A Story Retold: Australian Aborigines

National Indigenous Times: A documentary film about a 1916 massacre. “The Mowla Bluff Massacre tells of a little known moment in the Kimberley in 1916, but one that was typical of the Australian frontier experience. In the documentary, an Aboriginal community in Australia’s tropical northwest recounts the story of the execution of family members at Mowla Bluff by police and local pastoralists.”

Here’s a fascinating paragraph:

The oral history version of the story still carried by Nyikina, Mangala and Karijarri Elders today is substantially in accordance with the Aboriginal eyewitness statements documented but then dismissed by the police in 1918. This is despite the fact that these statements were buried in the police archives for the next 80 years and unknown to them.

Why fascinating? I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the role of memory, which can be a trickster: Oh, it’s unreliable, you oughtta have documents. Well, here’s the best part of uncovering the past: when the stories told from memory coincide with the documents.

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 09, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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