Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Warrior: A Legendary Leader's Dramatic Life and Violent Death on the Colonial Frontier

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Warrior: A Legendary Leader's Dramatic Life and Violent Death on the Colonial Frontier

Article excerpt

Warrior: a legendary leader's dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier

Libby Connors 2015

Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 280pp, ISBN 9781760110482 (pbk)

The myth of the warrior looms large in the Australian popular imagination. The young men who served at Gallipoli, at the Western Front and across other fields of battle have not faded from the national consciousness and, in many instances, have been canonised as secular saints. The language of sport is imbued with martial terms; football matches are often described as battles and those playing on the field earn the epithet of 'warrior'. The display of aggression seen on the playing field is lauded as noble and heroic. The most notable exception to this was seen in 2015 when Aboriginal Australian Football star Adam Goodes was criticised by some for performing a war dance after scoring a goal. For some critics, the warlike display by a proud and strong Aboriginal man was too much to take. The same pride and physicality in the Aboriginal man Dundalli struck fear in the hearts and minds of the European inhabitants in the fledging British settlement of Brisbane and its surrounds. Dundalli came to exemplify the dangers that lay beyond the limits of colonial control. It is the little known story of this man and the resistance of the Dalla, Jagara and Gubbi Gubbi people to European invasion that historian Libby Connors chronicles in Warrior.

Connors skilfully chronicles the tenuous hold that Europeans had in south-east Queensland and the need by authorities both to deal diplomatically with Aboriginal people and to ensure the safety of the colony's European inhabitants. After initially welcoming the European settlers into their midst, often to gain advantage over rival groups through the acquisition of weapons and tools, the encounters between Aboriginal people and settlers became increasingly more violent. …

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