Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bidjigal from Baulkham Hills


It's on to the Bidjigal--another clan of Eora people. They lived in what is now Baulkham Hills.
Baulkham Hills is known as the Bible Belt of Sydney because it has a lot of churches. I didn't know Australia had Bible Belts. I thought that was an American thing.

Well, we learn something new everyday.

Baulkham Hills is way out west from where us American tourists will be hanging out. Maybe we'll make our way over there. Who knows? There's the lovely Bidjigal Reserve which has animals and historical Bidjigal stuff.

The most well-known Bidjigal man was Pemulwoy. He fought against the British--avenged Aboriginal deaths by killing Governor Philip's gamekeeper.

He led raids against settlers.

He was known as "Rainbow Warrior" because he wore the colors of all Aboriginal tribes.

Pemulwoy became a wanted man in 1801 and was killed in 1802. The body was preserved and sent to Joseph Banks (the Botanist who sailed with Cook) in London. There is a lot of anger and controversy over this. The UK has many Aboriginal bodies and the Aborigines in Australia want them back. Why would someone cling to other people's dead ancestors? It seems a bit cruel. Rude too.

Maybe some Australians should steal the bodies of some famous British people. They can hold them ransom until the Aboriginal remains are returned.

I'm saying all this bad stuff about the British and who knows what we have in our American museums? Well, probably not Aborigines, but I'm sure we have SOMETHING we shouldn't have.

It seems the excuse for keeping these Aboriginal bodies is they're needed for scientific studies. Yeah. I think most of the earlier studies went along with the idea that Aborigines are the least evolved of the human beings. I guess some people still cling to Nazi-like beliefs.

What else can you do to a body that's over two-hundred years old? What more do you want to find out? Why not dig up bodies in England and do the same studies?

Aren't there better things for scientists to do? Like find life on other planets? Or scare people into thinking we're going to be swallowed by a black hole?

In March 2006, the British museum made the decision to return the ashes of Aboriginal Tasmanians to Tasmania.

From what I gather in my reading, Pemolwoy was returned in the 1950's. I give the British kudos for that. Unfortunately, the skull was passed around and then lost. It was later found, but there is debate about whether it is Pemolwoy or somebody else. Can they not to genetic testing? Although how would they know what Pemolwoy's genes look like? I am thinking genes are like fingerprints. You can't just find a finger print and know who it belongs to. You need the matching fingerprints on database. Otherwise, it's bit meaningless.

Back to Pemulwoy.......

Eric Wilmott wrote a novel about him. I may want to read it although I don't usually like fictional books about nonfictional people.

He does sound like an interesting person though--Pemulwoy not Willmot. Although Willmot might be interesting as well. Who knows? He might be fascinating. He might have a blog!

There's a belief that Aborigines were a weak race easily overcome by a more superior and powerful race; that they did not offer much resistance to the invasion. This attitude is also applied to the Jews in Nazi Europe.

Pemulwoy's existence and story argues against this belief.

He fought.

He wasn't weak.

In fact, his eerie ability to recover from wounds gave him the reputation as being invincible.

There's an interesting contrast between his story and Bennelong's. I think all stories of domination of one people over another include characters like Bennelong and Pemulwoy--including the fictional ones. Look at the V miniseries. Danial the young Jewish man was a bit like Bennelong. Although I think he kissed up to the aliens more than Bennelong kissed up to the Europeans. Then Mike Donovan and Julie Parrish were like Pemulwoy. Resistance fighters! They were awesome. Remember when they went on live television and tore off the alien's fake-human mask?

You know.....

It's funny how you start off learning one thing and get led off in some interesting directions.

I began reading about Bidjigal from Baulkham Hills. That led me to Pemulwuy and then for about an hour I read about dead bodies and museums--making me feel like I was a character in a Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel.

And now I have Marc Singer on my mind.

Sexy guy. Or at least I thought so back in the 80's.