‘Winners’ [re]write history
Growing up in Australia I barely remember learning about Indigenous history. Certainly not the very recent history of settlement and colonialism.
It was probably in there somewhere. But my teachers obviously had a greater affection for World War 2 and Ancient Egypt than the very present and living history of a displaced people.
Apparently I’m not alone.
This is one of the reasons why the wounds are still raw, and the conversation around trauma and reverberations so appalling.
But every now and then we get reminders of how awful it was:
In this first snapshot of the continent, we have found that there were at least 270 frontier massacres over 140 years, as part of a state-sanctioned and organised attempt to eradicate Aboriginal people…
…Starting in 1794, mass killings were first carried out by British soldiers, then by police and settlers – often acting together – and later by native police, working under the command of white officers, in militia-style forces supported by colonial governments.
…large-scale massacres of Aboriginal people were still being carried out through the 1920s and early 1930s in some parts of Australia.
As the Australian media descends into another disingenuous kvetch over this issue, it’s worthwhile to remember where our priors come from.
Most of us, notably the non-Indigenous Australians, have experienced this history in an abstract way. Through the poor representations in school and the media.
Winners write the history? They also write the curriculum.