Inventing a Colonial Dark History: The Derby Boab 'Prison' Tree

Grant, E and Harman, K 2017, 'Inventing a Colonial Dark History: The Derby Boab 'Prison' Tree' in Jacqueline Z. Wilson, Sarah Hodgkinson, Justin Piché, Kevin Walby (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism, Palgrave Macmillan UK, United Kingdom, pp. 735-759.

Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title Inventing a Colonial Dark History: The Derby Boab 'Prison' Tree
Author(s) Grant, E
Harman, K
Year 2017
Title of book The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan UK
Place of publication United Kingdom
Editor(s) Jacqueline Z. Wilson, Sarah Hodgkinson, Justin Piché, Kevin Walby
Start page 735
End page 759
Subjects Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society
Social and Cultural Anthropology
Summary A large hollow boab known as the prison tree just outside the small town of Derby in Western Australia is a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of people annually. It is represented as a historic site, where Aboriginal people were incarcerated for opposing heroic European pastoralists attempting to found a modern Australia. To understand the prison tree, it is vital to comprehend the impact on the Aboriginal traditional owners of the expansion of pastoralism to the Kimberley region in the 1880s and 1890s. Within European concepts of exclusive use of land, Aboriginal people were driven from their lands, forced to work on the newly established stations, incarcerated or killed.1 Aboriginal people resisted pastoral settlement by burning pastures and livestock and by making spearheads of glassand iron to fight police and pastoralists. Deprived of traditional food sources, Aboriginal people killed sheep brought in by the settlers. A series of droughts and the introduction of cattle compounded conflict between white settlers and Aboriginal people of the region. One of the roles of the police force was to protect Aboriginal people from exploitative colonisation. At the same time, police were expected to prosecute those who interfered with property or stock in what became known as depredations. Following complaints from pastoralists, police travelled often for hundreds of miles over several weeks to arrest alleged offenders. The Aboriginal offenders, regularly accompanied by Aboriginal witnesses, were chained by the neck (Harman and Grant 2014) and marched back to either Halls Creek or Wyndham (and later Derby) gaols, with police purportedly utilising boab trees located outside of Wyndham and Derby as temporary prisons for their Aboriginal captives while en route to the townships. The chapter calls into question claims that the boab tree on the outskirts of Derby was once used as a temporary prison for Aboriginal prisoners. It examines Aboriginal and n
Copyright notice © 2017 The Editor(s) and Author(s)
Keyword(s) Prisons
Australian Aboriginal peoples
ISBN 9781137561350
Version Filter Type
Access Statistics: 28 Abstract Views  -  Detailed Statistics
Created: Mon, 29 Apr 2019, 13:04:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
© 2014 RMIT Research Repository • Powered by Fez SoftwareContact us