28 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections
THE KIMBERLEY NATIVES.
TRAVELLING INSPECTOR'S ANNUAL
Attached to the report of the Chief Pro- tector of Aborigines for the year ended Juno 30 last is the following annual state- ment by the travelling inspector (Mr. Jame Isdell):
"On returning to Hall's Creek after an in- spection of portion of East Kimberley, I re- ceived telegraphic instructions to proceed to Hunter's Boolgin homestead, on the coast between Pender's Bay and Swan Point. Leaving Hall's Creek on June 30. 1910. I reached Meinsen's station on July 2. Whilst in camp at this place I was visited by a large number of bush natives - 22 females. 29 males, and 13 children. They called to be supplied with blankets, clothes, and meat. The former articles I could not give them, and Meinsen informed me he was killing a bullock a week for them besides the bones and portions of the bullocks he was killing for his own use every fortnight. This supply, with the kangaroo's and some of his goats they killed, he thought left them not too badly off. I gave them a stick of tobacco each. Wherever I meet them their cry is for tobacco, and they look to getting it from a 'Gov'men' man.
"Leaving Meinsen's on July 8, I followed the Margaret River through the bush, as I was anxious to inspect the country. I then was considering the feasibility of a fully stocked station for the use of the aborigines in the Hall's Creek district, and wished to see if this country was suitable. I saw about 20 natives at Eaglehawk Gorge on Margaret River. They looked fairly well. I again had to part the usual supply of weed. My native shot some kangaroos, cockatooes and other birds for them. Push- ing on down the Margaret River, I arrived at Copley's Margaret River station, feeling very ill from inflammation of the lungs. I had to camp until July 20. Whilst, lying in my camp ill, I received a visit from Stock Inspector Haly, Sir A. Campbell, and Mr. Bannerman, manager of Sturt's Creek station. Before leaving to continue my journey on July 19, after a detention of seven days, I saw a very large number of aborigines, about 150. They were having a big corroboree and initiating some of the boys. They looked fairly well ; some very old ones,
and a few blind and crippled amongst them. My tobacco supply ran short and I had to reduce the allowance for each to small pro- portions to make it go round. Mr. Mc- Cauley, the manager, is pretty good to these natives, killing cattle for them throughout the dry winter months. As soon as the warm weather and rain come, they leave for various places in the bush. There was no disease amongst them.
"Leaving on July 19, I travelled to Fitz- roy Crossing, arriving there on July 26, distant 190 miles from Hall's Creek. Whilst
eu route to Fitzroy I passed a camp of 50 bush aborigines on Cox's Louisa Downs run. Ten of them were very old-wrinkled faces and hair perfectly white; two of them were blind, and three crippled. They had neither clothes nor blankets, and looked very miser- able. Ten young children from two to five years were amongst them. Cox was killing a beast for them, but be said he could not afford to do so regularly. They had only just come into the river, want of water in the bush forcing them. I also passed small lots of natives along the river before reaching the Fitzroy. They were all young and looked well, getting plenty of fish and kangaroos. There was no disease amongst them.
"On arrival at Fitzroy I telegraphed for instructions about the numerous half-caste children on the Fitzroy River, none of whom had been removed since my visit to the district in 1908, as then recommended by me. I received a reply to have them re- moved to Derby for transit to mission sta- lions. I got an attack of fever, which, with the after-effect of my recent cold, laid me up for a while, and I shifted out close to Blythe's Brooking station. The weather was now becoming extremely hot, and many of the young half-castes being unable to walk, I had a difficulty in finding a suit- able vehicle at a reasonable price. On approaching Mr. George Piper, manager of Emanuel's Gogo station, he generously placed at my disposal a mule and cart, with a native and his woman to drive and cook for the youngsters free of any cost. As it would not be available before September 8 I had perforce to wait. During the interval of waiting I removed the old indigents who were receiving relief at the police station out to Blythe's, where they would be better looked after and have a good warm camp on the banks of the Fitzroy River and
plenty to eat. They numbered 18, includ- ing three blind, three cripples, and four young orphans. I arranged with Blythe to feed and attend to them for 9d. a head per day, a reduction of the rate paid to the police and post office of 3d. per head. There were several other old natives in tho bush whom I expected to come in. When I finally left Brooking they had a nice gar den, growing pumpkins, cabbages, and watermelons; the station natives having fenced it in. dug the ground, and sowed the seed for them, they watered and looked after it themselves.
"Having got everything ready (Constable Campbell having received instructions to ac- company and assist me), I started from Fitz- roy police station on Friday. September 10, for Derby, having five half-caste children, four full-grown women, and one man bad with venereal. Having a good deal of trouble and hard work, and extremely hot days, and water very scarce and bad, I eventually ar- rived in Derby on Tuesday, October 12. and handed over to Sub-Inspector McCar- the 19 half-castes and the sick natives, hav- ing occupied 33 days travelling 200 miles. I camped seven days out of the 33 at vari- ous places, as some of the half-castes had to be brought in long distances from across the Fitzroy. Whilst en route I had to send two of the children ahead into Derby by mail coach, as they were ill and could not be
properly attended to. This pretty well cleaned the Fitzroy River district, only five
grown-up boys, four grown-up women, and three babies remaining, and two girls about 10 years old living with bush natives along the river whom we did not succeed in get- ting. One of them Constable Campbell brought into the camp late one night, but she ran away before morning, and our horses were too poor to make any further search. As these two girls would soon go to ruin, I left instructions with Sub-Inspec- tor McCarthy to have them brought in and sent on to Beagle Bay Mission. During this trip on some of the days the sun was 110 in the shade and I often had to put as many as eight youngsters in the mule cart, which with the rations, swags, and his own feed was a good load for the mule. I walked on foot the whole of the way from Fitzroy Crossing to Derby, accompanying the children and cart every day. At one place during the trip I got a great fright. On coming into camp on the Fitzroy River two little girls ran down the bank, and
about half an hour after complained of pains in the stomach, giddiness, and trying lo vomit. I concluded they had eaten some poisonous herb or berries, and forced them to swallow mustard and water, when they
vomited pretty freely. As they got better I ascertained that they had pulled some very green leaves from a shrub that is used by the natives to poison the pools to get the fish, and eaten them. They were all right next day but had e narrow escape. When I got them all to Derby and left 22 with the police, I was satisfied that looking after a wild lot of half-caste children like young kangaroos is a strenuous undertaking.
"Whilst travelling down the Fitzroy ru- mours reached me through bush natives, that a boy had been put on the chain Nookanbah station. On my arrival there investigated the matter and found it correct The bov, aged about 17 years, was put o the chain by the manager as a punishment for running away from a team whilst, on the road from Derby: he was in no way ill- treated, and had his three meals a day plenty of blankets and tobacco for the five days he was on the chain. Whilst mak- ing his statement to me be laughed and looked on it as a great joke, and rather liked it, as he had a good time. I summon- ed the manager to Derby for assault, but before the case came on I had to leave for Hall's Creek, and passed the case on to Sub- Inspector McCarthy. He was fined £5 and costs, and cautioned. I heard another rumour from a white teamster that a half caste woman had killed her baby shortly after it was born. I found on investigation not a vestige of truth in it. I received complaints from several stations of the de- predations and annoyance of a noted Fitzroy aborigine named Hedley. He had stolen flour and sugar in large quantities from one woolshed, raided the camp of Thomas Chat- man on his run whilst absent mustering, stealing everything, including a rifle and am- munition-fortunately they did not fit the rifle. He has a habit of visiting station homesteads during the absence of the whites and taking away the young boys and some times the women. I wired to the Aborigines Department last year about this native. He is setting a very bad example to the younger
"Whilst at the Fitzroy in July, I strongly recommended that the Government should purchase certain properties in the Hall's Creek district for the benefit of the many wandering bush aborigines, to lessen relief expenses and check cattle killing. Whilst in Derby in October I received a telegram that my recommendation bad been favour- ably entertained, and to immediately re- turn to Hall's Creek to meet Mr. Haly, the Kimberley stock inspector, inspect and re- port in conjunction with him on Messrs Meinsen, Shepherd,, and Green's stations Nicholson Plains, Mount Barrett and Green- vale. Leaving early on October 18, I did not reach Meinsens station (365 miles) un- til November 15, where I met Mr. Haly. My horses were very poor and weary with con- stant travelling, with no feed and little muddy water on the route. I had to leave two horses, with pack and a lot of my gear at Upper Liveringa station, they being too poor to travel. This left me with only two packs and heavy loads. Owing to these cir- cumstances my return trip to Meinsen's was slow. Messrs, Haly and Meinsen and self spent 10 days inspecting the properties, and forwarded our joint report in favour of the purchase. From the end of November until the end of March. 1910, I had been camped waiting the decision of the Government, when I received instructions to take delivery of the properties from a bang-tailed muster starting on April 1, as it was decided to pur- chase. It is gratifying to be able to re- port that since I started taking delivery a large number of bush natives have come into the station to reside. Included amongst them are two different gangs of noted cattle killers of about 20 in each lot. After inter- viewing me they were satisfied to stay so long as the police did not interfere with them. There also came natives from con- siderably over 100 miles distant from here, from the Lower Margaret and O'Donnell Rivers, under the Leopold Ranges. They stayed a couple of days and told me they were returning to their country to bring in their people. As there are some very bad cattle-killers amongst them, it will consider- ably lessen crime. There are also bush na- tives from over 100 miles from here about the Turkey Creek district that wish to come, to Mount Barrett. At present there are about 250 aborigines camped at the station, a number that will be considerably increased when the station is in a position to attend them. Although there are natives belong- ing to several different tribes in camp to- gether they seem to live peaceably. There has been no fighting so far. I am satisfied the station will succeed in answering the purpose for which it is intended, if under proper management. It is most necessary to have a married man as manager, a man with experience aud knowledge of Northern natives. Owing to the large number of women and children with their many ail- ments it requires the tender sympathy of a woman to attend to them. Thc first con- sideration should be the aborigines, and every inducement offered them to settle on the place. It is also necessary, in my opin- ion, that the manager should not own or
breed stock of his own on the station, as if so it will leave an opening for another scandal. There are good working stock
boys on the place. In the past they have done all the mustering and branding of cattle, also all the horse-breaking and horse- shoeing.
"Reviewing aborigine affairs for the last 12 months in those portions of Kimberley that I have travelled over, they have been fairly satisfactory. Working natives are awaking to the great advantage of the per- mit system of the Aborigine Act. They are becoming aware that they are not un- der the system, bound to their employer for any stated period. They are also becoming aware that if they are not satisfied where they are employed they can leave at any time without hindrance. This knowledge tends to their better treatment by those employers who do not wish to lose them. Under the old indenture or agreement sys- tem, if they left their employment they were liable to arrest and being brought back. It has taken them some time to com- prehend the difference between the present permit system and the old agreements. I think the agreement system, which is still in vogue and taken advantage of in some places, should be entirely done away with. Hall's Creek district and a few other por- tions of East Kimberley are the worst for breeches of the Aborigines Act, all of which are in connection with women. Cohabiting has a very restricted meaning and is difficult to prove. Travelling on horseback with aborigine women ia still in vogue in some portions pf East -Kimberley on some sta- tions and every effort should be made to stop this. Making presents of horses or other stock to young aborigine females is a bad practice that should be unlawful. These presents are only for one object. You never, hear of aboriginal males br middle- aged native women getting any of these presents. If it is desired to make such a present for valuable service to aboriginies of any age it should only be with thc approval of the Resident Magistrate of the district, and he should send a report of the circum- stance to the Chief Protector.
"I have had no complaints from any na- tives during the year, with the exception of the case of the boy chained up by the manager of Nookanbat, and from a native
on the Fitzroy River who wanted me to get him his tribal wife, but as she had been legally married to an Asiatic alien I could not interfere. There was no perceptible in- crease in crime. Cattle killing it still preva- lent in most places. Six mouths imprison- ment in Wyndham is no punishment, and I am glad to see that the Government are beginning to recognise that fact. Deporta- tion of the worst of the ringleaders for a term of years to stations on the Gascoyne or other southern districts would have a more deterrent effect. I am satisfied that the opening of the native settlement will provide a check in that portion of East Kimberley. Venereal diseases have not in- creased to any extent. Most of those affect- ed that were within reach have been bought in by the police and either treated locally or sent to Wyndham to the resident medical officer. A peculiar epidemic, carrying off about 20 natives of all ages, in various por- tions of Hall's Creek district, broke out shortly after the new year, lt lasted only about a fortnight. Natives apparently healthy and well would suddenly complain of pains in the stomach, which would swell up. They generaly died within 24 hours after attack. There are a few bad cases of venereal amongst men and women on some of the outside and distant stations, but as they are too bad to either walk or ride they cannot be brought in.
"During the 12 months I was travelling for less than five months, from July 1 to the middle of November, and covered close on 1200 miles. I sent 22 half-castes from West Kimberley to mission stations, and brought five venereal cases to Derby ; sent 13 half-castes to Wyndham for transit to mission stations, and nine venereal cases to the same place (Wyndham) for medical treatment. The police have also taken venereal cases to both Derby and Wynd- ham. There have been five court, cases for breaches of the Aborigines Act, as follows: -1. cohabitation, fine £10: 1, working na- tives without permit, fine £5; 1 harbouring natives on premises, fine £1; 1, Afghan hav- ing female in his camp, fine £3; 1, travell- ing in company of aborigine woman, fine £5." _