Documentary archaeology of Indigenous peoples engagements with maritime fishing industries in western Cape York Peninsula

Author: Jacinta Uznik

Uznik, Jacinta, 2019 Documentary archaeology of Indigenous peoples engagements with maritime fishing industries in western Cape York Peninsula, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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This thesis uses a documentary archaeological approach to understand the economic, social and cultural factors influencing Indigenous people entering the fishing industry from western Cape York Peninsula. It utilises publicly available historical documents to locate place- based references referring to Indigenous people involved in the north Queensland fishing industry located in the study area ranging from Thursday Island to the Kendall River. This data was used to create a list of historical themes and a map showcasing the locations and frequency of cross-cultural interactions. This thesis argues that the approach of ‘hidden histories’ is best suited to the study area as it acknowledges the involvement and experiences of Indigenous people when examining colonialism and cross-cultural engagements. It was decided that the term ‘shared histories’ did not fit the study area due to the risk of it downplaying the unequal power relations and violence of the area . This research found that Mapoon mission was the main recruiting ground for the Queensland fishing industry and Indigenous people, although were in some cases kidnapped, seem to have largely volunteered to engage with the fishing boat captains over the missionaries in order to obtain flour and tobacco and to escape the dominance of their elders. This selective engagement was an attempt of control from the Indigenous people willingly entering into exchange agreements in order to obtain desired commodities.

Keywords: Western Cape York Peninsula, bêche-de-mer, Pearl shell, Indigenous people, swim divers, Mapoon mission

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Mick Morrison