Impression: Australian archaeologists have unearthed several artefacts from previous Queensland Native Mounted Police camps.
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Credit: Flinders University

Hundreds of Aboriginal adult men who grew to become indigenous mounted police in colonial Australia carried a important burden of obligation for legislation and purchase for white settlers in Queensland and other settlements.

A extensive-operating ARC-funded archaeology project has turned the lens on the recruitment to the Queensland Native Mounted Police and their part in the violent ‘frontier wars’ – which created extensive-time period traumatic impacts on the lives of the Indigenous men and women involved.

“We argue that the massacres, frontier violence, displacement, and the final dispossession of land and destruction of standard cultural procedures resulted in each specific and collective inter-generational trauma for Aboriginal peoples,” states Flinders University Professor Heather Burke in a new report printed in the Journal of Genocide Study

“Inspite of the Australian frontier wars getting spot about a century ago, their impacts continue to reverberate now in a selection of distinct approaches, several of which are as yet only partially understood.”

Professor Burke, and Queensland scientists, say official records display of the record of the Queensland Mounted Police in terms of its growth, its white officers, some working day-to-working day operations of the pressure, and how several men and women were killed for the duration of the frontier wars.

The report appears to be like at the ongoing psychological impacts of the historic dispossession and frontier violence.

Based mostly on more than four decades of investigation, the Archaeology of the Queensland Native Mounted Police project put together historic records, oral and historic proof from a selection of web pages across central and northern Queensland to understand more absolutely the things to do, lives and legacies of the indigenous police.

It strives to current an substitute point of view on the character of frontier conflict for the duration of Australian settlement, in purchase to initiative new understandings of the Aboriginal and settler encounter, and lead to world-wide research of Indigenous responses to colonialism.

The report ‘Betwixt and In between: Trauma, Survival and the Aboriginal Troopers of the Queensland Native Mounted Police’ (March, 2020) by Heather Burke, Bryce Barker, Lynley Wallis, Sarah Craig and Michelle Combo has been printed in the Journal of Genocide Study (Taylor & Francis On-line) DOI: ten.1080/14623528.2020.1735147


The Queensland Native Mounted Police was organised together paramilitary lines, consisting of detachments of Aboriginal troopers led by white officers. It coated the whole of Queensland, including 170 camps, and was explicitly constituted to shield the lives, livelihoods and home of settlers and to prevent (and punish) any Aboriginal aggression or resistance.

This was typically accomplished by violence in several sorts, leading Australian historian Henry Reynolds to characterise the NMP as “the most violent organisation in Australian record”.

The project’s new publicly readily available nationwide database handles the 50-yr record of the Queensland Native Mounted Police (1849-1904) and stories of several of the 800 troopers and four hundred officers. It is the only publicly readily available historic and archaeological dataset of their lives and things to do. The excavations executed about the past four decades were the very first archaeological investigations of any indigenous police pressure functioning anywhere in Australia.


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