Armidale magazine Resisting New England details the vicious history of violence in the New England between settlers and Anaiwan people

RESISTING NEW ENGLAND: Resisting New England first edition Mūgūng & Gun editors Gabi Briggs and Callum Clayton-Dixon show an 1841 excerpt from the Sydney Gazette that reads, "a more rascally, vindictive, or treacherous set of vagabonds than are the New England Blacks will not be found in any part of New Holland."
RESISTING NEW ENGLAND: Resisting New England first edition Mūgūng & Gun editors Gabi Briggs and Callum Clayton-Dixon show an 1841 excerpt from the Sydney Gazette that reads, "a more rascally, vindictive, or treacherous set of vagabonds than are the New England Blacks will not be found in any part of New Holland."

ALMOST ALL records of Anaiwan frontier wars are through the eyes of Europeans.

Now, Callum Clayton-Dixon and Gabi Briggs will use that raw truth to smack readers in the face.

Magazine Resisting New England is a reclamation of history and the first of its kind in the region.

“The opportunity to be told these stories from our side was lost when we were killed,” Ambēyaŋ woman Gabi Briggs said.

“It was pure survival through terror.

“What’s really brilliant about doing this is that we’re using the colonisers own language and stories to say, “This is what you did.”

“You cannot not have an admission of guilt.”

The first edition documents frontier violence from 1832 to the mid 1840’s.

It was the first time both editors had learned the raw details of violence perpetrated against their ancestors.

Poring through hundreds of newspaper clippings, station diaries and police reports the pair slowly recovered the lost stories of their people.

What they read shocked them.

“It’s a given that there’s a history of genocide and massacre here,” Gabi said.

“I’ve always known that but these are the raw details, it’s evidence.

“I think people will initially react with anger and say that we’re troublemakers to be honest.

“A lot of people probably think it’s information better left in the past, but this offers an opportunity for healing and true reconciliation.”

Documented in the zine is an excerpt from a book written in the 1960’s by a descendant of squatters from the Walcha district.

"A more rascally, vindictive, or treacherous set of vagabonds than are the New England Blacks will not be found in any part of New Holland.

Sydney Gazette, 1841.

Stock workers had taken 50 kilograms of gun powder and packed it into a log where people of the area would light fires for ceremonies and gatherings.

Callum said it’s just one of many acts of violence against his ancestors that would today be considered terrorism.

In 1839, commissioner of crown lands G.J. MacDonald took control over Aboriginal land and made Tilbuster station his headquarters.

Today, a park of his namesake in Armidale still stands.

Excerpts of reports written by MacDonald have been included in Resisting New England.

“MacDonald would write about Aboriginal people causing problems for a pasturalist, killing sheep or shepherds,” Callum said.

“He will write, “Summary measures were taken”.

“That’s a really subtle way of saying we killed them and we dealt with them.

“Those things provide the facts of the anger and frustration we feel when you walk around this town and see the names of people responsible for the death and destruction of Aboriginal people.”

The idea to put together the magazine, that will be released on Australia Day, started with Callum’s research on his native language.

In New England, the languages of the Gamilaroi people out west and the Gumbaynggirr people on the coast have survived far better than that of Anaiwan people.

A revival of the local language has seen a dictionary of 500 words recovered.

Reports from police in the 1800’s shed some light on the loss of language, Callum said.

The first one they found was a Royal Anthropological Society report that asked the District Registrar of Uralla for documentation of place names and words from local language.

“The report submitted for Uralla was blank aside from something along the lines of, “All the old people are gone now, only the young people remain. They have no or little knowledge of the language of their ancestors,” Callum said.

“To see that kind of damage to the state of the language was an indication of what happened from when John Oxley got here in 1818 and 1899.”

The primary audience for the magazine is Anaiwan people, the pair said.

More than 40 different newspaper articles from the Sydney Herald, Sydney Gazette and Maitland Mercury detail “outrages” committed by Aboriginal people on the Tableland.

It’s a story that challenges the white narrative that Aboriginal people just laid down and died, Gabi said.

“We need to face up to the facts that this is what was done,” she said.

“It’s in it’s most purest form – this is coming from the mouths of the colonisers.

“It can enable a conversation about reparations, it’s a truth that needs to be centred and I think it’s the only thing that can offer healing here.”

The first edition of Resisting New England will see 500 copies printed.

The Anaiwan Language Hub project will be released on Australia Day.

This story A violent history told through the mouths of colonisers first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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