The Aboriginal miners and prospectors of Cape York Peninsula 1870 to ca.1950s

Ellwood, Galiina (2018) The Aboriginal miners and prospectors of Cape York Peninsula 1870 to ca.1950s. Journal of Australasian Mining History, 16. pp. 75-92.

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Abstract

It is a common assumption among many Australian historians that frontier violence between Aboriginal peoples and colonisers was the norm. This, it is believed, was inevitably followed by resistance to invasion being subsequently crushed over varying periods of time and the remnant of traditional owners being then assimilated into the lowest rung of the European culture and economy, while being deprived of their civil rights by ‘protection’ Acts. This is true of some times and places, but is not true everywhere, and particularly not on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula where Aboriginal people were miners and prospectors of importance to the Queensland economy. So important were they that officials were apt to wink at their independence from government controls, an attitude helped by the isolation of the area from the control of officials in the bigger towns and Brisbane. Aboriginal prospectors and miners in the area found goldfields and tinfields, mined for tin, gold and wolfram either by themselves, for an employer, or with a white ‘mate’. Further, they owned or worked mills and prospecting drill plants, and undertook ancillary activities such as hauling supplies. What is more, their families have continued mining up to the present day. Despite their considerable role in the industry, they have been written out of the mining history of Cape York, a trend which has unfortunately continued up to today. This article, along with earlier work is intended to redress the omission.

Item ID: 56573
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-4471
Copyright Information: © Copyright is retained by the Australasian Mining History Association Inc.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 00:57
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History @ 100%
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