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"Warrior" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2018 12:09 p.m. PST

"The fascinating story of one of the great Aboriginal resistance fighters of the colonial frontier and a compelling portrait of life in early Brisbane.

'Connors lays down the hard truth. Not all our warriors were Anzacs. Not all our wars were just.' – John Birmingham, author and columnist

In the 1840s, white settlement in the north was under attack. European settlers were in awe of Aboriginal physical fitness and fighting prowess, and a series of deadly raids on homesteads made even the townspeople of Brisbane anxious.

Young warrior Dundalli was renowned for his size and strength, and his elders gave him the task of leading the resistance against the Europeans' ever increasing incursions on their traditional lands. Their response was embedded in Aboriginal law and Dundalli became one of their greatest lawmen. With his band of warriors, he had the settlers in thrall for twelve years, evading capture again and again, until he was finally arrested and publicly executed…."


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Klaus Which10 Nov 2018 12:21 p.m. PST

This looks and sounds like a fascinating read Tango01.

I don't know how you get the time for reading so many genres and topics.


It's not on Amazon yet but probably a great stocking filler for someone I know.
Excellent resources Armand.

Thank you Armand!

Henry Martini11 Nov 2018 4:44 a.m. PST

I saw this in a book shop a while ago and naturally picked it up and had a skim through it. Normally I snap up any worthwhile new Australian colonial frontier books at first sight, so there must have been something about this one that deterred me – but I can't remember what it was. I think I need to give it another look.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

Glad you like it my friend!. (smile)

Too much time traveling…. (smile)


Henry Martini11 Nov 2018 5:35 p.m. PST

I've ordered it through the library system. A review will be forthcoming once I've read it.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2018 11:45 a.m. PST

Good for you my friend!


Henry Martini22 Mar 2019 5:37 p.m. PST

My library hold request finally came good, and I've now read this book.

It's quite a fascinating, confidently written narrative history of the first few decades of race relations in the Moreton Bay (Brisbane) region, told largely from the indigenous perspective. It explains in great detail the processes by which the Aboriginal language groups and clans of the region sought to incorporate the penal settlement of Brisbane, missionaries, and later, the first pastoralists, into their social and legal networks, and how those groups responded.

The Dalla man Dundalli (the 'Warrior' of the title) is the central figure in the story, but it's much more than just a biography of that individual which would be difficult to construct anyway, based on the limited sources available. The text relates how control of the power relationship between indigenous and settler communities gradually transferred from the former to the latter.

Many years ago Henry Reynolds identified a common sequence of phases that the settler-indigenous relationship passed through from first contact to the absorption of native survivors into colonial society. In the second phase Aboriginal people tried to apply their legal system to the new arrivals and incorporate them into their world. Rather than generalised conflict against the entire settler community, individual settlers would be targeted for punishment according to the precepts of tribal law (only when settler reactions became disproportionate did the conflict move to open warfare). This phase seems to have lasted extraordinarily long in this particular geographic region due to the specific demographic and political circumstances prevailing there, whereas elsewhere a state of low-intensity warfare often developed quite rapidly. Consequently it occupies most of the story; in fact, up to the hanging of Dundalli in January 1855. Only in the last few pages does the story give hints of the situation moving beyond controlled, specifically targeted payback attacks into a state of open war.

Does Dundalli qualify as the 'Warrior' of the title? He was certainly a warrior in the sense that all indigenous men were, trained in the use of traditional native weapons, and obligated to participate in normal ritualised inter-tribal battles. He was also a dispenser of tribal justice upon native and settler alike. These attacks weren't fights; the purpose was solely to inflict injury or death. They were always conducted in such a way that the target couldn't defend himself, using surprise or any necessary subterfuge. This system sometimes meant that individuals other than offenders were 'punished' through being identified as connected by social ties with the actual offenders. Of course, to colonial society such actions made him a criminal. Perhaps if he'd lived into the open warfare phase of the settler-indigenous relationship he'd have genuinely become the resistance leader and 'Warrior' of the title, and maybe even justified the awarding of the hero status some would assign him, but based on this book we can only say that he was a lawman to Aboriginal people, and a criminal in the eyes of most settlers.

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