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Reclaiming history through indigenous stories

Coming to terms with our history can be raise all kinds of issues that many people would rather let slide quietly by.  But that’s not what this new exhibition at the Australian Museum is about  Many of the images on display may have people reeling in shock, especially a wall-sized map of Australia when it is lit up in red, denoting where frontier massacres took place each year.  In 1921,  almost two thirds of the continent is awash in red. 

Documents that have never been shown before include sealed secret orders given to Captain Cook by the Royal Navy, in which he was ordered not to open until he left Tahiti in 1789 on his voyage to find the Great Southern Continent.  The orders clearly state that he was meant to gain “the consent of the Natives” when making a claim of possession – something he never did.

And likewise there was no negotiation for land in our neck of the woods either.  Munibung Hill was a significant part of country, a place that was colonised in spite of being occupied and an integral part of Awabakal territory. This Australian Museum story is as relevant to us locally as it is to many other parts of NSW and Australia. 

The new installation is curated by Laura McBride.  Titled: Unsettled, it runs until October 10 and is free to enter.  Well worth a visit.