NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
10th May, 1921 : Mrs Daisy Bates, who is engaged in mission work with Aborigines at Ooldea in South Australia, reports that cannibalism is prevalent in Central Australia. Mrs Bates’ services were retained by the South Australian Government to live with and study the Aboriginal tribes, which she did at Fowler’s Bay until 1918. In 1919, Mrs Bates went to live with Aborigines at Ooldea. Mrs Bates reports that Aborigines who returned to Ooldea from tribal ceremonies north-east of Kalgoorlie said they had killed and eaten two men. Mrs Bates said Aboriginal women frequently killed and ate their own infants, and she knew one Aboriginal woman who had eaten four of her babies. Mrs Bates said she had recovered the bones and had sent them to Adelaide Museum.
[Daisy May Bates (1859-1952) deserves to be better known. An Irish Catholic, she married poet and horseman Breaker Morant. “Bates was convinced that the Australian Aborigines were a dying race and that her mission was to record as much as she could about them before they disappeared. She dismissed people of part Aboriginal descent as worthless and wrote in the Perth Sunday Times on 12 June 1921, ‘As to the half-castes, however early they may be taken and trained, with very few exceptions, the only good half-caste is a dead one.’ Not exactly politicaly correct, Bromberg might say.
“She also worked tirelessly for Aboriginal welfare, setting up camps to feed, clothe and nurse the transient population, drawing on her own income to meet the needs of the aged. She fought against the policy of having native people assimilated into white Australian society and resisted the sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women by white men. She was said to have worn pistols even in her old age and to have been quite prepared to use them to threaten police when she caught them mistreating ‘her’ Aborigines. In 1934 she was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by King George V.”
So, do not judge the Australia’s womanhood by the current crop – Penny Wong, Lee Rhianon, Bob Brown, Sarah Hanson-Young etc.
And I can’t help but wonder; what happened to those bones? Lost? Returned for the restpectful traditional burrial?]