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How the West Was Lost: The Native Question in the Development of Western Australia

Don McLeod


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In 1946 Indigenous men Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna and their non-Indigenous collaborator Don McLeod organised what would became known as the Pilbara Strike. … How the West Was Lost deals with the determination of the Indigenous peoples throughout the north of Western Australia to fight for their human rights. SCARCE. 156 p. : ill., map, ports. ; 22 cm. #0721/131021/060222/070522 Only an “Acceptable Used Copy” with various marks of wear.
On May 1 1946 hundreds of Aboriginal pastoral station workers walked off sheep stations in the Pilbara region of north-west Western Australia. This was the beginning of an organised strike that officially lasted for three years but unofficially continued long after 1949. Over the next 30 years the strikers fought for recognition, fair wages and drew attention to the unfair treatment of Aboriginal people in the state.
In some ways, the Pilbara Strike can be seen as a simple industrial dispute, but more importantly it was about recognising Indigenous people as human beings entitled to the same rights as all other Australians. Many of the strikers who recount their experiences in this film refer to their feelings that they were treated as animals by the state and this was one of their main sources of trauma. Transcripts from the Department of Native Affairs, together with news articles from the time, place this significant event in the broader economic and political context of Western Australia. In the 1940s, Indigenous labour was essential to the economic progress of Western Australia and to the lives of pastoralists who ran stations on the land. But the Indigenous workers who tended the stations were either unpaid for their employment or given extremely low wages. Indigenous leaders Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna and pastoralist Don McLeod organised a walkout that covered a large area of the state’s north-west and involved hundreds of strikers. But while the 1946 strike officially lasted around three years, David Noakes’ documentary also highlights the fact that unofficially the strike continued to resonate into the 1980s for many. He covers the subsequent periods of the 1950s when many Aborigines began mining to make a living and the 1960s and 70s when some Aborigines were able to buy back some of the stations they had formerly worked on. People such as Don McLeod question just how far things had come even in the 1980s.
History of legislation and administration; Aboriginal participation in pearling, pastoral and mining industries; detailed account of 1946 Pilbara Strike and subsequent establishment of Northern Development and Mining Pty Ltd, Pindan Pty Ltd and Nomads Pty Ltd; history and criticism of United Aborigines Mission and specific Benedictine, Seventh Day Adventists and Catholic Missions; struggles for tenure at Moola Bulla, Nookanbah and Strelley Station; role of Dooley Bin Bin, Jacob Oberdoo and Clancy McKenna.
McLeod, D. W. (Donald William) | Aboriginal Australians — Western Australia — History. | Aboriginal Australians — Treatment. | Aboriginal Australians — Western Australia — Government relations. | Aboriginal Australians — Western Australia — Treatment. | Aboriginal Pastoral Strike, Pilbara, W.A., 1946-1949. | Aboriginal Australians — Western Australia — Pilbara — History. | Occupations – Pastoral industry workers. | Government policy – State and territory – Western Australia. | Mining industry. | Government policy – Initial period and protectionism – 1851-1900. | Government policy – Integration. | Employment – Conditions – Industrial relations – Trade unions. | Mining industry – Mine workers. | Enterprises – Pastoral industry. | Religions – Christianity – Missionaries. | Religions – Christianity – Catholic Church. | Law – Constitutional law. | Law – Administrative law – Western Australia. | Employment – Conditions – Industrial relations – Industrial disputes. | Employment – Law and legislation. | Government policy – Initial period and protectionism – 1901-1925. | Religions – Christianity – Missions – United Aborigines Mission. | Religions – Christianity – Seventh Day Adventists. | Religions – Christianity – Missions. | Pilbara area (WA SF50, SF51, SG50) | Noonkanbah / Yungngora (WA West Kimberley SE51-12) | Yurtingunya / Strelley (WA East Pilbara SF50-04) | Strelley (WA East Pilbara SF50-04) | Moola Bulla (WA East Kimberley SE52-09)

Additional Information

AuthorDon McLeod
Number of pages156 p. : ill., map, ports. ; 22 cm.
PublisherThe Author
Year Published1984
Binding Type


Book Condition

Acceptable Used copy

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