Aboriginal-European interaction on the Queensland frontier: an archaeological study of the Boralga native police camp, Cape York Peninsula

Bateman, Leanne (2020) Aboriginal-European interaction on the Queensland frontier: an archaeological study of the Boralga native police camp, Cape York Peninsula. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

This research examines the multiple elements of daily frontier life at the Native Mounted Police (NMP) camp at Boralga in Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. The everyday domestic function of NMP camps provided the means for paramilitary government forces to carry out sanctioned violence against Aboriginal peoples for over half a century. To date, only a small portion of the historical record and published accounts of Aboriginal-European frontier conflict in Australia has included an archaeological component. Documents regarding the daily lives of the Aboriginal troopers are rare, possibly because this type of information was intentionally omitted, destroyed or simply deemed irrelevant. Information regarding the troopers’ cultural identities, domestic and working conditions, hierarchical and collaborative relationships with the European officers, as well as the role of women and how they came to be present at the camps, are overlooked aspects of the NMP. This research investigates activities within the domestic space of an NMP camp by examining the archaeological signature of what now constitutes the most visible physical remains of conflict on the frontier. This study demonstrates that although Aboriginal social and cultural identity was impacted to some degree by exposure to European domestic objects, identity was upheld through maintaining aspects of their own culture, thus creating a sense of place that held some meaning and value.

Even though an adherence to strict European ‘civilisation’ and military standards was expected, the preservation of various cultural practices was maintained by the troopers (and possibly their wives) by turning non-traditional objects into traditional forms, and by continuing to hunt native fauna using their own methods, most likely to supplement insufficient food rations. Various personal items indicated the presence of Aboriginal women and children residing at the camp, thus shaping personal relationships and the expression of the domestic space. However definitive archaeological evidence confirming the nature of relationships between the officers and the troopers at Boralga proved inconclusive. Most archaeological findings at the study site confirmed historical accounts, and although current spatial arrangements of the structures were inconsistent with the original historical plans, the material evidence associated with specific buildings correlated with most structures identified in the latest survey. It is considered that this research will provide a more holistic contextualisation with which to augment the already established oral testimonies and historic information regarding life on the Queensland frontier.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Supervisors: Barker, Bryce; Lamb, Lara
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2020 06:08
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2021 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: Native mounted police camp; archaeology; frontier
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Fields of Research (2020): 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/t0jr-sr07
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39484

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