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Pigeon, an Aboriginal rebel : A study of Aboriginal-European conflict in the West Kimberley, north Western Australia during the 1890s

Pedersen, Howard (1980) Pigeon, an Aboriginal rebel : A study of Aboriginal-European conflict in the West Kimberley, north Western Australia during the 1890s. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis examines Aboriginal resistance to the European pastoral industry in the West Kimberley region of North-Western Australia between the mid 1880s and 1897. It attempts to analyse the remarkable adaption of a group of Aborigines in the mountainous area of the West Kimberley who in the space of a few years adopted European methods of warfare in their resistance. The study focusses on the group's leader, a young Aboriginal man named Pigeon.

Pigeon, who had been a police tracker and a pastoral worker was able to use his knowledge of European ways to lead the group and plan and direct action against the Europeans. The emergence of this group of Aboriginal resisters is analysed within the context of the pastoral economy which was supported by the police and the judiciary vis a vis the colonial government which attempted to regulate relations between Aborigines and Europeans. The attempts to quell Aboriginal stock killing by methods of imprisonment, aided a transformation process which created the conditions for increased Aboriginal resistance.

The pastoralists who were frustrated by increased stock killing by Aborigines continued to pressure the reluctant Western Australian government to authorise severe methods to counter the Aborigines. The use of firearms and conventional military leadership by the Aborigines was perceived as a threat by the Europeans. The government responded by temporarily abandoning its previous policies relating to the Aborigines. The police for a short time were given discretionary powers to deal with Aborigines, and military style campaigns were authorised which had horrific consequences on Aborigines throughout the West Kimberley district.

The group of Aborigines, referred to by the Europeans as Pigeon's gang was eventually destroyed and consequently the pastoral industry was allowed to expand.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Reece, Robert
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