1905 Aborigines Act (toggle)

The aim of the 1905 Act was to make provision for the better protection and care of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia. In fact, it legalized increased control and monitoring of Noongar people by the State government. The Act brought a reduction in legal status and citizenship rights for Noongar people and had wide-ranging ramifications.

A.O Neville (toggle)

Chief Protector of Aborigines from 1915 to 1940. Auber Octavius Neville grew up in England and moved to Australia in 1897. Neville advocated extending the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ reach by isolating itself from Aboriginal people and attempting to assimilate them. Neville exerted a great deal of influence on the policies that negatively affected Noongar people’s lives.

Aboriginality (toggle)

A person of Australian Aboriginal descent, identifying as Aboriginal and being accepted as such by the Aboriginal community.

Assimilation (toggle)

A 19th century theory that Aboriginal (and other cultural minorities), including Noongars, should be ‘civilized’, by becoming Christians and living as Europeans did. From the 1930s, assimilation became government policy and it was used as an ideology in the taking of light skinned children from their families (the Stolen Generations) to be absorbed, racially and culturally, into the general population.

Ballardong (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group north-east of the (Perth) Whadjuk group. Ballardong includes the Northam area, York, Quairading and Tammin. To the east of the Ballardong area is Njaki Njaki dialectal group.

Beeliargu (toggle)

River people.

Carrolup (toggle)

An Aboriginal settlement established in 1915 near Katanning, W.A. in accordance with the 1905 Act. Many Noongar people were forcibly moved there, due to claims made by the townspeople that they were being disturbed by noise in the Noongar camps. Conditions at Carrolup, like most settlements, were poor. A school was built there in 1921, however, the camp closed in 1922 and many people were moved to Moore River Native Settlement. The camp re-opened in 1940 and was used as a school for Aboriginal children until its closure in 1951. In this period many of the pupils created what are now world-renowned artworks. It later became the Marribank Baptist Mission.

Colonialism (toggle)

The period of history from the late 15th to the 20th century, when European nation states such as Great Britain established colonies on other continents. It meant the forcible takeover and exploitation of Indigenous peoples and their land; ignoring their laws and customs, and their rights.

Corroboree (toggle)

Was first used by Europeans to describe Aboriginal ceremonies of song and dance. The Aboriginal word is ‘caribberie’ and the ceremonies pass on stories of the Dreaming or Nyitting. The Noongar word for dance is ke-ning. Dances and ceremonies vary, depending on which part of Noongar country they are performed in. The use of ochre and designs indicate the type of ceremony and which language group is performing.

Country (toggle)

The term used by Aboriginal people to refer to the land to which they and their extended family belong. ‘Country’ for Noongar people is a spiritual and physical connection.

Culture (toggle)

The customary and traditional ways of living, with a set of common understandings, shared by members of a group or community. For Noongar people this includes attachment to the land and the usage of it; as well as language, identity, relationships, and ways of living and working.

Dreamtime (toggle)

The Dreaming, or Nyitting in Noongar, has different meanings for different Aboriginal groups across Australia. The Dreaming refers to Aboriginal creation stories, which give meaning to everything. In Noongar country, the Nyitting relates to the Waugal, a mythical serpent who created the rivers and the land formations of the south-west.

Elders (toggle)

The custodians of Aboriginal knowledge. Elders are chosen by their own communities. They are highly respected keepers of the knowledge, and pass that knowledge on to younger Aboriginal people.

Family History Cards (toggle)

A file of information, compiled by the Native Welfare Department. It contained all the births, deaths and marriages in a family and also their members’ movements in and out of settlement and employment. This information was used as a form of surveillance and control over Noongar people by the state.

Family- Run (Moort boodja) (toggle)

The area which coincides with traditional Noongar territories where we hunt, fish and gather.

Fettler (toggle)

To keep things in good ‘fettle’ or condition. Fettlers are most commonly associated with railways to keep the rails in good working condition.

Harris, William (toggle)

Advocated and fought for civil rights for Aboriginal people. In 1928, William Harris led a deputation to the Premier of W.A., calling for a repeal to the 1905 Act, which controlled and greatly affected Aboriginal people’s lives.

Indigenous Australians (toggle)

The original inhabitants of Australia, which includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Also known as ‘traditional owners’.

Kinship (toggle)

A critical aspect of Aboriginal culture and values. It includes all relationships involving the nuclear and extended family.

Land Rights (toggle)

Different to Native Title, Land Rights acknowledges prior ownership of Indigenous land both legally and morally, allowing all the accompanying rights and obligations which flow from this association. Western Australia has never enacted any Land Rights legislation, unlike the Northern Territory, for example.

Language Group (toggle)

There is over 400 (and up to 700) different Aboriginal language groups across Australia, all linked to particular geographical areas. The term ‘language group’ or ‘dialectal’ group is used in preference to the outdated term ‘tribe’. In Noongar country, the 14 language groups are Amangu, Ballardong, Yued, Whadjuk, Wardandi, Kaniyang, Pinjarup, Goreng, Bibbulmun, Wilman, Minang, Njaki Njaki, Wudjari and Njunja.

Mallet bark stripping (toggle)

The process of stripping bark from the Mallet tree, which, when ground is used as a tanning agent in the manufacture of leather goods. In the 19th century, Aboriginal people undertook mallet bark stripping as a form of seasonal work.

Minang (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group in the Albany and south coastal area. Minang are situated next to the Bibbulman, Kaniyang and Goreng dialectal groups. The Minang Noongars were one of the first peoples to encounter European settlers.

Missions (toggle)

Institutions founded and run by various religious denominations with the aim of Christianising Aboriginal people. These became the homes of generations of Noongar and other Indigenous children who were taken from their families. Also referred to as ‘homes’ or ‘reserves’.

Moore River Native Settlement (toggle)

(1918-1951) A Native Mission established by the government as an alternative camp for Noongar people when they forced them from towns. It later became Mogumber Native Mission operated by the Methodist Church from 1958 to 1968 and since 1972 has been known as Mogumber farm, Aboriginal Reserve 16833.

Moort Boodja (toggle)

Noongar word for a ‘family-run’, where Noongars traditionally worked, hunted and gathered.

Native Title (toggle)

Form of land title which recognizes Aboriginal people as rightful owners of their land. Australian law recognizes the existence of Native Title where an Aboriginal group’s connection to a particular area of land is not deemed to be extinguished. The group must prove continuing connection from Australian sovereignty to the present via the continued use of traditional law and custom relating to land and waters.

New Norcia Mission (toggle)

A Benedictine mission established near Moora in 1847 by Bishop Salvado. It became the home for many Noongar children, a great deal of whom were stolen from their families.

Njaki Njaki (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group east of the Ballardong group. This area includes Kellerberrin, Merredin, Hyden, Nungarin, Bruce Rock, Narembeen, Corrigin, Kondinin, Lake Grace, Newdegate and Lake King.

Noongar (toggle)

The name for the Aboriginal people of the south-west of Western Australia.

Prohibition Area (toggle)

Perth City was declared a prohibited area for Aboriginal people in 1927 and restricted their movement in that area. Under the 1905 Act, only Noongars with a pass stating that they would ‘display proper conduct’ could be admitted.

Reserve (toggle)

Areas of land reserved by the Crown in the 19th and early twentieth century for Aboriginal people to live and camp. It was also a way of the government controlling their movements. Much of this land was later taken again from Aboriginal people (see Lost Lands report, DIA). Until the 1970s, the remaining reserves were administered and controlled by government. See also ‘missions’ and ‘stations’ as these terms are also used.

Scar Tree (toggle)

A form of artefact, also known as a ‘culturally modified tree’. The outer layers are cut away, leaving the heart wood of the tree exposed. The tree then grows around this mark, forming a scar. Noongar people used the cut out wood from the trees for making shields and vessels for carrying things.

Segregation (toggle)

The policy of separating one group of people from another, as in racial segregation separating black from white. The 1905 Act enforced policies of segregation on Noongar people.

Social Darwinism (toggle)

A social theory which dominated the late 19th and early 20th century. The theory assumes that the less evolved cultural groups in the world were predestined to die out due to their decreased ability to cope with a changing environment. This was seen as a variation on Charles Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory. However, Social Darwinism had no scientific basis and was proved false. Social Darwinism informed the protectionist policies implemented to control Aboriginal people at this time.

Stolen wages (toggle)

Originating from the 1905 Act, which gave the Chief Protector of Aborigines the power to manage Aboriginal people’s finances and property without their permission. The money was kept in trust by the government, and to this day, many Noongars and other Indigenous people have not received their wages.
NB. On 6th March, 2012 the West Australian government announced that it will pay reparations of up to $2,000 to Aboriginal people who had their wages withheld prior to 1972. Those Aboriginal people affected by this injustice will have to give evidence of the wages withheld from them.

Terra nullius (toggle)

A concept in international law meaning ‘a territory belonging to no-one’ or ‘over which no-one claims ownership’. The concept is related to the legal acceptance of occupation, as an original means of peacefully acquiring territory. However, a fundamental condition of a valid occupation is that the territory should belong to no-one, which was the concept used to justify the colonisation of Australia. The High Court decision of 1992 (Mabo) rejected terra nullius and recognised Indigenous Native Title.

The Coolbaroo League (toggle)

Established in 1947, the Coolbaroo Club began as a form of protest against the prejudice towards returned Indigenous soldiers and the restrictions on Noongars entering the Perth area. The club was a place where Noongars and other people could go to dance and socialize. ‘Coolbaroo’ is a Yamatji word for magpie, and was used to symbolize black and white coming together.

Tindale, Norman (toggle)

Anthropologist responsible for the drawing of territorial divisions and mapping Aboriginal tribal groups and boundaries. Tindale established the Aboriginal people as having territory, not as nomadic, as has been previously believed. These boundaries are now known as ‘language or dialectal groups’.

Whadjuk (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group from Perth. Whadjuk is situated beneath Yued and above the Pinjarup dialectal groups.

Wilman (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group from the region of Narrogin to Collie and areas in between.

Yagan (toggle)

Noongar resistance fighter and leader, born around 1795. Yagan lived around the Swan River and Perth region. He was killed by a young settler in 1833. Yagan was decapitated and his head taken to England as a ‘curiosity’. It was not returned until 1997. Yagan’s head was finally buried in 2010 at Upper Swan, followed by a Noongar ceremony.

Yamatji (toggle)

The name for the group of Aboriginal people who live north of the Geraldton area.

Yued (toggle)

The name of the dialectal group from the Moora area, stretching to the coast of Western Australia. To the east of Yued is Ballardong and to south are Whadjuk dialectal groups.

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