Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Australian Aborigines

Those who have property will do anything to defend it, conversely, that in the Western world those who don’t will do almost anything to get it; whilst the Australian Aborigines, who had no sense of property at all, had no place in a world where property rights counted above all else.

But it would be wrong to put all the blame for what was cultivated in a way completely alien to white understanding on the shoulders of the white invaders without an appreciation of the manner of life and thinking of those invaders. For they were the products of the brutal age and it is very unlikely that they were much more brutal to the blacks, whom they rarely considered to be human beings, than they had been to the convicts who had preceded the Aborigines as beasts of burden.

The early settlers were ignorant concerning the Aborigines and their beliefs and equally ignorant about the land they were ravaging. Unfortunately, there were schools and scholars who were able to teach husbandry long before there were any people of truly Christian attitudes or trained in anthropology who could teach the white man enough about the Aborigines. When there were signs of enlightenment amongst the settlers, greed got in the way and those who would have treated their Aborigines properly, those who trained them to become good stockmen and their women as other than a source of sexual gratification, were soon ostracized.

First, there was the use of hard footed animals killing the native grasses, then over-stocking and destruction of the trees and the waterways in which the spirits of the Aborigines dwelt. At first, some of the squatters treated the Aborigines with decency, mostly because they needed them as shepherds and general laborers. But soon misunderstandings arose. As sheep and cattle drove away the natural inhabitants upon whom the Aborigines depended for food, the Aborigines started to take some of the invader’s cattle for sustenance; this led to slaughter of Aborigines, who retaliated. Then came native troopers, always from other tribes or groupings, who carried out the white man’s wish to destroy the local inhabitants.

When judging the behavior of the whites it must be remembered that they were acting under the pressure of fear and ignorance, two very hard taskmasters.

(Quoted from the book review of “The Cry For The Dead” by A.W. Sheppard)



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