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West Australian Blacks.

Monday 24 August 1896

The natites of Fitzroy River, West Aus tralia are troublesome. In an encounter with them and tbe police nine natives were killed and two wounded.


Sunday 12 January 1902

. It has been repeatedly said that the days of “Uncle Tom,” so’graphically pictured by Harriet Beecher Stowe, were happier for the negroes than those that followed Abra-

ham Lincoln’s proclamation of freedom for. the slave. And it may be that an absolute slave to a kind master is a creature better

treated than those modern slaves who sign : only for services to the greedy masters of

our own time. All’the Abraham Lincolns

and Wilberforees who ‘have yet labored for the emancipation of bondsmen have not in stilled humanity into Some hearts, and we very seriously question * if the modern methods of enslaving our fellow creatures, be they black or white, are not yery much worse than the straight out slavery which did not shrink from the term to be found on the southern plantations in the palmy days of Stephen A Douglass; in Western Aus trala we shudder at the name” of slavery, and have the effrontery to deny its, existence

in tie British Empire, Whenever a Nor’ West-or, more correctly” speaking, a nor- thern squatter-visits Perth on a holiday he is at once interviewed by the representa- tives of the daily journals and columns, of his laudation of the justice and humanity of squatterdom . delude the, public into the

belief that ‘.. . ; ?

More Gentle Gentlemen

never tasted bullock flesh than are these

kings of the solitude of the North. If they

do nave1 aborigines working’ for Them they are still free men, well fed, ” well paid, well clothed and as independent and free as the the Moaris in to believe them, as the wage earners. of Perth. There may. occasionally be found a few recalcitrant niggers, but these men are only chained necEfto neck and driven a hundred miles or so iii the hot sun, or > chained . by the legs to stumps of trees. That surely is nothing to complain of, for in the old days they used to brand them with hot irons just by way of fun. ït may also be necessary occasionally to flog the way- ward native, but as Dr. Hicks not long ago. explained in the “House this is more an amusement for the victim than anything else, since it is only done with schnapper lines “without knots.” Again also it is necessary to shoot a few by accident, but this is – only a wholesome check on over- population.. Iii short, if we are to credit the accounts-of bishops and squatters, and journalists of the Hackett type, the niggers of the North live ina paradise, in comparison with which tte vision -of Mahomet as de- tailed in the Koran . is hard and harsh. Notwithstanding all this the fact remains that slavery in its worst form-since it is slavery .without the, responsibility of the master,” and with the claim on the part oi the slave to the consideration of humanity exists in this . benighted kind of the Weet. Of course, as we have already said, it is not called slavery-that term

-Has a. Shock

and a reproach in it. It is right np to date and is simply called an ”agreement.”. That the reader may thoroughly understand the nature of .this agreement, ‘we will quote one asa sample:-“This agreement, made the 28th day of August, 19G0, between-, agent of Forrest and Burt?, of Gascoyne, and an aboriginal native witnesses : (1) The said Coorabiddy Sambo agrees to serve ?- as general servant ; (2) such service «to last until August 28, 1901 ; {3) Coorabiddy or Sambo is to begin work on August 28, 1900 ; (4) (Ttó ágeiit of Forrest and Burt) is to supply Coorabiddy sluring. the said service with medical attendance whèn practicable and necessary unless the illness of Coora- biddy te «auted by his own ‘improper act or default ; (5) ^Thóágent of Forrest and Burt) is to ci ve during the said service sufficient food per day and at the commencement of Iiiie service is ibb . gi\« to him one pair trousers, onesldr%,<u) before or at’the ter ! inination of such set-vice (the agent for For I rest and Burty is to give Coorabiddy one

blanket.’3 This blanket, it is necessary to know, is supplied by (a paternal Govern- ment. This agreement is duly signed in the presence of a , J;P. at Jacobs, Gaily by the .agent for Forrest and Burt, and there is the X of .Coorabiddy attached. The name of the Act under which tie printed form is made legal is twice cited, 50th Vic. Ko. 25 – schedule.; and at the foot of the agree- ment comes the “endorsement” in these

words : “I,; C. H. Dunlop, of Gascoyne, a justice of the peace,

Do Hereby Certify .

that the within agreement was fully ex- plained by me to Coorabiddy before he exe- cuted the same, and that he appears to be ol the age of 14 years and upwards and fully tc understand the agreement, and to be a free and voluntary agent in the matter and undei no. fear, coercion or restraint. That th« said agreement was made on the day, of thc plate thereof.-C. H. DuKiior, J.P., Jacob’i Gully. Dated the 28th day of August, 1900.’ This is the modern method of making a slav« of a nigger. There is no auction, it is true but there is a sort of government at thc forging of the chains, nevertheless. Thc absurdity of a J.P. fully, explaining to t black all the conditions -and responsibility of putting a little cross, as, a mark to thc agreement needs no comment. No ordinary J.P. cbald make a black fully realise that hi was to be the white .man’s slave for li months, and that all he was to have as pay ment or reward was tim pair of trousers, ±h< shirt and Ahe blanket. That this partícula Coorabiddy did not fully understand tba the piece of paper he smudged was to buk bim to the locality and serriee of üie agen -of Forrest and Burt is evidenced by the ,fae

thatim afterw^

4n the] powerof tte agreement and the com -plicity pf the State itt] the enforcement “ö sl&very.’ The agreement was taken to a jus tice of tiie peace, and on the strength of it

A Warrant was Issued

for CooraWddy’i arrest, and all the agencie of the jaw were employed to bring tl» native fleeing for freedom back to hi; bondage and the chains of his agreement

Un fte same station there are othe;

aborigines held by the same fetters-agree

mente ! The mates are not’the only com

_I*1_-j.._ TTTL *_:_- ,_S J_

jjimsoiy servitors. ijue gins aré bound down on similar ternis to serve the manager according to the strict letter of the agree- ment, though the master is not so strictly bound to ute literal wording of the docu- ment. Indeed there are instances of masters deliberately breaking even the light burden of this one-sided agreement. But what does it matter in the eyes of the world? The agreement is only with blacks, and what are they to the convenience of a squatter?] Besides where can a black hope for a remedy? What chance has he or his gin in the law courts pleading for justice against’ his master? What Western Australian magistrate would take the word of an aboriginal if it were .contradicted by > squatter or a squatter’s agent? There seems no hope for

These Wretched Children

of the sod-ïhe original possessors of the country. They «re looked upon as chattels, and treated worse (than property in chattels would be treated. Therefore the sooner we recognise that the boasted dviljsatioo and bnmanity oílfche present age «are hollow shams and moäÜ^”. the better chance there

will be of a morai in tie direction, of honesty and-imnor. In tl«. meMB^ tíw

^ffi^p^rre aV ihstnimm

Paudess Eírtraction.-The latest lócala anaesthetics ‘ used -at the Hnrgery^of S. i

The West Australian

Saturday 16 April 1904




I have read with interest the con troversy which has been goin» on in the dailies during the last week or two with reference so the treatment dealt out to the West Australian black?. And I have been not a little bit surprised at the attitude adopted by such men as the West Australian Agent-General in England (Mr. H. B. Lefroy), Sir John Forrest, Mr. W. Kingsmill, and others. Mr. Walter Malcolmaon, in his letter to

the Times put the matter too mildly-he j is right, these who contradict his state ments are woefully wrong.

As a West Australian, and one who has had an intimate knowledge of the re lations existing between the whites and blacks of the West,–and my experience expends from Fremantle to Wyndham (Cambridge Gulf) in the north, and from Perthj to Hampton Plains in theEist – I have no hesitation in stating that the blacks o£ West Australia have not only been the victims of isolated instances of cruelty, but have had practised upon them brutality of a most systematic character. And this condition of things has not been coutined to the rough material, of which stock riders, general bush hands, and such are composed squatters have participated in and con nived at these cruelties-these immorali ties-to such an extent that if the whole truth were known the world would be staggered. The punitive expeditions of the Queensland mounted police are no | parallel to the terrible treatment meted ‘ out to the unfortunate black of the Western colony. The Queensland black, especially in the Northern parts, was more ferocious and bloodthirsty than his western brother ; herce, perhaps, there was some excuse for the harsh retributive justice dealt out to him,

On the pearling grounds of the Western colony the cheap labour of the unfortun ate nigger was utilized in shallow diving, and it may interest advocates of the in denture system to learn how his services were obtained. During the time of my residence in the pearling grounds, ex tending from Sharks Bay to Roebuck Bay, a fiend in human form who was known to the natives as ” Big M ” (M was his surname, but he was

of enormous stature nevertheless; entered into the lucrative business of ” black birding”-that is recruiting labor for the luggers employed on the grounds. Hie system of recruiting, however, differed from that obtaining among the islands of the Pacific in that he simply stole at dead of night into a camp of sleeping blacks and secured by means of chains as many of the unfortunates as were capable in his opinion of engaging in the woik of diving. After having been secured by neck chains these un fortunate wretches were taken down to the coast, and ” M ” would be paid so mucli per capita, according as the physical development of tho individual nigger warianted. As much as £o has been paid to this slave-hunter for a fully developed young aboriginal. The time of which I am writing was prior to the introduction of that piece of iniquitous legislation, the Indenture Act. This statute was made law ostensibly for the purpose of protecting the aborigine-for whose . welfare the paternal West Aus tralian Government was ever so solicitous, but was, in reality, nothing more nor less than a move on the part of the Govern ment to work into the hands of the squatters. And this is why the inden ture system was introduced into West Australia. Under the old system,, when a black absconded, the squatter was com pelled to go in search of him himself, «hich in country such as “the north-west not infrequently entailed several weeks’ search. Tbis Joss of time the north west squatter could hardly be expected to afford. Under the iudenture system the aid of the police could be called in, and the nigger run to earth afe the expense of the country. The indenture system means that a number of uncivilised blacks -many of them never having seen a white man before- are brought before a magistrate or J.P, by policemen-by policemen, mind you-and put through a sort of form of which they know as much as a pig does of liia paternal relation. The squatter or pearler on his part under takes to clothe and feed the nigger pro perly, and generally to look after him. But what do we find ? The unfortunate black is provided with an old shirt at the utmost-this constitutes the clothing and is given a handful of flour now and then ; for meat food he has to forage for himself. Should he become dissatisfied with his treatment and abscond, Uib latr and the squatter are on his trail, and it is woebetide him when he is caught. I have seen a boy tied to a stockyard fence, and lashed with a 12 ft. stockwhip until

there was


from the nape of his neck to his buttocks. After his flogging the poor wretch was cut down more dead than alive-but how many have died under the ordeal 1 To my knowledge a dozen.

The niggers of the North-weat were treated by the squatters in the light of common stock-that is, as you would aay, ” I have 1,000 head of cattle on

station,” so the affluent nor’-wester would assert ” I have 50 niggers belong ing to me.” But the majority of the uorth-westers have bad memories for faces, and sometimes Billy or Damper, or Pompey become ‘mislaid’, and after a lapse of a year or two became unrecog nisable. To obviate ibis the fire brand was brought into requisition, and I have



in the fleshy parts of the body with an “M,”an “E,”ora “B/. generally the first letter oj the station upon which the unfortunates were to be engaged. Only fancy, the letter, an inch long, burnt into the living flesh ! Of course it was indelible, aud that was all the squatter

cared for.

I do not know Mr. Walter Malcolmsou’, but 1 do know that what he says is true. Let me tell of a novel and humane system which obtained on the north-west pearling grounds some years ago in order to test the veracity of a black diver, that is in order to ascertain

whether be had been to the bottom for

shell or not. The expedient of knocking the blackfellow back with an oar who came to the surface empty-handed was found to be a bad paying proceeding, for in many caseB the unfortunate nigger was drowned, and consequently was a dead I03S to his owner. The- niggers were ordered to “bring up bottom” every time, so that in coming to the surface they had to show their hands. There was no danger in this, and besides butting a nigger in the head with an oar is likely to cause him to bacome an easy prey to sharks, which ^usually swarm

in the northern latitudes. ,

The last stage in the nigger’s appren ticeship is perhaps fitting for a miserable life. When his time had expired, and the day approached for the employer to convy them to the mainland, they were mustered forward in the bows, and told to jump overboard and swim ashore, and their humane employers and white as sistants amused themselves by shooting at the black heads bobbing in the water, or at such of the floating bodies as had been rendered lifeless when these blacks first jumped overboard. If I remember right a conviction was once secured for this species of amusement. The eentence was a few years in Fremantle Gaol.

I could cite a score of othor cases where

systematic cruelty is practised upon the natives of West Australia, and it- is strange if the leading politicians of W. A. 3d not know that such hua existed and does still exist.

It, however, suits their purpose to differ from the statements made public by Mr. Malcolmson. One question Can and will Sir John Forrest or Mr.

Kingsmill, or Bishop Riley, or Mr. Lefrcy, tell the public why the Rev. J.

B. Gribble encountered such strenuous

opposition from the equatocracy of the (rascoigne River against his establish ment of a mission in that locality? Was it not because the large landholders in that locality feared his straightforward

ness. Knew that if be esiablisned him self thoir little game would be up, and that the barbarities which had been

practised upon the nigger from the advent of the white would be exposed to the

outside world in all their naked horror ? Does Sir John ForreBt not know that one

member of Perth leading families («n

individual who was afterwards hung for j the murder of his wife) made a boast i when he came south that he could pick a piccanniny from a gin’s back at 500 yards without injuring :he mother; that a member of j one of the six families re ceived two years’ gaol for ths murder in cold blood of a young nigger who had eaten a portion of his saddle flap ? Do the gentleman named not know that it is common sport for policemen when in search of runaways to hunt them into trees and shoot them as they would oppossums ? But enough !


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