The Queensland native police and strategies of recruitment on the Queensland frontier, 1849–1901

Burke, Heather, Barker, Bryce, Cole, Noelene, Wallis, Lynley A., Hatte, Elizabeth, Davidson, Iain, and Lowe, Kelsey (2018) The Queensland native police and strategies of recruitment on the Queensland frontier, 1849–1901. Journal of Australian Studies, 42 (3). pp. 297-313.

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Although historians have provided substantial insights into the structure, development and activities of the Queensland Native Mounted Police, they have rarely focused on the complex and sensitive issue of Aboriginal recruitment. A careful reading of historical records, however, identifies several methods, including coercion, intimidation, kidnapping and inducement, as well as “voluntary” enlistment. It is difficult to identify Aboriginal agency in recruitment processes as the records are entirely one-sided— the voices of the troopers themselves are absent from the archival sources. In this article, we examine the cultural and historical contexts of Aboriginal recruitment—for example, the dire social situations of Aboriginal survivors of the frontier war and the absence of future survival options for the potential recruits. We explore, through the framework of historical trauma, the impacts on vulnerable victims of violence and other devastating effects of colonisation. We conclude that the recruitment of Aboriginal troopers was far from a homogeneous or transparent process and that the concept of agency with regard to those who can be considered war victims themselves is extremely complex. Unravelling the diverse, conflicting and often controversial meanings of this particular colonial activity remains a challenge to the historical process.

Item ID: 58658
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1835-6419
Keywords: Coercion, Desertion, Historical trauma, Native Mounted Police, Recruitment
Copyright Information: © 2018 International Australian Studies Association.
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2019 07:57
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430107 Historical archaeology (incl. industrial archaeology) @ 50%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450107 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history @ 50%
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