An new slant on an ancient story from National Geographic Australia
John Pickrell, 3 March 2019
(Warning: Linked news stories may include images that are culturally sensitive. Unfortunately, FARA has no control over external websites.)
Text chiselled into boulders more than 150 years ago is the earliest archaeological evidence of a thriving 19th-century American whaling industry found in northwestern Australia.
It’s “fantastic” to have found inscriptions from around the time of first contact with the islands’ Yaburara people, agrees Peter Jeffries, a local elder and CEO of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.
Unfortunately, colonization would be catastrophic for the Yaburara. Two decades after the inscription left by Delta whalemen in 1849, the so-called Flying Foam Massacre saw mainland colonists murder up to 60 Yaburara.
“The American whalers, however, preceded this more permanent European expansion into the area, recording a brief moment when Indigenous people and visiting whalers shared territory without obvious major conflict,” the authors of the Antiquity paper observe.