Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dainggatti Entry Page

I have begun a series of posts looking at the Dainggatti, one of New England's Aboriginal people. I have two objectives in so doing.

First, I am interested in the Dainggatti as part of the history of New England. Secondly, I hope that the series will help all those with an interest in the Dainggatti.

To facilitate all this, I am creating this page as an entry page for all posts with connection to the Dainggatti.

If, as I hope, all of New England's Aboriginal peoples end up with their own web sites, this page will become redundant. In the meantime, I hope that it will be of some interest.

My writing is eclectic, mixing between present and past. So the posts are an evolving mixture.

My post on New England's Aboriginal Languages provides a useful starting point because it shows the distribution of the different Aboriginal languages within New England. Here one of the issues I am presently wrestling with is the nature of the linkages between the Macleay Valley Dainggatti and the nearby New England Tablelands.

One of the problems I face in understanding the Dainggatti is the nature of the evidence.

In The Poetry of Judith Wright - Bora Ring, I look at a poem by one of New England's poets, contrasting the view expressed in the poem of a vanished race with the continuing existence of Aboriginal experience. I also provide some information on the bora rings that were a feature of New England and south eastern Queensland.

The Wright family properties occupied a major strip of the Tablelands east of Armidale. The Wrights actually employed Dainggatti stockmen. High Lean Country, the latest history of the New England Tablelands, includes some historical material linked to the Dainggatti.

Note the use of the word "Thungeti" in a quote for the Dainggatti. There are multiple English spellings because of the difficulty of transcribing Dainggatti into English. I have settled on Dainggatti because of the map, but this is not necessarily right.

As in Bora Ring, views about the Aborigines and their history are affected by individual perceptions. My post Malcolm Calley, Anthropology and Australia's Aborigines provides an introduction to some of the difficulties as I see them.

One way of correcting this at least partially, one that I like, is to provide a series of overlapping stories focused on individuals.

Emma Jane Callaghan (1884-1979) Aboriginal nurse and midwife tells part of the story of an Aboriginal woman from La Perouse in Sydney who came to Bellbrook and married a Dainggatti man.

From Bellbrook, she moved to Armidale to be closer to medical facilities for her husband. There she met Dr Kent Hughes, an Armidale doctor and civic leader who was to play a major role in Aboriginal health matters over a long period.

Another, later, Armidale civic leader was Dainggatti women Pat Dixon who became the first Aboriginal woman elected to local government in NSW.

Even at this early stage in the process, the stories of these three women read together provides insights into Dainggatti life including the links between the Dainggatti and Armidale.

The council material referred to in Armidale's Aborigines - a note provides something of a potential historical framework for the Armidale side of the modern Dainggatti story, while Bellbrook's Aboriginal Community - a note provides some initial references for later follow up.

Still early days, but this post at least provides a start that can be updated as I complete further posts.

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