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'Always Crackne in Heaven' By Grant Finlay BA Theol. M. Submitted in fulfilment of the ... PDF

405 Pages·2015·4.5 MB·English
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‘Always Crackne in Heaven’ By Grant Finlay B.A. Theol. M. Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy University of Tasmania University of Tasmania June 2015 This thesis contains no material which has been accepted for a degree or diploma by the University or any other institution, except by way of background information and duly acknowledged in the thesis, and to the best of my knowledge and belief no material previously published or written by any other person except where due acknowledgement is made in the text of the thesis. This thesis may be made available for loan and limited copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968. The research associated with this thesis abides by the international and Australian codes on human and animal experimentation, the guidelines by the Australian Government's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and the rulings of the Safety, Ethics and Institutional Biosafety Committees of the University. ii Abstract The interaction of Aboriginal people with expressions of Christian faith during the colonial history of Australia has been examined in various contexts but not to any great extent in Australia’s southernmost setting of Tasmania. This thesis traces the interactions of Tasmanian Aboriginal people with Christianity from the beginnings of the colony of Van Diemen’s Land to the early years of the twentieth century. While surviving documentary sources are limited they show a vibrant pre- contact Aboriginal religious life. Its elements were multi-layered, complex and open to interacting with the different religious lives of other clans and subsequently with the colonists. Pre-existing religious beliefs and practices were the paradigm through which Aboriginal people interpreted the Christian faith. In the first generations of colonial contact there was not a mission among Aboriginal people by any church missionary society. Most religious oriented conversations occurred in the less formal settings of conversations between individuals or within families. Some conversations were with the Government appointed conciliator, catechist or clergy who were part of Government programs such as the Hobart Orphan School, the Settlement at Wybalenna, and Oyster Cove Station. These formal settings provide archival sources that indicate a variety of interactions and Aboriginal responses to Christian faith. The polyvalent rather than uniform responses demonstrate the ‘agency’ of Aboriginal people. Most chose to reject the Christian faith. Some, however, incorporated various elements including baptism, participation in church services, family Bible reading, Bible translation, writing addresses and the preaching of Christian sermons. iii A substantial focus of this thesis examines the oral and literary responses to exposure to the Christian faith at a pivotal location during a crucial period of colonial history, namely the Wybalenna Settlement on Flinders Island from 1832 – 1847. Previously unpublished sources analysed include Bible translations, catechetical examinations, literacy tests, Christian addresses and newspaper articles. The interplay of oral and written responses is examined as well as ways Aboriginal people incorporated Christian faith as they adapted and mediated personal and clan roles and relationships in the dynamic context of Wybalenna. The formal settings of the Wybalenna Settlement and Orphan School contrast the largely independent practices of particular families on the Furneaux Islands throughout most of the nineteenth century and the Nicholls Rivulet Methodist Church in the early twentieth century. These more informal settings demonstrate ways in which Aboriginal people’s adoption of Christian faith was constrained by denominational structures and a general lack of interest in them by most church members. Nevertheless, Aboriginal Christian people formed long and lasting relationships with a few colonial Christians who supported their development of uniquely Tasmanian Aboriginal Christian lives. iv Table of contents Acknowledgements— page vi Acronyms— page viii Preface— page ix Maps— page xiii Introduction— page 1 Chapter One: ‘Fertile not fallow spiritual lives’ page 25 Chapter Two: ‘Motti (one) Nyrae (good) Parlerdi (God)’ page 67 Chapter Three: ‘Black man’s church’ page 108 Chapter Four: ‘Cracks in the catechism’ page 150 Chapter Five: ‘Always crackne in heaven’ page 187 Chapter Six: ‘Neglecting the simplest duties’ page 230 Chapter Seven: ‘They think we got no souls now’ page 270 Conclusion: page 313 Bibliography: page 327 Appendix A: Baptisms of Aboriginal people page 344 Appendix B: Aboriginal children at the Hobart Orphan School page 350 Appendix C: Bible translation at Wybalenna page 353 Appendix D: Christian addresses at Wybalenna page 357 Appendix E: Flinders Island Chronicle page 370 v Acknowledgements I like the acknowledgement blurbs that people put at the beginning of their theses and books. They remind us all of the many influences, supporters and contributors to what is on, and not on, the pages we’re about to read. While not being a team effort, for the author must take final responsibility for what appears on the pages, nevertheless just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it usually takes the efforts of more than one person to produce a thesis. I begin by acknowledging the many generations of Aboriginal people of this group of islands we now call Tasmania. I appreciate them as custodians of many stories and rituals of a metaphysical nature. I am curious about those stories and rituals and how they have survived and been interpreted during the experiences of colonisation. The community of people of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Tasmania continue to be the home of my sense of belonging here. While they have benefitted from a number of the stories I have found in this research, they have also given me time to undertake this thesis. My UAICC colleagues across Australia who live contemporary experiences of Aboriginal Christian faith have assisted the development of ideas and interpretations of archival material. My supervisor, Mitchell Rolls, has given me constructive feedback over quite a few years. He appreciated the worthiness of the project several years ahead of me. I have appreciated his insights and encouragement, and how our sometimes differing perspectives helped clarify my own. Other postgraduate students at Riawunna and the interdisciplinary network, Colonialism and its Aftermaths (CAIA), have been encouraging and at times inspiring, usually without them knowing it. vi Much of this thesis relies on archival material and I thank the staff at the Mitchell Library in Sydney for the week that gave me many new things to write about. The staff at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office and the Rare Books Collection at the Morris Miller Library, University of Tasmania, have also been very helpful. Two people who gave personal professional assistance were Merrill Clayton who translated portions of a book for me, and Jennie Herrera who proof read the final draft. Simon Barnard produced the maps. My deepest gratitude, by a long way, belongs with Debbie Finlay who endured many a one-sided ‘conversation’ over seven years as I got excited about an archival find or just filled the air with thoughts that could have, and probably should have, simply remained unsaid. It would be difficult to find a single appropriate way to say thank you, but I am sure more than a few ideas will come to light in the coming years. And to Laura – ‘none for you Gretchen Weiners’, Kate – ‘sorry for missing the mutual graduation’, ‘ and Liam – ‘lone survivor’. vii Acronyms BCP – Book of Common Prayer CMS – Church Missionary Society KJV – King James Version of the Bible, also known as the Authorised Version UAICC – Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress UCA – Uniting Church in Australia viii Preface Naming protocols During the first generations of contact, many Aborigines had multiple Aboriginal names. In the colonial archives there are often more than one way of spelling them. I adopt the protocol of using the spelling and capitalisations used when quoting directly from sources. A number of Aborigines named in this thesis were also known by both Aboriginal and English names. These multiple and simultaneous identities are an important consideration in how these people interpreted and incorporated Christian faith. The protocol used will be to list both Aboriginal and English names when first mentioned. Subsequent references will have the Aboriginal name where it is known and the English name where the Aboriginal name is not known. In this thesis a number of Aborigines and clans are mentioned. The following ‘clan tree’ outlines the clans, people and intra-clan relationships specified. Within each clan the names are listed in the order in which they appear in the thesis. There were of course other people and clans beyond those listed here. The clan names used are as they appear in George Robinson’s papers and other reports. There is some conjecture about several clan identifications particularly those of a spouse as both spouses in a marriage were unlikely to be from the same clan. There is also some conflation of clans in the archives such as ‘Ben Lomond’ and ‘North-east’, as well as ‘Big River’ which included people from various clans related to the central areas of Van Diemen’s Land. Individual names are used in the form most often used in the source documents. The spelling of some of these names is different among the Aboriginal community today. ix ‘Ben Lomond’ clan • Rolepa / George married to Luggenemenener / Tuery o Walter Arthur, eldest son o Rolepana, another son, living with John Batman at the ‘Kingston’ property near Ben Lomond • Trowlebunner / Achilles, brother of Luggenemenener, married to Toogernuppertootenner / Maria II • Meterluererparrityer / Christopher • Tarenootairrer / Sarah married to Nicermenic / Eugene, from North-west clan o Mary Ann Arthur, daughter of Tarenootairrer, married to Walter Arthur, son of Rolepa and Luggenemenener. Mary Ann married Adam Booker after the death of Walter Arthur o Fanny Cochrane Smith, daughter of Tarenootairrer, married William Smith o Adam, son of Tarenootairrer North-east • Mannalargenna o Wapperty, daughter of Mannalargenna o Kartityer / Hector, son of Mannalargenna Oyster Bay • Tongerlongerter / William x

Previously unpublished sources analysed include Bible translations, catechetical . have the Aboriginal name where it is known and the English name where the .. questions of meaning to the human context of life-in-the-world; by.
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