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The view from below: A selected history of contact experiences, patjarr, gibson desert, Western Australia

By J. Turner


In the Gibson Desert of Western Australia, the first physical encounters between Aboriginal and European Australians were often with military, mineral exploration or surveying personnel who came to that remote country by helicopter. This paper discusses stories of cross-cultural contact in the period 1957–1975, which continue to be publicly recalled; they include accounts that vary from hiding in great fear, nervous contact and goods exchange, to assertive action to drive these intruders away. Particular attention is given to the narratives of one man: Fred Kumpari Ward, Tjungarrayi, speaker of several desert languages and senior Law man for the country in which these contact encounters occurred. Fred Ward was also the senior Applicant of a native title compensation application that was discontinued in 2015. For over 20 years the political and legal processes engaged to provide secure title to their lands have proven, to the desert people, to be as alien and as difficult to comprehend as their first contacts with ‘white men’ less than 60 years ago

Publisher: Anthropological Society of South Australia
Year: 2018
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Provided by: Research Repository
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