Indigenous People of the Kimberley
The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry


The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry is a 25 minute video documentary for Digital Download

The Digital Download also contains an interactive review, teachers’ guide and student work sheets.

Suitable for Years 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the National History Curriculum

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The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry tells of the vital role that the Aboriginal People played in the establishment, and continue to play in the operation of the Kimberley pastoral industry.

It tells of their life and work on the stations, their relationships with the European pastoralists, and of their struggle to remain on their land.


After viewing The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry, students should have a basic understanding of...
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The five major regions of Kimberley grasslands, the arrival of the European Pastoralists and how their settlement was tolerated by some Aboriginal groups and resisted by others.
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The establishment of the Christian missions that provided a safe haven for may Indigenous People.
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The passing of the 1905 Aborigines Act by the Western Australian Parliament which gave the government control over virtually every aspect of the Aboriginal People's lives.
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The establishment of the pastoral stations, the methods used by the pastoralists in getting the Aboriginal People to work for them, the types of work required of them and the varied treatment they received at the hands of the station managers.
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The meaningful relationships that developed between many Aboriginal and European families and the joint sense of belonging and pride in their country and station that was established.
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The implementation of the 1966 Equal Wage Case Ruling that caused many Aboriginal People to be driven off the stations and into pride destroying unemployment and ghetto style living conditions in the fringe camps that were set up on the outskirts of the local towns.
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a The enactment of commonwealth land rights legislation that allowed traditional owners to lodge claims to regain their land and revitalised the role of the Aboriginal stockmen.
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About this program...

This program consists of a 25 minute video documentary presented on DVD, and a Windows or Macintosh CD-ROM.  The CD-ROM contains an interactive review, teachersí guide and student work sheets.  These can be printed out for classroom or individual use.

After viewing this program, students should have a basic understanding of...

  • the five major regions of Kimberley grasslands, the arrival of the European pastoralists and how their settlement was tolerated by some Aboriginal groups and resisted by others;

  • the establishment of the Christian missions that provided a safe haven for many Indigenous People;

  • the passing of the 1905 Aborigines Act by the Western Australian Parliament, which gave the government control over virtually every aspect of the Aboriginal Peopleís lives;

  • the establishment of the pastoral stations, the methods used by the pastoralists in getting the Aboriginal People to work for them, the types of work required of them and the varied treatment they received at the hands of the station managers;

  • the meaningful relationships that developed between many Aboriginal and European families and the joint sense of belonging and pride in their country and station that was established;

  • the implementation of the 1966 Equal Wage Case Ruling that caused many Aboriginal People to be driven off the stations and into pride destroying unemployment and ghetto style living conditions in the fringe camps that were set up on the outskirts of the local towns;

  • the enactment of commonwealth land rights legislation that allowed traditional owners to lodge claims to regain their land.
Points of Discussion

The following are What, Why and How points of discussion that are raised in The Backbone of the Pastoral Industry.   

Several of the points will require students to do research outside the information provided in this program to effectively discuss or debate the topic. 

  • How did the Aboriginal People make fire?

  • How did the Aboriginal People's practice of control burning create and maintain the grasslands?

  • How did the Australian population explosion brought about by the Great Gold Rush effect the European settlement of the Kimberley?

  • What were the reasons for the demise of the Kimberley sheep industry?

  • Why did the Australian government and society not recognise the Indigenous People's rights to the land?

  • How did the introduction of large herds of cattle and sheep effect the Aboriginal People's traditional hunting grounds?

  • Why did some Aboriginal groups tolerate European settlement, and others resist the occupation of their land?
  • What were some of the positive aspects of the establishment of Christian missions in the Kimberley, and some of the negative aspects?

  • Why were the Bunuba People able to resist the occupation of their land for over a decade?

  • How did the superior resources and fire power of the Europeans help them put down the Bunuba resistance?

  • Why did many Europeans believe that the Aboriginal People were a doomed race?

  • Do you believe that the taking of mixed race children from their parents was justified?

  • How did the practice of removing Aboriginal resistors from their land and placing them in forced servitude on stations far from their traditional country effect the Aboriginal People?

  • Why was the Aboriginal People's knowledge of bush tucker so important to the early pastoralists?
      
  • What difficulty would the pastoralists and Aboriginal People have experienced in communicating with each other regarding the pastoralist's efforts to get the Aboriginal People to work for them?

  • What were some of the advantages to the Aboriginal People of having the pastoralists occupy their land?

  • What were some of the disadvantages to the Aboriginal People of having the pastoralists occupy their land?
           
  • In addition to the new technologies listed in the "Backbone of the Pastoral Industry", what other European technologies would have been new to the Aboriginal People?

  • Do you believe that all the new technologies were of benefit to the Aboriginal People, and why?

  • Do you think that the introduction of the Equal Wage Case Ruling was justified, and why?

  • Should have provisions been made in the Equal Wage Case Ruling that would have allowed the Aboriginal People to remain on their land?

  • Do you think that the pastoralists should have been required to pay Aboriginal workers the award wage and also provide the rest of the Aboriginal People with food clothing and shelter?

  • What provisions do you think could have been made that would have allowed the Aboriginal to remain on their land?

  • Considering their lack of financial experience, what are some of the difficulties that the Aboriginal People would have encountered in their efforts to set up small enterprises?

  • Do you think that the Aboriginal People's claims to regain their land are justified?

With a comprehensive teachers guide,an interactive review, student review sheets and a list of follow-up activities.

A school site licence allows the program to be loaded onto a server network and/or any number of computers for use within the school to which it is licensed.


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