University of Missouri Aboriginal People & Europeans Essay

University of Missouri Aboriginal People & Europeans Essay


Describe how Europeans appear to have thought about aboriginal people from other parts of the world. How would you describe the way Europeans appear in these cases to have thought about the people and lands they hoped to exploit or the landscapes in which they hoped to settle?

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James Kirby, Old Times in the Bush of Australia

Kirby and Peter Beveridge (both sons of prosperous colonial families who lived near Melbourne in the first half of the nineteenth century) took 1,000-head of cattle to an area near the Murray River, north of Melbourne, that had had only limited white exploration to that point. The idea was that they should look for good land for cattle and then settle there — building first a small cabin, etc. Eventually, Beveridge returned to Melbourne and brought a large herd of sheep to the area, as well. The book devotes a lot of attention to the evolving (and deteriorating) relationship with the Aboriginal people (whom Kirby refers to as “blacks”) who lived on the lands where Kirby and Beveridge decided to settle.

In this excerpt, Kirby describes the initial interactions with the people who had been living in the area for a very long time, and who had built complex fishing weirs and developed sustained agricultural practices. As you read, think a bit about how the scenes must look from both Kirby’s and the indigenous peoples’ perspectives. You might think, too, about the fact that this memoir was written 50 years after the events described. Did that, perhaps, impact Kirby’s account?

Podcast: “Port Essington, World’s End” (28 min),-worlds-end/11606992