A landmark project mapping Indigenous massacres by European settlers in Australia between 1788-1930 now includes 250 sites. Extensive new research has detailed killings in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The research team at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales has been contacted by hundreds of Australians offering insights about where Indigenous groups were killed.
The research is uncovering some of the darkest chapters in Australian history. Of the 250 massacres, all but 10 were perpetrated by white settlers on Australia’s original inhabitants.
Each listing details the number of victims and seeks to identify those responsible, their motives and the weapons they used. Information has been corroborated through various sources, including newspaper reports, court records and letters.
Historians at the University of Newcastle believe many of the attackers were motivated by thoughts of genocide.
Professor Lyndall Ryan is leading the study.
“It is important to compile the map because we really do not know what happened in colonial Australia. This is all new information and when you put all the dots on the map, they have accumulated to an extraordinary number. I come from a generation that knew very little about the frontier in Australia. I thought that Australia was peacefully settled, that there were very few massacres. And that on the whole Aboriginal people simply faded away. I think that my project is now showing that was not the case,” said Ryan.
Professor Ryan defines a massacre as the “indiscriminate killing of six or more undefended people in one operation”.
Her team unveiled stage one of the map a year ago, showing atrocities in eastern Australia, and have now added 81 more after painstaking investigation and feedback from the public. The number of mass killings is expected to grow to about 500 before the project is finished, including those committed up until 1960.
Researchers hope the survey will help with education and creating monuments to those killed in Australia’s so-called Frontier Wars.’
Aboriginal Australians currently make up about 3 percent of the national population, and suffer high rates of poverty, imprisonment and ill-health.