Recruiting Aboriginal boys and men to the NMP: Part I

By Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke, Bryce Barker and Noelene Cole One of the infamous euphemisms in historical documents relating to the Native Mounted Police (NMP) is “dispersal”. This word has now been convincingly demonstrated to actually refer to the shooting and killing of Aboriginal people (Richards 2008). We suggest here that another euphemism is the […]

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“Taking French leave”: Desertions amongst the Troopers

By Lynley Wallis and Heather Burke The numerous accounts in official records of desertions by Aboriginal troopers lend weight to suggestions that many men did not join the Native Mounted Police (NMP) force willingly. In some cases entire detachments deserted, such as in 1865 when Lieutenant Charles Blakeney had this happen for the second time: […]

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The Discipline of Dress: The Many Meanings of NMP Uniforms

By Heather Burke A uniform, in any setting, is an institutional garment. Conformity to it has certain goals and the experience of wearing it is a critical part of adhering to a particular set of rules. For the troopers of the Native Mounted Police (NMP), the donning, wearing and maintaining of their uniforms was considered […]

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Men in Blue (and Red): A Brief History of the Qld NMP Uniform

By Heather Burke [The Native Police] are clothed in a uniform of blue with scarlet relief, armed with Snider rifles, drilled in semi-military fashion (Brisbane Courier, 15 June 1878, p3). From the start of the Native Mounted Police (NMP), the uniforms worn by officers and troopers were a central element of their structure and presence. […]

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Aboriginal Women and the NMP

The black police … seemed to have full license to kidnap and ravish the women of the first tribe they came across after a depredation had taken place. Frequently I have seen them tie young gins* — yelling and struggling — to the backs of their horses and carry them off after a dispersal, after […]

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What’s in a Name?

By Heather Burke Naming can be a means of identification, classification, control and transformation. For Europeans, the stability of their names—particularly their first names—is taken for granted. Both first and last names provide an anchor for the individual and connect them to family and place. For Aboriginal people names were much less stable but no […]

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Cramming Monkeys

By Heather Burke A large part of our project involves sifting through various sources of historical information for insights into the NMP. One of these sources is TROVE, a repository of historical Australian newspapers from every state and territory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Searching TROVE is dangerous. Each attempt reveals a chain of interconnected events, […]

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