2009. 66 This process has been explored with respect to Holocaust imagery. See, for example, Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to forget: Holocaust memory through the camera’s eye, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998. 67 Marcus Wood, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America. 1780–1865. New York: Routledge, 2000.

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3: A veil of convention 1 Henrika Kuklick, ‘“Humanity in the chrysalis stage”: Indigenous Australians in the anthropological imagination, 1899–1926’, British Journal of the Historical Society, vol. 39, no. 4, 2006; Russell McGregor, Imagined destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the doomed race theory, 1880–1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1997. 2 See Baldwin Spencer and FJ Gillen, The Arunta: a study of a Stone Age people, Macmillan, London, 1927. 3 For example, when the accused white men were discharged due to insufficient evidence in November 1927, a deputation of church men in London visited Sir Granville Ryrie, the Australian High Commissioner, introduced by a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had closely followed the case. See Australian Board of Missions Review, 12 March 1928, cited in Neville Green, The Forrest River massacres, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 1995, p. 220. 4 Recent discussions of these events include Neville Green, The Forrest River massacres; Rod Moran, Sex, maiming and murder: seven case studies into the reliability of Reverend ERB Gribble, Superintendent, Forrest River Mission 1913–1928, as a witness to the truth, Access Press, Bassendean, 2002; Neville Green, The Oombulgurri story: a pictorial history of the people of Oombulgurri, 1884–1988, Focus Education Services, Cottesloe, 1988; Rod Moran, Massacre myth: an investigation into allegations concerning the mass murder of Aborigines at Forrest River, 1926, Access Press, Bassendean, 1999; Klaus Neumann, ‘The stench of the past: revisionism in Pacific Islands and Australian history’, The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 10, no. 1, 1998; Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998; Brian Fitzgerald, ‘“Blood on the saddle” – the Forrest River massacres, 1926’, Studies in Western Australian History, December 1984; Christine Halse, A terribly wild man, Allen and​Unwin, Crows Nest, 2002; Kate Auty, ‘Patrick Bernard O’Leary and the Forrest River Massacre, Western Australia: examining ‘Wodjil’ and the significance of 8 June 1926’, Aboriginal History, vol. 28, 2004; Noel Loos, White Christ black cross: the emergence of a black church, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2007. 5 Geoffrey Blainey, ‘Drawing up a balance sheet of our history’, in Quadrant, vol. 37, no. 7–8, 1993, pp. 10–15; Keith Windschuttle, The fabrication of Aboriginal history, volume one: Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847, Macleay Press, Paddington, 2002; Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The history wars, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, 2003. 6 A permanent mission, known as the Forrest River Mission, was established on the site in 1913 by the bishop of the north-west, the Reverend Gerard Trower. In December 1913, Anglican priest Ernest Gribble took charge, three years after he was forced to resign as superintendent at Yarrabah. The mission was closed in 1969, but in 1973, 50Aboriginal people decided to resettle their abandoned tribal land and rename it Oombulgurri. This community was closed

in 2011 and many residents are currently being resettled in Wyndham. See Neville Green, The Forrest River massacres. 7 Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, pp. 138–58; JB Gribble, Dark deeds in a sunny land, or, blacks and whites in north-west Australia, Stirling Bros, Perth, 1905. 8 Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali massacre,’ Bulletin, 15 February 1961, p. 46. 9 Noel Loos, ‘Of massacres, missionaries, myths and history wars’, in Noel Loos, White Christ black cross. 10 In Evans’s version Gribble ‘galloped out’ to prevent further murders, then later dreamt of people being shot. Evans supposed that God must have told him to ‘go Umbali way’, as he went there, telling the stockboys ‘I don’t know where, but here’. See Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali Massacre’, p. 46. 11 Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali Massacre’, p. 46. 12 Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali Massacre’, p. 46. 13 Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali Massacre’, p. 46. 14 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission of Inquiry into alleged killing and burning of bodies of Aborigines in East Kimberley and into police methods when effecting arrests, Government Printer, Perth, 1927, p. xvii. 15 Another, even more blurred and confusing photograph exists, held in the State Records Office of Western Australia, police file 1926/5374. It was sent from AO Neville, the Chief Protector of Aborigines, to the Police Department, with a covering letter dated 21 September 1926, which reads: ‘Enclosed is a print taken from a negative forwarded to me by Inspector Mitchell of this Department, alleged to be Mowerie site’. Thanks to Tom Reynolds, Archives Research Officer, for assistance in locating this item. 16 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission, p. 47. 17 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission, p. 47. 18 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission, pp. 21, 49. 19 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission, pp. 21, 49. 20 GT Wood, Report of Royal Commission, pp. xi, 21, 49. 21 Randolf Stow and Daniel Evans, ‘The Umbali Massacre’, p. 46. 22 As historian Henry Reynolds has shown, ‘the world was paying renewed attention to the fate of Australia’s indigenous people’. Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, p. 191. 23 Katrina Schlunke, Bluff Rock: Autobiography of a Massacre, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 2005, p. 121. 24 Katrina Schlunke, Bluff Rock , p. 122. The same process of mythologising is explored by David Roberts, ‘Bells Falls massacre and Bathurst’s history of violence: local tradition and Australian historiography’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 26, no. 105, 2005. 25 Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003. 26 Daily News, 2 September 1926, cited in Neville

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Green, The Forrest River massacres, p. 185. 27 Truth, October 1926, cited in Neville Green, The Forrest River massacres, p. 185. 28 For example, see ‘Sensational story: charges against police’, Argus, 8 March 1927, p. 11; ‘The WA sensation: alleged murder of natives. Aboriginal’s gruesome story’, Mercury, 24 March 1927, p. 7; ‘Native atrocities. Charges investigated. Police evidence’, Morning Bulletin, 16 March 1927, p. 9. 29 Western Mail, 5 May 1927, p. 41. 30 ‘The Aborigines: conditions in the north’, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 1927, p. 131. 31 ‘Abolish those chains. To the editor of the Herald’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 1927, p. 11. 32 As Scott McQuire argues, new camera technologies enabled ‘snap-shot’ photo-journalism, and a new expectation of seeing events in train rather than their aftermath: Scott McQuire, Visions of modernity: representation, memory, time and space in the age of the camera, Sage, London, 1998, p. 137. See also Vicki Goldberg, The power of photography: how photographs changed our lives, Abbeville Publishing Group, New York, 1993, pp. 191–215. 33 They had been supplied her by Queensland fellowcampaigner Elizabeth Finch Hatton. See John Maynard, Fight for liberty and freedom: the origins of Australian Aboriginal activism, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2007, especially pp. 93–103. Voice of the North, 11 July 1927; Voice of the North, 10 August 1927; Daylight, 31 August 1927. 34 Henry Reynolds, This whispering in our hearts, pp. 191–200; Peter Read and Jay Read, Long time olden time: Aboriginal accounts of Northern Territory history, Institute for Aboriginal Development Publications, Alice Springs, 1993. 35 ‘Supreme Court. Alleged murder. Wednesday before His Honor Mr Justice Mallam’, Northern Territory Times, 9 November 1928, p. 5; ‘Blacks shot. 17 killed by police patrol’, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 1928, p. 12. 36 ‘Shooting of Aborigines. Commission personnel criticised’, Register, 21 December 1928, p. 13; David Kaus, A different time: the expedition photographs of Herbert Basedow 1903–1928, National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra, 2008. The photo was used several times by Basedow and was published in Herbert Basedow, The Australian Aboriginal, Preece, Adelaide, 1925, with the caption ‘Wongapitcha men wearing ornamental wooden hair-pins known as “elenba”. Note charcoal rubbed over the foreheads’. Pitjantjatjara man Andy Tjilari explains that ‘Pitjantjatjara men dress in this manner, with the two spikes in the hair, and they do a dance at night during Business Time. The dance can be witnessed by men, women and children. The Pitjantjatjara version of this ceremony is called Pintiralpa’. (Personal communication, via Linda Rive of the Ara Irititja Project, 15 March 2012). 37 Andrew Markus, Governing Savages, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1990, p. 163. 38 ‘Justified. Shooting of natives in Central Australia. Inquiry board’s report’, Canberra Times, 31 January 1929, p. 4. 39 Fiona Paisley, Loving protection?: Australian feminism and Aboriginal women’s rights 1919–1939,

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Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2000, p. 12; Alison Holland, ‘Wives and mothers like ourselves?: Exploring white women’s intervention in the politics of race, 1920s–1940s’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 32, no. 117, 2001, p. 296; Marilyn Lake, Getting equal: the history of Australian feminism, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1999. 40 ‘Aborigine prisoners at the Alice Spring gaol’, Herald (Melbourne), 18 November 1929, p. 22; Mary Bennett, The Australian Aboriginal as a human being, Alston Rivers, London, 1930, pp. 79, 108–11. Although she cited and discussed this image on p. 79, her book did not include images. 41 Mary Bennett, The Australian Aboriginal, p. 79, note 1; ‘Aborigine Prisoners at the Alice Spring Gaol’ Herald (Melbourne), 18 November 1929. 42 See Fiona Paisley, ‘Race and remembrance: contesting Aboriginal child removal in the inter-war years’, Australian Humanities Review, vol. 8, 1997 , pp. 1–9. 43 Mary Bennett, The Australian Aboriginal, p. 82. 44 Charles Rowley, The destruction of Aboriginal society, Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood, 1972, p. 257. See also Andrew Markus, Governing savages, p. 2. 45 William Delano Walker, Report on the condition of the Aborigines, the bearing of their condition on public health, and the necessity for aerial medical services in the interior of Australia, 1928, South Australian Museum Archives, series AA357/01. Some images have been published in Markus, Governing savages. 46 JW Bleakley, ‘The aboriginals and half-castes of central Australia and north Australia’, Parliamentary Papers General, 1929, p. 56. 47 JW Bleakley, ‘The aboriginals and half-castes of central Australia and north Australia’ Parliamentary Papers General, 1929, p. 56. 48 William Delano Walker, National Archives of Australia, Series A1, Item 1928/10743, p. 59: ‘Illustrations. Accompanying report on Aborigines by Dr WD Walker’, p. 16; ‘Album of anthropological photographs in connection with the Aboriginal enquiry Central and North Australia’, 1 January 1928—31 December 1928, National Archives of Australia: Australian News and Information Bureau, Canberra: A263 ALBUM. 49 Bulletin, 14 August 1929, clipping in National Archives of Australia, series A1, Item 1928/ 10743 , p. 83. 50 Philip Jones, Images of the interior: seven Central Australian photographers, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 2011, p. 121. 51 ‘Editorial’, Register, 19 March 1929. 52 ‘Black picture of black men’, Register, 19 March 1929, p. 6. 53 See ‘Appeal for justice: Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda’, Herald (Melbourne), 14 August 1933, p. 116, in National Archives of Australia, A1, 1933/7639; Also see Peter Read, ‘Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda’ in Uncommon lives, viewed 15 January 2011, http://uncommonlives. naa.gov.au/dhakiyarr-wirrpanda/index.aspx. For a detailed analysis of these events, see Ted Egan, Justice all their own: the Caledon Bay and Woodah Island killings 1932–1933, Melbourne University

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Press, Carlton, 1996. 54 ‘Appeal for Justice: Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda’; High Commissioner’s Office, communication to the Prime Minister’s Department, 4 September, 1933, p. 181, National Archives of Australia, A431, 1947/1434; The Times extracted in Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 1933, p. 50, National Archives of Australia, Al, 193317639; Peter Read, ‘Murder, revenge and reconciliation on the north eastern frontier’, History Australia, vol. 4, no. 1, 2007. 55 ‘Pitiful scenes’, Herald (Melbourne), 11 April 1934, in National Archives of Australia, A1, 1936/4022 Part 1, 196; Peter Read, ‘Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda’. 56 ‘The Caledon Bay killers’, Courier-Mail, 16 April 1934, p. 14. 57 ‘Tragic fiasco of far north’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 14 October 1933, p. 4; ‘An editorial: our unconverted blacks’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 21 October 1933, p. 10. 58 Ted Egan, Justice all their own, pp. 85–113. 59 Bulletin, vol. 55, No. 2843, 8 August 1934, cover. 60 E.g., ‘No more manacles’, Argus, 4 January 1934, p. 7; ‘Neck chains banned: native prisoners,’ CourierMail, 6 January 1934, p. 11 ; ‘Transporting prisoners Territory dilemma: chains or handcuffs?’, Cairns Post, 6 January 1934, p. 4 ; ‘Avoiding the evil. Adequate reserves advocated’, West Australian, 16 January 1934, p. 10 ; ‘Aboriginal prisoners. Ban on use of neck chains criticised’, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 1934, p. 10; ‘Aboriginal prisoners use of neck chains. Handcuffs a disability’, Mercury, 23 January 1934, p. 10. 61 ‘Humane justice needed. Unnecessary use of irons’, Courier-Mail, 14 April 1934, p. 13. 62 ‘Police in far north. Missionary’s startling allegations’, Argus, 21 June 1934, p. 3. 63 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner appointed to investigate, report, and advise upon matters in relation to the condition and treatment of Aborigines, Government Printer, Perth, 1935, p. 22. 64 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner, p. 22. 65 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner, pp. 22–23. 66 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner, p. 23. 67 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner, p. 18. 68 Henry Doyle Moseley, Report of the Royal Commissioner, p. 9. 69 ‘Aborigines. Chains for prisoners to be used instead of handcuffs’, Sydney Morning Herald, July 11 1935, p. 11. 70 Charles Duguid, ‘The Australian Aborigines’, The Aborigines’ Protector, vol. 1, no. 3, 1936, pp. 11–13; WH Edwards, ‘Duguid, Charles (1884–1986)’, Australian dictionary of biography, Volume 17, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, pp. 338–340. 71 Charles Duguid, ‘The Australian Aborigines’, p. 13. 72 ‘Lowest type of human being known,’ Weekly Illustrated, 13 November 1937, pp. 6–7. Duguid recounted this incident in his autobiography, Doctor and the Aborigines, Rigby, Adelaide, 1972, pp. 112– 3; see also Rani Kerin, ‘Doctor do-good? Charles

Duguid and Aboriginal politics, 1930s–1970s’, PhD thesis, Australian National University, 2004. 73 Doctor and the Aborigines, pp. 112–3. 74 See especially Andrew Lattas, ‘Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity’, Oceania, vol. 63, no. 3, 1993; Elizabeth Povinelli, The cunning of recognition: Indigenous alterities and the making of Australian multiculturalism, Duke University Press, Durham, 2002. 75 Elizabeth Povinelli, The cunning of recognition, pp. 5–6.

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See, for example, Charles Rowley, The destruction of Aboriginal society, Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood, 1972, pp. 337–8; Ravi de Costa, A higher authority: Indigenous transnationalism and Australia, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2006, p. 75. WEH Stanner, After the Dreaming, Boyer Lecture Series, ABC, Sydney, 1972 [1968]. Tim Rowse (ed.), Contesting Assimilation, API Network, Perth, 2005. For recent evaluations, see Robert Manne, ‘Introduction’, in WEH Stanner (ed.), The Dreaming and other essays, Black Inc., Melbourne, 2009; Melinda Hinkson and Jeremy Beckett (eds), An appreciation of difference: WEH Stanner and Aboriginal Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2008. WEH Stanner, After the Dreaming, p. 211. Mitchell Rolls, ‘Why didn’t you listen: white noise and black history’, Aboriginal History, vol. 34, 2010. Ann Curthoys, ‘Stanner and the historians’, in Melinda Hinkson and Jeremy Beckett (eds), An appreciation of difference: WEH Stanner and Aboriginal Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2008, pp. 233–50. Jack Horner and Marcia Langton, ‘The Day of Mourning’, in Bill Gammage and Peter Spearitt (eds), Australians 1938, Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, Broadway, 1987, pp. 28-35; see also Russell McGregor, ‘Protest and progress: Aboriginal activism in the 1930s’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 25, no. 101, 1993; Heather Goodall, Invasion to embassy, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1996, pp. 230–47. ‘Current camera history: Australia’, Man, March 1938, pp. 84–5. Re-printed in ‘To all Aborigines!’, The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines, vol. 1, 1938, p. 1. ‘Current camera history: Australia’, Man, March 1938, p. 84. Suzanne Ingram, ‘The people in that picture’, Koorie Mail, 14 July 2004, p. 26. Man, March 1938, p. 85. Man, March 1938, p. 85. For a discussion of Walkabout and Holmes’s powerful publicity campaigns, see Lynette Russell, Savage imaginings: historical and contemporary constructions of Australian Aboriginalities, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2001; and Jillian E Barnes, ‘Resisting the captured image:

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how Gwoja Tjungurrayi, “One Pound Jimmy”, escaped the “Stone Age”’, in Ingereth Macfarlane and Mark Hannah (eds), Transgressions: critical Australian Indigenous histories, Aboriginal History Monograph 16, ANU ePress and Aboriginal History Inc., Canberra, 2007. 16 ‘To all Aborigines!’, The Australian Abo Call, vol. 1, 1938, p. 1. 17 ‘To all Aborigines!’, The Australian Abo Call, vol. 1, 1938, p. 1. 18 Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus, Thinking black: William Cooper and the Australian Aborigines’ League, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2004. 19 Cited in Jack Horner and Marcia Langton, ‘The Day of Mourning’, p. 30. 20 Bill Horner, Bill Ferguson: fighter for Aboriginal freedom, Australia and New Zealand Book Company Ltd., Brookvale, 1994, p. 71. 21 John Thomas Patten, The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines, vol. 2, 1938, p. 1. 22 Suzanne Ingram, ‘The people in that picture’, p. 26; John Thomas Patten, The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines, vol. 2, 1938, p. 1. 23 Editorial, The Australian Abo Call, vol. 6, 1938, p. 1. 24 Heather Goodall’s Invasion to embassy, discusses The Australian Abo Call and the issues it canvassed. See pp. 243–5. 25 Heather Goodall, Invasion to embassy, pp. 252–3. 26 Elazar Barkan, The retreat of scientific racism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992; Elazar Barkan ‘The politics of the science of race: Ashley Montagu and UNESCO’s anti-racist declarations’, in Larry T Reynolds and Leonard Lieberman (eds), Race and other misadventures: essays in honor of Ashley Montagu in his ninetieth year, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 1996; Russell McGregor, Imagined destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the doomed race theory, 1880–1939, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1997; Charles Hirschman, ‘The origins and demise of the concept of race’, Population and Development Review, vol. 30, no. 3, 2004. 27 TW White, cited in Michael Blakeney, ‘Proposals for a Jewish colony in Australia: 1938–1948’, Jewish Social Studies, vol. 46, no. 3/4, 1984, p. 278. 28 ‘So ends our night’, Examiner, 19 July 1941, p. 8; ‘The Germans burned the bodies of prisoners in the gas ovens’, Argus, 6 September 1944, p. 16; ‘Evidence of gas murders’, Sunday Times (Perth), 1 October 1944, p. 5. 29 ‘Mass Murders by Nazis in Lublin’, Courier-Mail, Tuesday 15 August 1944 p. 2. 30 HA Standish, ‘Atrocities recorded’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January 1945, p. 3; ‘Nazi horror camps impeached’, Argus, 5 January 1945, p. 12. 31 One factor was, of course, distance: the Pacific theatre was more immediate and pressing. See Fay Anderson, ‘They are killing all of us Jews’: Australian Press Memory of the Holocaust’, Paper presented to the Dr Jan Randa Conference in Holocaust And Genocide Studies, Melbourne, 5–6 June 2011. 32 ‘Ghastly photo record of Hun brutality’, Courier-Mail, 20 April 1945, p. 2. ; ‘Seeing for themselves’, Courier-Mail, 27 April 1945, p. 1; ‘Nazi concentration camp horrors’, Morning Bulletin, 27

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April 1945, p. 8. 33 ‘Camp of horrors’, West Australian, 19 April 1945, p. 5; ‘Horror camps. First-hand study’, West Australian, 20 April 1945, p. 7; ‘Germans must see’, Advertiser, 8 May 1945, p. 6; ‘The horror that is Belsen. An indictment of the German people’, Western Mail, 24 May 1945, p. 6. 34 ‘Marks of the beast: photographs in London. Nazi sadist captured’, West Australian, 20 April 1945, p. 7. 35 ‘Ghastly photo record of Hun brutality’, CourierMail, 20 April 1945, p. 2; ‘Marks of the beast: photographs in London. Nazi sadist captured’, West Australian, 20 April 1945, p. 7. 36 ‘British enraged by horror camp pictures’, Army News, 1 May 1945, p. 4. 37 ‘British enraged by horror camp pictures’, Army News, 1 May 1945, p. 4. 38 ‘German camp horror which has shocked the world’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 April 1945, p. 5. 39 Cornelia Brink, ‘Secular icons: looking at photographs from Nazi concentration camps’, History & Memory, vol. 12, no. 1, 2000. See also Andrea Liss, Trespassing through shadows: memory, photography, and the Holocaust, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1998; Janina Struk, Photographing the Holocaust: interpretations of the evidence, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004; Barbie Zelizer Remembering to forget: Holocaust memory through the camera’s eye, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998. 40 Susan Sontag, On photography, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1977, p. 20. 41 Cornelia Brink, ‘Secular icons’, pp. 148–149. 42 ‘Film notes. Nazi camp pictures’, West Australian, 25 May 1945, p. 11. 43 ‘Grim silence at horror films’, Courier-Mail, 29 May 1945, p. 3. 44 See, for example, ‘Special! News of the day: concentration camp atrocities. This film depicts atrocities in German prison camps’ (advertising), Argus 1 June 1945, p. 19; Advertising, Barrier Miner, 11 July 1945, p. 2. 45 ‘Concentration camp films create sensation’, Argus, Saturday 9 June 1945 p. 17. 46 Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus, Thinking black. 47 Jane Lydon, ‘The experimental 1860s: Charles Walter’s images of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, Victoria’, Aboriginal History, vol. 26, 2002, p. 90. 48 William Cooper, Secretary, Australian Aborigines’ League, communication to the Minister for the Interior, Thomas Paterson, 18 February, 1937. Department of the Interior, Correspondence Files, ‘Australian Aborigines League’, National Archives of Australia CRS A659, 1940/1/858. 49 William Cooper, Secretary, Australian Aborigines’ League, communication to the Chief Secretary or Minister for Native Affairs, WA, 17 July 1938, State Records Office of WA; see also William Cooper, ‘Native regulations: Aborigines’ League Protest’, Letter to editor, West Australian, 22 November 1938, p.7. 50 ‘Deputation not admitted’, Argus, 7 December 1938; Gary Foley, ‘Australia and the Holocaust: a Koori perspective’, 1997, viewed 13 March 2012,

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; Lenore Taylor, ‘Israelis honour Aboriginal activist who led protest against Holocaust’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2010, p. 12. William Cooper, Secretary, Australian Aborigines’ League, letter to the Premier, NSW, Bertram Stevens, 20 February 1939; see also William Cooper, Secretary, Australian Aborigines’ League, letter to the Minister for the Interior, John McEwen, Canberra 17 December 1938. And in 1940 (the year before his death at the age of 81) Cooper wrote to Menzies, ‘If Australia is sincere in her stand for democracy and her desire to free the peoples of other lands from the oppression of Hitlerism, her sincerity will be shown by the attitude she adopts towards her own exploited minority. Lip service to democracy and Christianity is not enough’. All letters cited in Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus, Thinking black p. 128. ‘Aboriginal minority’, Preacher’s Townsville Daily Bulletin, 22 October 1940, p. 3; ‘White people must think black: Aboriginal spokesman’s eloquent plea for his people’, Sun (Melbourne), 21 October 1940. ‘Racial pride criticised’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October 1943, p. 7. ‘Readers’ letters: race hatred riles digger, CourierMail, 15 May 1945, p. 7. See, for example, ‘Fined £135 for chaining Aborigines, Argus, 21 December 1945, p. 1; ‘Station manager fined for assaulting natives’, Mercury, 21 December 1945, p. 2; ‘£135 fines. Assault of Aborigines’, Townsville Daily Bulletin, 21 December 1945, p. 1; ‘Aborigines chained. SA farmer fined’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1945, p. 6; Station manager fined £135. Guilty of assaulting Aborigines’, Advertiser (Adelaide), 21 December 1945, p. 3. ‘Decision on native assault charge causes big stir at Oodnadatta’, Army News, 28 December, 1945, p. 2. ‘Decision on native assault charge causes big stir at Oodnadatta’, Army News, 28 December, 1945, p. 2. ‘Decision on native assault charge causes big stir at Oodnadatta’, Army News, 28 December, 1945, p. 2. ‘Decision on native assault charge causes big stir at Oodnadatta’, Army News, 28 December, 1945, p. 2. Among other roles, Groves was to become the first President of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship in 1956 and a founding member of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement in 1958; see Alan T Duncan, ‘Groves, Herbert Stanley (Bert) (1907–1970)’, in Australian dictionary of biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Canberra, viewed 31 January 2012, . ‘Melbourne’s new gallery for charity’, ArtsHub, March 28 2011, viewed 18 May 2011, . Bergner refused to sell this work and in 1979 donated it to the National Gallery of Victoria. ‘“Studio of realist art” exhibits’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October 1946, p. 7. ‘“Studio of realist art” exhibits’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October 1946, p. 7.

64 Frank Klepner, Yosl Bergner: art as a meeting of cultures, Macmillan Art Publishing, Melbourne, 2004, p. 72; Paul Heinrichs, ‘Wandering son returns’, Age, Age Art, 26 August 1978, p. 19. 65 Frank Klepner, Yosl Bergner, p. 74. 66 Michael Courtney, ‘Give them a chance’, Australian Magazine, 1 March 1955, p. 37. 67 M Kibel, letter to Prime Minister Menzies, 2 May 1957, Department of Territories, National Archives of Australia, Series A452, Item 1957/245. 68 ‘Letters’, Narrogin Observer, 20 June 1957, in Department of Territories, National Archives of Australia, Series A452, Item 1957/245. 69 Geoffrey Serle, ‘Fitzpatrick, Brian Charles (1905– 1965)’, in Australian dictionary of biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Canberra, viewed 27 November 2011, . 70 Evidence given to the McLean Inquiry into the Aborigines Act (1955–1957) National Archives of Australia (Vic) CA3333 B408. 71 Anna Haebich, Broken circles: fragmenting Aboriginal families 1800–2000, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 2000, pp. 436–7. 72 The trial of Adolf Eichmann, the District Court sessions, Session 114 (Part 6 of 6), The Nizkor project, viewed 17 March 2012, ; Sue Taffe, ‘Australian diplomacy in a policy vacuum: government and Aboriginal affairs, 1961–1962’, Aboriginal History, vol. 19, 1995. 73 Xavier Herbert, Poor fellow my country, Collins, Sydney, 1975, p. 784. See also pp. 852–3. 74 Cited in Russell McGregor, ‘Another nation: Aboriginal activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, 2009, p. 358. 75 Nicolas Peterson, ‘A biographical sketch of Donald Thomson’, in Donald Thomson and Nicolas Peterson, Donald Thompson in Arnhem Land, The Miegunyah Press, Carlton, 2005, p. 6. 76 Donald Thomson, ‘Prisoners of Aurukun on their way to Palm Island’, Museum of Victoria, TPH4700. 77 Donald Thomson, ‘ Prisoners of Aurukun on their way to Palm Island’, Museum of Victoria, TPH4700. 78 Donald Thomson, ‘ Prisoners of Aurukun on their way to Palm Island’, Museum of Victoria, TPH4700. 79 Donald Thomson, ‘ The boys’ dormitory at Aurukun’, Museum of Victoria, TPH4701. 80 Donald Thomson, ‘ Prisoners of Aurukun on their way to Palm Island’, Museum of Victoria, TPH4700. 81 Peter Sutton, ‘Science and sensibility on a foul frontier. Flinders Island, 1935’, in Bruce Rigsby and Nicolas Peterson (eds), Donald Thomson: the man and scholar, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia with support from Museum Victoria, Canberra, 2005, p. 157; see also Lindy Allen, ‘A photographer of brilliance’, in Bruce Rigsby and Nicolas Peterson (eds), Donald Thomson: the man and scholar, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia with support from Museum Victoria, Canberra, 2005. 82 Nicolas Peterson, ‘A biographical sketch’, pp. 6–7.

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83 ‘Justice for the Aborigines’, Herald (Melbourne), 28 December 1946, p. 4; ‘Slow extermination of our natives’, Herald (Melbourne) 30 December 1946, p. 4; ‘Aborigines’ rights to tribal lands should be recognised’, Herald (Melbourne), 21 December 1946, p. 5. He was to re-publish this image again in 1952. 84 ‘Conference on slave charges’ use of natives on NT stations’, Barrier Miner, 3 December 1946, p. 7. 85 ‘The Aboriginal’, Morning Bulletin, 10 April 1947, p. 10. 86 Donald Thomson, ‘Justice for the Aborigines’, Herald (Melbourne), 28 December 1946, p. 4. 87 Alan West, ‘The Lake Tyers Aboriginal community: assimilation policy and practice’, in Bruce Rigsby and Nicolas Peterson (eds), Donald Thomson: the man and scholar, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia with support from Museum Victoria, Canberra, 2005, pp. 117–28. 88 Susan Sontag, Regarding the pain of others, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003, p. 19.

5: Aboriginal Overlanders The overlanders, motion picture, Ealing Studios, London, 1946; ‘Diana’s diary’, Northern Standard, 13 December 1946, p .5. 2 Bernard C Ryden, ‘A night in Broome‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 1927, p. 9. 3 ‘Movievision. Notes from shadow land. Mickey Mouse inspires dance’, Sunday Times, 24 October 1937, p. 38. 4 ‘So they say: filming a Corroboree’, Queenslander, 7 December 1938, p. 2. 5 ‘Blacks and cowboy pictures’, Register, 7 July 1923, p. 9. 6 Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper note that Watt provided ‘stimulus for a large group of young would-be directors and actors, including members of the New Theatre in Sydney, the Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit, and the younger of the government’s film staff’: Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian film 1900–1977: A guide to feature film production, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1980, p. 268. 7 Paul Byrnes, ‘Curator’s notes’, Australian Screen, National Film and Sound Archive, viewed 15 March 2012, . Critics have regarded the film in the context of the period’s optimistic nation-building agenda: see Albert Moran, ‘Nation building: the post-war documentary in Australia (1945–1953)’, Continuum, vol. 1, no. 1, 1987; Albert Moran, `Documentary consensus: the Commonwealth Film Unit: 1954–1964’, in Tom O’Regan and Brian Shoesmith (eds), History on/and/in film, History & Film Association of Australia, Perth, 1987. Peter Limbrick sees the film as an ‘Australian western’ that naturalises settler possession: see Peter Limbrick, ‘The Australian Western, or a settler colonial cinema par excellence’, Cinema Journal, vol. 46, no. 4, 2007, pp. 68–95. 8 Deane Williams, ‘The overlanders: between nations’, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 1, no. 1, 2007. 9 ‘Overlanders praised’, Courier-Mail, 3 October 1

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1946, p. 2. 10 ‘Britain acclaims Overlanders’, Canberra Times, 5 October 1946, p. 4. 11 ‘Overlanders acclaimed: Venice’, Morning Bulletin, 28 August 1947, p. 1. 12 ‘Overlanders among best’, Morning Bulletin Saturday 20 December 1947 p 1. 13 ‘New films reviewed’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 1946, p. 10; ‘Overlanders gains film award’, Argus, 3 February 1947, p. 14. 14 Dean Ashenden, ‘Luhrmann, us, and them’, Insider Story, 18 December, 2008, viewed 1 August 2011, . 15 Paul Byrnes, ‘Curator’s Notes’. 16 ‘New films reviewed’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 1946, p. 10. 17 ‘New films reviewed’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 1946, p. 10 18 The Australian Women’s Weekly, 14 April 1945, p. 16. Family information is restricted beyond these details: thanks to Margaret Reid of the Community and Personal Histories program in the Queensland Department of Communities, November 2011. 19 ‘“Chips” Rafferty Pleads for Natives’, Canberra Times, 13 January 1947, p. 3. 20 Eureka stockade, motion picture, Ealing Studios, London, 1949; Bitter springs, motion picture, Ealing Studios, London, 1950. 21 ‘Left cattle to be actor’, Mail, 21 May 1949, p. 11. 22 ‘Harry Watt says natives ill-treated’, Mail, 7 December 1946, p. 1. 23 ‘Harry Watt says natives ill-treated’, Mail, 7 December 1946, p. 1. 24 ‘Harry Watt says natives ill-treated’, Mail, 7 December 1946, p. 1. 25 ‘Harry Watt says natives ill-treated’, Mail, 7 December 1946, p. 1. 26 ‘Treatment of natives: minister’s reply’, Argus, 10 December 1946, p. 1. 27 Quotation from ‘Grandiose schemes’ Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 1946, p. 2; see also ‘Ex-policeman says natives badly treated’, Mail, 28 December 1946, p. 5; ‘Pastoralist’s challenge to Harry Watt: treatment of blacks’, Mail, 21 December 1946, p. 2. 28 ‘“Chips” Rafferty pleads for natives’, Canberra Times, 13 January 1947, p. 3. 29 Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian film 1900–1977: a guide to feature film production, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1980, pp. 275–276. 30 Elizabeth Webby, ‘Ealing Studios’ Australian Adventure’, Arts, vol. 26, 2006, pp. 51–67; Deb Verhoeven, Sheep and the Australian cinema, RMIT Publishing, Melbourne, 2006; Paul Byrnes, ‘Curator’s notes’. 31 Bitter springs, motion picture, Ealing Studios, London, 1950. 32 ‘About those grass skirts’, Mail, 9 July 1950; for reception see Elizabeth Webby, ‘Ealing Studios’ Australian Adventure’. 33 Film Weekly, 26 May 1949. 34 Melissa Harpley, ‘Axel Poignant’, in David Bromfield (ed.), Aspects of Perth Modernism: 1929–1942, Centre for Fine Arts, University of Western

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Australia, Perth, 1986, p. 86; Roslyn Poignant, ‘Picture story’, Axel Poignant, photographer, the formative years 1929–1942, The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2011, viewed 20 March 2012, . Roslyn Poignant, ‘The photographic witness?’, Continuum, vol. 6, no. 2, 1991, pp. 178–206. Maren Stange, Symbols of ideal life: social documentary photography in America, 1890– 1950, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989. Powell, Geoffrey, ‘Photography – A Social Weapon’, Le Guay, Lawrence, ed.,. Contemporary Photography, Vol. 1 No. 1, November – December, (1946), pp. 1617 ; Craig Hoehne, ‘Geoffrey Powell’s family group: the image that made and broke a photographer’, National Library of Australia News, vol. xvii, no. 12, 2007; Anne-Marie Willis Picturing Australia: a history of photography, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1988, p. 191. Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing Australia, pp. 182– 214; Helen Ennis, ‘Made in Australia: contemporary documentary photography’, National Library News, vol. XV, no. 3, 2004. Axel Poignant, ‘Axel Poignant’, in Laurence Le Guay (ed), Australian photography: a contemporary view, JH Coleman, Globe Publishing, Sydney, 1978, p. 8. Roslyn Poignant, ‘The photographic witness?’ Continuum, vol. 6, no. 2, 1991, pp. 178–206. Namatjira the painter, motion picture, Australian National Film Board, Sydney, 1947. Tjurunga: the story of Stone Age man, motion picture, Australian National Film Board, Sydney, 1946. Walkabout, motion picture, Australian National Film Board, Sydney, 1946. ‘Putting Australia on the Territory to be shown to outsiders’ Northern Standard, 27 September 1946, p. 8. Roslyn Poignant, ‘Lost conversations, recovered archives’, occasional paper no. 49, Tenth Eric Johnston lecture, Northern Territory Library, 1995. Axel Poignant, ‘Aboriginal stockmen’s camp, Wave Hill cattle station, Central Australia’, 1946, Art Gallery of NSW; Axel Poignant, ‘Aboriginal woman receives her food ration at Wave Hill Station’, 1946, National Library of Australia, nla.pic-vn4439188. Roslyn Poignant 1995 ‘Lost Conversations, Recovered Archives’. Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Jonathan Cape, London, 1957, pp. 100–02. Courtney Baker, ‘Emmett Till, justice, and the task of recognition’, The Journal of American Culture, vol. 29, 2006, pp. 111–124. For arguments for empathetic recognition see Richard Rorty, ‘Human rights, rationality and sentimentality’, in Stephen Shute and Susan Hurley (eds), On human rights: the Oxford Amnesty lectures 1993, Basic Books, London, 1993; Carolyn J Dean, The fragility of empathy after the Holocaust, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2005. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, viewed 15 March 2012, . Roslyn Poignant considers Axel’s engagement with these ideas:

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Roslyn Poignant, ‘Lost conversations, recovered archives’. Isobel Crombie, ‘A documentary impulse: Australian photographer Geoffrey Collings’, Art Bulletin of Victoria, No. 29, 1989, pp. 38-51. Jenny Allen, ‘Australian visions. The films of Dahl and Geoffrey Collings’, Eras Journal, vol. 4, 2002, viewed 15 March 2012, . The plow that broke the plains, motion picture, Resettlement Administration, New York, 1936. Dahl Collings and Geoffrey Collings, The use of film in wartime, Killcare Heights, 1941. 16 September 1985, NGV Collings File. The series was acquired by Jennie Boddington, then Photography Curator, who had worked as assistant wardrobe to Dahl Collings on the film. Agnes Abbott, personal communication to David Avery and Jane Hodson of the Central Land Council in 2011, and Jane Lydon, February 2012. ‘Blacks as stockmen. Their value in the north’, Brisbane Courier, 5 April 1930, p. 25; see also Kathryn M Hunter, ‘Rough riding: Aboriginal participation in rodeos and travelling shows to the 1950s’, Aboriginal History, vol. 32, 2008, pp. 82–96. ‘Monsoonal belt of Australia’, Advertiser, 15 November 1938, p. 21. Naturalist and journalist Charles Barrett opined, ‘I doubt whether some of the stations could be profitably run without aboriginal stockmen, and blacks do other jobs around the homesteads’: ‘People of the outback’, Courier-Mail, 31 December 1938, p. 7. ‘Royal National Rodeo Carnival’, Brisbane Courier, 19 January 1932, p. 6. See Minoru Hokari, Gurindji Journey, NewSouth Books, 2010; see also Ann McGrath, Born in the cattle, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1987, pp. 57–58; Richard Broome, Aboriginal Australians: a history since 1788, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2007, pp. 127–146; Peggy Brock, ‘Pastoral stations and reserves in south and central Australia, 1850s–1950s’, Labour History, vol. 69, 1995. Benjamin Thomas, ‘Darryl Lindsay and the appreciation of Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in the 1940s’ Journal of Art Historiography, vol. 4, 2011. The Dreaming , motion picture, Collings Productions, Sydney, 1963; Pattern of life, motion picture, Collings Productions, Sydney, 1964. Jenny Allen, ‘Australian Visions’.

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‘Housing of half-castes petition to premier’, The Age, 5 March 1940, State Library of Victoria, Manuscript Collection, MS 9212, Victorian Aboriginal Group Papers, Christian Co-operative Credit Union – press cuttings. Michael Courtney, ‘Give them a chance’, Australian Monthly, 1 March 1955, p. 37. Graeme Davison, ‘Introduction’, in Graeme Davison, David Dunstan and Chris McConville (eds), The outcasts of Melbourne: essays in social history,

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Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1985; Alan Mayne, Representing the slum: popular journalism in a colonial city, University of Melbourne School of Historical Studies Monograph series no. 13, Melbourne, 1990. 4 Tony Birch, ‘“These children have been born in an abyss”: slum photography in a Melbourne Suburb’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 35, no. 123, 2004, pp. 1–15. 5 Deane Williams, ‘Screening Coldicutt: introduction’, Screening the Past: an International Electronic Journal of Visual Media and History, Issue 2, uploaded 8 December 1997, viewed 16 March 2012, ; Beautiful Melbourne, motion picture, Realist Film Unit, Melbourne, 1974; These are our children, motion picture, Realist Film Unit, Melbourne, 1948; A place to live, motion picture, Realist Film Unit, Melbourne, 1950. 6 National Archives of Australia, B2292/0, item 17: The Age, 16 March 1948; ‘Half-castes at Dimboola “live in squalor”’, Argus, 16 March 1948; ‘Seeks report on half-castes’, Herald (Melbourne), 16 March 1948; ‘Half-castes “live in filth” at Dimboola’, (no newspaper identified), 15 March 1948. 7 Pastor Doug Nicholls, quoted in ‘Plea for better deal for Aborigines’, Warragul Gazette, 10 October 1957, p. 4. 8 Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography at the dock: essays on photographic history, institutions, and practices, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991, p. 176; Martha Rosler, ‘In, around, and afterthoughts (on documentary photography)’, in Three works, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, 1981, p. 72. 9 Martha Rosler, ‘In, around, and afterthoughts’, p. 72. 10 Karen Halttunen, ‘Humanitarianism and the pornography of pain in Anglo-American culture’, American Historical Review, vol. 100, no. 2, 1995; Lynn Festa, ‘Humanity without feathers’, Humanity, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, p. 9. 11 Corinne Manning, “‘A helping white hand’: assimilation, welfare and Victoria’s transitional Aboriginal housing policy’, Labour History, 2004, vol. 87. 12 ‘Home is a humpy on a rubbish tip’, Herald (Melbourne), 11 June 1957, p. 15; Jack Cannon, ‘New homes for Aboriginals’, pictures by Lester Howard, Herald (Melbourne), 20 July 1959, p. 13. 13 Anna Haebich Spinning the dream: assimilation in Australia 1950–1970, Fremantle Press, Fremantle, 2008; Tim Rowse (ed.) Contesting assimilation, API Network, Perth, 2005; Russell McGregor, Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian nation, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2011. 14 ‘Model housing scheme for aborigines on Lachlan River’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 14 May 1949. 15 Stan Davey, Secretary Aborigines Advancement League, letter to Secretary, Aboriginal Welfare Board, 27 November 1959, National Archives of Australia, B336/0 Item 1. 16 Areyonga, motion picture, Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, Sydney, 1958. 17 Catriona Moore, ‘The guiding hand: representation

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29 30

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32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

and Aboriginal welfare politics’ in Peter Botsman and Ross Harley (eds), Sex, politics and representation, Local Consumption Publications, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1983, p. 36. Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe: a history of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, 1956–69, Alternative Publishing Co-operative, Sydney, 1983, pp. 115–6. ‘She curtsied to the Queen Mother at Canberra. Now Ruth is back in native hovel’, Herald (Melbourne), 24 March 1958, p. 1. ‘Cinderella in her humpy’, Herald (Melbourne), 25 March 1958, p. 4. ‘Must do more for blacks’ Herald (Melbourne), 26 March 1958, p. 4. ‘Black Cinderella gets her chance’, Herald (Melbourne), 11 March 1959, p. 1. ‘Britons read about Ruth’, Herald (Melbourne), 2 April 1958, p. 12. Jedda, motion picture, Charles Chauvel Productions, Sydney, 1955. Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 March 1954, p. 7. Anna Haebich, Spinning the dream. Workers’ Weekly, Communist Party of Australia, Sydney, 24 September 1931. Bob Boughton, ‘The Communist Party of Australia’s involvement in the struggle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights 1920–1970’, in Ray Markey (ed,), Labour and community: historical essays, University of Wollongong Press, Wollongong, 2001, pp. 263–294; Stuart Macintyre, The reds: the Communist Party of Australia from origins to illegality, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1988, p. 143. Godfrey Blunden, ‘“Downtrodden” peoples rush UNO for redress’, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 1947, p. 7. Commonwealth Investigation Branch, ‘Appeal to UNO by Australian Aborigines’, secret memo, 25 February 1947, National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. ‘Not imaginary Russian “slave camp” inmates, such as have Dr Evatt’s sympathy, but Australian Aborigines are here pictured in chains in a real Australian slave camp’, Tribune, 5 March 1949, p. 1. This theme was sustained throughout 1949, and the images were republished. See, for example, ‘End scandal of chained Aborigines’, Tribune, 2 November 1949, p. 3. ‘Protest at chaining of natives’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1949, p. 11. ‘Chains used only once in 15 years on prisoners’, Canberra Times, 18 March 1949, p. 4. ‘Australian move on Mindszenty case’, West Australian, 14 April 1949, p. 4. ‘Australian move on Mindszenty case’, West Australian, 14 April 1949, p. 4. Racial policy attacked: Soviet criticises Australia’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 1949, p. 3. ‘Aboriginal strikers in WA seized at revolver point, put in chains’, Tribune, 18 May 1949, p. 1. ‘Aboriginal strikers in WA seized at revolver point, put in chains’, Tribune, 18 May 1949, p. 1. ‘Evatt hits at Vyshinsky’, Courier-Mail, 14 October 1949, p. 1; ‘UK defends Australia: reply to Soviet jibe’, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 1949, p. 3.

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40 ‘Protest at chaining of natives’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1949, p. 11. 41 ‘Admits NT stations depend on native slavery’, Northern Standard, 25 November 1949, p. 7. 42 ‘Treatment of Aborigines called violation of human rights’, Tribune, 2 November 1949, p. 6; ‘Communists Aborigines only friends’, Tribune, 9 November 1949, p. 5; ‘Chaining of WA natives confirmed’, Tribune, 9 November 1949, p. 8; ‘Shame’ [letter], Tribune, 19 November 1949, p. 4; ‘Forced labor for chained natives’, Tribune, 21 December 1949, p. 7. 43 ‘Native leader shanghaied’, Northern Standard, 16 February 1951, p. 1. 44 Douglas Lockwood, Herald (Melbourne), 19 March 1958, and reply by WA Commissioner of Police, Herald (Melbourne), 20 March 1958. 45 Peter Morton, Fire across the desert: Woomera and the Anglo-Australian joint project 1946–1980, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1989; Sue Davenport, Peter Johnson and Yuwali, Cleared out: first contact in the Western Desert, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2005; Alice Gorman, ‘La terre et l’espace: rockets, prisons, protests and heritage in Australia and French Guiana’, Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, vol. 3, no. 2, 2007. 46 Hsinhua News Agency, Hong Kong, Press cutting, 6 August 1959, National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 1. 47 Sue Taffe, ‘Australian diplomacy in a policy vacuum: government and Aboriginal affairs’, 1961–1962, Aboriginal History, vol. 19, 1995, pp. 154–72. 48 Australian Mission to United Nations, inward cablegram to Department External Affairs, 7 October 1960, National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. 49 National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. 50 National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. 51 Department of External Affairs, confidential memo, c. 1961–2, National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 1. See also Dept EA, confidential memos, August 1961 and 24 January 1962, National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. 52 Memo, Department of External Affairs (marginal note by Hugh Gilchrist, 20 January 1961), National Archives of Australia, 55712, Part 2. 53 Memo, Department of External Affairs (marginal note by Hugh Gilchrist, 20 January 1961), National Archives of Australia, 55712, Part 2. 54 National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 1; A1838 557/2 Part 4. 55 AIAS (since 1989 the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) commenced in 1961 and was implemented by an Act of Parliament in 1964. Colin Tatz, ‘Memories are made of this’, paper presented to the AIAS 50th Anniversary Conference, Canberra, 8 June 2011. 56 Pamela McGrath and David Brooks, ‘Their darkest hour: the films and photographs of William Grayden and the history of the “Warburton Range controversy” of 1957’, Aboriginal History, vol. 34, 2010; see also Pamela McGrath, ‘Hard looking: a

historical ethnography of photographic encounters with Aboriginal families in the Ngaanyatjarra lands, Western Australia’, PhD thesis, Australian National University, 2010. 57 Rupert Murdoch, cited in Pamela McGrath and David Brooks, ‘Their darkest hour’, p. 120. 58 Doug Nicholls, cited in Bain Attwood, Rights for Aborigines, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2003, p. 150. 59 William Grayden, Adam and Atoms, Frank Daniels, Perth, 1957, pp. 57–58. 60 Pamela McGrath, ‘Hard looking, p. 165. 61 Frances Peters-Little, ‘The return of the noble savage by popular demand: a study of Aboriginal television documentary in Australia, Masters thesis, Australian National University, 2002, p. 10. 62 Wyn Garland, ‘Equal opportunity?’, in Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe: a history of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, 1956–69, Alternative Publishing Co-operative, Sydney, 1983, p. 67. 63 Emil H Witton, ‘We saw a poster’, in Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe: a history of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, 1956–69, Alternative Publishing Co-operative, Sydney, 1983, p. 71. 64 Clippings, National Archives of Australia, Series A6122/44, Item 1524; Clippings, State Records Office of Western Australia, Series 2030, Item 1957/0384: 119; ‘Atomic bomb may save the Aborigine: plight begins to prick the Australian conscience’, Manchester Guardian, 10 February 1957, State Records Office of Western Australia, Series 2030, Item 1957/0040: 125. 65 Ann Curthoys, ‘Paul Robeson’s visit to Australia and Aboriginal activism, 1960’, in Frances Peters-Little, Ann Curthoys and John Docker (eds), Passionate histories: myth memory and Indigenous Australia, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2010. 66 Robin Hughes, ‘Interview with Faith Bandler, 25 March 1993’, Australian biography online, 2009, viewed 6 January 2012, . 67 Alec Robertson, Tribune, 23 November 1960, p. 6. 68 Ann Curthoys, ‘Paul Robeson’s visit to Australia’, pp. 163–84. 69 High Commission, Accra, ‘90. Secret. Priority’, inward cablegram to Department External Affairs, 21 April 1961, National Archives of Australia, A1838 929/5/3 Part 1. 70 Australian Embassy, Stockholm, cablegram to the Secretary, Department External Affairs, Canberra, 1 April 1965, National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 4. 71 Tidsignal, Australian Embassy, Stockholm, cablegram to the Secretary, Department External Affairs, Canberra, 1 April 1965, National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 4. 72 Neil Truscott, Report from Department External Affairs, 7 September 1965, National Archives of Australia, A1838 557/2 Part 4, Sept 1965. 73 William Bodney, cited in Pamela McGrath and David Brooks, ‘Their darkest hour’, p. 129. 74 Pamela McGrath and David Brooks, ‘Their darkest hour’, p. 139.

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75 Noelene Landers and Delvina Lawson, Nyakulayinu Tarrkanu, (‘Looking right through your bones’), Warburton Arts Project, Yours, mine and ours: 50 years of ABC TV exhibition, 25 November 2006–29 January 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, . 76 Livingstone West, ‘Response to ABC archival footage taken in 1957 in Warburton Mission, filmed by Bill Grayden and featured in the Paul Robeson in Australia documentary (1964)’, Penrith Regional Gallery and the Lewers Bequest, Penrith, 2006. 77 Pamela McGrath and David Brooks, ‘Their darkest hour’, p. 139. 78 Emil H Witton, ‘We saw a poster’, in Faith Bandler and Len Fox (eds), The time was ripe, pp. 94–96. 79 ‘Albert Namatjira’s paintings: recognition of Aboriginal skill’, Advertiser, 20 November 1939, p. 18. 80 Charles Mountford, The art of Albert Namatjira, Bread and Cheese Club, Melbourne, 1944. 81 Walkabout, motion picture, Australian National Film Board, Sydney, 1946. 82 Namatjira the painter, motion picture, Australian National Film Board, Sydney, 1947. 83 Rex Battarbee, Modern Australian Aboriginal Art, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1951. 84 ‘Aboriginal artists confound critics’, Northern Standard, 4 October 1946, p. 4. 85 ‘Aborigine’s rise from camel boy to artist’, CourierMail, 26 October 1946, p. 3. 86 ‘No vote, but Albert Namatjira may have to pay tax’, Northern Standard, 25 April 1947, p. 3; ‘It seems to me ...’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 3 May 1947, p. 18. 87 ‘Let me alone, says Albert’, Argus, 14 May 1951, p. 1. 88 ‘Albert Namatjira mobbed’, Barrier Miner, 27 February 1954, p. 11. 89 Leigh Raiford, Imprisoned in a luminous glare: photography and the African American freedom struggle, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2011. 90 ‘Week’s best letter’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 30 October 1957, p. 18. 91 Ann Curthoys, Freedom ride: a Freedom Rider remembers, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2002, pp. 114–41. 92 Alan Stewart, ‘Dimboola, a brighter life together’, Herald (Melbourne), 12 June 1962, pp. 1, 6. 93 ‘Artists in films: the work of Albert Namatjira’, West Australian, 11 August 1949, p. 6; Mary Durack, ‘Art and the Aboriginal’, West Australian, 14 December 1946, p. 4. 94 Sue Taffe, ‘The role of FCAATSI in the 1967 Referendum: mythmaking about citizenship or political strategy?’, in Tim Rowse (ed), Contesting assimilation, API Network, Perth, 2005, p. 294; Jennifer Clark, Aborigines and activism: race, activism and the coming of the sixties to Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 2008, pp. 183–4; Bain Attwood and Andrew Markus, 1967 Referendum: race, power and the Australian constitution, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2007. 95 Ann Curthoys, Freedom Ride, p. 29.

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96 Charles Perkins, A bastard like me, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1975, p. 74. 97 Ann Curthoys, Freedom Ride, p. 29.

7: Gather round people, let me tell you a story Leigh Raiford, Imprisoned in a luminous glare: photography and the African American freedom struggle, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2011, p. 145. 2 Peter Read, ‘Cheeky, insolent and anti-white: the split in the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – Easter 1970’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 36, no. 1, 1990, p. 76. For other important analyses of these events see also Sue Taffe, Black and white together FCAATSI: the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, 1958–1973, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 2005; Russell McGregor, ‘Another nation: Aboriginal activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s’, Australian Historical Studies, vol.40, no. 3, 2009; Kathy Lothian, ‘Moving blackwards: Black Power and the Aboriginal Embassy’, in Ingereth Macfarlane and Mark Hannah (eds), Transgressions: critical Australian Indigenous histories, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2007. 3 Gary Foley, ‘Black power in Redfern 1968–1972’, The Koori history website, 2001, viewed 17 March 2012, . 4 See especially Jennifer Clark, Aborigines and activism: race, Aborigines and the coming of the sixties to Australia, University of West Australia Press, Perth, 2008. 5 Larissa Behrendt, ‘Indigenous self-determination: rethinking the relationship between rights and economic development’, University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 24, no. 3, 2001. 6 Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1972, p. 1. 7 Paul Coe at Aboriginal Embassy Symposium, Canberra, September 2011, Youtube, viewed 18 March 2012, . 8 ‘March for Black Rights’ rally poster, National Library of Australia, Gordon Bryant Papers MS 8256, Series 11 ATSI Matters, Box 174: Folder ‘Abschol. Pamphlets’. 9 ‘Aborigines get a new voice’, The Age, 27 November 1972, p. 3. A news-sheet, the Koorier, had also been founded in late 1968 by Bruce McGuinness and Lin Onus, and other magazines were to follow. 10 ‘Editorial’, Identity, vol. 1, no. 3, 1972, p. 1. 11 Merle Jackomos, ‘The history of Lake Tyers’, Identity, vol. 1, no. 2, 1971, p. 8. 12 Charles Perkins, ‘Editorial’, Identity, 1972, vol. 1, no. 4, p. 1. 13 Faith Bandler, ‘Editorial’, Identity, vol. 1, no. 5, p. 1. 14 Bobbi Sykes, ‘Parallels’, Forum, Identity, vol. 1, no. 2, 1971, pp. 31–32. 15 Juno Gemes, Proof: portraits from the movement 1978–2003, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2003. 16 Although Milirrpum was not appealed beyond 1

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the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, it was overruled by the High Court of Australia two decades later in Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992). 17 Robert Edwards (ed.), The preservation of Australia’s Aboriginal heritage: report of National Seminar on Aboriginal Antiquities in Australia, May 1972, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1975, p. 78. 18 Penny Tweedie, Aboriginal Australians: Spirit of Arnhem Land, New Holland Publishers, Frenchs Forest, 1998, p. 14. 19 Lynette Russell, Savage imaginings: historical and contemporary constructions of Australian Aboriginalities, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2001; Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins, Reading National Geographic, University of Chicago Press, 1993. 20 Cited in Andrew Dewdney and Sandra S. Phillips (eds) Racism, representation and photography, Inner City Education Centre, Sydney, 1994, p. 84. 21 Mervyn Bishop, Interview with Jane Lydon, Sydney, December 2011. 22 Mervyn Bishop and Tracey Moffatt, In dreams: thirty years of photography 1960–1990, opened at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, 1991. 23 Mervyn Bishop, Interview with Jane Lydon, Sydney, December 2011. 24 Marcia Langton, After the Tent Embassy: images of Aboriginal history in black and white photographs, Valadon Publishing, Sydney, 1983. 25 Brenda L Croft, Interview with Jane Lydon, Adelaide, December 2011. 26 Gael Newton, ‘Tracey Moffatt: cover girl’, in Tracey Moffatt: fever pitch, edited by Tracey Moffatt and Gael Newton, Piper Press, Annandale, 1995, p. 14. There is by now a substantial literature tracing this emergence: see especially Kelly Gellatly, Retake: contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander photography, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1998, viewed 17 March 2012, . 27 Kelly Gellatly, Re-take. 28 Brenda L Croft, Interview with Jane Lydon. 29 Kevin Gilbert, ‘Introduction’, Inside black Australia: Aboriginal photographers exhibition, Treaty ’88, Aboriginal Arts Board, Canberra, 1988, n.p. 30 Penny Taylor, ‘Introduction’, After 200 years: photographic essays of Aboriginal and Islander Australia today, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, pp. xv, xix. 31 Penny Taylor, After 200 Years, p. xv. 32 Eric Michaels, Bad Aboriginal art: tradition, media, and technological horizons, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1994, pp. 1–20. For a recent review of this paradigm and reappraisal of this ‘hostile’ school of photo-criticism, see in Susie Linfield, The cruel radiance: photography and political violence, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010. 33 This 1986 essay was later published as ‘A primer of restrictions on picture-taking in traditional areas of Aboriginal Australia’, Visual Anthropology, vol. 4, no. 3–4, 1991, re-printed in Eric Michaels, Bad Aboriginal art: tradition, media, and technological horizons, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1994, pp. 1–20.

Popular acceptance of this notion of concealment has been facilitated by the movement for the repatriation of skeletal remains and secret-sacred items: Jane Lydon, ‘Return: the photographic archive and technologies of Indigenous memory’, Photographies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2010, pp. 173–187. 34 Penny Taylor, After 200 Years, p. 2. 35 Ricky Maynard, ‘Ricky Maynard’, in Hetti Perkins and Jonathan Jones (eds), Half light: portraits from black Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2008, p. 91. 36 Keith Munro, ‘Portrait of a distant land’, in Keith Munro et al., Ricky Maynard: portrait of a distant land, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2008, p. 18. 37 Ricky Maynard, ‘Ricky Maynard’, p. 91.

8: Out of sight and out of mind? 1

John Howard, ‘Duty of care to the young justifies government’s action’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2007, p. 11. 2 Melinda Hinkson, ‘Introduction: anthropology and the culture wars’, in Jon Altman and Melinda Hinkson (eds), Culture crisis: anthropology and politics in Aboriginal Australia, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2010, p. 12. Diane Austin-Broos calls this the ‘rights-pathology axis’, A different inequality: the politics of debate about remote Aboriginal Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2011, p. 50. 3 Geoffrey Blainey, ‘Drawing up a balance sheet of our history’, in Quadrant, vol. 37, no. 7–8, 1993, pp. 10–15; for a review, see Stuart Macintyre, and Anna Clark, The History Wars, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, 2003. 4 Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Indigenous deaths in custody 1989–1996: a report prepared by the Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney, 1996. 5 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: the ‘stolen children’ report, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney, 1997. 6 Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle: ‘Little Children are Sacred’, Northern Territory Government, 2007. For a review of media coverage see John Hartley and Alan McKee, The Indigenous public sphere: the reporting and reception of Aboriginal issues in the Australian media, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000. 7 Melinda Hinkson, ‘Media images and the politics of hope’, in Culture crisis: anthropology and politics in Aboriginal Australia, UNSW Press, Sydney, p. 230. 8 John Howard, ‘Duty of care to the young justifies government’s action’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2007, p. 11. 9 Anna Haebich, Broken circles: fragmenting Indigenous families 1800–2000, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, 2000, pp. 24–7. 10 Anna Haebich, Broken circles, p. 33.

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Jean Baudrillard, ‘War porn’, trans. Paul A Taylor, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2005. 12 Marcia Langton, ‘Trapped in the Aboriginal Reality Show’ (2008) 19 Griffith Review, viewed 15 March 2011, . 13 See also John Taylor, Body horror: photojournalism ,catastrophe and war, New York University Press, New York, 1998. 14 WJT Mitchell, Picture Theory, 1994, p. 202. 15 John Howard, ‘Duty of care to the young justifies government’s action’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 2007, p. 11. 16 Paul Toohey, ‘Last drinks: the impact of the Northern Territory Intervention’, Quarterly Essay, vol. 30, 2008, Black Inc., Melbourne. 17 Nicolas Rothwell, ‘Living hard, dying young in the Kimberley’, The Australian, 30 April 2011, viewed 17 March 2012, . 18 Peter Sutton, The politics of suffering: Indigenous Australia and the end of the liberal consensus, Melbourne University Press, 2009, pp. 7, 71; Also see Diane Austin-Broos, A different inequality, pp. 7–8. 19 Simon Kearney, ‘Rough road ahead’, The Australian, 24 July 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, . 20 Simon Kearney, ‘Rough road ahead’. 21 Birgitta Höijer, ‘The discourse of global compassion: the audience and media reporting of human suffering’, Media, Culture & Society, 2004, vol. 26, no. 4; Wendy S Hesford, Spectacular rhetorics: human rights visions, recognitions, feminism, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2011. 22 Kerry McCallum, ‘News and local talk: conversations about the “crisis of Indigenous violence” in Australia’, in SE Bird (ed.), The anthropology of news and journalism, University of Indiana Press, Evansville, 2009. See also Kerry McCallum, ‘Journalism and Indigenous health policy’, Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2001, vol. 2. 23 Simon Kearney, ‘Girls who become mums at age of 12’, The Australian, 18 August 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, ; Mediawatch contrasted The Australian’s rejection of charges of impropriety in this case, with the newspaper’s attack on the film Cunnamulla in 2001 for a similar disclosure, suggesting that its attitude was hypocritical. Media Watch, ‘The rights of a child’, television program, ABC, Sydney, 15 October 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, . 24 Patricia Karvelas and Ashleigh Wilson, ‘Brough defends girl mum report’, The Australian, 9 October 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, < http://www. theaustralian.com.au/news/brough-defends-girlmum-report/story-e6frg6po-1111114601169>. 25 Ian Woods, ‘Revealed: squalid conditions of

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39 40 41

Aborigines’, Sky News, 6 June 2011, viewed 17 March 2012, . Carolyn Dean, The fragility of empathy after the Holocaust, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2005. Jo Chandler, ‘A warm welcome in the dust, then talks clear the air’, The Age, 28 June 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, . Jo Chandler, ‘High hopes plan will bring a better life’, The Age, 16 August 2007, viewed 17 March 2012, . Melinda Hinkson, ‘Media images and the politics of hope’, pp. 239, 241. Faye Ginsburg and Fred Myers, ‘A history of Aboriginal futures’, Critique of Anthropology, vol. 26, no.1, 2006, p. 65; Felicity Collins, ‘After the apology: reframing violence and suffering in First Australians, Australia, and Samson and Delilah ’, Continuum, vol. 24, no. 1, 2010. Michael Meadows, Voices in the wilderness: images of Aboriginal people in the Australian media, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, 2001. This exhibition originally appeared in another form as More than my skin at Campbelltown Art Centre in 2008. It also toured 24HR Art Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and Katherine, in the Northern Territory over 2009, and Lismore Regional Art Gallery in 2010. Djon Mundine, Cold eels and distant thoughts: exhibition dates 4–16 July 2011, University Gallery, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 2011. Djon Mundine, Cold eels and distant thoughts, unpaginated. Maurice O’Riordan, ‘Jason Wing’, viewed 17 March 2012, . Jason Wing, Personal communication, 28 February 2012. Lawrence Bamblett, ‘Straight-line stories: identities in sports discourses’, Australian Aboriginal Studies, no. 2, 2011, p. 17. Djon Mundine, Cold eels and distant thoughts. Wendy S Hesford, Spectacular rhetorics; See especially Andrew Lattas, ‘Essentialism, memory and resistance: Aboriginality and the politics of authenticity’, Oceania, vol. 63, no. 3, 1993; Elizabeth Povinelli, The cunning of recognition: Indigenous alterities and the making of Australian multiculturalism, Duke University Press, Durham, 2002. Lawrence Bamblett, ‘Straight-line stories’, p. 17; Noel Pearson, ‘White guilt, victimhood and the quest for a radical centre’, Griffith Review, vol. 16, 2007. Susie Linfield, The cruel radiance: photography and political violence, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010, p. 168. Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory: Policy Statement November 2011, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,

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Canberra, 2011, viewed 17 March 2012, . Reverend Dr Djiniyini Gondarra et al., No more! Enough is enough! Statement by Northern Territory elders and community representatives, 2011, viewed 9 March 2012, . For a recent account of these codes of secrecy, see Raymond Evans, ‘The country has another past: Queensland and the history wars’, in FrancesPeters Little, Ann Curthoys and John Docker (eds), Passionate histories: myth, memory and Indigenous Australia, Aboriginal History Inc. and ANU E press, 2010. Anthropologist Deborah Bird Rose argues that ‘imagined transgressions’ against the white ideal have recently reached a climax of ‘total transparency’ that appears as lack of presence, yet ‘could be said to have a certain shape, like a lens that one looks right through, but which by its shape bends the light that goes through it.’: Deborah Bird Rose, ‘Aboriginal life and death in Australian settler nationhood’, Aboriginal History vol. 25, 2001, p. 160. For an interesting discussion of film in the age of native title, see Felicity Collins and Therese Davis, Australian cinema after Mabo, Cambridge university Press, Port Melbourne, 2004. James Allen (ed), Without sanctuary: lynching photography in America, Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, 2005; Shawn Michelle Smith, Photography

46

47 48 49 50

51

on the color line: WEB Du Bois, race, and visual culture, Duke University Press, Durham, 2004; Dora Apel, Imagery of lynching: black men, white women, and the mob, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2004. There are very few explicit images of Aboriginal death, but see Helen Ennis ‘Portraiture in extremis’ in Daniel Palmer (ed.), Photogenic: Essays/ Photography/CCP 2000-2004, Melbourne: Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2005, pp.23–4; Deborah Bird Rose ‘Aboriginal life and death’ , pp. 148–62. Brook Andrew, ‘Come into the light’ in The island catalogue, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, 2007. Ann Curthoys, ‘Whose home? Expulsion, exodus, and exile in white Australian historical mythology’, Journal of Australian Studies, no. 61, 1999, pp. 1–18. The Australian Abo Call: The Voice of the Aborigines, pp. 9–10. Luc Boltanski, Distant suffering: morality, media, and politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004; Mark Reinhardt, Holly Edwards, and Erina Duganne, Beautiful suffering: photography and the traffic in pain, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2007; Kyo Maclear, Beclouded visions: Hiroshima-Nagasaki and the art of witness, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1999; Wendy S Hesford, Spectacular rhetorics. Ariella Azoulay, The civil contract of photography, Zone Books, New York, 2008.

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index Page numbers in italics refer to photographs.

note

Abbott, Agnes 164 Aboriginal affairs federal mandate to implement beneficial policies 215 government pamphlets 134, 135, 173, 193, 195, 197, 207 official policy 91, 94, 102, 103, 114, 127, 139, 156, 159 assimilation 13, 30, 102, 127, 145, 153, 168, 172–3, 179, 180, 181, 184, 185, 186, 193, 209, 212, 213, 215, 219, 221, 231, 267 housing 179, 180, 181, 194, 195 land rights 225, 230, 239, 241, 243 and welfare 175, 179, 267–8, 278 and paternalism 195–6, 210 see also Northern Territory Emergency Response Aboriginal deaths in custody 251, 253, 262–3, 265, 275 Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976 (Cwlth) 230 Aboriginal missions and reserves Aurukun 129–30, 131, 132 Central Aborigines Reserve 193, 198 ‘civilising’ project of 72, 179, 200 Cummeragunja 114, 121 Forrest River 65, 72 Groote Eylandt 87 Lake Tyers 138, 235 Maloga 120 Warburton 199–200, 201 Aboriginal people. See Indigenous Australians Aborigines Act 1905 (WA) 53, 55

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Aborigines’ Advancement League 13, 35, 201, 215, 229 Aborigines Claim Citizens’ Rights! (pamphlet; Patten and Ferguson) 103–4 Aborigines’ Progressive Association (APA) 103, 108, 109, 110, 111, 123 activism (non-Indigenous) for Indigenous rights 26, 28, 31, 39, 40, 42–4, 52, 65–6, 78–9, 82, 91, 93, 94–5, 98, 103, 126–7, 142, 148–9, 201, 215 campaigns 137, 148, 159, 187, 193, 202–3, 209 and communism 30–1, 187, 191, 193, 197–8, 203 Jewish 203 use of visual imagery 27, 29, 30, 31, 35, 77, 91, 94, 95, 96–7, 98, 126, 129, 138, 202, 204, 205, 206, 281 see also Indigenous activism After the Tent Embassy (Langton, Stacey and Perroux) 250 agency 19, 211 Ahmed, Sara 20–1 Aird, Michael 248, 253, 274, 275, 283 Portraits of Our Elders 275 Woogoompa series 275 Alice Springs 83, 86, 94, 139, 142, 148, 209, 272, 278 Anderson, Alison 271 Anderson, Fay 115 Anderson, Michael 230 Andrew, Brook 280 Gun Metal Grey series 280, 282 Andrews, Shirley 203 art and literature 156, 162 and Indigenous subjects 110, 123,

125–6, 127, 128, 133, 173 interest in Indigenous culture 186 Ashenden, Dean 144 Australia colonial period 14, 17, 22, 27, 40–1, 46, 47, 66, 82, 231, 275, 279, 281 frontier violence 72, 82, 152, 279, 280 ‘history wars’ 65, 266 ideas of national identity 64, 281 and international opinion (on Indigenous people) 26, 27, 29, 31, 41, 52, 53, 65, 91, 101, 127, 182, 184, 186–7, 188, 191–2, 196–8, 199, 201, 203, 204–5 New Guinea mandate 137–8 pastoral industry 38, 40, 42, 43, 45, 53, 55, 172 political protest in 229–30 reconciliation 223, 283 White Australia Policy 41, 115, 191 Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association 77–8 Australian Aborigines’ League 109, 121, 175 Australian Council for Civil Liberties (ACCL) 126, 137 Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies 198 After 200 Years project 256, 258, 262 Australians (non-Indigenous) and bearing witness 22, 46, 65, 237 engagement with Indigenous Australians 30, 142, 148, 152, 159, 163–4, 173 ignorance/acceptance of Indigenous suffering 17, 52,

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72, 74, 86–7, 101, 144, 178, 192 popular ideas of justice and rights 28, 64 prevailing (stereotypical) views of Indigenous people 45–6, 64–5, 77, 91, 95, 96, 99, 125, 163, 168, 168, 219, 221, 236, 265, 266, 267, 270, 271–2, 273, 274, 276, 278 and recognition of Indigenous experience 12–13, 16–18, 22, 28, 29, 46, 62, 278 1920s to mid-1930s 29, 64, 73–5, 76, 77, 78, 82–3, 87, 88, 91, 95, 96–7, 98–9 late 1930s to 1940s 101, 102, 104, 105, 107, 121, 122–3, 125–6, 129–32, 137–8, 139, 148–9, 162, 175, 176, 177 1950s and 1960s 173, 179–80, 181, 182, 183, 184, 196, 198–9, 201, 202, 203, 207, 209–11, 212, 219 since the 1970s 65, 223, 230, 231, 234, 235, 256, 265, 279, 281 and shame 21, 99 Azoulay, Ariella 283 Baker, Courtney 161, 162 Bamblett, Lawrence 276 Bandler, Faith 202, 203, 236 Barkan, Elazar 26 Barnes, Jillian 108 Barnett, Oswald 176, 178 Barthes, Roland 20, 161 Basedow, Herbert 78–9 Battarbee, Rex 209 Modern Australian Aboriginal Art 209 Baudrillard, Jean 268 Behrendt, Larissa 230 Bennett, John 215, 217 Bennett, Mary 79, 82, 91, 93, 98 The Australian Aboriginal as a Human Being 79 Bergner, Yosl 126 Aborigines 123, 125, 129, 133 Bin Bin, Dooley 187, 188 Birtles, Francis 56–7, 58, 59, 231, 234 Bishop, Mervyn 223, 225, 239, 241, 242, 243, 244, 249, 252, 274 Biskup, Peter 55 Blainey, Geoffrey 65, 266 Blair, Harold 186, 219 Bleakley, JW 83, 121 Bleakley report 83–4, 86 Bob, Cowell 164, 165 Bolte, Henry 180 Bolte government 179 Boodungarry (Aboriginal boy) 38 Bourke, Ace 250, 251

Boyd, Arthur 126 Brink, Cornelia 117, 119 Britain and native colonial subjects 55, 91 Brooks, David 205 Brough, Mal 271, 272, 274 Brown, Roosevelt 229 Bryant, Gordon 202, 203 Buckland, Sergeant 71–2 Burt, Octavius 47, 48 Byrnes, Paul 144 Carmody, Kev 223 Carr-Boyd, William 48, 52 Carter, Charlie 235 Central Australia Indigenous experience in 56–7, 59–60, 78–9, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 122, 139, 192, 267 Chandler, Jo 273 Christophers, Barry 203 Churchill, Winston 116 Clark, Jennifer 211 Clark, Russell (aka Gilbert Anstruther) 108 Clarke, Reg 212, 213 Coe, Isobell 235 Coe, Paul 128 Coldicutt, Ken 31, 176 Collings, Dahl 142, 162 Collings, Geoffrey 30, 142, 153, 162–3, 164, 165, 166–7, 168, 169, 170–1 The Use of Film in Wartime 163 colonialism, 55, 196, 198 and decolonisation 179, 211 and photographic record of Indigenous issues 13, 16–17, 39, 48, 61, 62, 279–80 and settler progress 48 Combo, Clyde 144–5, 146, 168, 169 Communist Party of Australia (CPA) 30, 176, 187–8, 197, 198 Communist Party’s Rights for Aborigines … (pamphlet; CPA) 187 Congo Reform Association 39, 42, 55 Contemporary Art Society 125 Cooper, William 29, 106, 107, 111, 109, 114, 120–1 Coorie, Tony 230 Council for Aboriginal Rights 126 Cough, Arthur 101 Counihan, Noel 125 Craigie, Billy 230 Croft, Brenda L 250, 251, 253, 254, 255, 283 Conference Call series 253 Crombie, Isobel 163, 165 Curthoys, Ann 102, 203, 204, 216, 219 Dalgarno, Roy 123

Davey, Stan Genesis or Genocide? (pamphlet) 127 Daylight, Ruth 182, 183, 184, 209 Dean, Carolyn 273 Dening, Greg 22 Dhakiyarr (Aboriginal warrior) 87, 88 Dodds, Steve 152 Drohojowski, Jan 191 Drysdale, Russell 173 Duguid, Charles 94–5, 97, 98, 152, 179, 209 Dunlop, Ian 237 Durack, Elizabeth Displaced Persons 126, 128 Durack, Mary 215 Dwyer, Joseph 48 Dyer, Rev. Alf 88 Eckford, Elizabeth 211 Edwards, Elizabeth 66 Edwards, Sandy 237 Eichmann, Adolf 127 Eisenhower, Dwight D 116 Evans, Daniel 66, 67, 69, 73 Evans, Megan 13 Evatt, HV 192 Faas, Horst 15 Fanley, Terry 123 Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA) 202–3, 204 feminism 229 Ferguson, Bill 106, 107, 111, 281 Ferrier, James 75, 77 Festa, Lynn 19 film 13, 30–1, 115, 126, 141, 153 Aboriginal interest in 141–2 bushranger films 142 documentary 12, 30, 143, 162, 163, 176, 206, 237–8 Indigenous 274 instructive films 182 and representations of Aboriginal people 142, 144–5, 146–7, 152, 157, 198, 199–200, 201, 205–7, 209, 251, 283 and social reform/activism 30, 176, 199, 201–4 films Beautiful Melbourne (Realist Film Unit) 176 Bitter Springs (Smart), 150–1, 152–3 The dreaming (Dahl Collings) 173 Eureka stockade (Watt) 145, 148 Jedda (Chauvel) 184 Namatjira the painter (Mountford and Robinson) 157, 159, 209 The overlanders (Watt) 30, 137, 141, 142, 143–5, 146–7, 148, 149, 153, 157, 164

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Pattern of life (Geoffrey Collings) 173 A place to live (Realist Film Unit) 176 The plow that broke the plains (Lorentz) 163 Samson and Delilah 274 Their darkest hour (Grayden) 126, 198, 199–200, 201–2, 203, 204, 205–7 These are our children (Realist Film Unit) 176 Tjuringa (Mountford) 157 The tracker (de Heer) 13, 34 Walkabout (Mountford) 157, 209, 251 Fishhook (Aboriginal man) 57, 60 Fitzpatrick, Brian 126, 137 Foley, Gary 224, 229 Foster, Tom 106, 107, 111 Forrest, Sir John 45 Gandhi, Indira 15 Garland, Wyn 202 Garnsey, Canon AH 122 Gellatly, Kelly 251 Gemes, Juno 237 Gibbs, Pearl 202 Gibney, Bishop Matthew 43–4 Gilbert, Kevin 235, 236, 253, 256 Ginsberg, Faye 27 Goldberg, Vicky 52 Goodall, Heather 114 Goolagong, Evonne 186, 219 Gordon (Aboriginal man) 60 Grant, Donald 192 Grattan, Michelle 235 Gray, Fred 88 Grayden, William 198, 199 Adam and Atoms 136, 201, 204, 207 Green, Neville 74 Greer, Germaine The Female Eunuch 229 Gribble, Rev. Ernest 65, 66, 67, 69, 71, 72, 75, 82 Gribble, Rev. John 41, 46, 65–6, 74, 77, 82 Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land 66 Groves, Bert 123, 124, 182, 202 Gulpilil, David 13, 247, 251 Gumbool (Aboriginal man) 69, 70, 71, 72, 79 Haebich, Anna 267 Hasluck, Paul 102, 180, 184 Healy, Chris 46 Herbert, Xavier Capricornia 110 Poor Fellow My Country 127 Heyer, John 142 Hinkson, Melinda 266, 273, 274 history interpretation of 65

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and legacy in the present 21, 22, 61 and visual culture 25, 26, 61–2, 119 Holden, Rev. AT 91 Holmes, Cecil 31, 203 Holocaust, the 22, 29, 126, 269 and images of concentration camps 101, 114, 115–17, 118, 119–20, 139, 279 Horner, Jack 203 Howard, John 265, 267, 269–70 humanitarianism 14, 18–19, 25–6, 32, 65, 73, 77, 99, 121, 122, 178, 278, 283 see also activism (non-Indigenous) for Indigenous rights human rights 19, 26, 39, 41, 161, 196 and Indigenous Australians 126, 138, 139, 188, 191, 196, 199, 201, 256, 283 labour law 41–2 and refugees 115 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 162, 201, 202 following WWII 114, 121, 126, 138, 162, 175 imperialism 41 Indigenous activism 29, 77, 102, 111, 113, 114, 120, 229 campaigns 111, 120, 128, 139, 187–8, 192, 201 for constitutional reform (referendum) 202, 207, 214, 215, 217¸ 221, 229 civil rights movement 199, 205, 207–8, 211, 221, 235, 236 land rights movement 224, 230 and leadership 29, 106, 107, 111, 120, 121, 230, 235, 236, 237, 270, 279, 281 and colonial records 250 Freedom Ride 216, 218, 219 Gurinji Walk-off (strike) 223 from the 1970s 216, 218, 219, 224, 226, 227, 230–1, 235 protests 99, 101, 103, 104, 105, 121, 123, 124, 229, 251, 253, 255, 256, 257, 259, 260–1 Tent Embassy 224, 226, 227, 230–1, 235 and use of (visual) media 31, 32, 101, 102, 103–4, 106, 107, 108–10, 138–9, 175, 201, 206, 211, 216, 218, 219, 220, 224, 226, 229, 232–3, 234, 235, 236, 281 Indigenous Australians conditions and treatment 14, 16, 38, 39, 42–5, 46–8, 52, 91, 93–4, 110, 139, 145, 186, 188, 201, 203, 224, 231, 236, 266, 280

experience of assimilation 168, 172–3, 179, 180, 181, 184, 185, 186 fringe- and camp-dwellers 30, 104, 125, 163, 173, 178, 179, 272 improvements/reform 28, 31, 86, 179, 180, 181, 276 perceptions of crisis 265, 266, 267, 270 scandals/atrocities 28, 44, 64, 65–6, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71–3, 75, 78–9, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 122–3, 129–30, 188, 280 likened to slavery 27, 28, 38, 40, 41, 43, 45, 53, 55, 61, 64, 65, 75, 77–9, 82, 93, 99, 109, 137, 148, 187, 190, 191 dispossession and loss 47, 60, 74, 101, 152, 159, 193, 280 and ideals of authenticity 18, 32, 98, 276, 280 and the justice system 46–7, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 59, 61, 64, 66, 88, 92, 93, 122, 123, 129, 189, 190, 191–2, 229, 253, 275 and narrative of uplift 101, 179, 180, 181, 182, 196, 207, 209 and restrictions on knowledge 23–4 Stolen Generations 21, 131–2, 266, 267, 268, 278 and traditional lifestyle 62, 83, 88, 199, 205, 206–7, 240 and visibility 16–17, 25, 31, 62, 64, 78, 99, 102, 142, 153, 162, 175, 176, 187, 188, 192, 198–9, 200, 202, 218, 232–3, 236, 249, 258, 265, 270, 276, 281, 283 living conditions 177, 182, 183, 184, 196 as stockmen 30, 142, 145, 156, 159, 160, 164, 166–7, 168, 169, 170–1, 172–3 in (remote) Western Australia 27–8, 38, 39–40, 41, 42–8, 53, 55, 62, 63, 65, 78, 91, 172, 189, 190, 191–2, 201, 206 see also Northern Territory Emergency Response Indigenous communities/groups Andjedja 65 Anmatyerre 78 Arnga 65 Arrernte 162, 163, 164, 173 Ben Lomond 262 Cape Portland 262 Gurinji 225, 239, 241 Kamilaroi 123 Kaytetye 78 Kolkatha 193 Larrakia 141, 192 Ngaanyatjarra 126, 198, 199, 205, 207

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Ngarinman 56–7, 59–60, 231 Pitjanjatjara 79, 193 Taungerong 120 Tjungundji 137 Warlpiri 78, 258, 273–4 Wembra 65 Wik 263 Wiradjuri 280 Wurundjeri 120 Yeidji 65 Yolngu 64, 87, 237, 238, 240 Indigenous identity and culture 18, 186, 230, 235–6, 240, 251 art/artists 173, 206, 208–9, 250, 251, 274–5, 280 and cultural autonomy 223 cultural practices 141, 258, 262 and representations of 103, 182, 205, 236, 240 recognition of 98, 173, 236 Indigenous rights 19, 25, 26, 31, 32, 139, 193, 265, 267 and citizenship 106, 109–10, 209, 210–11 land rights 120, 137, 159, 223, 225, 230, 239, 241, 243, 250, 266 and native title 98, 237, 263, 265 self-determination 187, 215, 223, 236, 250 see also activism (non-Indigenous) for Indigenous rights; Indigenous activism Ingram, Esther 106, 107 Ingram, Isaac 106, 107, 110, 112 Ingram, Louisa 106, 107 Ingram, Olive 106, 107 Ingram, Phillip 106, 107, 110, 112 Ingram, Suzanne 106 Jawiyabba, Qawanji Ngurku (Vincent Brady) 253, 257 Jewish persecution 29, 115, 119, 126 and Aboriginal experiences 101, 110, 114–15, 120, 123, 125–6, 127, 128, 175, 203, 207, 256 Aboriginal protest 121 see also Holocaust Kearney, Simon 270–2 Kelly, Paul 223 Kench, Rev. WT 45–6 Kerin, Rani 95 Khrushchev, Nikita 31, 196, 197, 198 Kinchela, Jack 106, 107, 111 King, Martin Luther 211, 219 Klaatsch, Hermann 13, 53, 54, 179 Kunoth-Monks, Rosalie 186 Landers, Noelene 206 Lange, Dorothea 157 Langton, Marcia 13, 16, 268–9, 270 Lansdowne, Lord 55

Laurent, Michael 15 Lawson, Delvina 206 Lee, Gary 274 Lee, Georgia, 186, 189 Leon, Charlie 202 Linfield, Susie 278 Lindsay, Daryl 173 Lindsay, Norman 88, 90 Lingiari, Vincent 223, 225, 239, 241 Little Children are Sacred report 266 Lock, Ann 82 Lockwood, Douglas 182, 184, 187, 192 Lowe, Rex 122 Luckey, Tanya 248, 273 Lumbia (Aboriginal man) 66, 75, 76, 77 Mabo decision 265 McClintock, Herbert 123 Macdonald, Gaynor 60 McEwan, JW 102 McFarlane, Robert 219, 220 McGrath, Pamela 202, 205, 206 McGuiness, Bruce 229 McKenna, Clancy 187, 188 McKenzie, Peter Yanada 24, 258, 260–1, 274 Mackenzie, Rev. WF 129, 130 McLeod, Don 187, 191–2 McMahon, Billy 230 Mahon, Hugh 42–3 Majala, ‘Old Turkey’ 56, 60 Macklin, Jenny 272 Malcolmson, Walter 42, 43, 44 Malik, Jacob 191 Maloney, Dorothy 77, 78 Manning, Corinne 179 Maralinga 201 Marawili, Wakuthi 239 Marika, Wandjuk 238–9, 250 Matthews, Bob 176 Matthews, Daniel 120 Maynard, Fred 77 Maynard, John 77–8 Maynard, Ricky 253, 259, 262, 274 Moonbird People 262 No More Than What You See 262–3 Returning to Places that Name Us 259, 263 Michaels, Eric 24, 258 Middleton, Stanley 192 Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (1971) 237 mining and land rights 238–9 Missingham, Hal 123 Mitchell, EC 66 Mitchell, Ernest 48 Mitchell, Frank 67, 69 Mitchell, WJT 269 Moffatt, Tracey 250, 247, 251 Morley, Rev. W 94

Morris, Meaghan 22 Moseley inquiry and report 82, 91, 93–4, 98 Mountford, Charles 157 The Art of Albert Namatjira 209 Mundine, Djon 274, 276 Munro, Keith 262 Murdoch, Henry 144–5, 147, 148, 168, 169 Murdoch, Rupert 199 Murray, William 78 NADOC 243, 250, 251 Namatjira, Albert 186, 208, 209, 210 Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth) 265 Native Welfare Act 1954 (WA) 201 (neck-)chained prisoners 33, 34, 35, 40, 41, 44, 45, 47, 49, 55, 56–7, 81, 92, 93, 96, 132, 192 responses to images of 12, 14, 39, 48, 61, 64, 82, 88, 91, 94 as symbol of injustice and oppression 12–13, 27, 28, 39, 43, 54, 75, 76, 77, 79, 83, 91, 98, 99, 122, 123, 129, 131, 188, 231, 234, 250, 280 Nettheim, Matt 34 Neville, AO 69 Newfong, John 231 New South Wales Indigenous experiences in 77, 78, 103, 110, 113, 114, 216, 218, 219 newspapers and periodicals 28–9, 47, 74, 116–17 Adelaide Register 86, 139 Age 176, 178 Anti-Slavery Reporter 52, 53 Australian 271–2, 273 Australian Abo Call 108–10, 111, 112–13, 114 Australian Women’s Weekly 88, 143, 145, 180, 185, 186, 189, 209, 212 Bulletin 86, 88, 90 Daily News (London) 43, 74 Daily Mirror 143, 216, 218, 219 Herald (Melbourne) 129, 132, 137, 181, 184 Hoofs and Horns 172 Identity 227, 235, 236, 242 Life (US) 29 Lone Hand 57, 59 Mail 149 Man 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 People Magazine 24 Sun 177 Sunday Times 123, 124 Sydney Morning Herald 117, 118, 143, 241 Tidsignal (Sweden) 204 Times (London) 52, 87 Tribune 187, 188, 190, 191 Truth 74

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Walkabout 29, 108 Weekly Illustrated (England) 95, 96–7 West Australian 41, 45, 91 Western Mail 48, 49, 74–5 Newton, Gael 251 Nicholls, Pastor Doug 103, 106, 107, 121, 178, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 206 Nicholls, Yvonne Not Slaves, Not Citizens 127 Noble, Rev. James 66 Nolan, Sidney 126 Northern Territory 102 child sexual abuse in 266, 268 Indigenous experiences in 87–8, 89, 129, 137, 141, 148–9, 210–11, 223 see also Central Australia Northern Territory Emergency Response (‘Intervention’) 31, 247, 266, 267, 269–70, 273, 275, 279 and debates about Aboriginality 265, 270, 276, 278 and the media 268, 270–3, 276, 278 Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory statement 278–9 Onus, Bill 215, 217, 229 Oxenham, Donna 61 Patten, Jack 29, 103, 106, 107, 109, 110, 111, 114, 281 Patterson, Thomas 94 Pearson, Noel 270, 276 Perkins, Charles 216, 218, 219, 220, 235, 236 Perkins, John 88 Peters-Little, Frances 202 Peterson, Nicolas 129 photographs absence of 280 affect of 14, 22, 30, 86 censored and hidden 86–7, 99, 139, 269 and complicity in abuse 15, 279 dignified portrayal of Indigenous people 153, 154–5, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166–7, 168, 169, 170–1, 173, 248, 259, 265, 273, 283 distancing effect of 16, 18, 20, 178, 269 and empathy 14, 18, 19–20, 21, 40, 161, 179, 268, 273, 283 and ethical issues 23–5, 31–2, 44, 86, 241, 258, 262, 280, 283 as evidence for distant atrocity 28, 29, 101, 120, 175, 202, 207 as evidence of injustice/violence 13, 14–15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 38–9, 53, 61, 65, 69, 71, 73,

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74, 78, 82–3, 86, 99, 119–20, 122, 138, 202, 211, 221, 250, 279, 281 legitimacy 29 limitations of 61–2, 117, 280–1 and perception 16, 28, 39, 47, 48, 52, 62, 64, 71, 72, 87–8, 91, 94, 278, 283 and power relations 20, 23, 25 and responsibility 283 see also uses of photography; (visual) media photography as practice 157, 161 exhibitions 20, 159, 161, 243, 250, 251, 253, 262, 274–6 Indigenous photographers and perspective 24, 223, 241, 242, 243, 244, 249–6, 247, 251, 253, 254, 255, 257, 259, 260– 1, 262–3, 274–6, 281, 283 and Indigenous subjects 153, 154–5, 156–7, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162–3, 164, 165, 166–7, 168, 169, 236–7, 239–41, 249, 258, 259, 262, 275 Piesse, Frederick 53 Poignant, Axel 30, 142, 153, 154–5, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 168, 173 Poignant, Roslyn 153, 156, 157 politics of affect 20–1 of recognition 98 and visual imagery 32, 64, 199, 202, 223, 229 Povinelli, Elizabeth 98 Powell, Geoffrey 156 Pulkara, Daly 60 Queensland Indigenous experiences in 145, 275–6 race/racial thought 26, 29, 114, 128, 272 in Australia 64–5, 87, 101, 102, 115, 121, 122, 128, 202, 207, 216, 274, 283 discrimination 120, 205, 207, 216 in the United States 211–12 Rafferty, Chips 142, 144, 145, 152 Rentoul, Rev. John Laurence 43, 62 Reynolds, Henry 17, 26 This Whispering in Our Hearts 25 Rhodes, Jon 237 Just Another Sunrise? 238–9 Riboud, Marc 15 Riley, Michael 250, 274 Robertson, Alec 203 Robertson, Philip 237 Robeson, Paul 203–4 Robinson, Lee 157 Rogers, Nanette 266

Rolls, Mitchell 102 Ronald (Aboriginal youth) 67, 72 Rose, Deborah Bird 59, 60 Rosler, Martha 178 Roth, Walter 38, 44, 52–3 Roth inquiry and report 27–8, 38, 39, 44, 45–6, 52, 53, 55, 66 Rothwell, Nicholas 270 Rowley, Charles, 82 The Destruction of Aboriginal Society 12, 33 Saunders, John 40 Sawtell, Michael 149, 152, Schlunke, Katrina 74 science and Indigenous Australians 53, 64–5, 156 Servatius, Robert 127 Shevill, Rev. Ian 137 Shirl, ‘Mum’ 235 Sholl, RF 47 slavery 19, 20, 41, 279 anti-slavery campaigns 27, 36, 39, 40, 42, 55, 77, 178 Smart, Ralph 142 Smith, W Eugene 237 Sontag, Susan 62, 74, 117, 139 South, Jason 267 South Africa Sharpeville massacre 196, 204 Soviet Union 191, 193, 197, 198 Spencer, Baldwin 65 Stanner, WEH 17, 101, 102 Steichen, Edward 159 Stephensen, Percy 103, 109, 110 Street, Jessie 202 Strehlow, Ted 23–4 Sutton, Peter 132, 270 Sykes, Bobbi 235, 236 Tasmania experiences of Indigenous people in 262 Taylor, John 22, 269 Taylor, Penny 256, 258 television and Indigenous issues 202, 216, 203, 212, 230 First Australians (SBS) 13, 274 Lateline (ABC) 266 Mediawatch (ABC) 272 Sky News 272–3 Thomas, William 120 Thomson, Donald 129–30, 131, 132, 137, 179 Till, Emmet, 161–2 Trainor, Doreen 204 Truganini 262 Tucker, Albert 125 Tucker, Fr Gerard 176 Tweedie, Penny 228, 237, 239, 240, 245 Indigenous Australia 239–40 Spirit of Arnhem Land 240

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United States civil rights movement 20, 162, 203, 211–12, 219 Black Power movement 224, 229 New Deal programs 143, 156, 163 race relations in 20, 216, 279 uses of photography establishing proximity 74 as evidence of shared humanity 14, 20, 78, 79, 80, 162, 240 exploitation/control 16, 23, 56–7, 75, 283 as means of naturalising subjugation 56–7, 59 as means of remembering, restoring 13, 23, 25, 60, 61, 62, 72, 73–4, 117, 275 see also photographs Victoria experiences of Indigenous people in 125, 138, 175–6, 177, 178, 179–80, 181, 212, 213 adoption into white families 184 (visual) media 14, 26–7, 87 bearing witness 23, 25, 69, 83, 114, 115–17, 118, 129, 130, 131, 132, 138, 251, 269 developments in 28, 41, 64, 77, 119–20, 122, 139

and discourse of abjection 175–6, 177, 178, 205, 207, 219, 271, 272, 278, 281 and meaning 27 and public awareness of Indigenous issues 26, 29, 30, 62, 64, 77, 83, 88, 90, 104, 108, 114, 126, 132, 137, 142, 149, 198–9, 204–5, 267 and social change 27, 32, 41–2, 262 see also activism for Indigenous rights; art and literature; film; Indigenous activism Vyshinsky, Andrey 192 Walker, Denis 235 Walker, J 137 Walker, Kath (later Oodgeroo Noonuccal) 202, 235 Walker, Thomas 53 Walker, William 83, 84, 85, 86, 139, 179 Warapuwuy, David 228 Ward, RC 122 Ward, William, 60 Waters, Fred 192 Watt, Harry 137, 142, 143, 148–9 West, Livingston 206 Westerway, Peter 216 White, Patrick

Riders in the Chariot 127 White, TW 115 Whitlam, Gough 225, 230, 239, 243 Wigley, James 125 Wik Peoples v The State of Queensland 263 Wilkinson, Rev. H 46, 47, 62 Wilkinson, JR 91 Williams, Albert 163, 164, 165 Williams, Arthur jnr 106, 107 Williams, Bertie 230 Williams, Doris 106, 107 Williams, Gary 216 Williams, Mary 163 Wing, Jason 274–5, 283 A Government Initiative series 275, 277 Wolfe, Tom Radical Chic … 229 Wood, Marcus 19 Wood inquiry and report 67, 68, 69, 70, 71–3, 74 Woomera rocket range 193, 199, 201 World War Two 101, 114, 115–17, 118, 163 see also Holocaust Wright, M 119 Wright, Tom A New Deal for Aborigines 187 Wylie, Angela 273

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