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article imageCall for Aboriginal Wars Memorial in Australia

By Paul Wallis     Jun 7, 2008 in World
The government is considering the idea of a memorial to indigenous people killed during colonization. The whole concept is drawing resistance, unfortunately from the ex-services association, too. This is about as controversial as it gets.
The Daily Telegraph:
The plan, which was immediately rejected by the RSL, would see a memorial erected alongside existing statues and sculptures to Australia's war dead on Anzac Ave, leading to the Australian War memorial.
The proposal comes from The Canberra Institute, headed by ACT Labor Senate candidate and former Hawke government adviser Peter Conway.
The government responded last week, advising Mr Conway the proposal would be considered by the Canberra National Memorials Committee, which approves the erection of national memorials on national land
There’s quite a few wars to be remembered, too. The Aboriginal resistance was truly epic, and the British received their lumps in a number of ways. The Aboriginal barbed spear was feared, because it has to be driven through the body or limb, to be removed.
It’s a fishing spear. By Aboriginal standards, it’s not even a real weapon.
The shovel spear, or war spear, is a monster, a truly lethal weapon, which is similar to having a small tree thrown at you, using a woomera, which is a spear thrower, quite accurate, and adds a lot of range. They were better than muskets, and any hit was debilitating. The club, or nulla-nulla, was a good close combat weapon.
British colonial histories are full of stories about the Aboriginal Wars, some of which are quite comical falsifications. The Aboriginals, like the Maoris in New Zealand, ran rings around the colonial troops, particularly the infamous Rum Corps, which was so corrupt and so drunk it was useless.
Almost completely undocumented are the land grabs, the squatters’ ruthless exploitations of the Aboriginals, and the degree of provocation suffered by the Aboriginals as the land was taken for purely commercial reasons. Some of the incidents were easily on a par with the Sand Creek massacre in America, and there were plenty of incidents.
They were real wars:
The submission nominates a number of conflicts to be commemorated, including the Pemulwuy-led Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars from 1790, the Black Wars of Tasmania, the Port Phillip District Wars from 1830 to 1850, the Kalkodoon Wars of North West Queensland 1870 to 1890, and the Western Australian Conflict of 1890 to 1898.
The institute points out other colonial wars conducted at the same time as the "Aboriginal Wars'' are already recognised in Hall of Valour dioramas at the Australian War Memorial.
Pemulwuy, who was a war leader, and a good one, roughly at the Geronimo, Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull level tactically, was once suggested as the subject of a sort of Australian Statue of Liberty, a big thing with an Aboriginal warrior with a spear overlooking the Harbor on the North Shore, his territory.
Of course the tiny suburban minds couldn’t handle that idea, but that’s the reputation the Aboriginal Wars still have.
The Returned Services League has objected. That’s sort of sick, because Aboriginal servicemen are duly honored in Australian histories, biographies, and anecdotal evidence from their mates. That makes this tough reading for Aussies who’ve had service members in the family:
If such a memorial is built, it will face fierce resistance from the RSL. The RSL's Major-General (Ret) Bill Crews told The Sunday Telegraph the RSL would oppose the plan.
He said there was already a memorial for Aboriginal service men and women behind the Australian War Memorial.
"All of the memorials that have been established generally commemorate the role of Australians in conflicts outside Australia and there is no precedent for a civil-style conflict to be commemorated,'' he said.
No, General Crewes, there isn’t. But there is a precedent for honesty in our memorials. We remember it every year, on April 25th, ANZAC Day, when we honor our people who fought defending this country.
Let's hope there's never another precedent, but let's be honest.
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