What Might Indigenous Records of Encounter Look Like?

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Historians have traditionally viewed archival texts as the most credible primary sources of information on the person, culture or event they were studying. These sources include diaries, newspaper accounts, official reports and records, and are usually held in institutional archives, public records offices and state libraries. Accessing the European perspective on a topic such as encounters between Indigenous people and those who arrived unannounced and uninvited is relatively simple, as the AustralianBritish and even Dutch archives – and many online repositories – contain numerous accounts of early contacts between mariners and coastal peoples.

But what of the Indigenous perspective – the view from the beach? Europeans did record conversations with Indigenous peoples, their observations and their memories. We can also gain insight by reading the actions of Indigenous peoples through European records of the meetings – when confronted with intruders on their land, did they welcome, retreat, fight, share, laugh, express curiosity, show indifference, or participate in trade?

Period3 Nov 2020

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