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By Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke, Bryce Barker and Noelene Cole One of the infamous euphemisms in historical documents relating to the Native Mounted Police (NMP) is “dispersal”.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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My unfortunate habit of ‘nipping’*: Alcohol and the Native Mounted Police

By Bryce Barker The historical record tells us that alcohol consumption in the early days of European ‘settlement’ was prodigious (Dingle 1978, 1980; see Figure 1). Indeed, the most common artefact we have recovered during excavations at Native Mounted Police (NMP) camps is glass, by far the most common type of which comes from alcohol […]

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Glamping: Native Mounted Police Style

By Uschi Artym ‘Disgraceful’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘respectable’—these were some of the words used to describe the Diamantina, Jundah and Boulia Native Mounted Police (NMP) camps by contemporary visitors. Scant historical documentation remains on just how NMP camps were laid out and what they looked like, so wondering about what constituted a ‘comfortable’ camp, or distinguished […]

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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

[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. The lure of […]

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