Page:Australian aborigines 1838.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
NEW SOUTH
WALES.
————
Enclosure 2.
in No. 2.
11
MASSACRE OF AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES.

about six feet, and measuring in circumference 310 yards. The whole of this labour was likewise performed by the aborigines under the superintendence of their own chieftains, and is considered to be equal if not superior to any on the settlement.

The natives have been occasionally employed in shepherding, and latterly one of their number has to attend the flocks on the islands, who at the end of the month is relieved by another from the establishment. It would be extremely prolix to enumerate all the miscellaneous employments in which the aborigines engage; suffice it to say they are ever ready and willing to assist in any undertaking they are capable of performing, and when called upon to do so occasionally, and for want of boatmen, they have assisted in working the boats.

I find that in adverting to the labour of the aborigines in reference to the fence round the turnip paddock, I was in error, having stated that the stakes were the only part they performed, whereas they cut the posts and the rails, and the major part they brought to the settlement, as per Appendix (F.); for the posts they received from 4 d. to 6 d. each, and the rails were paid for in proportion; it is a morticed fence of three rails, substantially put up.

Aboriginal Police.

The police of this establishment consists of four special constables, and their two chiefs, to whom the conservation of the aborigines is confided. The constables are chosen vivâ voce from each of the two remnant tribes in full assembly, convened for the occasion. They receive for this duty a weekly stipend of 1 s. (the pay is only nominal) as the office is considered an honorary distinction.

The constables act under the orders of their chiefs; the latter determine all points of disputes, and on several occasions have displayed tact and judgment highly creditable, and in every instance have administered impartial justice. When this police was first established, it was done as an experiment and solely with a view to assimilate the natives as much as it was possible to the customs and usages of Europeans.

The experiment has now been fairly tried, and found to answer beyond the most sanguine expectation.

The aboriginal police take a general surveillance over the entire of the aborigines. The authority of the constables is acknowledged and respected. Many circumstances might be adduced to show the utility and advantage of this police. The following is a striking instance, and will tend to show the advancement these people have made in the scale of civilization and moral improvement.

In February last one of the convicts absconded from this settlement, and was proceeding on his way to the south end of the island, for the purpose, as he said, of communicating with the sealers, and then eventually to escape from the island; the aboriginal police, aided by others of their own people, were ordered by me to go in quest of him, and on the evening of the same day, they brought him back to the settlement handcuffed, and safely lodged him in the gaol.

In addition to the employment before enumerated, a few of the male aborigines made an excursion in March last to the Sisters, two islands at the north end of Flindlers, and from whence they brought 201 wallaby skins, the greater part of which was sold by auction at the market to the officers, and realised 2 l. 3 s. 10½ d., and which was placed to the account of the aborigines. The residue of the skins, with other produce will be forwarded to Hobart Town by the present opportunity.

In addition to the police, of whom none but the most, intellectual of the aborigines are appointed conservators, there are other of minor character filled up by the adult aborigines; viz.

Cooks 2
Clerk and assistant to the catechist  2
Storekeeper's assistant 2
Shepherd 1
Surgeon's assistant 1

And as in the civilization of the aborigines it was deemed advisable that the juveniles should be instructed in handicraft, I have been induced therefore, in addition to the youth who was under the tuition of the tailor (as mentioned in my previous report, in which business he has made great proficiency), to direct that others of the aboriginal lads should likewise be taught useful arts. In accordance therewith, several have been placed under the instruction of the best conducted of the prisoner artisans, and two of the lads I have taken into my office; one as messenger, and the other a youth about 15 years of age, as a copyist, who writes a fair and legible hand.

As a stimulant to renewed diligence, the above individuals are each allowed a weekly stipend, and further to promote emulation premiums are distributed to the most industrious and best behaved.

Employment of the Female Aborigines.

The employments of the female aborigines are various. The more prominent of their labour for the last four months has been the collecting of grass and bringing it to the settlement for the purpose of thatching and for other uses. The labour thus performed has been considerable, the gross weight of grass collected being enormous, amounting to about 40 tons.

Each woman brings into the settlement every morning before eight o'clock a bundle of grass, averaging in weight 56 pounds, weather permitting; they likewise collect the fuel for

their