The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian Frontier Conflict Studies

The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian Frontier Conflict Studies

The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian

Frontier Conflict Studies

By Mirani Litster,

B. Arch.

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Bachelor of Archaeology (Honours)

Department of Archaeology

School of Humanities

Flinders University

16 June 2006

‘I think the reasons we haven’t looked at massacres is because we’ve spent so much time standing about looking at coastal colonisation theories … we’ve been working on theories. We’ve been looking for the beauty of the heritage rather than the atrocity ... So if we are going to do it, I think, do it in a constructive way ... ’ - Mark Dugay-Grist, 27 January


Cover Image

nla.pic-an7851134 (Permit: NLA 06/737)

View in South West Bay, Goulburn Island, watering party attacked by natives

London : Published by John Murray, May 1825. 1 print : aquatint, hand col. ; 9.9 x 16 cm.

Table of Contents



Declaration of Candidate


List of Figures



Chapter One - Introduction

1.1 Research Aims

i iii iv v vi

1.2 Terminology

1.3 Thesis Outline

Chapter Two - Methodology

2.1 Qualitative Research

2.2 Application of Research Design

2.3 Reflexive Methodology

2.4 Summary

Chapter Three - North American Frontier Conflict:

Historical background and archaeology

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Historical Background

3.3 The Archaeology of North American Frontier Massacre Sites

3.4 Conclusion

Chapter Four - Australian Frontier Conflict:

Historical background and archaeology

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Historical Background

4.3 Heritage Register Listings of Massacre Sites

4.4 Toponomy

4.5 The Archaeology of Australian Frontier Massacre Sites

4.6 Conclusion

Chapter Five - Interviews



5.1 Introduction 55

5.2 Communication between Researchers and both Non-Indigenous and Indigenous People

5.3 The Archaeological Signature of Massacre Events


























5.4 Archaeological Techniques of Value to Exploring Frontier Massacre


5.5 Ethical Constraints

5.6 Legislative Constraints

5.7 Massacre Site Archaeology in the Future

5.8 Summary

Chapter Six - Discussion

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Massacre Sites in the Archaeological Record

6.3 Techniques

6.4 Ethical Issues

6.5 Legislative Issues

6.6 The Nature of the Archaeological Discipline in Australia

6.7 Public Consciousness

6.8 Conclusion

Chapter Seven - Conclusion

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Addressing the Research Aims

7.3 Contribution to Frontier Conflict Studies

7.4 Limitations of this Study and Future Avenues of Research

7.5 Conclusion

Reference List


One - Ethics Application

Two - Amendments to Ethics Application

Three - Letter of Introduction

Four - Potential Interview Questions

Five - Consent Form

Six - E-Mail Approach

Seven - Ethics Approval
































This thesis examines the potential contribution of archaeology to studies of Australian frontier conflict. The information required to address this was gathered from documentary sources and interviews conducted with professional archaeologists, as well as by drawing comparisons with the North American precedent.

The successful archaeological investigations of the Battle of the Little Bighorn site during the

1980s established a methodological approach for investigations of Indigenous-settler conflict sites in North America (Fox 1993; Fox and Scott 2001; Scott et al. 1989). Such archaeological research operates within a multidisciplinary framework, incorporating approaches such as historical and oral historical analyses, remote sensing, geophysical survey, soil sediment testing and osteological analyses. This type of archaeology has since come to be termed ‘battlefield archaeology’, and although initially established as being useful on sites of ‘formal warfare’, it has proved to be successful on North American frontier massacre sites (e.g. NPS 2000a). Battlefield archaeology has been utilised to locate sites of physical conflict and also determine the specific nature of the events that transpired at those locations. This was achieved through the detailed examination of the material culture and its patterning within the archaeological record.

Since Stanner broke the ‘great Australian silence’ in 1968, redressing the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous-settler violence on the Australian frontier, a wave of literature has emerged (McIntyre and Clarke 2003). The methods which scaffolded this literature were heavily criticised in the late 1990s. This academic conflagration, known as the ‘History Wars,’ became the subject of a symposium conducted at the National Museum of Australia in 2001. One of the outcomes of the conference was a recommendation that archaeology could become a future avenue of research contributing to the history of Australian Indigenous-settler relations

(Attwood and Foster 2003a:23). However, despite this recommendation, archaeology in Australia has not yet been utilised to the extent of that in North America.

The potential for archaeology to contribute to studies of Australian frontier conflict is examined by discussing the possible archaeological signatures of massacre events, the techniques that could be utilised on massacre sites, and potential ethical and legislative issues.

The conclusion emphasises that, in Australia, given the many constraints of the archaeological record, associated techniques, ethics and legislation it is extraordinarily difficult to locate specific, physical sites associated with alleged massacres. However, if definitive evidence corroborates historical or oral accounts of the events, through archaeological investigation there is a potential capacity to establish locations as sites of massacre. iii

Declaration of Candidate

I certify that this thesis does not incorporate without acknowledgement any material previously submitted for a degree or diploma in any university; and that to the best of my knowledge and belief it does not contain any material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made in the text

Mirani Litster

16 June 2006 iv


Firstly, I acknowledge and thank my supervisor, Dr Lynley Wallis (Flinders University) of the

Archaeology Department, for her expert guidance. She challenged my thinking and treated the drafting process with utmost professionalism. I especially appreciate the unstinting energy and time she gave to my progress, all of which contributed overwhelmingly to a project of immense personal reward.

Also, I thank Steve Hemming (Flinders University) of the English and Cultural Studies

Department, for directing me to the more significant frontier conflict texts and ensuring that I was aware of one particular Ngarrindjeri noun.

Thankyou to the following archaeologists for their unique and valuable contributions, providing me with information, resources, time and their expert opinions on the research:

Dr Shane Baker (Pajarito Archaeological Consultants)

Dr Shaun Canning (formerly of Rio Tinto; currently Australian Cultural Heritage Management)

Dr Denise Donlon (University of Sydney)

Dr Neale Draper (Australian Cultural Heritage Management)

Mr Mark Dugay-Grist (Aboriginal Affairs, Victoria)

Mr Stephen Free (Federal Department of Environment and Heritage)

Dr Colin Pardoe (Colin Pardoe Bio-Anthropology & Archaeology)

Professor Douglas Scott (University of Nebraska)

Associate Professor Claire Smith (Flinders University)

Dr Pamela Smith (Miln. Walker and Associates)

Professor Larry Zimmerman (Indiana University)

Thankyou specifically to Ann Kraehenbuhl, Graeme Litster, Mary-Anne Gooden and Martin

Wimmer for their opinions, advice and very tangible support. I also thank my fellow honours students who made the process so much more enjoyable – but not for the many distractions!

Finally, I acknowledge, the Department of Archaeology at Flinders University, who have, all through the preceding and current years, provided me with so much inspiration and assistance, in particular Lis Jansson who assisted with all the faxing and phone interviews and Dr Tim Denham

(Monash University) for helping me formulate ideas for an honours project towards the end of my undergraduate degree. v

List of Figures

3.1 Map showing locations of principal European settlements in North

America (1492-1642) (from Dillon 1983:16)


Map showing locations of Indian territory (black) after the ratification of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (from Russell 2000:31)


Map showing the location of North American massacre events and

3.4 Photograph depicting the disposal of corpses of the Wounded Knee massacre victims (from Dillon 1983:249) battles referred to in the text

3.5 Photograph depicting the removal of corpses of the Wounded Knee massacre victims via wagon (from Dillon 1983:249)

3.6 Site plan showing the location of the GPR survey and electromagnetic conductivity Mountain Meadows massacre survey (from Baker et al.


3.7 Reproduction of George-Bent map, indicating location of Sand Creek massacre (adapted from NPS 2000a:22)

3.8 Site plan showing the 1997 and 1999 Sand Creek massacre field survey areas (from NPS 2000a:80)

3.9 Photographs showing 12-pound howitzer case fragments located at

Sand Creek

3.10 Site plan of the Sand Creek massacre location showing map incorporating evidence from historical documentation and archaeological investigation (from NPS 2000a:291)

4.1 Map showing the location of Australian massacre events referred to in the text

4.2 Reproduction of map showing evidence related to one massacre staged within the Forrest River massacres (from Green 1995:214)

4.3 Reproduction of Peter Moffat’s map of the Irvinebank area. The red marker indicates the ‘scene of massacre of Aboriginals by black troopers’ (adapted from Genever 1996:25)

4.4 Photograph showing snider cartridge case at Irvinebank massacre location (from Ray and Tranter 1996:20)














53 vi


This thesis contains content that some people may find distressing, including reference to violent conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia and North America. In addition to this, language that might be considered offensive has been retained within direct quotations in some instances.



This thesis arose from preliminary discussions in June 2005 with my supervisor, Dr Lynley Wallis, regarding the possibility of undertaking a research project about the ethics of mass grave excavations. At this time Lynley was due to commence a field trip with Dr Kate Domett and

Professor Richard Wright on a project relating to an alleged massacre of Indigenous people in northwest Queensland. Although there was limited scope for me to be involved directly in the existing project, Lynley was enthusiastic to have a student pursue a complementary project.

Subsequently, I came to this research as a non-Indigenous student with a Bachelor of

Archaeology. Having limited background in Indigenous archaeology, I was both unaware of

Australia’s History Wars, or the extent to which massacres occurred during the British invasion and settlement of this country. Although I had a strong interest in the humanitarian application of archaeology and the application of political theory to aspects of the discipline, I had never contemplated the relevance of archaeology to frontier conflict studies within Australia. At the end of the project I am still astonished at my previous ignorance of frontier massacres in Australia, but now take from the project a realisation and appreciation of some of this history.

Initially, I was not at all prepared for the contentious nature of such a topic. For instance at one stage, an archaeologist questioned my motives for undertaking this project, relevantly pointing out that it was important to be reflexive in my approach. I am also reconciled to the notion that it is impossible to divorce ‘interpretation [from] the construction of data’ (Hodder 1999:80-104) and that my own interpretations will influence the methodology, results and discussion components of the thesis. Acknowledging this is necessary, as well as openly presenting the aims and methods, thus engendering a greater understanding of my motivations and inherent biases.

It is essential to establish at the outset that this thesis is not about the history of Indigenoussettler relations nor is it about the Indigenous voice in these histories – such undertakings would be well beyond the scope of an Honours project. Rather, it attempts to singularly identify the role archaeology as a discipline may, or may not, play in the investigation of the violence that accompanied British settlement of Australia.





With the passing of the Centenary of Federation in 2001 there emerged a heightened level of debate surrounding Australia’s history of Indigenous-settler relationships. During the nineteenth century reports of frontier violence were widespread; however, with the emergence of the State in the twentieth century, a coinciding disappearance of Indigenous Australians featuring in

Australian historical discourse was witnessed (Attwood and Foster 2003a:4-8; McIntyre and

Clarke 2003:43).

The relentless ‘[lack of acknowledgement of] relations between two racial groups’ was addressed in 1968 when the ‘great Australian silence’ was broken by Stanner (1968:25) in his influential

Boyer Lecture. This instigated a surge of revisionist studies on the history of Indigenous-settler relations, inspiring the seminal work by Rowley (1972), which in turn motivated accounts by historians such as Christie (1979), Evans et al. (1975), Reece (1974), Reynolds (1972), Reynolds and Loos (1976) and Ryan (1975), amongst others. The history of the frontier that emerged during this phase of scholarship challenged the notion of peaceful colonisation; instead, settlement was depicted as invasion, involving in some cases, intense resistance. This revisionist view was accompanied by an emphasis upon the decimation of large numbers of Indigenous people by settlers; as Reynolds stated in the forward to Clark’s (1995) volume on massacre sites in Victoria, ‘Settlement occasioned mass violence. It grew out of the barrel of a gun’ (Clark


By the 1980s and into the 1990s there appeared an appreciation for the lack of uniformity of the frontier. This encouraged the adoption of a more regional approach, culminating in meticulously researched studies from around the country. Regional historical accounts are numerous, some of the main works include Ryan (1981) who was responsible for work related to Tasmania; Willey

(1979) who covered the Sydney Cove region; Loos (1982), Moore (1990) and Thorpe (1996) who examined conflict in Queensland; Pope (1989) who discussed South Australian race relations and

Critchett (1990) and Clark (1995) who both analysed the western district frontiers of Victoria.

Individual violent episodes also received attention – Gardner (1980) examined the Warrigal Creek massacre; Reid (1982) presented an account of the Hornetbank massacre, the McKenzie massacre was treated by Kelly and Evans (1985); Irinjili (1986) detailed the massacre of Mindiri people at Koonchera Point and Bohemia and McGregor discussed the Christmas Creek Station massacre (1992). In addition to this approach, an attempt to rectify the previous lack of Aboriginal perspectives resulted in interpretations of ‘the other side of the frontier’; the efficacy of this was later addressed in 2001 (Attwood and Foster 2003a:4).



Moran’s inflammatory The Massacre Myth was published in 1999, suggesting the exaggeration of the Forrest River massacres of northwestern Australia. Despite the controversial claims of this text, it appears to have largely gone unchallenged by mainstream academics. The publication of

Windschuttle’s (2000a, 2000b, 2000c) three part exposition on ‘The myths of frontier massacres in Australia’ in the conservative journal Quadrant marked the next turning point in Australian frontier studies and his compendious The Fabrication of Aboriginal History (Windschuttle 2002) followed. These publications aroused considerable debate and resulted in Windschuttle being recognised as the key proponent of what some have termed ‘white blindfold history’ (Attwood and

Foster 2003a:16). While Moran’s The Massacre Myth preceded the work of Windschuttle, it did not receive the widespread academic or popular media attention of The Fabrication.

Windschuttle’s allegations were addressed in Manne’s (2003a) Whitewash, where Boyce

(2003:17) predicted that the number of ‘elementary errors in Fabrication [would] soon exclude it from serious historical debate’. Nevertheless, an academic argument soon erupted in the popular media. The Australian presented both favourable and countering reviews of Windschuttle’s work, although some considered it more predisposed towards him (Manne 2003b:10-11). Manne, a former editor of Quadrant, considered:

What is even more alarming in the reception of The Fabrication of

Aboriginal History is the way so many prominent Australian conservatives have been so easily misled by so ignorant, so polemic and so pitiless a book. The generation after Stanner broke the great

Australian silence concerning the dispossession it might be the task of the next generation, if the enthusiasm for Windschuttle is any guide, to prevent the arrival in its place of a great Australian indifference. (Manne


Nevertheless, it was not just the addition of the popular media acting as a forum for disseminating the academic debate to the public that accounted for its widespread influence, but the significant bearing the debate has had on political policy maneuvering and the greater Australian understanding of the Nation’s social history. The current Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, consistently refused to adopt what he considers to be a ‘black armband approach to history’, a borrowed term from Blainey (1993:11) who coined the phrase to represent those who give an apparent ‘unduly negative account of history’ (McIntyre and Clarke 2003:3). In 1996, Howard controversially declared that ‘the balance sheet of Australian history is an overwhelmingly positive one’ (1996:6158).

Windschuttle’s claims were also addressed at a two day conference held at the National Museum of Australia in 2001 – entitled Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience – which was the basis


-CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION- for a subsequent publication of the same name (Attwood and Foster 2003b). This conference included presentations by historians Ryan, Mulvaney, Evans, Reynolds and Windschuttle, among others. It was noted that very little in the way of an Indigenous perspective of frontier history had been included to date despite earlier attempts (Attwood and Foster 2003a:4). A clear disparity between the techniques of Indigenous and settler historical representation was evident. Trevor Ah

Hang, of the Nauo people, commented on the nature of the debate:

This discussion as two fleas arguing [over] who owns the dog they’re on

… This [forum] is called ‘Frontier Conflict’ and yet the conflict we’re arguing about … [is] between academics … I see this as a joust with historians, on the shoulders of Indigenous People, riding in to do battle

… and … I ask … ’Why is it so?’ I ask all of you to remember [that] the grounds you base your arguments on are wet with the blood and tears of my people and I ask you to tread with care. (Trevor Ah Hung as cited in

Attwood and Foster 2003a:21)

This historical debate was, and continues to be, so inflammatory that it has been denoted the

‘History Wars’ (McIntyre and Clarke 2003). The essence of the argument is an examination of the

‘fallibility’ of the techniques of history in discerning the extent to which frontier violence and more specifically, ‘massacres’ occurred. It also involves a critique of the presentation of such events by historians and the examination of how these accounts have been rebutted.

1.1 – Research Aims

The aforementioned debate concerning Indigenous-settler relations in Australia provides the backdrop for this study. Archaeologists have, to date, played a very limited role in the History

Wars, despite there being considerable anecdotal evidence recounted by archaeologists about massacre events (Lynley Wallis pers. comm. 28 July 2005) and occasional publications by archaeologists on the topic (e.g. Barker in press; Rowland 2004). Nevertheless, the use of archaeology was promoted as an important discipline and source of additional information at the

Frontier Conflict conference (Attwood and Foster 2003a:23). It is this potential contribution of archaeology to frontier conflict studies that is considered within this thesis.

The thesis also examines the manner by which archaeology might provide a variant source of data that may then be utilised to elucidate historical accounts. To facilitate this, a discussion of the relevant application of North American massacre site investigations to Australian frontier massacre sites was undertaken. Despite, inherent difficulties associated with the dissimilar nature


-CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION- of frontier conflict in each settler society


, the North American context illustrates established practices of massacre site investigation, providing useful and transferable techniques and analyses. It also highlights possible and relevant ethical, legislative and social outcomes of such archaeological enquiries.

The main objectives of this research are therefore as follows:

1) To consider to what degree archaeology has been used to examine massacre sites in the

North American context. This includes a review of what archaeological techniques have been used, who has undertaken the research, the extent of the Indigenous participation in such projects and what degree of success has been achieved.

2) To consider to what degree archaeology has been used to examine massacre sites in the

Australian context to date.

3) To consider the potential uses and limitations of archaeology in investigating frontier massacre sites within the Australian context in the future.

This thesis concludes by summarising what contribution, if any, can be made by archaeology and archaeologists to the historical debate about the nature of Indigenous-settler conflict currently being disputed in Australia.


1.2 – Terminology

Before proceeding, it is essential to explain clearly the terms that are used within this thesis. This is particularly important given the sensitive nature of the topic under discussion.

Frontier Conflict

Defining the term ‘frontier’ is difficult, but in historical discourse the following explanation has been proposed:

A land mass of varying size, a belt of land perhaps beyond the settled parts, where newcomers sought to appropriate land and its resources, usually at the expense of aborigines. (Wolfskill and Palmer 1983:4)


Comparative frontier histories examining Australia and the US have been undertaken; however, they will not be detailed in this thesis (e.g. Allen 1959; Winks 1971).


It is necessary to note that questions such as whether the widespread massacre of Indigenous people in Australia constituted ‘genocide’ (e.g. Moses 2004, Reynolds 2001, Tatz 2003) or whether there was an unspoken entering into of warfare (e.g. Connor 2002) exists beyond the scope of the current project. This thesis does not intend to address these issues.



However, while this definition denotes what might comprise a geographical ‘frontier’, this thesis does not concede that ‘frontier conflict’ can merely be aligned to physical landscape.

Frontier conflict resulted wherever European colonial expansion occurred between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries (Connor 2002:i). The ‘closing of the frontier’ in North America is popularly believed to have occurred in 1890, however some Native Americans insist that the frontier phenomenon is still apparent today (Russel 2000; Viola 2003:194). This sentiment is echoed by an undesignated limitation upon the time frame of frontier conflict in Australia as witnessed by ongoing conflict over heritage sites today (e.g. Anderson 2005;

Anderson v. Ballina

Shire Council; Free and Markwell 2005).

For the purpose of this thesis, ‘frontier conflict’ is defined as the expansion of settlement and the associated conflict between non-Indigenous colonists and the Indigenous occupants of both

North America and Australia, commencing from the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, respectively.


The thesis proposes to constrain the range and number of sites examined by limiting the discussion to frontier massacre sites and not broader frontier conflict sites (e.g. Grguric in prep).

Defining what constitutes a ‘massacre’ is not a task easily achieved. Typologies and definitions of modern mass and serial murder in Australia are not refined (Muozos 2000:83-84) nor are there provisions in international statute for the term; the United Nations, for instance, specifically avoids using ‘words like ‘massacre’, which have a high emotional charge, but no agreed definition’

(Hoyos 2002:7). The confusion over the word is engendered because the term ‘massacre’ invariably falls between state sanctioned murder and more clandestine levels of violence (Griffiths

2003:144). However, while some researchers hesitate to use the term in the absence of a clear, agreed definition, there is evidence of some others, including Indigenous researchers, employing the term without hesitation in discussions of frontier conflict (for example see Free and Markwell

2005 and Chapter Five).

The etymology of the word ‘massacre’ may assist in the provision of a useable definition, being derived from the ancient French term maçacre, which was adapted from the Arabic maslakh meaning ‘slaughter-house’ or ‘butchery’ (Dauzat 1938:462). This linguistic model indicates that

‘massacre’ involves murder in a style not dissimilar to the slaughter of animals in an abbatoir.

Levene (1999:5), in an introductory chapter to an international volume on the Massacre in

History, suggested the following definition:



A massacre is when a group of animals or people lacking in self-defence, at least at that moment, are killed – usually by another group ... who have the physical means, the power, with which to undertake the killing without physical danger to themselves. A massacre is unquestionably a one-sided affair and those slaughtered are usually thus perceived of as victims; even as innocents.

A question remains over what comprises a ‘group’ of defenseless people. Some sources state it is the ‘killing of a significant number of [defenceless] people’ which involves ‘five or more people’

(Mezquita 2000:205). Elsewhere, it has been considered that the discussion of the numerical definition of a massacre is insignificant and detracts from our understanding of ‘the human tragedy behind the numbers’ (Rowland 2004:39).

Deriving from the above discussion and definitions, the meaning of the term ‘massacre’ as utilised within this research comprises two parties:

• Victims: a group of defenseless people; and

• Perpetrators: ‘another’ group, who have the power to kill, without substantial risk of physically injuring themselves.

‘Massacre’, as used herein, is also seen as having some temporality – victims were killed at approximately the same time, or as part of the same ‘action’ or ‘event’.

It is important to note that massacres were perpetrated by both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people on both frontiers; however, this thesis focuses on the impact of frontier violence upon

Native Americans and Indigenous Australians, although occasionally it does draw upon examples wherein Indigenous people have also been responsible for massacres.

Native American and Indigenous Australians

Throughout the thesis the terms ‘Native American’ and ‘Indigenous Australian’ are consistently used in accordance with contemporary academic convention, with the exception of direct quotations or where specific tribal names are appropriate (cf. AIATSIS 2000; Russell 2000:13;

Smith 1998; Smith and Wobst 2005).

North America and Australia

Although this thesis examines the area defined by the current political boundary of the United

States of America (US), it has been referred to as ‘North America’ in this thesis. This is due to the transient nature of geographical boundaries during the period of frontier conflict (Mitchell and



Groves 1987:xi). However, no such ambiguity exists for the use of the term ‘Australia’, which refers to the conventionally accepted political and geographical boundaries of the country of


1.3 – Thesis Outline

Chapter Two describes the methods utilised in this research project. The justifications for adopting the qualitative techniques of documentary compilation and analysis, and the conducting of interviews are presented, including a discussion of the limitations of these techniques.

Chapter Three provides an overview of the historical context in which frontier massacres occurred in North America. This is followed by a review of a select number of case studies involving archaeological investigations of such sites. This review attempts to elucidate who undertook these studies, the level of Indigenous involvement, the techniques that were utilised and the outcomes of the archaeological investigations.

Chapter Four provides an overview of the Australian situation. The historical background to frontier conflict is briefly documented and is followed by a review of the known archaeological investigations into sites of frontier massacres within Australia.

Chapter Five presents the results of the second phase of research – the interviews with professional archaeologists. This chapter highlights the importance of such issues as the accessibility to information about massacre sites, the constraints and issues associated with particular techniques and the general consensus about the potential contribution of archaeology to historical debates about frontier conflict in Australia.

A discussion of the results presented in Chapters Three, Four and Five is undertaken in Chapter

Six. The topics include: massacre sites in the archaeological record, techniques that can be employed to investigate massacres, the ethical and legislative issues associated with the archaeological investigation of such sites, an examination of the archaeological discipline in

Australia and its potential for raising awareness of such events subsequent to archaeological investigations. The North American precedent is drawn upon to elaborate upon the use and constraints of archaeology in examining Australian massacre sites.

Chapter Seven concludes the thesis by addressing the research aims presented in Chapter One, and also, in light of the limitations of this project, considers potential future research into this topic concerning the use of archaeological investigation into sites of frontier massacres.





The methods utilised in this project followed a qualitative research design, and included the use of literature review and interviews. These methods and the issues associated with their application to this project are described in greater detail below.

2.1 – Qualitative Research

Qualitative social science is overwhelmingly predicated on the presumption that meaning and human practice merit scientific interest as genuine and significant phenomena in their own right. (Weinberg 2002:13)

Qualitative research refers to the exploration of ‘meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols and descriptions of things’ (Berg 2001:2-3). Such a mode of research was originally developed for application in the disciplines of anthropology and sociology. It differs from quantitative research in that it aims to determine the ‘quality’ rather than the ‘quantity’ of something (Holloway 1997:3). Qualitative research methods are less utilised by social science researchers for which they are criticised for not being ‘scientific enough’ – an apparent response to their perceived dissociation with empiricism (Berg 2001:2). This attitude was largely mirrored within the archaeological ‘processual’ movement of the 1960s, however, ironically, this theoretical perspective was soon to be criticised in the 1990s for being too ‘scientistic’ (Renfrew and Bahn

2004:44). Nevertheless, given the stated research aims of the current project (see Chapter One), the typical methods of quantitative analysis were inappropriate; only a qualitative research approach could generate relevant data.

Among many techniques qualitative research includes:

Participant interviewing … photographic techniques (including video-taping), historical analysis (historiography), document and textual analysis, sociometry, socio-drama and similar ethnomethodological experimentation, ethnographic research, and a number of unobtrusive techniques. (Berg


The use of multiple data collection techniques–the ‘triangulation’ of data–is considered beneficial in qualitative research as it produces a more complete version of events and allows an eventual comparison of the resulting data (Berg 2001:4-6). Hence, two principal methods of approach were considered appropriate for addressing the research aims of this thesis: firstly, documentary


-CHAPTER TWO - METHODOLOGY- analysis and secondly, the conducting of interviews. These would both be useful in determining the extent to which massacres have been archaeologically examined in Australia, and the potential of this discipline to contribute to an understanding of the nature of frontier conflict.

2.2 – Application of Research Design

Initially, documentary analysis was undertaken to develop an appreciation and understanding of the historical context of both North American and Australian frontier conflict, and the extent to which archaeology has been employed in each situation. As was suspected, this revealed a general dearth of published information about massacre site investigations in Australia. Hence, a second stage of research was implemented, involving the interviewing of archaeologists in

Australia, for the purpose of further data collection. This was used to determine more accurately, the extent of previous archaeological investigations of massacre sites in this country since very little published information was available, as well as to gauge opinions about whether such future investigations would be considered feasible and/or worthwhile. This particular technique included the gaining of Ethics Approval, the adoption of a sampling strategy, the construction of interview themes, the actual interviews and the subsequent analyses of the interviews. Further details about each phase of research are provided below.

2.2.1 Documentary compilation and analysis

As an initial component of this research, the historical background needed to be established for both the North American and Australian frontier conflict situations. Most of the required information existed as secondary published sources which were primarily located through various

South Australian university libraries and the South Australian State Library. Initially, it was clear that there were limited publications pertaining to the archaeology of massacre site investigation in

Australia; however, following the December 2005 conference at Australian Archaeological

Association/Australian Institute of Maritime Archaeology (AAA/AIMA), several papers emerged and one publication resulted. These documents were also acquired from the relevant authors following the presentations at the conference for consideration in this study.

The documents that were required for establishing the extent to which archaeology had been utilised in North America to both locate and investigate massacre sites existed as both secondary documents and field reports. The secondary documents were available from state archival repositories, and field reports were sourced from both the US National Parks Service and individual archaeologists involved with the fieldwork.



2.2.2 Ethics approval

Because this research involved ‘human subjects’ (SBREC 2004), ethics approval from the

Flinders University Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee (SBREC) was required.

An initial application was lodged with the SBREC and Yunggorendi First Nations Centre on 5

September 2005 (Appendix One). Amendments were made as requested by the SBREC on 13

October 2005 (Appendix Two) and approval for the research was granted on 17 October 2005

(Appendix Seven).

The SBREC required that prior to the commencement of any interview each interviewee be approached initially with a letter of introduction and a list of potential interview questions and themes. Informed consent was to be obtained at both the interview stage and at the approval of the transcription (see Appendices Three, Four and Five).

2.2.3 Determination of interview themes/questions

The interview themes and questions were established prior to initial contact with the interviewees.

Interview topics were designed to elicit information that was not readily available in the existing published or otherwise accessible documentary records. Additionally, interviewees were asked about their academic qualifications and work history, the main geographical regions in which they have worked and the extent of their experience with Indigenous communities (and any associated archaeology). These questions were incorporated to ensure that the participant could provide informed opinions based on relevant experience, and that they had applicable knowledge of the topic area.

The themes and questions were divided into the following sections (as outlined in Appendix


Knowledge about the existence of massacre sites

The theme pertaining to knowledge about the existence of massacre sites included questions regarding whether or not the interviewee had been informed about massacre events and/or if they had been shown the locations of reported massacres by Indigenous or non-Indigenous people.

This line of questioning aimed to establish how available this type of information was to researchers and how openly communicated it was by those who held such information. These answers would hopefully elucidate whether massacre sites have not been investigated in

Australia to the extent they have in North America because of an unwillingness to impart the knowledge of their locations or the details of the events to the researchers.



Archaeological technique

This theme was designed to elicit information about the nature of archaeological techniques that have been or might potentially be used on massacre sites within Australia. The interviewees were asked what they considered would be the constraints associated with the application of archaeological investigative techniques on massacre sites. They were also asked to discuss the particular methods they considered to be of value to frontier conflict archaeology.

Opinions about archaeological contribution to understanding frontier conflict

The final theme involved questions regarding the extent to which archaeology might be able to clarify the understanding of frontier conflict in Australia. Furthermore, the interviewees were asked to discuss why they thought archaeology has not been utilised to clarify the histories of massacre events, to the extent it has elsewhere. This theme was useful in drawing out information regarding the comparison between North America and Australia, and the potential use of archaeology to Australian frontier conflict studies.

2.2.4 Selection of interview participants

Qualitative social science research typically requires that a sampling strategy be employed in order to establish a representative understanding of the total situation (Minichiello et al.


After the interview themes had been determined and ethics had been approved a list of initial contacts was proposed by Dr Lynley Wallis (supervisor) who had experience in the field of frontier conflict archaeology. The list contained 22 individuals, all of whom were contacted via e-mail on

26 November 2005 (Appendix Six). A range of expertise pertaining to the topic of massacre sites was specifically selected for in the potential interviewee group. This sample represented practitioners from the fields of physical anthropology, anthropology, ethnoarchaeology,

Indigenous archaeology and historical archaeology.

The final sample size (i.e. those actually interviewed) was ultimated by the willingness of participants to be interviewed and determined by the point of diminishing returns. After ten interviews very little novel information was being gathered and the return did not justify the exercise of further interviews.

The interviewee sample consisted of ten interviewees who were mainly non-Indigenous archaeologists, although two within the sample were Indigenous Australians with qualifications in archaeology. The inclusion of the latter two professionals within the sample was particularly important as it assists in communicating more effectively Indigenous perspectives on this topic,


-CHAPTER TWO - METHODOLOGY- although the intention of the interviews were angled at their experiences and professional opinions first and foremost as archaeologists, rather than their opinions as Indigenous commentators per se.

The qualifications of the interviewees include eight PhDs and two honours degrees. All of those interviewed had extensive experience with Indigenous communities, albeit in different contexts and capacities. The sample includes experience in consultancy based work, community projects, salvage excavations of Aboriginal burials, as well as legal rights and native title.

It is difficult to determine if the final ‘sample’ represents the actual profile of researchers involved in investigating frontier conflict sites, especially given the small numbers involved. However, to what extent it more broadly represents the professional Australian archaeological community can be assessed. In 2005 a survey of professional Australian archaeologists was conducted under the auspices of the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA) that provided general information about the ‘composition of the archaeological workforce, professional activities of archaeologists, skills and qualifications needed to work in archaeology’ (Ulm et al. 2005:11). The sample of interviewees in this project can be compared with the data generated from the greater AAA sample of 301 Australian archaeologists.

The 2005 survey indicated that the number of female archaeologists working in Australia was 4% lower than males (Ulm et al. 2005:12-14). The interviewee sample comprised approximately half female and half male participants. This is particularly useful when discussing a topic such as

Indigenous-settler relations as it will exclude the possibility of people not being involved in projects because Indigenous communities were reticent to work with someone of a particular sex

(i.e. female/male taboo topics). In addition a broad geographic distribution of experience with

Indigenous communities within every state was present among the interviewees.

Within the interviewee sample a variety of employers were represented, including two government-based archaeologists, four working for private consultancy firms and two working for universities. This is congruent with the AAA survey results, indicating an almost parallel level of employment in government agencies and universities, with 10% more working privately. It must be noted that only one archaeologist employed by a museum was included within the sample, although two interviewees had previous experience in state museums.



2.2.5 Interview process

The interview technique is the most employed method of data collection in qualitative research generally, and in anthropology specifically, as it yields comprehensive data (Bernard 2006:210-

98; Holloway 1997:94). A structured or standardised interview involves asking the same questions of every participant, so that the ‘responses to the questions will be comparable’ (Berg

2001:69). In the context of this research, a quantitative interview reliant on statistical results was deemed unnecessary, as it was the ‘quality’ of the information gathered that would be of use to the thesis (Berg 2001:2-3). In addition, deriving from the widely varied experience and expertise of the participants, a structured interview process could not have accommodated the effective collation of diverse information. The sensitive nature of the topic also required that participants be given the opportunity to direct the nature of the conversation. Furthermore, the interviews were to be conducted either in person or on the telephone, and so a semi-structured style is particularly useful in these circumstances as it both provides prompts and allows space for extrapolation upon certain themes (Berg 2001:84). Subsequently, it was decided that a semi-structured interview would be utilised although it still contained the formal elements of arranging it in advance and tape recording the interviews (Berg 2001:69; Holloway 1997:94).

All interviews were recorded on standard cassette tape and the SBREC (2004) guidelines for the storage of the recordings and transcription were adhered to. Transcriptions were completed by the ‘principal researcher’ and the interviewees received a copy of this transcription. Interviews were ‘de-identified’ to the extent that information pertaining to specific geographic locations, particular Aboriginal communities and names of events were excluded. After viewing the transcript, and making any amendments, the participants approved the use of the information in the thesis by returning the completed consent form and modified transcript. At the outset of the project participants were to be ‘de-identified’; however, it soon became apparent that some interviewees wished to be identified so a modified consent form was re-sent to participants whereby they could indicate their preference.

2.2.5 Analysing the interviews

There are three distinct phases in the analysis of information gathered during interviews; the first phase includes developing a set of themes for the information emerging in the interviews; the second phase refines these themes; and the third consists of the final report (Minichiello et al.

1995:247). The phases were confirmed within this research process. The analysis of the interviews as is the case with most qualitative research, occurred to an extent simultaneously with the data collection phase; as Minichiello et al. (1995:248) have argued, without ‘analysis occurring in the field, data has no direction’. This was verified in this research project, with similar themes becoming evident in different interviews. It therefore became possible to probe particular


-CHAPTER TWO - METHODOLOGY- topics as a greater understanding of issues developed. Results of the analysis of the interviews are provided in Chapter Five.

2.3 – Reflexive Methodology

Data, whether it be quantitative or qualitative is the subject of theory, by way of research design

(Hodder 1999:80-104).

Researcher reflexivity [is] the capacity of the researcher to acknowledge how their own experiences and contexts (which might be fluid and changing) inform the process and outcomes of the inquiry. (Etherington


The post-processual world view incorporates reflexive methodology into their theoretical framework. This is particularly useful in research that is qualitative and it is essential that it is stated before the presentation and interpretation of results that the data generated from both the documentary compilation and analysis and the interviews is not void of the researcher’s own interpretation of the topic.

2.4 – Summary

The use of a qualitative research design was determined to be the most effective method of gathering data in order to address the specific research aims of this thesis. The initial phase of research involved documentary compilation and analysis; this revealed a paucity of published and unpublished information relating to the investigation of massacre sites in Australia. Hence a second phase of research involving semi-structured interviews was implemented to provide further information. The results of both phases of this research are presented in Chapters Three,

Four and Five, and are discussed in Chapter Six.





North American Frontier Conflict:

Historical background and archaeology

3.1 – Introduction

Four centuries of frontier conflict dominated North American history between 1492 and 1890. The perpetration of massacres by both Native American and European imperialists characterised this period of conflict. The following chapter details both the conflagration within which the massacres occurred, as well as reviewing the archaeological investigations conducted in relation to these sites of massacre. Summaries of several prominent North American case studies highlight the methodologies employed and the resulting outcomes of these investigations.

3.2 – Historical Background

The massacres of Native Americans occurred within a broader context of violence that spanned

400 years from c.1500-1890, a period known more generally as the ‘American Indian Wars’

(Tebbel 1966:9). This title may indicate that it was a series of conflicts; however, it existed more as a confluent struggle that perpetuated itself throughout this period of time. Some academics and Native Americans suggest that the struggle continued well beyond 1890 into the present

(Churchill 1997:1; Russell 2000:23-4; Tebbel 1966:9).

3.2.1 European ‘discovery’ of the Americas and the beginnings of frontier conflict

Continental North America is popularly thought to have been colonised by the Spanish, although it had already been scouted in 980AD by Norwegian explorers (Hale 1970:51). In widely held historical accounts, the birth of the North American ‘frontier’ is marked at the point of European accidental discovery of the ‘New World’ in 1492 (Dillon 1983:7). Whilst the initial point of landing by Spaniard Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) was not within the boundary of continental

North America, it was at this moment that Europeans entered the Americas. The first display of outward hostility towards Native Americans can be traced to the initial arrival of Columbus’ party on an unidentified island in the Bahamas in October 1492 (Josephy 1995:116-22). Determined to locate gold, Columbus captured members of the Arawak people so that they could provide to his fleet information about the local environment and resources. Despite this initial act of aggression,

Columbus was otherwise so well received, that he adopted the mistaken belief that he was chief of the Arawaks after receiving the gift of a golden crown.

Following this, Columbus established the town of La Navidad on the Caribbean island Espańola

(the current Dominican Republic) (Josephy 1995:115-29). It was with this colonisation of

Espańola that Columbus initiated a paradigm of violence that was to be perpetuated by European powers on the continent of North America over the next four centuries. He began to export




Indians to Europe as slaves, and of those remaining in the Caribbean, he enforced labour in the often fatal gold mining industry. Soon, disease epidemics caused by exposure to new pathogens

(to which the local population had no immunity), caused widespread death and population decline

(Churchill 1997:86).

3.2.2 European expansion on continental North America

Following in the footsteps of Columbus, it was Juan Ponce de León who, seeking the ‘fountain of youth’ and gold, arrived in Florida in 1513 (Churchill 1997:129). It was here that the Spanish powers became acquainted with different tribal groups of mainland North America. However, the

Spanish domination of the western hemisphere was soon intercepted by the establishment of

English and French colonies along the mainland Atlantic coast (Dillon 1983:11-12). A minor appearance by the Portuguese was recorded in Labrador and New England in 1500-01 and there was also a Dutch presence in 1615 in the then Niew Amsterdam – current New York City (Dillon

1983:12-13). Figure 3.1 shows the location of the main European settlements in North America during the period between 1492-1642.

Figure 3.1 – Map showing locations of principal European settlements in

North America (1492-1642) (from Dillon 1983:16)




The nature of the concurrent warfare, spanning from the colonial period of the early 1600s through to the ‘closing’ of the Indian Wars in 1890, was initially a direct result of the rival

European powers that had colonised the New World (Dillon 1983:17). Warfare on the American continent was at all times complex, and often involved a European power fighting on the side of an allied Native American group in order to defeat another similar alliance. For ease of comprehension, the Indian Wars can be simplified into three categories (Churchill 1997:202;

Dillon 1983:17; Smithsonian 2004:40):

the French and Indian Wars of 1689-1763;

the Eastern Indian Wars of 1636-1838; and

the later Western Indian Wars of 1865-1890.

The French and Indian Wars were fought between the British and French empires in an attempt to conquer and control the continent (Tebbel 1966:31). Some sources indicate only one war occurred within the French and Indian War period – that of the Seven Year’s War (Smithsonian

2004:40; Tebbel 1966:31); however, it has elsewhere been suggested it consisted of three or four separate smaller wars spanning from 1689-1763 (Churchill 1997:202; Dillon 1983:17), all of which involved French and Indian alliances attacking British colonial settlements along the eastern seaboard (Smithsonian 2004:40). France exploited its status among the Native Americans as the

‘lesser of two evils’ to gain many tribal allies, whereas England could only maintain an alliance with the Mohawks (Churchill 1997:202). Despite the lack of widespread Indigenous support,

England was victorious, an outcome attributed to their larger population in North America and stronger military presence. The outcomes of the French and Indian Wars were devastating to the

Native Americans who had mostly sided with the weaker, defeated French; this war greatly expedited the eradication of Indian territory as the English advanced west (Mikesell 1960:62;

Tebbel 1966:47).

The period of the Eastern Indian Wars (1636-1838) witnessed the British first gain control in the

French and Indian Wars and then lose control in the Revolutionary War of 1775-83. The warfare encountered was unremitting and it also highlighted the then recently inaugurated US’ suggested future policies towards Native Americans (Churchill 1997:211; Smithsonian 2004:40). In 1782

George Washington proposed to move all Native Americans to the western side of the Mississippi

River, establishing a ‘permanent Indian territory’ (Churchill 1997:211, see Fig. 3.2). This process was conceived under the notion of ‘manifest destiny’, a policy wherein the US believed its occupation of the western hemisphere was an undeniable and unavoidable future, which inherently implied the eradication of all non-US citizens from the area (Churchill 1997:218;). In

1812 the US declared war on Britain (Smithsonian 2004:40). It was at this stage that Shawnee chief Tecumseh forged a plan for a politicomilitary Indian alliance among the tribes situated along



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- the eastern US coast from Canada to Florida (Churchill 1997:214). The US army, suffering only minor indignities at the hands of this Indian confederacy, defeated Tecumseh’s alliance and enabled the extrication of Indians from their eastern homeland to the western side of the

Mississippi River (Churchill 1997:214; Smithsonian 2004:40). The enactment of the Indian

Removal Act of 1830 ratified this ‘manifest destiny’ (Green 1982:156).

Figure 3.2 – Map showing locations of Indian territory (black) after the ratification of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (from Russell 2000:31)

It was after the Civil War of 1861-65 that the Western Indian Wars began (Smithsonian 2004:40).

The discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in the 1850s triggered a colonial charge west and delivered the conflict that finally curtailed Indian resistance in North America (Churchill 1997:223;

Russell 2000:32). The battles between Plains Indians and US troops included the infamous defeat of Custer’s army at the Little Bighorn River in 1876 (Fox 1993:23) and the surrender of

Apache leader Geronimo in 1890 (Wilson 2001:25). The closing of the Indian Wars and the

Western Indian Wars was determined by the massacre and last stand of the Lakota Indians at

Wounded Knee (Viola 2003:194). The most widely recognised documentation of this period is the emotive text Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee (Brown 1970) detailing the Native American perspective of this period.

The Native American casualty toll of the Indian Wars was high – the 1990 Census recorded an approximate population of 266,760 native people remaining in the United States (US Census

Bureau 1900:488). Whilst it is difficult to retroactively predict the population prior to Colombus’ arrival, Dobyns (1966) suggested, based on a projection figured from the nadir population of

North American Indians, that the population pre-contact could have been 9,800,000 (including

Canada and Greenland and hence only an approximation). This indicates an approximate loss of

97.3% of the Native American population of North America after European contact (although the reduction resulted not entirely from direct violence).




3.2.3 Massacres as specific events

Owing to the spatial constraints of this thesis, rather than attempting to explore all documented massacres of the period between contact and the closing of the frontier in 1890, several significant examples are mentioned below in order to highlight the nature of this violence during the Indian Wars:

The earliest thorough documentation was of the Jamestown massacre, 1622, involving the death of 347 Virginia colonists after a surprise Powhatan attack (although this followed longstanding

Powhatan-English attrition) (Bridenbaugh 1980:29). It has been claimed that ‘few other events in early American history match the significance or drama of the Virginia massacre’ (Vaughan

1978:57). This marked the first historically recognised moment of frontier conflict in North


The much later period of violence – the Western Indian Wars – was deleterious and featured the significant Sand Creek massacre of 1864. Here, the massacre of approximately 160 peacefully camped Cheyenne was the subject of much controversy both at the time and also in recent years

(Hoig 1961). The Sand Creek massacre is particularly relevant to this study as it was the only major site of frontier violence where the physical landscape was ‘lost’ (Scott et al. 1998a:2).

However, it has recently become the subject of archaeological enquiry (see section 3.3.4).

The closing of the frontier was marked by the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 (Brown 1970). In a particularly unusual and gruesome act, the burial operations of those slaughtered at Wounded

Knee were photographed (see Figs 3.4 and 3.5). These rare images of massacre site cleanup are representative of a very unique form of evidence that could be used for archaeological investigation. Furthermore, they very openly display what can not be denied – they are not only redolent of massacre events within any given context, but tarnish the records depicting the processes by which the US became a nation and the manner in which the ‘frontier’ was abolished

(Viola 2003:194).




Figure 3.3 – Map showing the location of North American massacre events and battles referred to in the text





The following page contains images depicting massacre site ‘clean-up’ that some may find disturbing.




Figure 3.4 – Photograph depicting the disposal of corpses of the Wounded Knee massacre victims

(from Dillon 1983:249)

Figure 3.5 – Photograph depicting the removal of corpses of the Wounded Knee massacre victims via wagon (from Dillon 1983:249)




3.3 – Archaeology of North American Frontier Massacre Sites

The prior brief overview of massacres and their context within the Indian Wars provides the historical background to the archaeological investigation of such sites. Massacre sites have largely been investigated under the guise of ‘battlefield archaeology’. The successful application of archaeological techniques on the battlefields such as the Little Bighorn set methodological precedent for subsequent massacre site investigations (Fox 1993; Scott et al. 1989, 1998b; Rose

2005). This is to be expected as many massacres perpetrated during the Indian Wars were staged by militants and consequently would likely leave similar archaeological signatures to formal military battles (Smithsonian 2004:40; Starbuck 2005:136-41; Tebbel 1966:9).

Furthermore, the treatment of battlefield and massacre sites in publications suggests the techniques of investigation are generally interchangeable (e.g. Lees 2001:149; Scott 2001a:177).

The following section briefly discusses battlefield archaeology, and then a more detailed analysis of the archaeological enquiry into massacre site locations is presented with the aid of the significant case examples of the Mountain Meadows and Sand Creek massacre site investigations.

3.3.1 Battlefield archaeology in North America

The broader term ‘battlefield archaeology’ is commonly utilised to denote ‘the archaeology of ancient or historical conflict’ (Sutherland and Holst 2005:1-2). The label of ‘battlefield archaeology’ is misleading because, not only does it imply the site once witnessed a formal battle, but it also emphasises the physical space; whereas, in actuality, it also considers the effects of the violence and the ‘subsequent occupation by victorious forces on the local population and economy’ (Geier 1996:192). Sutherland and Holst (2005:2) consider it should therefore probably be denoted ‘the archaeology of conflict’.

North American battlefield archaeology deals with specific historical events. It therefore implicitly relies upon the historical record to suggest finite locations for investigation. In addition to this, typical archaeological techniques are also employed such as excavation, test-trenching or test pitting. Other methods include remote sensing in order to identify geographical features in the landscape (e.g. Ireland 1999), geoarchaeological analysis (e.g. Holmes and McFaul 1999), and geophysical prospection including the extensive use of metal detectors (e.g. Connor and Scott

1998; De Vore 1999). If skeletal remains are located, osteological analyses are also important in identifying possible trauma and establishing the identity of known individuals (e.g. Gregg and

Gregg 1997; Scott et al. 1998b; Scott et al. 1989).

The two principal proponents of battlefield archaeology in North America are Douglas D. Scott and William B. Lees (Freeman 2001:3; Lees 2001:149). Scott has now worked on over 30



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- battlefields, with an inclusive date range of the fifteenth century through to the nineteenth century

(Scott as cited in Rose 2005:258). His experience in battlefield archaeology appears to have been transferred to the investigation of both frontier and modern massacre sites (Rose 2005;

Scott 2001b:79-86). Lees has worked predominately in the southeastern and plains regions of the

US as an historical archaeologist (Lees n.d.). His research includes the work at the Mine Creek and Honey Springs battlefields and the Washita River massacre site. The methods and ethical frameworks that have been utilised in battlefield archaeology have no doubt been substantially shaped by the preferences of these two significant non-Indigenous practitioners.

3.3.2 The archaeology of frontier massacres

The specific case studies of the Mountain Meadows massacre and the Sand Creek massacre site investigations are analysed to construct an understanding as to the nature of archaeological investigation on these site types in North America. Each massacre site investigation utilises many techniques, with emphasis on particular methods. For instance, after osteological examination of the Mountain Meadows massacre site, a degree of historical revision resulted. In contrast, the

Sand Creek massacre investigation is exemplary in indicating the transfer to massacre sites of distinctive battlefield archaeology techniques, in the extensive use of metal detectors.

3.3.3 Mountain Meadows massacre

The Mountain Meadows massacre has been described as ‘one of the darkest moments in

Mormon history’ (Anderson 2006:2.13). The event is considered brutal beyond ‘even western frontier standards’ and has been vigorously pursued in both scholarship (Brooks 1963; King

1970:1) and popular culture – a movie based on the events is currently in post-production

(Anderson 2006:2.13). The history of the event has been well documented, although unsurprisingly there appear to be two disparate versions. What is undisputed is that in 1857, a wagon train of over 120 non-Native American men, women and children en route to California were massacred either by Mormon militiamen and/or Pauite Indians in Mountain Meadows, Utah

(Novak and Kopp 2003:85; see Fig. 3.3 for location). Beyond this, there is some considerable debate: some downplay the role of the Pauite, implicating their Mormon counterparts (e.g. Anon.

2003a; Brooks 1963:69-109), whereas others highlight mutual Pauite and Mormon militia culpability (e.g. King 1970:2).

The most widely accepted historical record of the massacre suggests a mutual attack by Paiute

Indians and Mormon militia against the wagoneers (Anderson 2006:2.13; Novak and Kopp

2003:86-88). The wagon train, led by John Baker and Alexander Fancher, was initially attacked on 7 September 1857 and a siege lasting four days ensued, during which period ten men were killed. Local Mormons, John Lee and William Bateman, negotiated a successful surrender with the Baker-Fancher train, who were coerced into surrendering their wagons and cattle to the




Pauites. After being informed that the Mormon militia would provide them safe passage back to

Cedar City. The train was divided into two groups, the first consisting of men and a second of women and older children–a separate wagon contained the younger children. On 11 September,

Mormon militiamen shot the men they were guarding and Pauites ‘rushed’ from the bushes to kill the women and older children; the younger children in the second wagon were spared and later returned to their relatives (King 1970:13; Novak and Kopp 2003:86). There has been some question regarding the manner in which the Pauites killed the women and older children. It is likely that they would have been beaten, subjected to tomahawk blows and been fired upon by arrows. Tomahawk use was typical of woodland tribes and is more likely to have been the main weapon used, although some scholars indicate firearms were also used in the attack (Novak and

Kopp 2003:93). John Lee was executed in 1877 for orchestrating the affair and although he never denied involvement, he claimed to have acted in a subordinate role only (Brooks 1963:211,199;

King 1970:15).

In 1999, archaeologist Shane Baker from Brigham Young University’s Office of Public

Archaeology was called upon to conduct a series of remote sensing, geochemical and geophysical investigations as part of a survey of the surrounds of the marker indicating the site of the massacre (Baker et al. 2003:iii; see Fig. 3.6). The survey was initiated at the request of the descendants, who insisted that the damaged marker be replaced. The objective of the survey was to locate human skeletal remains in order to avoid disturbing them during the installation of the new monument. Baker (et al. 2003) employed the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in the area surrounding the monument, a process which identified three anomalies. However, electromagnetic conductivity was utilised in the area of the marker – no anomalies suggested evidence of skeletal remains or evidence of the massacre; nevertheless, it was decided to construct the new monument in the same location. During construction a backhoe unearthed the bones of 28 victims. This represents a spectacular failure of the pre-disturbance technique employed over the marker area. The issues with geophysical prospection are later raised in

Chapter Five and Six.




Figure 3.6 – Site plan showing the location of the GPR survey and electromagnetic conductivity, Mountain Meadows massacre survey (from Baker et al. 2003:35)




The 2,600 bone fragments excavated by the backhoe were examined by physical anthropologist

Shannon Novak, who, in concordance with Utah state law, was required to analyse the bones

(Baker et al. 2003:6). Her ‘non-invasive, non-destructive quantification analysis’ confirmed several aspects of the historical accounts (Baker et al. 2003:6). Most of the individuals killed at Mountain

Meadows were young adult males, who had been shot once in the head; most of the female and children victims were bludgeoned to death (Novak and Kopp 2003:102). There was, however, no evidence of the use of ‘knives to scalp, behead or cut the throats of these victims. Evidence was also lacking for projectile trauma from arrows’ (Smith 2001). This has been interpreted as indicating a lack of or passive level of Pauite involvement (e.g. Novak and Kopp 2003). Baker, the chief archaeologist discusses such interpretations:

Perhaps the most crucial fact that must be kept in mind is that the human remains recovered from the site were from a commingled mass grave, and were very fragmentary and incomplete. Approximately 120 perished in the massacre, and the archaeological excavations in 1999 recovered only very incomplete representative elements of the 28 persons. It is almost impossible to attempt generalizations about the cause of death and types of perimortem trauma suffered by the group as a whole on the basis of this very incomplete sample. There have been repeated attempts in the popular media (and even in Dr. Novak’s article) to maintain that no Native Americans were involved in the massacre. This simply cannot be supported by the data. The archaeological evidence was not able to conclusively determine who did the killing (whites vs

Native Americans), but it did support in a general sense the historical accounts of the incident. (Shane Baker pers. comm. 31 March 2006)

As the above quotation illustrates, there is still contention surrounding the process of the osteological analysis conducted on the Mountain Meadows victims. The timeframe afforded to researchers was interrupted at the request of Governor Mike Leavitt (Novak and Kopp 2003:86).

There was concern at this directive, as Leavitt was both an active member of the Mormon Church and a descendent of one of the Mormon militiamen involved in the massacre (Anon. 2003a).

Some descendants felt Leavitt’s request may have been a response to the emerging information that potentially absolved the Pauites of a heightened level of involvement, thereby further implicating the Mormons. However, Baker considers:

The event remains one of the most unfortunate episodes of frontier violence in American history. The massacre has, for decades, been



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- surrounded by a complex smokescreen of lies, obfuscation, hyperbole, finger pointing, blame-shifting, and biased reporting. Almost everyone ever involved in trying to report the event or explain it has some vested interest in twisting the results to favor one perspective or the other. The archaeological research at the site was able to shed some unbiased and clear evidence regarding what really happened there. (Shane Baker pers. comm. 31 March 2006)

3.3.4 Sand Creek massacre

Sand Creek was the only major frontier massacre to have been geographically ‘lost’ and was the only major site of frontier conflict to remain unverified (Scott et al. 1998a:2). This investigation is of explicit relevance to Australia, as it attempts to determine the location of the event – in

Australia, there are very few identified locations of massacre events. It is for this reason that the investigative procedures are detailed below.

On 28 November 1864, at Sand Creek, Colonel John M. Chivington and the Third Colorado regiment stormed a group of peacefully encamped Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and killed approximately 200 women, men and children (Viola 2003:52). Chivington’s men approached the village of Cheyenne and Arapahos in the early morning, attacking with howitzer fire, forcing the

Native Americans to run from the discharge to the westernmost lodge of the camp (Greene and

Scott 2004:18-19). The leader of the Arapahos, White Antelope, attempted to communicate with

Chivington’s troops but was killed immediately in the fire. Black Kettle, leader of the Cheyenne, supposedly raised the US flag accompanied by a white flag to indicate the peaceful status of his people, but this was ignored by the regiment. Chivington and his troops continued to fire upon the

Cheyenne and Arapahos, outnumbering the Indian warriors who during this phase attempted to protect the women and children. Soon the Indians had fled the camp and took refuge in the Sand

Creek by digging pits along the banks. Chivington’s troops followed and targeted them with a howitzer and firearms. Meanwhile, many of the Cheyenne and Arapahos who had fled the conflagration were pursued and killed.

The initial public response was to glorify Chivington and his troops but an eyewitness, John

Smith, notified Washington of the event and a subsequent congressional testimony revealed the magnitude and reality of what had occurred. Smith claimed that women and children were slaughtered indiscriminately, and he saw




…worse mutilation[ion] than any I ever had seen before; the women all cut to pieces’ and that he saw people ‘[cut] with knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors. (Joint Committee on the Conduct of War 1865:56-59)

The first step undertaken to locate the site occured in 1997, subsequent to a State Historical

Fund grant that was awarded to the Colorado Historical Society to identify the extent of the Sand

Creek massacre site (Scott et al. 1998a). It was of extreme import to locate ‘definitive artifacts…ordnance items, such as cannonball fragments or friction primers’ as the Sand Creek massacre was the only engagement in the state of Colorado to witness 12-pound mountain howitzer use (NPS 2000a:10; Scott et al. 1998a:14). The recovery of artefacts associated with a

12-pound mountain howitzer would provide archaeologists with authoritative evidence of the

Sand Creek massacre location. Furthermore, it would be desirable to locate both the village site and the sand pit sites.

The 1997 field season involved the expertise of ‘historians, geologists, map experts, aerial photographers and Cheyenne and Arapaho representatives to work together to establish the location of the site’ (Greene and Scott 2004:64). The team utilised contemporaneous maps drawn by George-Bent (an individual present at the massacre) and oral histories from descendants of those at the massacre as reference to the location, which helped isolate two locations – the

Dawson property and the Rhoades property (see Fig. 3.7). The use of a map to assist in locating actual areas was also witnessed in the Irvinebank massacre investigation in Queensland (see

Chapter 4). However, the 1997 Sand Creek investigations, which involved the metal detector technique applied at the Battle of Little Bighorn, were largely inconclusive (Scott et al. 1998a:2).

Following this first inconclusive attempt, other approaches were considered to determine the actual location of the events. Geological accounts of the area from 1864 were analysed and compared with current topographical features (Coffin 1965; Scott et al. 1998a:3-4); this suggested that the Dawson property was the more likely of the two to be the site of the massacre.




Figure 3.7 – Reproduction of George-Bent map, indicating location of Sand Creek massacre (adapted from NPS 2000a:22)




Figure 3.8 – Site plan showing the 1997 and 1999 Sand Creek massacre field survey areas

(from NPS 2000a:80)




(from Anon. 2003a)

(from NPS 2000a:90)

Figure 3.9 – Photographs showing 12-pound howitzer case fragments located at Sand Creek




3.10 – Site plan of the Sand Creek massacre location showing map incorporating evidence from historical documentation and archaeological investigation (from

NPS 2000a:291)




In addition, both geoarchaeological and further historical studies were undertaken. The 1998 geoarchaeological study was conducted in order to determine if either the Dawson or newly suggested Bowen property could contain physical in situ evidence of the Sand Creek Massacre

(Holmes and McFaul 1999:1-15; NPS 2000a:15). Four subsurface cores were sampled from these two properties. The results of the research indicated less subsurface disturbance than would be expected, alleviating fears that flooding or erosion may have impacted upon the archaeological reconnaissance to uncover evidence of the 1864 event. Furthermore, the geoarchaeological study indicated that the lack of ‘appreciable sediment aggradation in the last

135 years made the choice of metal detectors a nearly ideal inventory tool’ (Greene and Scott


Following this, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell introduced Senate Bill 1695, which passed the

House of Representatives on 18 September 1998 and was signed by President Clinton on

October 6 as Public Law 105-243 – The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Study Act of

1998 (NPS 2000a:7). This Act directed the National Park Service (NPS) to once again attempt to locate the site and develop an appropriate conservation management plan.

The survey process utilised in the subsequent 1999 study was similar to that of 1997 field season in that metal detectors were used, although a larger area was covered (see Fig. 3.8). However, this field season was more successful and the metal detector inventory revealed definitive evidence. Not only was a 12-pound howitzer case fragment located on the Bowen property (see

Fig. 3.9), other artefact types were located and sufficient to indicate the location of the village site.

These artefacts, which included utensils and bowls, were found intentionally crushed and flattened, supportive of the historical account of the massacre (Green and Scott 2004:94).

Nevertheless, the exact location of the sand pits remains unverified in the archaeological record

(Greene and Scott 2004:94).

Following the success of the 1999 field season Northern Arapaho tribal members were consulted, and they agreed that the archaeologically located area was most likely that of the massacre (NPS

2000a:288; see Fig. 3.10). However, the Northern Cheyenne representatives considered it to be located slightly south. The NPS recommended future archaeological work in order to clarify these differences, however, this may be unnecessary as the area proposed in the site location study, as the site of the massacre, incorporates the areas identified by Northern Arapaho representatives,

Northern Cheyenne representatives and the 1999 archaeological investigation (NPS 2000a:290).

Subsequent to the archaeological investigations, ‘healing runs’ to honour the victims of the massacre are conducted by Cheyenne and Arapaho members on the archaeologically defined site (Roberts 2005:1). Although not yet open to the public because of issues with the



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- appropriation of land, the site was authorised by President George Bush in 2005, and in accordance with Section 9 of Public Law 106-465 – Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Establishment Act of 2000, the remains of seven massacre victims are to be repatriated to the site (Hughes 2005:C.01).

Christine Whitacre, the site location director, describes in the forward to Greene and Scott


Many people shared with us their hopes for the proposed national historic site. Some saw it as a place of contemplation where people of all backgrounds could come to learn from the past, to know more about the

Cheyennes and Arapahos who called this land home and to honor the victims. Many envisioned it as a healing place that could promote crosscultural understanding. But that understanding is more a hope than a certainty, and it must be an ongoing process.

3.4 – Conclusion

Following the Little Bighorn investigation and the precedents of methodology it established, archaeologists in North America have attempted to define specific locations and find physical evidence associated with frontier massacre events. A clear multidisciplinary approach relying on historical sources, osteological analyses, soil sediment testing and geophysical analyses combined with other archaeological investigative techniques has been successful in determining happenings and locations of these events. These investigations can confirm or challenge our understanding of episodes of frontier violence. Importantly, commensurate with these more tangible outcomes are the intangible components of the investigations. Archaeological investigation is capable of bringing these events into current public consciousness and providing an avenue in which hidden histories can be acknowledged. The next chapter, Chapter Four, reviews the history and archaeology of frontier conflict in Australia so that they may be discussed alongside the North American application in Chapter Six.





Australian Frontier Conflict:

Historical background and archaeology

4.1 – Introduction

There was a war of a kind on the Australian frontier. There was bloodshed and cruelty, but it did not sear itself into the founding myths and the national psyche like two centuries of Indian wars did in America. Indeed the Indian wars got themselves more thoroughly into Australian psyches than any conflict with Aborigines did … we were raised to believe that the Aborigines hardly put up a fight and therefore little force was needed to remove them. It was kind of an anti-myth, a story without heroes or villains. In Australia … the national mind has never been so numb to the reality and meaning of the frontier … or so uninterested. (Watson 2001:27-29)

Despite the large body of literature relating to Australian frontier conflict history, archaeology and archaeologists have remained largely silent concerning the nature and location of such events.

This chapter presents an overview of the nature of Australian frontier conflict gathered from the documentary compilation and analysis phase of the research. This historical background component contextualises the massacres that were perpetrated against Indigenous people by presenting a national and individual state overview of settlement. In addition to this the heritage listing of massacre sites is discussed and the few documentary sources pertaining to the archaeological investigation of sites of frontier massacre are reviewed.

4.2 – Historical Background

4.2.1 European ‘discovery’ and settlement of Australia

Indigenous Australians have been present in continental Australia for at least 40,000 years

(O’Connell and Allen 2004; Turney et al. 2001:3), existing not as an homogenous group of people, but as many diverse groups. This long standing occupation was interrupted by the colonisation of the continent by Europeans in 1788. Unlike North America, which was accidentally discovered, Australia’s geographic location was persistently sought by various European explorers over many centuries. Although there is discussion surrounding the Portugeuse discovery of the continent as early as 1530 (Frost 1987:371), the first known sighting of the

Australian mainland was of Cape York by Jansz, in 1606, from his ship the Duyfken (Cannon

1987:24). This also marked the first moment of Indigenous-European interaction. One of Jansz’ crew was fatally speared. This exists in contravention with the popularly acknowledged European



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- discovery by Englishman James Cook, who was responsible for charting the eastern coast of

Terra Australis Incognita in 1770 (Frost 1987:371).

Following the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, Britain had to find an alternative location in where to place their felons (Willey 1979:36-37). This resulted in a system of anchored prison haulks in the Thames River; however, these soon became overcrowded and it quickly became apparent that alternative prison space would need to be identified promptly. It has been suggested that Joseph Banks contributed to the notion that Australia would be an ideal location, as his journal contained accounts of Terra Australis Incognita indicating that New South Wales

(NSW) was fertile and spacious, and that the local inhabitants were poorly armed and therefore would not be capable of presenting any military threat (Willey 1979:36-37).

The arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Harbour on 18, 19 and 20 January 1788, created considerable levels of confusion for the Indigenous Botany Bay tribe. Mahroot, one of the remaining survivors of this tribe, commented that:

They thought they was the devil when they landed first, they did not know what to make of them. When they saw them going up the masts they thought they was opossums. (Elder 2003:1)

However, it has been suggested that the Indigenous response to the landing was essentially antagonistic although there are records to imply that not all initial encounters were so (Elder

2003:1). It is most likely that responses from Indigenous people are incident specific, as illustrated by the example of Lieutenant Philip Gidley King who described a ‘comical…encounter’ in the Sydney Cove area, where he was greeted with much confusion about his gender because of a lack of facial hair (Elder 2003:1). On the other hand in some regions Indigenous people were far from ambivalent, and their response to contact by the British was hostile – such as the aforementioned incident surrounding the Duyfken’s landing on Cape York (Cannon 1987:24).

In the early days of settlement, Governor Arthur Phillip ordered there be no fighting with

Indigenous people and attempted to protect the local tribes by punishing those who engaged in criminal behaviour against them (Tench 1961:221). It appeared that the Indigenous people were

(according to Lieutenant William Bradley) accepting of the British colonists until the process of land clearing fomented their antagonism towards the settlers (Elder 2003:5).




4.2.2 The beginnings of conflict

Like the Dodo, the Aborigine was perceived by the nineteenth century cognoscenti as being little more than an accidental leftover of the contest of evolution, whose ultimate extinction was seen as inevitable, rather than contingent upon any sort of intervention. (Armand 2003:156)

The first act of frontier violence during the British occupation can ironically be attributed to the

French marines of Jean-François Galaup comte de La Pérouse’s expedition (Connor 2002:24).

This has been ignored in many publications; oftentimes the earliest episodes of violence have been considered to have taken place on the outskirts of the Sydney Cove settlement (e.g. Clark

1995:ix; Elder 2003:1-17). La Pérouse arrived in Botany Bay in March 1788 in order to surveil the latest British outpost in the Empire’s eastward expansion (Horner 1995:1). The expedition’s sailors allegedly killed members of the Bidjigal Botany Bay tribe with musket fire (Connor

2002:24). The news of firearms spread rapidly throughout the neighbouring tribes, who termed the muskets gooroobeera, meaning ‘stick of fire’. This attack instigated a heightened level of reticence and suspicion by Indigenous people towards settlers who were apparently armed and as a result the Indigenous people became extremely cautious in their interactions with British colonists.

Indigenous communities became increasingly intimidated by the British settlers who were seizing the land and livelihood of the local tribes; consequently the relations between Indigenous people and British colonists rapidly deteriorated. In addition, the nature of the individuals that comprised the population of the British colony - ‘hardened recidivists’ - is considered to have contributed to growing tensions, an example being the stress imposed upon the local Indigenous women by the convicts:

Given the large number of surplus males who, in a prison without walls, could not be segregated whatever Phillip intended, the Aboriginal women were sure to be a source of contention for the new colony. (Willey 1979:42)

In May 1788 a convict killed an Indigenous person and two convicts were retributively murdered by the same Indigenous group (Reynolds 1999:135). This guerrilla approach was soon adopted by the local Indigenous people on the outskirts of the colony as a response to the increasing sprawl of settlement. An understanding of this type of warfare combats the falsely perpetuated notion of a ‘lack of resistance’ on the part of Indigenous people. It was apparent along the frontier,



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- but reasons for it being excluded from history are attributed to the nature and visibility of this type of violence:

The scattered, uneven nature of conflict, which allowed contemporary observers and many later historians to overlook it altogether, intensified rather than allayed European insecurity. (Reynolds 1987:9)

The phase of killing and reprisal among those in the Sydney Cove colony engaged only two years into the British occupation of the region. Soon it became widespread through all areas of colonisation, particularly where pastoralists and industry encroached upon traditional lands

(Cannon 1990:3).

Along with land confiscation and its negative impacts, the effects of starvation and disease decimated the Indigenous population of Australia (see Butlin 1983:16-41; Campbell 2002). Like the Native Americans (Churchill 1997:86), they were exposed to pathogens to which they had no immunity. While it is difficult to estimate the extent of the loss, a large percentage of the destruction associated with contact might be accounted for by the devastation wrought by diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis (Attwood 2005:144; Knightley 2000:108).

4.2.3 Nature and extent of frontier massacres perpetrated against Indigenous people

Within this context of negative impacts of British settlement, massacres of Indigenous people constitute one of the major atrocities perpetrated against them. The following section establishes how the different phases and nature of conflict across the Australian continent are directly related to differing settlement patterns. This is somewhat echoed in the North American example. When the frontier moved westward, the conflict also congruently moved westward (Viola 2003:135). It also details pertinent examples of individual massacre events.

As mentioned earlier, the initial British settlement in New South Wales (NSW) instigated the first violent Indigenous-settler interactions. In the following decades, as the surrounding bushland was converted by pastoralists, Indigenous people began to resist and were consequently met with violence (Elder 2003:12). It was also here that the Native Mounted Police were formed in 1848, and were instructed to ‘disperse’ Indigenous people to make way for colonial advancement

(Reynolds 1991:15). It is important to note, as this thesis examines Indigenous-settler conflict, instances where the Native Mounted Police have perpetrated atrocities against Indigenous people, are still considered – as their actions were oftentimes sanctioned by their colonial overseers (Clyne 1987:120).




Tasmania was settled as a penal colony in 1804 and this state’s associated frontier conflict is widely acknowledged among historians (e.g. Jones 1971; Ryan 1981, with the exception of

Windschuttle 2002) and has even received treatment by some historians over the question of genocide (Armand 2003; Elder 2003:29-48).

The frontier encroached outwards from Sydney Cove towards Victoria and Queensland and while the former witnessed conflict similarly associated with pastoral encroachment (Critchett 1990:28-

29), frontier conflict in Queensland was also associated with ‘the wealth of North Queensland’s grasslands, minerals, fisheries and rainforests [which] produced four frontiers of racial contact’

(Loos 1993:11). The Queensland government also decided to adopt the Native Mounted Police, a motion that was to be considered ‘the final bankruptcy of frontier policy’ (Rowley 1972:39). The

Queensland Native Mounted Police are widely recognised as having been ‘brutal’ and responsible for many atrocities perpetrated against Indigenous people (Copland 1999:2; Richards


South Australia was settled as a free colony in 1834 with an early attempt made to protect the

Indigenous people from ‘the pirates, squatters and runaway convicts who infested the coast’

(Foster et al. 2001:2). However, soon, like the other colonies, increased pastoralism resulted in many collisions with Indigenous people. Violence erupted as the interior became settled – ‘for settlers who were a long way from Adelaide and often well beyond the range of police and other government officials, utilitarian concerns prevailed’ (Foster et al. 2001:5).

Violence also prevailed in Western Australia and Northern Territory much later than the other colonies and states. Violence in Western Australia largely derived from settlement encroachment and has been considered by some as the ‘worst district for frontier massacres’ (Knightley

2000:110). Another related situation occured in the 1870s in the Northern Territory, because large numbers of cattle were moved onto the land. Which resulted in destruction of the local environment. Conflict and retaliation were to ensue with episodes of Indigenous-settler violence being witnessed in the northern parts of Australia as late as 1940 (Roberts 2005:1-23;Smith et al.


As discussed above, the causes and character of frontier violence varied according to the manner of settlement. However, massacre, which was one type of violence, was ubiquitous to all frontiers

(Reynolds as cited in Clark 1995:ix). Both the police force and colonists perpetrated massacres against Indigenous people, who oftentimes took action of reprisal (Elder 2003). Several key massacre events pertaining to the Australian frontier conflict are outlined, including those at

Risdon Cove, Pinjarra, Waterloo Creek, Myall Creek, Forrest River and Coniston Station (see Fig.




4.1 for locations). However, due to the limitations of this thesis and the sheer volume of the historical documentary record, it is impossible to discuss many massacre events, but these represented here are some of the most significant events on the Australian frontier.

Figure 4.1 – Map showing the location of Australian massacre events referred to in the text

The Risdon Cove massacre is important as it occurred against the backdrop of what many have considered was a form of genocide in Tasmania (see Elder 2003), although some argue that it was not (see Reynolds 2001; Windschuttle 2002). The Risdon Cove event occured in 1804 when an Indigenous hunting party numbering about 300 was reputedly mistaken for a war party by settlers and soldiers. Official records indicate that only four Indigenous people were killed (Elder




2003:32), although the Register of the National Estate Risdon Cove entry, indicates a higher number of deaths in its statement of significance



Risdon Cove is extremely significant to Tasmanian Aboriginal people. It is the site where almost one hundred men, women and children were massacred by soldiers and white settlers (accounts of numbers killed varies).

The bodies of the dead were butchered and boiled down so that the bones could be stored in lime and sent to Sydney. When the survivors of the massacre returned to bury their dead the bodies were gone. Later in 1830,

Governor Arthur set up a committee to investigate the massacre. The event was seen as "The first act of a decided hostility ... by the British". (Australian

Heritage Database 1980a)

Archaeological investigations were conducted at the Risdon Cove Historic Site from 1978-89.

However, the focus of the investigation was not the massacre, but an examination of the area’s

Indigenous and historic cultural material (McGowan 1985).

The Battle of Pinjarra occurred in 1834 in Western Australia (Connor 2002:79-81). The site was listed in 1992 on the Register of the National Estate and is considered to be ‘the most significant armed conflict to have taken place within south-west WA’ (Australian Heritage Database 1992). It involved the ‘butchering’ of a camp of approximately 80 Nyungar people, although official records stipulate only 30 were killed (Australian Heritage Database 1992). Contention exists over whether or not what occurred constitutes a massacre. Some argue that if it were to be considered as such, it would reduce the emphasis on ‘heroic’ actions of the Pinjarup, who fought against the

British (Connor 2002:78-79). Thorpe counters this by suggesting that it could not have been a battle because one side was armed with spears and the other with guns (Thorpe as cited in

Conner 2002:82). The impact on the Pinjarra clans was also substantial – Yagan, leader of the

Pinjarup, was infamously murdered during the event, with the massacre terminating the tribe’s functioning as a social unit. It also instigated regional changes for the tribe, on economic, political and social levels.

Another significant event in Australian frontier conflict history was the NSW Waterloo Creek massacre of 1838, widely considered by some to be the ‘worst massacre’ in terms of the number of Australian Indigenous people killed (Milliss 1992:166-202). The Kamilaroi tribe of NSW systematically attacked farmers and their stock as a response to the pastoralists’ alleged


There is no reference made to the source of this information within the statement of significance (Australian Heritage

Database 1980a).



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- kidnapping of Kamilaroi women. Soon, Colonel James Nunn, led a reprisal with the mounted police and the expedition resulted in the methodical killing of over 300 men, women and children

(Milliss 1992:202). Windschuttle (2000a:12-13) claimed that this figure is inaccurate, but Elder

(2003:277) countered with the suggestion that the numbers do not matter. Connor (2002:111) proposed that the higher figure is unlikely as it represents the numbers that comprised Colonel

Nunn’s ‘dinner party boastings’, whereas in the official reports only ‘a few’ were killed. It is likely that about 40 or 50 deaths is a more accurate number (Connor 2002:111; Elder 2003:277), nonetheless, this is a significant massacre event.

The Myall Creek massacre was another prominent and significant event occurring in the same year as the Battle of Pinjarra and the Waterloo Creek massacre (1838). A group of stockmen rode into Myall Creek station and captured all the Indigenous inhabitants, tying them together, shooting two and killing the rest (except one woman) with swords (Connor 2002:102). The bodies were then decapitated and burned to de-identify the victims. This massacre was celebrated by some settlers, but is particularly worth mentioning here, because many found the actions of the stockmen abhorrent. Seven of the eleven stockmen were found guilty of murder and hanged on

18 December 1838 (Reece 1974:140; R v Douglass; R v Kilmeister). This is symbolically important as it represents the first massacre of Indigenous people by settlers whereby the perpetrators were prosecuted and punished (Australian Heritage Database 1980b). This significant outcome, however, engendered a paradigm of clandestine frontier violence and contributed to a covert culture of atrocities committed against Indigenous Australians.

Although the previous examples are all drawn from the nineteenth century, massacres were committed well into the twentieth century – as late as 1930 in Northern Australia (McAdam and

Tregenza 1995:143; Roberts 2005). The Forrest River massacres of 1926, have been the subject of considerable controversy – their legitimacy has been questioned by both Moran (1999) and

Windschuttle (2000a). Nevertheless, this study is relevant as it provides a case study where physical evidence of massacres was discovered. The widely held version is based on an acceptance of the following events. The Forrest River massacres were triggered by the spearing of a boundary rider by an Indigenous man named Lumbia. Soon, a punitive expedition of reprisal was mounted to capture and kill Indigenous people in the Forrest River region (Green 1995:15).

Lumbia was charged with murder and Reverend Gribble, head of the Forrest River Mission, mounted an expedition to uncover evidence related to the massacres of Indigenous people

(Green 1995:15). He located the punitive posse’s base camp finding evidence that suggested murder (see Fig. 4.2). The evidence was overwhelming and a Royal Commission was established to investigate such claims. This Royal Commission was inconclusive. Lumbia was found guilty of murder and served time at Fremantle Prison (Green 1995:15).




Figure 4.2 – Reproduction of map showing evidence related to one massacre staged within the Forrest River massacres (from Green 1995:214)




In central Australia in 1928, the last ‘officially-sanctioned punitive expedition against Aboriginals occurred’ (Knightley 2002:111) and came to be known as the massacre of Coniston Station. It involved the deaths of between 45 to more than 100 Walbiri people (Cribbin 1984:160). This historically important massacre also became the subject of a Royal Commission. The judge at the

Coniston Station inquiry commented that the man who led the punitive expedition ‘mowed them down wholesale’ and there was apparent unease over the testimonies at the trial. Coniston

Station – like the Wounded Knee Massacre in North America – marked the historically recognised closing of the Australian frontier. However, not only are there recorded massacres occurring later into the 1930s but the frontier conflict was to continue in other ways (e.g. Bird 1998; Royal

Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1992). To discuss the ‘stolen generation’ is beyond the scope of this thesis, but in many ways it also constitutes a variant method of reducing the Indigenous population by attempting to ‘breed out the colour’ (Bird 1998).

4.3 – Heritage Register Listings of Massacre Sites

A very summary assessment of what is available to researchers on heritage registers indicates several massacre site listings. These provide researchers with information but also an understanding of the considered significance of such events. The Australian Heritage Database

(Commonwealth of Australia, 2006), draws together the World Heritage List, the National

Heritage List, the Commonwealth Heritage List and the Register of the National Estate. The

Australian Heritage Database indicates, that eight listings of massacre sites are incorporated on national registers. Of these, only three are listed in association with the National Heritage List – the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Site is nominated, as is the Burrup Peninsula (which also witnessed massacres). Furthermore, the Dampier Rock Art Precinct (which also listed massacres in its significance), was also nominated on the National Heritage List, but the Emergency Listing request was withdrawn (Commonwealth of Australia 2006).

A current search in the Australian Heritage Places Inventory, which accesses information from state registers, (Commonwealth of Australia, n.d.) reveals a listing of eleven massacre sites.

Contained within these listings are statements of significance, location and history of the event.

There are also, in some instances, references to site reports, which may be of use to archaeologists, if these documents contain information pertaining to physical locations.

Nevertheless, specific but not general access to some of the information regarding massacre sites contained within Heritage Registers, particularly Indigenous site registers, would require much further research. Access to this information is not always easily obtained. Not only are many ‘massacre sites’ occasionally listed as ‘cemetery’ or ‘burial sites’, but according to the




Heritage Officer at the South Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs, it was found that details of many sites were restricted:

In order to give out details of sites I need permission from the traditional owners to give you details of sites...I can give very broad general information without the permission of traditional owners, and by broad I mean I can say "yes there are sites in this region" or "no, there are no sites in this region", however the information you would be after is much more specific. (Royce Richards pers. comm. 18 May 2006)

4.4 – Toponomy

The published historical literature can lend itself to archaeological analysis, as it oftentimes aligns physical space to the events (e.g. Clark 1995). Likewise, toponymic reference to certain massacre events in Australia can align events to general areas and can also support the notion that these events were widespread. Toponomy is the study of place names and their associated meanings (Barber 1994:17), and predicates that:

People name places in ways that are significant to them, an examination of those cognomens has the ability to reveal interpretive insights into past cultural use of the area. (Duncan 2001)

There are eight different place name categories that have been assigned by taponymists. The most relevant to massacre sites is the ‘incident names’ category which indicates that the name of a place is derived from a significant event ‘either real or fictional associated with the area’ (Barber

1994:17). A search of Australian official place names reveals six locations in Australia with the exclusive reference to ‘massacre’ in their title (Geoscience Australia 2006). Barker effectively demonstrated the importance of these place names in his presentation at AAA/AIMA 2005, which was read to the backdrop of an ever changing display of maps indicating locations which included the term ‘massacre’ in their title. He also indicates that the widespread reference to these events in place names ‘suggests that it was endemic’ (Barker in press).

4.5 – The Archaeology of Australian Frontier Massacres

Although it is clear from the brief summary above that a great deal has been written about massacres, very few of the published accounts have any archaeological component, being largely generated by historians who rely on a different record from which to derive their interpretation of events. However, there are two publications that specifically discuss frontier violence and archaeology or physical evidence: Barker (in press) and Rowland (2004). There is



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- also limited published and unpublished literature that details the archaeological investigation of specific massacre sites in Australia available to researchers – the Woolgar River massacre,

Irvinebank massacre, Panton River massacre and the Rufus River massacre


(see Fig. 4.1 for locations). A review of this available literature reveals that, in contrast to the comparatively extensive discourse on the nature of frontier massacre archaeology in North America, archaeological investigations of such happenings in Australia are not only quite limited, but have proven in two of three accessible cases to be inconclusive.

4.5.1 Archaeology of frontier conflict

The principal paper addressing the potential use of archaeology in frontier conflict studies is

Barker (in press) based on his earlier presentation at the 2005 AAA/AIMA. Barker (in press) details a number of inherent difficulties associated with the application of archaeological techniques to sites of massacre in Australia. There will be issues with the nature of the evidence found – if indeed there is any evidence to be found. Even if evidence was located, ‘unequivocal’ evidence of a massacre is difficult to find. This is further compounded by the unique nature of

Australian frontier violence – massacres most commonly occurred with smaller numbers of victims. Barker suggests that the success of the Sand Creek Massacre investigation in North

America (see Chapter Three) should be considered in light of the variable nature of frontier violence – the event occurred in a densely populated village with known ordnance supplies, thereby leaving a much denser archaeological record, that once found could be compared to historical records. However, he does relate that the ‘extensive use’ of metal detectors in the US has been largely successful and could be useful here. He calls for less of a focus on frontier massacre sites and that a broader social landscape archaeology be employed to enable a more

‘holistic contextualisation of Aboriginal/European frontier massacres’ (Barker in press). These issues were also referred to in the interviews (see Chapter 5) and are discussed in Chapter Six.

Barker finally cautions against the potential implications of the History Wars acting as a direct motivator for uncovering evidence of frontier conflict:

Archaeology as a discipline should not allow ideology to set the agenda and it should not fall into the trap of accepting that the revisionist criticisms of the historical record are valid, therefore raising the bar of evidence to an impossible level of proof. (Barker in press)


There is general reference to an archaeological survey of the massacre region by Dr Jeanette Hope in Murray-Darling

Basin Commission (1998). There was also inference that some Indigenous burials in the region may in fact have been massacre victims (Murray-Darling Basin Commission 1998:75); however, when contacted to participate in this study,

Hope declined to be interviewed via telephone. There also exists the recording of her presentation at the 2001 Frontier

Conflict Conference which deals with the archaeology of the Rufus River massacre, although the National Museum was unable to locate the recording of the presentation.




An earlier paper, by Rowland (2004) was well received by the Australian archaeological community. It represents a documented account of the atrocities perpetrated against the

Woppaburra of the Keppel Islands. Rowland (2004:16) discusses the reduction of the population of the Woppaburra by 75-80% as a result of frontier violence. He also addresses the issue of focusing on definitions and placing too much emphasis on massacre. This, he considers, potentially undermines the understanding of the total atrocities perpetrated on the frontier. He specifically addresses issues contained within the History Wars and mentions that Windschuttle demands an unrealistic standard of proof (2004:2). This paper is relevant to archaeology because Rowland (2004:5) also draws reference to physical evidence aligned with massacres.

He indicates that a skull with ‘entry and exit holes possibly caused by [a] low-velocity bullet’

(Rowland 2004:5) were at the time held within the Queensland Museum. He sufficiently builds the case for this indicating at least one Indigenous person met a ‘violent death’ (Rowland

2004:5). He also recounts a quotation, which would be of use to archaeologists, whereby an

Indigenous man showed R. McClelland physical evidence associated with the massacre:

I was over on North Keppel some five years ago, and the blacks showed me a line of bones over a hundred yards long, and told me they belong to a tribe of blacks who were shot by a boarding party of whites many years ago. (McClelland as cited in Rowland 2004:5)

4.5.2 Woolgar massacre

The Woolgar massacre project is an ongoing collaborative effort drawing together evidence from oral history, documentary sources, geophysical prospection, archaeology and physical anthropology (Moffat and Wallis 2005; Wallis et al. 2005). The alleged massacre event under investigation took place on the Woolgar goldfields north of Richmond, Queensland in 1881, involving a reprisal by the Native Mounted Police in a series of ‘collisions’ with the local

Indigenous people. Oral histories recounted by white pastoralists from the region, suggest almost all Indigenous people in the area – up to 300 people – were killed, with the exception of one girl who was hidden under the bed of a sympathetic pastoralist’s wife (Wallis et al. 2005).

Where these collisions occurred is difficult to pinpoint, although a number of places in the landscape are named after locations where specific killings reputedly took place, for example

Black Mountain, the Punchbowl and Skull Camp on Strathpark (Wallis et al. 2005). At the direct request of the Indigenous community, the archaeologist was asked to find out more about the events of 1881. Grant applications were developed collaboratively with full community support; ethics clearance was granted and Indigenous people worked alongside specialists in the field.




The 2005 field season investigated a site colloquially known as Skull Camp, at which three skulls were uncovered and reburied along a fence line in 1952 (Wallis et al. 2005). Approximately 500 m of fence line was relocated in 2005, although 300 m of the central section was missing. Along the adjacent river margin a camping ground was identified by the presence of ‘axe grinding grooves, grinding patches…hammerstones and manuports’ (Wallis et al. 2005). Before invasive archaeological work was undertaken, various geophysical prospective techniques were employed including a magnetometer survey, EM38 conductivity survey, direct current resistivity and ground penetrating radar survey (Moffat and Wallis 2005). The aim of such pre-disturbance work was to identify any ground disturbance, sub-surface anomalies or artefacts (such as bullets). None of the surveys located evidence of potential objects associated with a massacre or ground disturbance.

Following the geophysical survey a series of excavation strategies were implemented. The entire length of remaining fence line was excavated to the depth of 1 m and approximately 30 shovel test pits were dug. However, this archaeological investigation generated no evidence relating to a massacre.

In this case there is clear evidence that in 1952 human remains were located at Skull Camp, however they were not there in 2005. Whether they were victims of a massacre, or a burial ground, is impossible to now ascertain. However, the lack of physical evidence does not alter the recognition by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous locals that this is a place associated with the massacre of 1881. Further investigations are ongoing (Wallis pers. comm. 10 January 2005).

4.5.3 Panton River massacre

The Panton River massacre site project commenced in 2005 in the Kimberley region of Western

Australia involving a joint effort between archaeologists, forensic anthropologists and soil scientists working in collaboration with the Traditional Owners and the Kija people, who were descendants of the massacre victims using funding provided by the Kimberley Land Council.

The Panton River massacre occurred in the 1930s with evidence about the event being retained in the oral testimonies of the Kija people (Smith et al. 2005). When congregating for a ceremony, all Kija participants were shot as ‘retaliation for cattle spearing’ (McAdam and Tregenza 1995:43).

The claims that there was bullet fire, were contradicted by a Traditional Owner who suggested that the Indigenous people were killed through the poisoning of gifted meat which they later consumed (McAdam and Tregenza 1995:43). No archival documents reveal evidence of the massacre although there are two secondary sources that reveal information pertaining to the exact site – one in particular claims to have located the site, which allowed for a more specific study to be undertaken (Smith et al. 2005). The source incorporates a description of the site and



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- also considers that ‘small fragments of bone are scattered over the area’ (McAdam and Tregenza

1995:43) lending to the notion that it could be a massacre site.

The 2005 investigation relocated the site described by McAdam and Tregenza (1995:143), covering an area of approximately 12 x 14 m. This contained bones showing evidence of burning and fragmentation. The methodology included metal detector transects. These located 57 metal artefacts and, with the exception of a possible kerosene lid, none were considered to have been related to the massacre event (Smith et al. 2005). Core sampling was used as the most effective technique with which to collect subsurface skeletal and massacre related evidence. This would later allow for the opening of the cores under laboratory conditions.

There were also control soil samples that were paired with the test pit core samples. The results from the core samples were ‘disappointing’, with the remains being so fragmentary as to be considered undiagnostic. Their potential human origin is unverified. Results from the accompanying soil analyses, pertaining to the presence of hydrocarbons, are forthcoming and not yet available (Pamela Smith pers. comm. 2 February 2006).

4.5.4 Irvinebank massacre

It is ironic that one of the only ‘archaeologically’ verified frontier massacre sites is that of the

Irvinebank massacre which was discovered by historians and amateur archaeologists (Genever

1996). The massacre took place in far north Queensland near the small mining town of Irvinebank in 1884 and involved the murder of four Aboriginals, one of whom was a small child (see Fig. 4.1).

They were ‘unoffending’ and shot to death by members of the Queensland Native Mounted Police

(Genever 1996:6). Evidence for this massacre can be found in the archival records and it is specifically important as it was the ‘only time that black troopers stood in a court of law along with their white officer and were actually charged with murder, or being an accessory to it’ (Genever


This massacre site investigation involved Eacham Historical Society members Duncan Ray,

Daniel Donaghue and Ross Champan, with amateur archaeologists Robert Grant and Tony

Derksen and was funded by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (Ray and Tranter

1996:18). Indigenous support of the publications surrounding the investigation was presented in

Genever (1996:iv), but the publication seems to indicate this support was garnered post-fieldwork and was in support of publications and not the actual project itself.

The success of this ‘field trip’ can be attributed to the availability of a map drawn in 1884 which clearly indicated a ‘scene of massacre of Aboriginals by black troopers’ (see Fig 4.3). This direct



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND ARCHAEOLOGY- reference to the location was arguably the primary reason for its successful identification. Also, at the site a large area of burned material was apparent (Genever 1996:25). No excavation was undertaken, but surface collection was carried out. Use of metal detectors and visual transects revealed relevant items. These were both indicated with marking paint and GPS co-ordinates.

All of the located artefacts were collected, including several items that can be described as

‘definitive artefacts’. These were the Snider cartridge cases and pieces of lead from Snider bullets that are derived from the guns typically issued to the Queensland Native Mounted police (see Fig

4.4). Locating of these ‘definitive artefacts’ was essential in determining whether or not a site was the location of a massacre event. This is particularly reminiscent of the 12-pound mountain howitzer artefacts in the Sand Creek massacre investigation (see Chapter 3).

Figure 4.4 - Photograph showing snider cartridge case at Irvinebank massacre location

(from Ray and Tranter 1996:20)

4.6 – Conclusion

Massacres perpetrated against Indigenous people in Australia spanned from the period of initial settler contact in 1788, to the supposed closing of the frontier in the north of the country around

1930. The nature of the massacre events was clearly different to those in North America in that they were not implemented as a campaign of broader directed warfare but typically existed as smaller, more clandestine events and situations where large numbers were massacred as a series of smaller events. The archaeology of this area of Australia’s frontier conflict is relatively new with only the Irvinebank Massacre Site, the Woolgar Massacre Site and Panton River

Massacre Site having published or documented archaeological investigations. In addition to these, there has only been one specific paper pertaining to the archaeology of frontier conflict. It is clear that the literature does not delineate why there are so few archaeological reports and consequently due to these limited resources, it was necessary to gather this information from alternative sources. Interviews with professional archaeologists were subsequently undertaken to gather this information (see Chapter Five).




Figure 4.3 – Reproduction of Peter Moffat’s map of the Irvinebank area. The red marker indicates the

‘scene of massacre of Aboriginals by black troopers’ (adapted from Genever 1996:25)





5.1 – Introduction

I think that it’s something possibly worth chasing but I think there’ll be a lot more chasing than findings. (Dugay-Grist, 27 January 2006)

As demonstrated in the preceding chapter, there is a paucity of published material relating to archaeological enquiries into frontier massacre sites in Australia, despite indication that much more unpublished or other information exists. Accordingly, a series of interviews with archaeologists were conducted to support and elaborate upon the information garnered in

Chapter Four. The interviews aimed to not only determine more accurately the extent and nature of the work conducted in Australia, but to understand, from the perspective of professional and experienced archaeologists, why investigations of this type have not been undertaken to the extent they have elsewhere. The results of these interviews are presented below as a series of themes that emerged throughout the interviews. More detailed discussion and elaboration upon these themes are in Chapter Six and the methodology of the interview process and the selection of interviewees were discussed in detail in Chapter Two.

5.2 – Communication between Researchers and both Non-Indigenous and Indigenous

People regarding Alleged Massacre Events and their Locations

The questions regarding whether or not the archaeologists had been informed of massacre events or locations by Indigenous or non-Indigenous people were included in the research in order to discern the accessibility of this information for researchers, and the willingness of individuals to discuss this with archaeologists and anthropologists.

All ten of the individuals interviewed confirmed that they had been informed of massacre events by Indigenous people, with eight also having been shown actual locations of massacre sites. All interviewees recounted specific stories that had been conveyed to them. However, one claimed that in her experience only very general information had been communicated by Indigenous people:

No locations were actually mentioned. It was in a more general sense, for example, they thought that Aboriginal remains in museum collections were collected after massacres. (Donlon, 19 April 2006)



The interviewees also made apparent that massacres are often described during the course of fieldwork conducted in the locality of the alleged massacre site, although are often not the current task at hand:

There are things that archaeologists are told that you don’t necessarily record. There is a lot of debate and dialogue that goes on when you are doing fieldwork … we record less, we usually don’t have a tape recorder going when we are going out doing surveys. If you are doing recording for a particular consulting project, you are only interested in the sites in the development zone, but while you are going to those sites, they [the

Traditional Owner] might point out to you that something happened over there; [but] it may not be … within the scope of your project to record those sites. (Wallis, 22 November 2005)

However, a typical ‘telling’ of a massacre is described when driving past an area in question:

Or it might vary to driving old Kukatha fellas, picking them up at Pt

Augusta to drive up to the Woomera/Roxby Downs area, and as we are driving north of Pt Augusta if you look out to the side there are big flat top mesas, quite a few of them; one particular past Yorkies Crossing, you can see it. We didn’t go near there but you can see it. They [the

Traditional Owners] pointed it out – there was a massacre of our people by police or station owners (I can’t recall); but it was, ‘that happened over there, our people were massacred there. There is a gully off the side, their bodies were thrown down in there. You must go look at that one day; it is an important event’. (Draper, 11 January 2006)

One of the Indigenous archaeologists confirmed the context of ‘driving through town’ wherein similar information is yielded to people:

Just about every Indigenous community that I have visited has advised me of at least one [massacre site]. That is the common thing when I was a consultant, when you are in the car driving around town with the local mob, ‘that’s where the burial ground is’. That is very common and occurs quite frequently. (Free, 3 February 2006)



Importantly, however, the apparently common occurrence of Indigenous people imparting knowledge about locations of massacres to ‘outsiders’ does not afford a generalisation about all

Indigenous groups or people. Smith (15 February 2006) suggested there could be difficulties for some Indigenous people raising the topic of massacres in conversation. With reference to the community she works with in the Northern Territory, Smith found that sometimes there is residual shame in the community associated with the event. Furthermore, in one instance, reticence to talk about personal issues was raised:

I’ve talked to a family that it turned out that one of their relatives may have been in the native mounted police. We didn’t know this when we started talking to them, but it just came out about three months after we got involved in this project. They were initially very supportive and felt, yes, this information should be told, but then when they found out a relative may have been involved, they became very defensive and their whole attitude towards it changed. (Wallis, 22 November 2005)

Nevertheless, Draper (11 January 2006) considered that he had never come across an unwillingness to furnish information to researchers about massacre sites. This difference could be in part related to the specific nature of the relationship between Indigenous community member(s) and researcher:

I think that is the nature of the archaeological investigation of these types of events - that it very much comes down to the specific archaeologist, and their relationship with a specific Indigenous community. (Wallis, 22

November 2005, in response to a question about the level of Indigenous community interaction in massacre site investigations)

The interviewees were also asked whether or not they had been informed about massacre events by non-Indigenous people. Most had, but interestingly, the issue over ‘reticence’ by non-

Indigenous people to reveal information was a common theme:

Yes, people in the Riverland and in the NSW area, they were reticent, especially to outsiders. People were still sensitive about talking about these types of issues – for sure. (Hemming, 18 April 2006)

I know if you go down to Naracoorte, they don’t really like anthropologists or archaeologists down there. There are old families there, where the


-CHAPTER FIVE - INTERVIEWS- great-great-grandparents used to go on a ‘koon’ shoot on a Sunday. I’ve actually had a person from a very old family, show me an old photo, where you have all of these ‘bright lads’ lined up in about the 1860s on a

Sunday morning with their muskets and their hunting dogs and they are gathered for a ‘koon shoot’ … That is what they used to do for sport…When we were staying in Mt Gambier in the ranger’s house, it was broken into by whitefellas and we think it was quite specific, nothing was stolen. We were looking into Aboriginal history and archaeology and it just wasn’t real popular…I have a theory where there was hot resistance, [that] long term families may still have grudges about history ranging from the mild ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ and ‘I don’t want to discuss’ to ‘what great grandad did or didn’t do’ (Draper, 11 January 2006)

Again, reticence was not featured in all non-Indigenous communications with archaeologists, but it was clearly indicated in the aforementioned cases.

Furthermore, it is apparent from the interviews that there are many more unpublished/ confidential materials/ reports about massacres than is available in the public domain:

I certainly think for a lot of communities it [a massacre] is a very emotional and sensitive issue and for those reasons they would not be willing to put the information out there in the public arena. This has probably had an impact on why we don’t see a lot of this information published or even in grey literature. I suspect a lot of this is held in confidential reports. It is done for the community and not for public consumption. (Wallis, 22 November 2005)

5.3 – The Archaeological Signature of Massacre Events

Another major theme to emerge from the interviews was the nature of the archaeological signature of massacre events.

5.3.1 The archaeological record

Because of the short term nature of massacre events, their archaeological signature is not as readily recognisable as longer term events. Draper raises the issue of the potential for massacres to appear in the archaeological record:



Frontier conflict, short term events, now we do not expect, particularly in outdoor settings, to be able to pick up particular one off events in the archaeological record. Unless it is some type of nuclear blast or something major that involves a building falling down. But in terms of an event out in the open you might get incredibly lucky. Even if you had a massacre site with campfires, and people were shooting people, there might have been some bodies, some cartridges from a gun etc. The chances of those things on the surface, assuming they weren’t cleaned up – crime scene clean up was a big thing in frontier conflict - people occasionally are really stupid and ‘crow’ about it…often the scenes were left, because it is way out in cattle country – ‘who cares?’. (Draper, 11

January 2006)

Furthermore, if evidence related to a massacre were to be found, there are many interpretations of what the archaeological record represents and therefore archaeologists need to be clear regarding what the evidence does and does not reveal. One of the primary aims of archaeological investigations of massacre sites should be to locate artefacts or features to clearly corroborate the location as a site of massacre. In this thesis these types of artefacts are denoted as ‘definitive artefacts’. Other forms of evidence aligned with massacre events are discussed, in association with their appropriate techniques, in section 5.4.

An example of a ‘definitive artefact’ in Australia, as demonstrated in the Irvinebank massacre site investigation (see Chapter Four), is the presence of bullets and/or cartridge shells. The following suggests that a location is the site of a massacre if such a type of evidence is found:

It is easier to talk about finding bullets [than skeletal analysis]. People have been shooting out in these areas for 150 years and you get all sorts of bullets all over the place. So, you’d need to demonstrate quite convincingly that if you did have bullets that they were actually of the right calibre and of the right time period for the massacre event that you are talking about, and you’d need to discount that background scatter of bullets that you get in pastoral areas anyway. (Wallis, 22 November


Furthermore, one of the issues raised in the multiple interviews related to the often non-discrete nature of massacre locations. Typically, when archaeologists have been shown massacre


-CHAPTER FIVE - INTERVIEWS- locations, they are often general areas rather than spatially discrete and clearly bounded areas.

This is met with some difficulty in the application of archaeology:

[Someone will tell you] This will be the area where the massacre happened. And sometimes that can be a really constrained area [i.e. the area shown to you]; but, in terms of an archaeological investigation of where you might dig, we are talking about hundreds of square metres, so yeah, it is not tied down to i.e. here is a 5x5 m area [the area called the massacre site] where we know somebody was shot. It is usually

100x100m or more where people say: ‘this is where people were killed’.

(Wallis, 22 November 2006)

It is not often that it is going to be that specific. I mean, when you are driving along, it may look like a pin-point, but it may be a 2-3 km stretch, if you have got the right spot in the first place. (Draper, 11 January 2006)

The difficulties associated with locating particular areas, even if they are specific, is also referred to by Pardoe:

You know generally what is under the ground, but you don’t have a specific idea. For instance, I could show you where burials would be. I could take you to certain landforms and certain areas and say there will be burials in here, but we may have to dig up a very large area to actually find them. If somebody says ‘it is right here’, there are chances that they don’t actually know. So you run into this problem. So, oral history in my view should be treated in a reasonable manner. It is like asking you to identify the spot where your paternal grandfather proposed to your grandmother. You are not going to know that. Even if you did – even if he told you that he proposed on the left bank of the Seine River in

Paris – it is still a big area. So you run into these sorts of problems.

(Pardoe, 24 March 2006)

There are also situations where the site is potentially very dispersed as the killings were executed over a large area. This may be the result of victims attempting to escape. Such a situation is described:



With the idea of ‘people sleeping, surprise a camp, people are shooting, people are running off and they are pursuing them through the mangroves, shooting people as they went’. (Draper, 11 January 2006)

However, there are instances where specific locations will be referred to. One archaeologist mentioned that they had been shown two specific locations purported to be associated with massacre; however, upon archaeological investigation , he found that they were not sites of massacre at all, and considered that:

… he [an Indigenous man who informed the researcher of the event] was putting his own interpretation on it, based on an historical understanding and his views on, well not views, but trying to grasp the chronology of the site. (Pardoe, 24 March 2006).

5.3.2 Taphonomic processes

Another sub-theme to emerge from the interviews was the potential taphonomic processes that alter the record post-deposition. This is discussed generally, but with specific reference to skeletal remains in section 5.3.

Draper discussed the inherent difficulties in establishing sites of massacre due to potential interferences with archaeological signatures by taphonomic processes post-event:

What are the chances of those items being buried and incorporated into the archaeological record, considering most of them will blow away, wash away, bodies will be disturbed by predators, the dingoes, the eagles… unless they are protected. That is why we don’t get much in the way of open stratified archaeological sites anyway. That is why rockshelters preserve stratigraphy better; and it is only repeated accumulations, palimpsests of repeated events, such as shell middens, campsites, artefact scatters, workshops etc, that [leave] a readily recognisable footprint. Given that there have been endless metal detectors across say, for example, Custer’s Last Stand site, and they know exactly where it is, they have still found very little. Because the taphonomic processes, wind, water, predators, scavengers etc. disperse and clean up most of it below the level of visibility anyway pretty quickly.

(Draper, 11 January 2006)



5.4 – Archaeological Techniques of Value to Exploring Frontier Massacre Sites

The main body of the interviews focused on archaeological techniques that might be utilised in an investigation of an alleged massacre site and the issues associated with any such application.

The techniques most commonly cited in the interviews as offering potential were geophysical prospection, skeletal analysis, test pitting and excavation, and specialised soil sediment testing.

5.4.1 Geophysical prospection

Geophysical prospection is considered extremely relevant to the archaeological investigation of massacre sites. As one archaeologist specified, there is a ‘need for further increased use of noninvasive techniques such as ground penetrating radar’ (Free, 3 February 2006). Such techniques help to target areas of interest which may aid in combating the problems described earlier, related to the non-discrete nature of sites (Wallis, 22 November 2005) .

Geophysical prospection could potentially be utilised to locate definitive artefacts such as bullets, as well as skeletal remains, although clearly, the type of prospection should be specifically tailored to the nature of the site:

If shooting was involved it might be possible to pick up the gun casings.

You may be able to find those through geophysical means, sorts of equipment like EM38, EM31 and magnetometers that can pick up metal.

You may be able to find that. You may be able to find a killing field type location even if you can’t locate any physical skeletal remains associated with it. (Wallis, 22 November 2005)

One archaeologist also suggested that the specific use of metal detectors, such as had been applied to Custer’s Last Stand site (Battle of the Little Bighorn) in North America, would also be relevant to some sites in Australia (Hemming, 18 April 2006). Interestingly, the work on the Little

Bighorn is extensively published and represents a successful battlefield investigation (see

Chapter Three). This precedent could be useful in application to Australian massacre sites and is discussed in Chapter Six.

Nevertheless, despite a largely encouraging attitude towards the potential of geophysical techniques, Donlon - who has been involved in salvage excavations of Aboriginal burials, though not massacre sites specifically - recounted that:

My experience with remote sensing has been very disappointing. I have seen it used over a number of graves without registering anything. It is


-CHAPTER FIVE - INTERVIEWS- important that the person controlling it is very experienced using it over graves. Also, if there is a ‘hit’, then the area must be excavated. (Donlon,

16 April 2006)

Subsequent to the use of geophysical prospection, test-pitting and excavation would be employed if sub-surface material was suspected; however, owing to the nature of particular events in many cases, sub-surface material would not be apparent. This pertains to the aforementioned archaeological signature of massacre events – they are unlikely to have a clear archaeological, particularly sub-surface, signature (Wallis, 22 November 2005).

5.4.2 Osteological analyses

Clearly, skeletal remains are a type of evidence that might reasonably be expected to be found at sites of massacre, and their analysis is considered to be of ‘critical importance’ (Free, 3 February

2006). A biological anthropologist, with experience in Australian Aboriginal biological anthropology and forensic anthropology, considered:

…skeletal analysis is essential as it is only through the identification of fatal trauma on bones, which is then shown to have been inflicted by

Europeans, is it possible to say there has been a massacre. (Donlon, 19

April 2006)

However, a limitation of skeletal analysis is that the ‘expertise of biological anthropologists is shrinking rapidly in Australia’ ( Pardoe, 24 March 2006). This lack of professional expertise is particularly related to Indigenous skeletal biology.

Another issue is ascertaining the cause of death from skeletal remains. A biological anthropologist suggested that cause of death is very rarely identified in skeletal remains – ‘you have the opportunity for the bullet to go through in any number of ways without ever hitting a bone. You could be shot in the neck, chest or gut’ (Pardoe, 24 March 2006). Furthermore, another biological anthropologist highlighted that, ‘I am not sure how you determine that

Europeans caused the trauma as others might have used European weapons. Also trauma to soft tissue may not leave any marks on the bones’ (Donlon, 19 April 2006). In addition, in instances where poisoning was the deliberate form of killing (which was typical in many areas of the frontier), ‘it could be difficult to pick that up in skeletal remains (as opposed to soft tissues) a century after death’ (Wallis, 22 November 2005).



Two archaeologists (Smith, 3 February 2006; Wallis, 22 November 2005) who had worked on massacre sites, noted that burnt, fragmented bone was found in the course of their work and establishing whether or not the bones were human was an important phase of their research.

Another point raised was that during the frontier period, many diseases such as tuberculosis were present. It would therefore be best practice to investigate relevant occupational health and safety procedures – i.e. use masks with anti-fungal properties if disturbing skeletons more recently buried or deposited; ‘because archaeology can be prone to micro bacterial stuff ‘(Pardoe, 26

March 2006).

In addition to those discussed in section 5.3, taphonomic processes can also be considered with specific reference to skeletal remains. It is very difficult to identify what has or has not occurred

peri mortem, or around the time of death:

… so you can come across a skull that has been shot and you look at it and say, ‘Wow that’s pretty interesting’; but then you realise that this particular sand hill, the lads used to go and find the odd skull, put it on a post and have target practise with it. (Pardoe, 24 March 2006)

Therefore, physical features that might potentially be seen as definitive evidence, such as a bullet hole in a skull, may not necessarily be so; they may be taphonomic or the result of human intervention, and not a result of death. Two instances where suspected trauma was found on skeletal remains were related by Draper:

The police showed up, and at first they thought it was an Asian gangland massacre or something that was recent, because the bones were in very good condition. When we got called out, there were stone tools around, and shell. We said, ‘this one’s older. It’s Aboriginal’…and there was violence there - that was ‘violence’ done by bobcat in disturbance…at the other case, there was a row of six skeletons, on a row along the bank, being exposed in soft clay. The legs were cut through. The leg bones were disturbed and looked slashed, sawn etc…we had a look at the disc ploughs at a local pioneer museum…we could even tell the direction of the plough because of the slight rotation of the tibias, femurs there (along the line). People were hugely relieved. (Draper 11 January 2006)



In summary, the archaeologists with experience in forensic, biological and physical anthropology considered the use of skeletal analysis could be a possible method utilised at a massacre site, however, would be unlikely to yield unequivocal evidence for a massacre having occurred

(Donlon, 19 April 2006; Pardoe, 24 March 2006).

5.4.3 Soil sediment testing

Soil sediment testing was mentioned by two archaeologists as another potential technique to aid in the location of massacre sites. This suggestion was mentioned, but not expanded upon by the interviewees as it was beyond the scope of their expertise (Smith, 3 February 2006; Wallis, 22

November 2005).

5.5 – Ethical Constraints

Not surprisingly, all interviewees were concerned with ethical issues surrounding the archaeological investigation of massacre sites. A consistent theme was that research should not be conducted singularly for research purposes, but that projects be co-ordinated closely with the

Indigenous communities directly associated with the event. Foremost, the investigation should be catered to their specific requests (Canning, 30 November 2005; Draper, 11 January 2006; Free, 3

February 2006; Wallis, 22 November 2005). There was also consideration of differing responses among various Indigenous communities. The following documents the response to a question about this community-specific approach to frontier conflict archaeology:

I think it is an individual community response and each one will always be different to the next one. There is no such thing, you know, as an

Aboriginal response. Each community is an individual community, of individuals who will respond differently. (Canning, 30 November 2005)

There was concern by one archaeologist over the sensitivities that should be expressed when entering into this type of work. In keeping with Barker’s (in press) discussion about the potential distress of the Indigenous community at their version of history not being recognised equitably with western notions of empiricism (see Chapter Four), it was reflected that:

The thing that struck me was both of them [November 2005 AAA conference presentations on massacre site archaeology] referred inter

alia to the fact that there was a lot of distress – that the Indigenous people concerned were very distressed, with the investigation not with the investigators. But with things like that – you do not find what you are expecting to find, thereby implying ‘what good is your history – your


-CHAPTER FIVE - INTERVIEWS- recollections are wrong’. And you are also built up to an expectation that doesn’t work out – which makes you think, ‘Is it somewhere else?’

(Pardoe, 24 March 2006)

As well, another archaeologist considered that if a massacre site investigation opposes the wishes of a specific Indigenous community, it can result in a situation of ‘double disempowerment’

– firstly, that created by the massacre, and secondly, by having their requests ignored:

But, I can see that the other very important thing is that Aboriginal people aren’t disempowered yet again…but that massacre thing that happened is disempowering and that makes people quiet...You know you can’t disempower - it’s a double thing, double disempowerment. (Smith, 15

February 2006)

5.6 - Legislative Constraints

Another multi-faceted and complex issue that was raised in the interviews was that of legislative constraints, with particular restrictions on accessing sites where burials have occurred or skeletal remains are present (e.g. Free 3 February 2006). Furthermore, acquiring an excavation permit, as is the case in many archaeological investigations, is a time consuming protocol that can inhibit the process of the investigation (Free, 3 February 2006).

Another issue raised, particularly with regards to some of the later massacre events, is that the massacre site could be considered a crime scene:

It is probably likely that the perpetrators have died so there is nobody to call into account. Until you ascertain that it is not of interest to the police it is still a crime scene…you are interfering with the chain of evidence, if you are taking something away without proper identification, dealing with it, and handling it. (Pardoe, 24 March 2006)

5.6 – The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian Frontier Conflict Studies

A major theme that emerged from the interviews was the potential contribution of archaeology to historical debates.

Most of the people I know, especially with Australia Day being yesterday, think that it’s quintessential that Australia knows about this. They think

Australia wouldn’t really be perceived as being free. But ninety percent of


-CHAPTER FIVE - INTERVIEWS- the Aboriginal people who I have had contact with think it’s absolutely imperative that non-Aboriginal people understand what has happened before we can really truly move forward. (Dugay-Grist, 27 January 2006)

One archaeologist considered that in her experience, the Indigenous community involved with a massacre site investigation specifically communicated information pertaining to the event because of their personal association with the massacre and not in order to address any academic debate (Wallis, 22 November 2005). However, another archaeologist working with an

Indigenous community on a massacre site claimed:

[The Indigenous community are] very aware of it - the first time I raised this with the community, one of the young men hopped up from the table.

I, we, were there doing a clearance for the Land Council and I started talking about the Mistake Creek Massacre and one of the young men hopped up from the table and went into the office and came back with one of Rod Moran’s books…The Massacre Myth.

(Smith, 3 February 2005)

There was also discussion over how the broader Australian public may view the archaeology of massacre sites, when compared to the methods of Indigenous history. Archaeology has a tendency to be viewed as more empirical and therefore is more congruent with the western perspective in which this type of evidence is accepted as valid.

Physical evidence…can contribute. There is no doubt about that, and it is an area where archaeology can contribute. Investigating physical evidence for particular types of stories and physical evidence carries more weight with Western authorities, in the media and public.

(Hemming, 18 April 2006)

One physical anthropologist considered the contribution and commented that:

I want to be honest with you that this is somebody else’s fight. I use the term ‘fight’ because that is exactly what it is. It is an academic fight between opposing ideologies I suppose, which are based on a bunch of historians having it out with one another. (Pardoe, 24 March 2006).



A reason offered for archaeologists’ limited contribution to historical debates, was that the discipline of archaeology, as practised in Australia, is very new compared to that of North

American archaeology and that it is only in the latter part of the disciplines’ utilisation in Australia that we have become interested in contact archaeology:

I think the nature of archaeology in this country, the way it has played out since the 60s has something to do with it. It has focused on demonstrating the antiquity of occupation so a lot of research that was done through the 60s, 70s and 80s was focused on finding the ‘oldest’,

‘earliest’ site. And historical archaeology to a large degree was largely focused on European historical aspects. It has only been in the last 5-10 years that archaeologists have become interested in Indigenous places that date to the last 200 years (although there are certainly exceptions to that) … I think people are now starting to ask those questions [what occurred post-contact] but historically they have not necessarily been on the radar. (Wallis, 22 November 2005)

There was also mention of the recent boom in consultancy work. This has contributed to a reduction in long term research, which results in a cautionary attitude towards projects such as massacre site investigations because of:

…the political sensitivity associated with these areas. So if people are doing short term consultancies, and looking for funding from governments, it is perhaps not going to be a popular space in which to research into. (Hemming, 18 April 2006)

Furthermore, one archaeologist commented on the lack of funding for such projects, and suggested that some of the Australian Research Council grants directed towards research in

Papua New Guinea and Melanesia should be rerouted to Australia (Free, 3 February 2006).

Contributions by two interviewees regarding the apparently more widely applied archaeological investigation into massacre sites was that conflict between Native Americans and settlers (in the armed forces) were more formal in North America, ‘they were very public things that nobody could deny’ (Smith 15 February 2006). Massacres in Australia, however were more clandestine, and there has been a misguided view that Indigenous Australians,



…haven’t fought back and haven’t resisted. That history was there for a long time and makes that kind of archaeology less attractive. The archaeology they have done in the US is more battlefield archaeology – the archaeology of war. Indigenous people in Australia aren’t seen as being part of a war. So there is less of a focus on that type of archaeology. (Hemming 18 April 2006)

There was also mention by Hemming (18 April 2006) that the physical evidence in Australia may be difficult to locate, because of the more clandestine nature of some of the massacres, when compared to the aforementioned ‘battlefields’ in North America.

5.7 – Massacre Site Archaeology in the Future

Most archaeologists interviewed agreed that it would be highly likely that in the next few years, more archaeological work on massacre sites and publications will be forthcoming, particularly in light of the presentations and interest generated at the November 2005 AIMA/AAA conference in


5.8 – Summary

The results of the interviews suggest that most archaeologists consider more archaeological work associated with frontier massacre sites in Australia should be undertaken in the future; however, there are significant issues to consider. Although the accessibility of information to researchers is unhindered, certain considerable constraints prevail. The most apparent concern was associated with the ethics of massacre site investigation, focusing upon an appreciation of, and sensitivity to,

Indigenous community-specific needs. Furthermore, many technological constraints were considered. Some were associated with the nature of archaeological evidence related to massacre events - these included the locating of ‘definitive evidence’, the un-bounded nature of the sites and difficulties associated with taphonomic processes. Also, specific merits and issues associated with geophysical prospection, skeletal analysis, test-pitting and excavation and soil sediment testing were discussed. Legislative constraints were also considered, as was the limited contribution by archaeologists to the broader historical debate. The potential for archaeology to contribute positively to historical debates was also presented.





6.1 – Introduction

Chapters Three and Four presented both the historical background and archaeology of North

American and Australian frontier conflict. Chapter Five reported the expert knowledge of ten archaeologists who responded to questions pertaining directly to Australian frontier conflict studies. This chapter aims to draw together, through discussion, the information presented in

Chapters Three, Four and Five to assess the potential contribution archaeology can provide to

Australian frontier conflict studies. Specifically, this chapter targets issues which include: the potential archaeological signature of massacre events, archaeological techniques that would be of use to massacre site investigations, ethical issues, legislative concerns, the current state of the discipline in Australia and the possible outcomes of massacre investigation including the potential to raise the profile of these events in public consciousness and popular discourse.

6.2 – Massacre Sites in the Archaeological Record

One of the issues raised in Chapter Five was the potential difficulty of locating a massacre site in

Australia given the nature of the archaeological record combined with the nature of the specific massacre events in this country. Site formation processes influence what is available for study by archaeologists and this has been delineated by Schiffer (1983:675-706) as cultural and natural formation processes – the former includes the event itself and any subsequent activity (i.e. burial and ‘clean up’); the latter would include any processes acting upon the site following deposition.

In North America, massacres were largely staged by militants, with the associated casualty toll being generally higher than that in Australia. Furthermore, specific site locations were already known because of the scale of the events and the manner in which they were executed (e.g. under government orders). The large numbers killed were disposed of systematically and deliberately such as in the instance of the Wounded Knee massacre, unique photographic evidence suggests large scale burial pits were used (see Fig. 3.4). In addition the Mountain

Meadows Massacre site investigation revealed a burial pit that contained the fragmentary remains of 28 massacre victims (Baker et al. 2003:64-65). As alluded to in Chapter Three, such treatment of victims, who were often buried in large mass graves redolent of scenes from World

War II (e.g. Wright 1995) leaves a potentially large archaeological signature. It is clear that the opportunity for identifying such features is substantially higher when larger numbers of victims are involved. As has been made clear in many historical accounts (see Chapter Four) and has also been discussed by Barker (in press), the majority of massacres in Australia were more


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- clandestine and involved lower numbers of victims (c.f. Clark 1995). Hence, there is only a limited potential for a clear, substantiated trace to remain in the archaeological record.

However, there may be instances in Australia where mass graves can be located – as one recorded anecdote of a potential mass grave in Victorian indicates:

…I found a grave into which about 20 [Indigenous people] must have been thrown. A settler taking up a new country is obliged to act towards them in this manner or abandon it. (Black as cited in Kiddle 1962:121)

This suggests that in some instances, there may be a strong likelihood of finding such sites in the archaeological record. It is also important to note, that, as discussed in Chapter Five, there appears to be some perception that all of the massacres staged in Australia were on a small scale. However, Clark (1995:17) has indicated that sometimes larger numbers were killed (e.g. such as at the Convincing Ground) or as illustrated in Chapter Four, there are instances where

potentially more than 100 people were allegedly killed (e.g. Risdon Cove, Waterloo Creek,

Coniston Station, Woolgar).

Even so, historically documented records for the abovementioned events suggest that the disposal of the bodies would probably denude their possibility of being identified in the archaeological record: the disposal of the bodies subsequent to the massacre at Risdon Cove involved burning the remains, which were then later sent to Sydney for examination (Australian

Heritage Database 1980a); the Waterloo Creek and Coniston Station massacres were both conducted over extensive distances, therefore any physical remains and evidence of the massacres would not be densely concentrated. However, the Woolgar massacre investigation

(section 4.3.2), may be different given that in 1952 three skulls were unearthed in a confined area

– unfortunately, attempts to relocate the skulls which had been reburied in the same location after their discovery in 1952 were unsuccessful (Wallis et al. 2005).

These points notwithstanding, owing to the inherent nature of such events in Australia, massacres would leave a difficult to recognise and spatially small archaeological signature.

Furthermore, for a variety of reasons, skeletal remains would not likely be buried but rather left on the surface. These remains would likely become quickly disarticulated as a result of natural taphonomic process, such as through aeolian or water movement and/or through scavenging by carnivores (Hunter and Martin 1996:95). An experimental study in the US examining the length of time for surficial human remains to be scattered indicated that after a year disarticulation of remains was extensive and some bones were never found (Hunter and Martin 1996:95). As such,


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- the likelihood of surface scatter retaining integrity for 100s of years is unlikely. However, sometimes such remains may become partially incorporated into the topsoil as a result of rain and settling and if coupled with limited scavenging and aeolian processes they may be retained in the archaeological record (Hunter and Martin 1996:96).

Subsequent to the punishment imposed upon the perpetrators of the Myall Creek massacre (R v

Douglass; R v Kilmeister; see section 4.2.3) attempts to destroy evidence of massacres became more apparent. Australian historical accounts suggest in some instances, especially in northern

Australia, (see Chapter Four) that bodies were burned subsequent to the massacre itself. As described in Chapters Four and Five concentrations of burnt bone were found at the alleged locations of the Woolgar and Panton River massacre sites. Owing to an altered chemical structure and susceptibility to processes of decay cremains can survive for a much longer amount of time than non-burnt bone and so might afford a greater possibility of being preserved in the archaeological record (Hunter and Martin 1996:96). However, unless the whereabouts of the cremains are known or associated with other evidence aligned to a massacre event, it would be difficult for an archaeological survey to confirm their true nature.

In addition to skeletal remains, we could expect there to be a level of material culture evidence associated with massacre events, perhaps even more so than the former. In North America there has been a focus upon physical evidence associated with the event to define its location (see

Chapter Three). In multiple cases, extensive metal detector surveys have definitively delineated the site of massacre events without skeletal remains being located. The material culture items that remain are typically those associated with firearms, such as was seen at the investigation at

Sand Creek (see 3.3.4), although, in this instance, other artefacts related to the site were also apparent. In Australia, such non-skeletal evidence – in the form of bullet related metal and cartridge cases – helped indicate the site of the Irvinebank massacre (see section 4.3.4).

Nevertheless, as also suggested by Barker (in press), the non-skeletal artefactual record of massacre events in North America would likely be denser (owing to the militant nature of many events) and therefore easier to locate than what would be expected in Australia. In addition, as witnessed in section 3.3.4, the firearms were ordnance issue which would afford a clear comparison with supply lists and historical records. Within Australia, because most of the events were clandestine and not openly government sanctioned, it would be difficult to determine if certain artefacts definitively suggested a massacre. One exception to this was the Irvinebank massacre, which was perpetrated by the Native Mounted Police who murdered the victims with weapons of a distinctive known type (Genever 1996).



Given these issues, it is unlikely that evidence for most of the historically known massacres perpetrated within Australia will be located. The expected disarticulation of skeletal remains, the potential cremation and deliberate destruction of physical evidence and the less dense artefactual record all suggest that massacre sites will not readily feature within the easily discernable archaeological record. There are instances, as discussed, where larger numbers of individuals were killed, and one anecdote suggests a large burial pit. So there may well be some specific cases in which carefully designed archaeological investigations in association with strong historical records and oral testimony might yield positive results.

6.3 – Techniques

Chapter Three illustrated the multidisciplinary approach that successfully located massacre sites in North America. Chapters Four and Five both presented the potential use of certain techniques to assist in ascertaining the site of massacres within Australia (whether suggested for possible use in the future or having already been utilised). It is clear that the use of historical documents and oral histories to locate and collaborate evidence preserved within the archaeological record is the cornerstone of massacre site investigations. However further investigative techniques of value include remote sensing, geophysical prospection, soil sediment testing, osteological analyses and analysis of historical documents and oral histories.

6.3.1 Utilisation of historical documents and oral histories

Massacre sites cannot be located without input from historical documents, records and oral histories pertaining to the area in which the event took place. This is axiomatic; however, as always, it is important to consider the nature of the historical documents and oral histories available to the archaeologist and to understand that these will influence the direction and success of any investigation.

In both Australia and North America there exists a large body of historical accounts (both primary and secondary) pertaining to massacre events; although it is unlikely that the great majority of these were recorded by Indigenous-sympathetic parties. This inherent bias is apparent in all historical documents – as Walt Whitman (as cited in Wilson 1962:481) suggested: ‘the real war will never get in the books’. This version of history has oftentimes been denoted as ‘hidden history’ (Bird Rose 1991). Archaeology can aim to shed light upon this version of history by satisfying the lacunae of such historical accounts. However, the overlap between the two disciplines is what provides a more ‘fruitful examination’ (Orr 1994:34).

This inherent bias in the written historical record can be further challenged by the utilisation of a variant source of evidence – oral histories. This was useful at the Sand Creek massacre


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- investigation where much emphasis was placed upon the use of oral histories to guide the site location study (NPS 2000b). This focus on oral history has also been witnessed in Australia (and is discussed in section 5.2). Oral history was of value in both the Woolgar and Panton River massacre investigations. Barker (in press) mentioned that it would be useful to investigate events by focusing on spatial accounts of the massacre within oral tradition. This is the general approach currently being undertaken by Wallis and the Woolgar Valley Aboriginal Corporation in their studies of the Woolgar events (Lynley Wallis pers. comm. 25 April 2006).

Therefore, as has been effectively demonstrated in North America (see Chapter Three) and

Australia, it is useful to both incorporate historical and oral history analyses into massacre site investigation projects where possible. This also generates a greater level of input and direction from Indigenous communities whom the project may directly affect.

6.3.2 Remote sensing

Remote sensing, in the true sense of the word, as opposed to geophysical prospection, was not referred to at all in Chapters Four and Five, however it was apparent in North American investigations. Aerial reconnaissance (including images taken from satellites – although these are often of little use to archaeologists) is the most commonly employed type of remote sensing

(Riley 1987). Aerial photography is useful in both prospecting and recording archaeological sites

(Baker et al. 2003:39). The Sand Creek massacre site location study utilised aerial photography in consultation with maps of the area in order to revise the area of focus in the investigation (see

Ireland 1999).

In Australia, there is little by the way of historical maps that indicate locations of massacres

(exceptions are in the case of the Forrest River massacres – Fig. 4.2, the Irvinebank massacre –

Fig. 4.3 and see also Clark 1995:53). Nevertheless, if there are any geographical descriptions of the massacre area in historical records or if large graves resulted from the massacre whose location was documented, this approach could be of use. However, because of the likely nature of the record – i.e. fewer numbers of victims which would have been left on the surface and would probably not be located in a sub-surface mass grave – this technique will only be of use to locate landforms and topographical features associated indirectly with the massacre.

6.3.3 Geophysical prospection

Geophysical prospection is sometimes confused with remote sensing, as was clear in some of the interviews described in Chapter Five. It is apparent that Australian archaeologists have limited direct experience with geophysical survey techniques, although there is a general awareness of the potential usefulness of such techniques.



Geophysical prospection has been widely employed in North America being the primary technique utilised on sites of massacre. It has also been used here, as witnessed in the investigations of the Panton River massacre, Woolgar massacre and Irvinebank massacre. Other useful geophysical techniques that have already been employed include: widespread use of metal detectors, ground penetrating radar (GPR), magnetometers and direct current resistivity

(e.g. Genever 1996; Smith et al. 2005; Moffatt and Wallis 2005).

The most frequently employed technique is a systematic use of electronic conductivity meters, known in layman’s terms as metal detectors (Sutherland and Holst 2005:21). Battles and other sites of conflict typically leave a unique archaeological signature which incorporates considerable metallic material culture that either remains on the surface or is buried in topsoil, and spatially are quite large. Hence, it is not surprising that the use of metal detectors has found a niche in this type of archaeology. Its application in North America has been very successful such as was documented in Chapter Three at the Little Bighorn and at Sand Creek to uncover firearms related artefacts that could be attributed to massacre events. Baker (in press) considers:

… methodologically, the extensive use of metal detectors in the U.S. by archaeologists researching frontier conflict has proven to be one of the most effective ways of identifying an association of European violence.

In Australia, metal detectors have been used at the Panton River massacre site, the Woolgar massacre site and the Irvinebank massacre investigations. The latter instance indicated the usefulness of metal detectors in locating firearms related definitive evidence. In Chapter Five, the potential use of detectors, being more widely utilised in Australia was raised by Hemming and echoed by Barker (in press) who implies that it is the physical evidence in the form of expended ammunition that would most likely be found at Australian massacre sites, potentially identified through oral testimony or historical accounts.

Metal detectors, were also utilised at Mountain Meadows in the attempt to locate buried skeletal remains. The equipment was used directly over the burial pit but it did not successfully indicate any anomalies. It was from this incorrect assessment that the backhoe unearthed the 2,800 bone fragments near the marker. Therefore, this particular technique is not suitable for locating all human remains – ‘they will elicit no response from a burial in which metal objects are either too small, too deep or not present at all’ (Hunter and Martin 1996:99). Although, in some cases it may indicate skeletal remains (via associated metallic artefacts), its apparent widespread success on sites of conflict resides in its ability to locate massacre related artefacts.



GPR has also been employed in North American and Australian massacre site investigations.

GPR is useful in that it will locate cavities or grave cuts or other subsurface anomalies (Hunter and Martin 1996:99). At the Mountain Meadows Massacre (see Fig. 3.6) it located three anomalies possibly associated with the massacre (although the area was not actually excavated so it is not known how accurate it was). It was, however, unable to be used directly over the existing monument area, which was examined with a metal detector (Baker et al. 2003:36-8).

GPR was also utilised at the Woolgar massacre site investigation, although in this case the detected sub-surface disturbances were related to tree-root growth rather than anthropogenic activity (Moffat and Wallis 2005). The use of GPR for finding mass graves is readily apparent, but as with the use of metal detectors, some archaeologists consider there to be a number of mitigating circumstances. As discussed in Chapter Five, Donlon has found that GPR has often produced disappointing results, being run directly over graves with no result, although she did suggest that this could be aligned to the proficiency of the user.

There is also an illustrated use of both magnetometers and direct current resistivity in Australia at the Woolgar massacre site investigations. A magnetometer ‘detects localised changes to the

Earth’s magnetic field’ in sub-surface deposits (Hunter and Martin 1996:96). Direct current resistivity relies on the grave-fill being a different structural character to that of the ground through which it had been cut (Hunter and Martin 1999:96). Although both of these techniques are unsuited to land that has been considerably disturbed or areas where metallic objects are located nearby, they are recommended as methods that would potentially be useful to locate ‘Aboriginal unmarked graves’ (NPWS 2003:29-31,38-40).

In summary it is clear that in both the North American and Australian contexts geophysical prospection is and will be a useful technique to locate massacre sites provided target areas can be identified from other sources of evidence such as oral testimonies or historical documents.

These techniques appear to be especially suited to this type of archaeology, owing to the large area over which such events occurred and the ability of the techniques to help refine any potential excavation area. However, there are some issues associated with the application of geophysical prospection of which the archaeologist must be aware. These are usually associated with aligning the correct technique to a particular type of site and ensuring the process is undertaken by a proficient user who can competently operate the equipment as well as interpret the results.



6.3.4 Soil sediment testing

As described in Chapter Five, Wallis suggested that soil sediment testing was potentially a useful technique with which to assess some sub-surface materials if relevant sites are located. Soil sediment testing was also utilised at the Panton River massacre site in order to attempt to locate residues such as lipids in the sediments – lipids are not only a commonly occurring molecule produced by living organisms but they are particularly well preserved in charred surface residues

(Evershed 1993:75-77). This is a form of biomolecular archaeology (Evershed et al. 2001:331).

The Mountain Meadows massacre site investigation also employed a series of soil sediment tests, specifically phosphate tests, which are the most exploited geochemical prospection method utilised to guage human occupation (Clark 1996:120). The Mountain Meadows investigation used this technique in what Baker et al. (2003) consider was quite a novel manner. It was predicated on the notion that the presence of phosphate levels would indicate human corpse deposition.

Diagenesis between the bone and surrounding soil would result in raised phosphate levels in this soil – the phosphorous in the bone is removed by metal ions in the soil and precipitates as a salt

(Baker et al. 2003).

The Sand Creek Massacre investigation also utilised soil sediment testing (discussed in section

3.3.3). There was some concern over whether or not the layer of sediment thought to contain the artefacts associated with the massacre had remained in situ (Holmes and McFaul 1999).

Examination soon revealed that the layer of soil had remained on site undisturbed, not being deposited elsewhere as a result of alluvial action. This is a geoarchaeological technique, so named because it is the contribution of the earth sciences to the resolution of geology-related problems in archaeology (Hassan 1976:267). The Woolgar Massacre investigation also examined the integrity of the soil deposits, which was important considering that the site was situated close to a dry creek bed, indicating potential sediment shift (Wallis et al. 2005).

These techniques would be useful in locating evidence of massacres in Australia, if the test location were constrained; however, the nature of the specific site has to be considered – many massacres in Australia occurred on the pastoral frontier where concentrations of phosphate would be present as a result of fertilization. This would complicate the use of geochemical prospection as a technique in these areas (Cavanagh et al. 1998:67).

6.3.5 Osteological analyses

There is a misconception by many within the discipline that massacre site archaeology will most likely locate skeletal remains and can therefore engage in osteological analysis. As mentioned


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- earlier, the likelihood of finding evidence of massacres in Australia in the manner of the 1942 mass graves excavated by Wright (1995:39) in the Ukraine in 1992 is very low. This situation involved a minimum of 550 individuals; or like the 486 individuals found at Crow Creek (Gregg and Gregg 1997). Despite a few instances such as the Battle of Pinjarra (Connor 2002:80), or those with a high total victim count, most killings of Indigenous people in Australia appear to have been carried out as a series of smaller events.

Furthermore, in North America, even where the total victim count of the massacre exceeded 200 people (e.g. the Sand Creek massacre), no skeletal remains were located (NPS 2000a). Even in situations such as that of the Mountain Meadows massacre, it is unlikely that a sample representing 28 out of 120 total victims will be able to afford a generalisation about the nature of the trauma incurred by all:

Approximately 120 perished in the massacre, and the archaeological excavations in 1999 recovered only very incomplete representative elements of the 28 persons. It is almost impossible to attempt generalizations about the cause of death and types of peri mortem trauma suffered by the group as a whole on the basis of this very incomplete sample. (Shane Baker pers.comm., 31 March 2006)

If skeletal remains allegedly related to a massacre event were located, it would firstly be necessary to establish their human and cultural origins. If skeletal remains are relatively intact or articulated this would not be difficult; however, if the remains have been subjected to considerable taphonomic, post-deposition processes or massacre ‘site clean up’ (e.g. burning), this is not necessarily a task easily achieved.

Furthermore, although the examination of skeletal remains contributes to understanding what occurred during the massacre event, it cannot indicate details about the perpetrators themselves.

As archaeologist Wright (1995:39) notes, his work does not involve ‘the identification of alleged perpetrators’, although he ‘had much to do with investigating material evidence for the alleged events’. This inability of osteological analysis to definitively implicate and describe perpetrators was supported by Donlon who considered, ‘I am not sure how you determine that Europeans caused the trauma as others might have used European weapons’.

Nevertheless, it is true that osteological analysis can support historical or oral accounts. Such a case in which skeletal remains were located was outlined in the Mountain Meadows example



(see section 3.3.3), where osteological examination of the remains was purported to support a version of the contentious historical events:

The archaeological evidence was not able to conclusively determine who did the killing (whites vs Native Americans), but it did support in a general sense the historical accounts of the incident. (Shane Baker pers. comm. 31 March 2006)

It is important also to acknowledge that only in rare cases would a relatively complete set of skeletal remains be located. Of the three sites included in Chapter Three’s review of archaeology, not a single diagnostic bone fragment was observed, although fragmentary ‘undiagnostic’ bone was yielded in one sample (Smith et al. 2005).

Another issue is the need to conclusively relate trauma to a specific event. In Australia, trauma would likely be associated with the use of firearms, blunt force, poisoning or stabbing. In North

America, it appears that poisoning was not as widespread, but the other forms of trauma are common. In addition, there is abundant evidence for peri mortem scalping by both Native

Americans and settlers (Gregg and Gregg 1997; Scott et al. 1998b:311). There is also evidence of dismemberment such as decapitation, and the severing of genitals (Scott et al. 1998b:312).

This latter form of dismemberment also featured on the Australian frontier. It was anecdotally related in an interview that it was inflicted upon living individuals ‘early people having bets after cutting the genitals out of [a] man and seeing how far [he] would run before he would die’ (Dugay-

Grist, 27 January 2006).

All these types of trauma are difficult to identify skeletally and particularly those pertaining to

‘cause of death [as it] is almost never found from skeletons’ (Pardoe, 24 March 2006). Evidence of gun-shot wounds, stabbing and blunt-force trauma may only show up on skeletal remains if the area where the trauma occurred was intercepted by bones (Burns 1999:161). Rowland (2004:5) describes a skull from the Keppel Islands – the site of an alleged shooting of seven or eight males

– showing evidence of passage from a low-velocity bullet. This type of evidence is rare and convincing, although there are circumstances whereby this ‘bullet wound’ could be related to cultural formation processes (as recounted by Pardoe in Chapter Five).

Poisoning would show up mainly in only well preserved remains – for example, lead poisoning was revealed in the examination of the frozen remains of members of Franklin’s expedition

(Chamberlain and Pearson 2001:120-122). However, as was the case on the Australian frontier, arsenic poisoning was one of the most common forms of murder. Because exposure to the


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- arsenic was not long-term it is unlikely that it was incorporated into hair and nail tissue (Marriott

1991:A.1). In any case, it is extraordinarily unlikely that hair or nail tissue would be found.

There has however been evidence found for scalping in the North American archaeological record. Although it is argued that ‘if heads were skillfully scalped there may be no skeletal evidence’ (Scott et al. 1998b:311). Furthermore, there is evidence on skeletal remains for the severance of genitals and mutilation of the body in the little Bighorn sample (Scott et al.

1998b:312). Therefore, this type of trauma potentially can be retained within the archaeological record, but identifying it would be reliant upon locating the specific bone fragments related to this injury.

Also, the possibility for post mortem taphonomic changes appearing on skeletal remains must be considered. They may be the result of cultural or natural site formation processes and not the result of death, and so must be carefully assessed on a case by case basis. An example derived from Chapter Five includes a skull being found and then later used as target practise. However, the differentiation witnessed between the mark of a bullet hole left on ‘fresh’ and ‘dried’ bone will enable some clarification of this specific potential issue.

As described by Pardoe in Chapter Five, there is also a need to carefully consider occupational health and safety when dealing with potentially infectious remains. This consideration is reasonable, particular if any further examination, such as histological preparation, occurs, as the oscillating saws used to prepare histological slides can potentially release bacterial particles into the air (Galloway and Snodgrass 1998:941). However, the potential age of any hypothetical remains would reduce the threat, as bacteria generally become less of a hazard over time.

6.4 – Ethical Issues

Of all the examples of archaeological impact on peoples, the one that has been most contentious concerns the interpretation of, and reporting on, evidence for different types of violence in the past. (Nicholas


Archaeology, and particularly that which examines aspects of Indigenous life, is inherently very political (Smith and Wobst 2005:10). It is imperative to consider the potential damage that may result if an Indigenous community does not wish to examine massacre sites. As was made clear in the interviews described in Chapter Five it is of considerable concern if investigators cause distress to Indigenous communities.



In North America, the key proponents of the archaeology of frontier conflict are non-Indigenous, although a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating Native American oral histories is apparent

(see Chapter Three). The Sand Creek Massacre investigation placed a strong emphasis on the involvement of Native Americans, and also afforded credibility to the oral histories of the

Cheyenne and Arapaho descendents of the massacre (NPS 2000a). This has proven to be significantly useful - in the case of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Scott (as cited in Rose

2005:259) noted that if the archaeological interpretation of the events is correct, then the oral history of the Native Americans involved in the skirmish was much more accurate than that of the

European accounts of the event.

In Australia, the Irvinebank massacre investigation was apparently not officially sanctioned by any

Indigenous community, however the publication of any resulting information was (Genever 1996;

See Chapter Four). The Woolgar massacre investigation was instigated at the request of the

Indigenous community (Wallis et al. 2005) and the Panton River massacre investigation involved collaboration with Traditional Owners (Smith et al. 2005). Superficially it may appear that there is more communication with Indigenous communities in Australia than in North America although based upon three case studies this is difficult to support. However, a recurring theme amongst interviewees was that it was necessary to ensure community approval and that the archaeology largely be instigated by Indigenous people rather than being driven by non-Indigenous interests

(see Chapter Five).

There was also some concern at the discussion subsequent to the AAA/AIMA conference session in 2005 that if no archaeological evidence was yielded from a suggested massacre site, it could further disempower Indigenous people, by accepting the demand from revisionist historians. This is established succinctly by Barker (in press):

The debate is part of an ideologically driven attempt at reshaping how we view the European occupation of the Australian continent. The primary source material relating to frontier conflict is undeniable to all but the deniers. Those of us who study the past should be wary of pursuing an agenda centred in ideology rather than scholarship in which narrowly determined definitions of words such as holocaust, genocide, and massacre are analysed semantically and found wanting because it will not be long before the scientific evidence in the form of the archaeological proof for these concepts are demanded and also found to be inadequate. Archaeology as a discipline should not allow ideology to


-CHAPTER SIX - DISCUSSION- set the agenda and it should not fall into the trap of accepting that the revisionist criticisms of the historical record are valid, therefore raising the bar of evidence to an impossible level of proof.

6.5 – Legislative Issues

The interviewees and the information presented in Chapters Three and Four revealed several legislative issues associated with massacre sites. In North America archaeological site location studies are explicitly governed by legislation (see Public Law 105-243 – Sand Creek Massacre

National Historic Site Study Act 1998; Public Law 106-465 – Sand Creek Massacre National

Historic Site Establishment Act 2000). In North America, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell instigated the Sand Creek Massacre Bill. There are no apparent interested parties within

Australian Parliament. The composition of guiding law-making powers clearly directs the extent to which legislation might be enacted to govern both the investigation and management of such sites. Furthermore, the processes by which the aforementioned Acts came to fruition within the

US, was widely publicised and engendered a greater degree of awareness of these events within

North America.

A further legislative issue raised in Chapter Five was that a ‘massacre site’ may, if perpetrators are still alive, be a crime scene. This would most likely be evident in northern Australia, where frontier violence was staged into the mid-twentieth century (Roberts 2005). As far as can be ascertained, there is no apparent legislature governing the removal of crime scene evidence within any of the Commonwealth Consolidated Acts. In order to further pursue this issue a crime scene investigator employed by the South Australian Police (who requested that he not be identified in this thesis) was consulted. It was asserted that the South Australian Police would not be concerned with archaeological investigations into frontier massacres if they were to occur within their jurisdiction. However, crime scene investigators in northern Australia, where later massacres occurred, have not been consulted and so may well hold different views on this matter.

6.6 – The Nature of the Archaeological Discipline in Australia

One of the original aims of this thesis was to consider the reasons why in Australia massacre site archaeology has not been undertaken to the extent it has in North America; and so, issues raised in Chapter Five pertain only to the discipline in Australia. Archaeology in Australia is very young compared to that of North America (Meltzer 1985:249-60). Furthermore, the focus of Indigenous archaeology has only recently turned to that of the post-contact era (Harrison and Williamson

2002:4-5). This can explain to some degree, the much more recent interest in the archaeology of conflict and can account for the lack of this research in Australia.



Furthermore, it was considered in Chapter Five that the recent ‘consultancy boom’ could also account for the lack of frontier conflict archaeology in Australia. Approximately 25% of Australian archaeologists work ‘privately’ (Ulm et al. 2005:15). This percentage is much higher than those working for government or university employers. This predominance of archaeologists in the business sector of archaeological consultancy indicates a boom in development – such as in mining industries. This also would indicate that much archaeology will be focused on the areas where this development is occurring. Furthermore, there is little space within consultancy for long term research projects such as what would be required by investigations of this nature. Therefore, due to the increase in consultancy there will be subsequently less investigation into massacre sites – unless proposed development was situated on or near a massacre site.

There is also the issue regarding lack of funding for Indigenous related projects in Australia, with a complaint emerging in Chapter Five specifically regarding Australian Research Council (ARC) grants being directed to many projects outside of Australia. Although access to ARC grant information associated with the discipline of archaeology is difficult to obtain, a review of archaeologically related grants was presented in the publication Quaternary Australasia in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, of the 19 listed grants, only seven were for projects within Australia, with a predominant emphasis on Papua New Guinean sites (Anon. 2003b:11-14). In 2005, of the six listed archaeology and anthropology/prehistory related grants, five were awarded for projects outside of Australia, and one within (Anon. 2004:7-8). Criticism of this may have some legitimacy; however, in order to be seriously assessed, the number of Australian-based grant applications submitted in the first instance must be ascertained. Furthermore, there are other bodies where archaeologists can apply for funding, such as university research grants, or those from AIATSIS.

When Dr Peter Veth was queried as to whether or not there had been an increase in grant applications to AIATSIS relating to massacre site investigations he responded:

Massacre site studies employing archaeological, geochemical, historical and ethnographic sets of data have been the subject of grant applications to AIATSIS over the last several years. There was an increase in applications for archaeological studies of massacre sites associated with frontier conflict in the 2005 round. (Peter Veth pers. comm. 7 May 2006)

Not only does this indicate funding can be attained from sources other than the ARC, it also signals an increase in these types of archaeological enquiries in Australia in the future.



6.7 – Public Consciousness

An intangible outcome of massacre site investigation is that it raises the public awareness of frontier conflict. This was witnessed in North America, whereby the Mountain Meadows and Sand

Creek massacre investigations received widespread attention in popular discourse (see Chapter

Three). While the History Wars received thorough treatment in the Australian media, the archaeological investigation of massacre sites has not yet been publicised. However, if the former situation can be relied upon as a predictor, archaeology may well raise the profile of these events in popular media and hence elevate broader public awareness of frontier violence. Smith

(1994:20) considers that – ‘a discipline’s seriousness and respectability are measured by what and how it contributes to the public and to other disciplines’. There was indication by Dugay-Grist

(see Chapter Five) that most Indigenous people would favour the public acknowledgement of this past violent history of Australia and that archaeology may just provide the tool that raises this awareness within the Australian community:

An archaeological discovery is news, as is a scientific breakthrough, but the work of historians is not. It lacks the precision and authority of experimental finding. (McIntyre and Clark 2003:12)

6.8 – Conclusion

This discussion delineates, from evidence presented in Chapters Three, Four and Five, the issues and potential outcomes of the application of archaeology to massacre sites in Australia.

This is examined utilising information discerned from both the North American and Australian contexts, and analyses: the potential archaeological signature of massacre events within

Australia, the archaeological techniques that may be employed on such sites, the ethical and legislative issues associated with frontier conflict archaeology, the nature of the Australian archaeological discipline and the potentially heightened public appreciation of frontier conflict in

Australia. The next and final chapter re-addresses the research aims, establishes the limitations of this research and discusses potential future research into the archaeology of frontier conflict in light of the issues examined in this chapter.





7.1 – Introduction

Unlike the widespread, established use of archaeology to investigate frontier massacre events in

North America, Australian archaeology has only just recently begun to investigate this feature of our history. Furthermore, it is also evident that the Australian archaeological community is becoming increasingly aware of the potential for archaeology to contribute to frontier conflict studies. This chapter returns to the research aims and summarises the manner in which they have been addressed throughout this thesis. This is subsequently followed by an assessment of how archaeology can contribute to Australian frontier conflict studies – included is a treatment of the role the discipline can play within the History Wars. Finally, the limitations of this thesis are presented and potential future avenues of research are suggested.

7.2 – Addressing the Research Aims

The research aims have been addressed throughout the thesis. The manner in which they have been addressed is outlined below:

7.2.1 To consider to what degree archaeology has been used to examine massacre sites in the

North American context.

The established discipline of battlefield archaeology in North America and its application to frontier massacre sites has been both successful and thoroughly documented. Through the presentation of the case examples of the Mountain Meadows massacre site investigation (see section 3.3.3) and the Sand Creek massacre site investigation (see section 3.3.4) a multidisciplinary approach becomes apparent. This incorporates the use of historical and oral sources, osteological analyses, soil sediment testing and extensive geophysical analyses. As discussed in Chapter Six, the success of the application of archaeology to sites of North

American frontier conflict is largely contingent upon the more readily recognisable archaeological signature in this context. In addition, as exemplified through the Sand Creek investigation, a level of Native American engagement in these projects is apparent. Furthermore, media attention of these investigations generated a raised public awareness of specific massacre events.

7.2.2 To consider to what degree archaeology has been used to examine massacre sites in the

Australian context to date.

The Australian archaeological discipline has only recently become engaged with the investigation of frontier massacre sites. A similar multidisciplinary approach to investigations of massacre events to that found in North America was apparent, including the use of: historical analysis, oral


-CHAPTER SEVEN - CONCLUSION- histories, geophysical prospection, soil sediment testing and osteological analyses. However, in

Australia, these investigations have been largely unsuccessful in locating and defining sites. This can be potentially attributed to the nature of the archaeological record of massacre events in the

Australian context, which is much less apparent than that found in North America. Importantly, there also appears to have been a large degree of Indigenous involvement in two of three reviewed case studies.

7.2.3 To consider the potential uses and limitations of archaeology in investigating frontier massacre sites within the Australian context in the future

There are many inherent constraints associated with the application of archaeology to frontier massacre sites. The foremost issue is that the archaeological signature of massacre events, of the type that occurred on the Australian frontier, will not be very prominent. Furthermore, if evidence is to be found, it will be difficult to suggest that it unequivocally indicates a massacre at that particular location.

However, the above notwithstanding, if in some cases evidence of a massacre were to be retained within the archaeological record, remote sensing, geophysical prospection, soil sediment testing and if skeletal remains were found, osteological analyses, could be very useful in delineating the site boundaries and in some instances establishing the happenings of the event.

Additionally, there are limitations associated with the current state of the discipline within

Australia. The ‘consultancy boom’, accompanied by a suggested lack of funding for Indigenous projects, creates an environment where the investigation of massacre sites will not be a popular area to pursue. Unlike the regulatory protections pushed by the US Senate, there appears to be little interest in the Australian political sphere to support investigations of frontier massacre events, especially as the current Australian Prime Minister, John Howard (1996:6158), does not subscribe to a ‘black armband approach to history’. This provides a stark contrast to the ratification of the Sand Creek legislation in 2005 by President George Bush (Soraghan


7.3 – The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Frontier Conflict Studies

Archaeology can contribute to frontier conflict studies. If a massacre location is found it may confirm historical accounts and oral accounts, as was witnessed at Sand Creek; it may support historical and oral accounts, such as at Irvinebank; and it may in some instances refute accounts.

However, the strength of archaeology’s contribution resides in its ability to bring an independent line of evidence to interpretations of past massacre events.



It is in this manner that archaeology can play into the broader debates. If arguments engage in whether or not these events occurred, archaeology may well be able to support or refute certain interpretations of events (e.g. Windschuttle 2000a). However, as previously discussed, it needs to be emphasised that rarely will archaeology provide unequivocal evidence, as there are many complex issues associated with defining and locating massacre sites. Therefore, archaeologists should be cogniscant of this, so that those involved are aware that the standards of proof as outlined by Windschuttle (2000a) will more than likely not be attained by archaeological investigation. Furthermore, in many instances, there exists compelling evidence in the vast weight of archival records , not merely suggesting, but indicatively portraying violent episodes on the frontier. This alone provides a convincing riposte to some of Windschuttle’s controversial allegations about the exaggeration of frontier massacres (e.g. 2000a).

It must also be mentioned that whilst some aspects of the debate are associated with the nature and extent of massacres on the frontier, the crux of Windschuttle’s argument is historiographical

(e.g. Windschuttle 2002). Clearly, this is an area that cannot be entered into by archaeologists.

This facet of his challenge can only be met by historians.

These debates also have implications associated with the construction of Australian national identity. Australian frontier conflict and the massacres committed are a very significant component of the nation’s history. Resultantly, if archaeology were to define and establish specific sites as that of frontier massacre events, it may well elicit a broader acknowledgement of these events. This is particularly pertinent as archaeology is often considered to operate within the scientific empirical framework that some may regard as a very accurate manner in which to construct histories. Australians who remain ignorant of, or refuse to acknowledge , these past events may be more willing to recognise this violent history if archaeology were to suggest certain events occurred.

7.4 – Limitations of this Study and Future Avenues of Research

There are several limitations inherent to this study. Firstly, there was an issue regarding access to information. This was encountered during the process of sourcing archaeologists for potential interviews. Several people were reticent to discuss their experiences with the archaeology of frontier conflict. In one instance an individual asserted that the politics associated with one particular archaeological enquiry had rendered them subsequently unwilling to impart details about that investigation. Additionally, there could also be an inference made, that in some cases, individuals would not be willing to be interviewed, because they had conducted work for communities and a confidentiality agreement had been made. Furthermore there were difficulties associated with the accessing of information from heritage registers.



This highlights another significant limitation of this project – the inadequate background research into heritage registers. It would be recommended that if this work was to be elaborated upon that heritage registers be consulted in greater detail. This represents a large source of information regarding massacre areas and landscapes that has not been accessed within this thesis.

In addition to this, it would be desirable to conduct follow up interviews with the interviewees, as during the project, more information associated with the topic became available to the researcher, and resultantly, if multiple interviews had been conducted more relevant and profitable lines of questioning could be pursued.

Finally, it would be recommended that archaeologists, who are to engage in the archaeological pursuit of massacre sites, work closely with historical documents and oral testimonies to establish from them spatial accounts and potential landscape indicators. It would be of utmost necessity that work be both instigated by Indigenous communities and be the result of collaboration with the communities (see section 6.4). It would also be desirable that a cultural landscape approach be undertaken so as to incorporate the significant intangible elements that are aligned to the massacre event.

7.5 – Conclusion

Archaeology will not be the deus ex machina that resolves the History Wars. However, if massacre site investigations were to be pursued, it is imperative that Indigenous communities control the direction of the investigation and that a multidisciplinary framework is engaged that incorporates oral history, history, soil sediment testing, geophysics, remote sensing and detailed osteology if appropriate. Whilst there is a contribution to be made, it is important to recognise the extent of archaeology’s ability to definitively locate massacre sites. As examined in this thesis, the potential archaeological signature in Australia will likely be quite minimal. Furthermore, if a site is located, it will be difficult to unequivocally argue that a massacre has occurred at that particular location. Nevertheless, there may well be some instances where archaeology as a discipline can shed new light on this important aspect of Australia’s past. As Free and Markwell (2005) pointed out, on this, the 400 th

anniversary of the first known instance of Indigenous-European conflict in

Australian history, it seems timely for archaeologists, guided by and working collaboratively with

Indigenous people, to explore these possibilities.




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Ethics Application



Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee

Office Use Only

Project Number:




A1. Name(s): List principal researcher

first, (title, first name, last name)

Dr Lynley Wallis

Ms. Mirani Litster

Status : eg (Staff,

Student, Associate)



School / Department /


Humanities / Archaeology /

Flinders University

Humanities / Archaeology/

Flinders University

1) A2. Students Only:

Student Record Number (SRN)

Mirani Litster (2016376)


Dr. Lynley Wallis

Supervisor’s School /

Department / Organisation

Humanities/ Archaeology/

Flinders University

Degree enrolled for

Archaeology (Honours)


3) A3. Contact Details: Researchers, Associates, Supervisors


Lynley Wallis

Daytime phone number

08 8201 3520

Article II. ostal Address:



08 8201 2784


[email protected]

Dept of Archaeology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100,

Adelaide SA 5001.


Mirani Litster

Daytime phone number


#### ####

Article III. ostal Address:



Fax Email

[email protected]


Name Daytime phone number Fax Email



Article IV. ostal Address:


Daytime phone number

Article V. ostal Address:


Daytime phone number

Article VI. ostal Address:









B1. Project Title: Frontier conflict: a comparison of the archaeological investigation of massacrecre

sites in Australia and North America.

B2. Plain language, or lay, title: as above

B3. Period for which approval is sought. Note that approval is valid for a maximum of 3 years.

Date data collection is to commence: November 27, 2005

Date data collection is expected to be completed: November 30, 2005

Date project is expected to be completed: May 30, 2006

NB: All questions should be answered in the spaces provided (extended as necessary);

attachments in lieu of response, with notations to ‘see attached’, are not acceptable.


C1. Brief Outline of (a) project; (b) significance; (c) your research objectives.

C1 (a) Outline of the Project

The project is the thesis component of the Honours degree in Archaeology. The thesis aims to establish the extent to which archaeological investigative techniques can aid in clarifying elements of the historical debate associated with frontier conflict within Australia. This debate includes Windschuttle’s controversial claims which stipulate that massacres did not occur to the extent that historians have previously suggested (Windschuttle 2002: 8). A comparison between North America will be utilised so as to provide an avenue for discussion of future prospects within Australia (as there has been a more comprehensive use of archaeology with regards to frontier conflict in North America).

Ethics approval is required for a series of interviews with archaeologists that will hopefully be undertaken in November 2005. These archaeologists will be asked general and non-specific questions regarding the potential contribution of archaeology towards the historical debate.

C1 (b) Outline of the Significance of the Project

There has been little archaeological enquiry into massacres sites within Australia and therefore it will highlight the contribution that this mode of investigation could potentially make towards clarifying elements of the associated historical debate. Furthermore, a comparison between the North American situation and the Australian situation has not previously been employed to better understand the role archaeology can play in understanding frontier conflict.

C1 (c) Outline of the Research Objectives

The principal research objective is to ascertain the extent to which archaeology can contribute to resolving or clarifying elements of the historical debate associated with frontier conflict in Australia (with the assistance of the North American comparison).



C2. Medical or health research involving the Privacy Act 1988 (s95 and s95A Guidelines)

Is your research related to medical or health matters? No

If you answered ‘No’, please go to item C4.

If ‘Yes’,

(a) Will personal information be sought from the records of a Commonwealth Agency?

Yes / No

If Yes, please also complete Part A of the Appendix ‘Privacy legislation matters’ that relates to compliance with the Guidelines under Section 95 of the Privacy Act 1988.

(b) Will health information be sought from a Private Sector Organisation or a health service

provider funded by the State Department of Health? Yes / No

If Yes, please also complete Part B of the Appendix ‘Privacy legislation matters’ that relates to compliance with the Guidelines approved under Section 95A of the Privacy Act 1988.

The Appendix ‘Privacy legislation matters’ is available from the SBREC web page,

i) ii) If you answered ‘No’ to both (a) and (b) please continue to C3...

C3. Does your project comprise health research involving Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

peoples? If so, please read the NHMRC Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, available from the NHMRC web site


C4. Data Please tick more than one box if appropriate

Are data to be obtained primarily quantitative

 qualitative 

(please tick)

Is information to be sought by questionnaire experiment focus group

interview 


 other (please state) ………….

Will participants be video- or tape-recorded? Yes/No video

 tape 



C5. Outline of the research method, including what participants will be asked to do.

The participants will be approached at the November 2005 Australian Archaeological Association (AAA) conference in Fremantle and will be asked to contribute to the project by taking part in an interview.

These interviews will be conducted utilising general terms in order to appreciate the sensitivity of the nature of the subject with regard to Indigenous communities.

Questions regarding details of the archaeological expertise of the approached researchers and their experiences with the excavation of massacre sites will be included in the interview. Specific indicators will be excluded from the interview, and the interviewees will not be asked to identify specific terms. The interviews will be conducted primarily to ascertain more detail about the extent of archaeological work associated with Australian Frontier Conflict beyond the scope of what current publication acknowledges.

Furthermore, it will also hopefully address the association between oral history, archaeology and public perception of alleged massacres within Australian history.

C6. Briefly describe how the information requested from participants addresses research objectives.

As there has been very little information garnered from published works associated with the

Archaeological excavation, survey and investigation of massacre sites in Australia it is necessary to conduct interviews with researchers in the field. This information will address the research objective by providing information that can then contribute to the analysis of the potential contribution archaeology can make towards the historical debate.


If the research involves or impacts upon Indigenous Australians, a copy of this application must be forwarded to the Executive Officer, Yunggorendi First Nations Centre at the same time that it is lodged with the SBREC.



D1. (a) Who are the participants? What is the basis for their recruitment to the study?

The participants are archaeological researchers who have undertaken research associated specifically with frontier conflict and massacre sites in Australia. The basis for their recruitment is that they have the expertise and knowledge able to assist in providing information that will address the research objective of the thesis.

(b) How many people will be approached? Please specify number (or an approximation if exact number is unknown) and the size of the population pool from which participants will be drawn.

There are 19 participants to be approached for interviews specifically: Jeanette Hope, Denise Donlon,

Colin Pardoe, Luke Godwin, Mike Rowlans, Pamela Smith, Kim Ackerman, Sue O’Connor, Peter Veth,

Elle Patersson, Rodney Harrison, Bryce Barker, Mark Dougrey-Grist, Steve Free, Dave Johnston, Liz

Hatte and Michelle Bird.

However more may also be approached, or less, if unavailable at the time at which the interviews are to be conducted.

(c) From what source?

(d) What (if any) is the researcher’s role with, or relation to, the source organisation? Comment on potential for conflict of interest.

(e) If under 18 years, what is the age range? Has the information been presented in a manner and format appropriate to the age group of participants?

The interviewees will all be over the age of 18.

(f) Do participants have the ability to give informed consent?


D2. Indicate whether the participant group comprises a specific cultural / religious background, for example Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Indonesian, Catholic, Muslim etc…, or, if any such categories are likely to form a significant proportion of the population to be sampled. If the answer is yes and the group/sub-group is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, a copy of this application

must be submitted to the Director of Yunggorendi for advice and comment.

The interviews do not directly involve Indigenous people or groups however the project does address

Indigenous issues.

D3. Are there particular issues with language? Do the forms or information need to be presented in a language other than English? If so, how will this be managed? If people other than the researcher will be involved in translating participants’ responses, how will anonymity / confidentiality matters be managed?




D4. How are participants to be contacted and recruited? If by advertisement, please provide a copy of

the ad. If contact is made through an organisation, the Committee expects that the organisation will not provide researchers with contact details of potential participants. The organisation may make the initial

approach and invite potential participants to contact the researcher.

Personal approaches and contacts at the AAA conference will be made and initial professional contacts of the supervisor will be used.

D5. What information will be given to participants? Refer to statement of Guidelines and suggested

templates for introduction letter, consent forms etc included in the application kit. Copies of relevant documents, questionnaires or list of interview questions, if applicable, must be attached. The objectives of the research and information about any relevant procedures, expected time commitment etc should be clearly stated for participants in language suitable for the lay person.

An introduction letter and consent form will be given to participants so they can best understand the research objectives and aims of the project.

D6. Indicate confidentiality and anonymity assurances to be given and procedures for obtaining the free and informed consent of participants. Refer to Guidelines and suggested templates for introduction

letter, consent forms etc included in the application kit. Copies of relevant documents must be attached. If anonymity is not able to be guaranteed due to the nature of the participant group, or because a participant may be identifiable in relation to their professional capacity or association with an

organisation, there should be a clear statement to this effect for the participant.

No specific communities, places or people will be referred to at any stage of any interview. Confidentiality and anonymity will be assured and is included in the letter of introduction and consent form.

D7. Indicate any permissions required from or involvement of other people (employers, school principals, teachers, parents, guardians, carers, etc) and attach letters or other relevant documentation as applicable.

No permissions required from other people.

D8. Indicate any involvement of incidental people (eg in certain professional observation studies you might need to consider how you will inform such people about the research and gain their consent for their incidental involvement. An oral statement to the group incidental to the observation immediately prior to the commencement of the observation may be sufficient).

There will be no involvement of incidental people.

D9. Indicate the expected time commitment by participants, and proposed location, if being interviewed or required to complete a survey (include this information in the Letter of Introduction to participants)

The expected time commitment will include an interview of no more than 2-3 hours and the location will be determined during contact at the AAA conference.




E1. Outline the value and benefits of the project (eg to the participants, your discipline, the community etc…)

The project is of value to Archaeological and Indigenous communities in Australia because it underlines and examines the contribution that archaeology can make to understanding and clarifying elements of the aforementioned historical debate. Additionally, this has not previously been examined.

E2. Notwithstanding the value and benefits of the project, outline any burdens and/or risks of the project to your research participants and/or other people (eg issues of legal or moral responsibility; conflicts of interest; cultural sensitivities; power differentials; invasion of privacy; physical/mental stress; possible embarrassment).

It is important to acknowledge that the topic is very sensitive and the archaeologists that are to be interviewed have ethical commitments to specific communities and individuals.

E3. If any issues are raised in item E2, detail how the researcher will respond to such risks. If deemed necessary, researchers should be prepared to offer encouragement, advice and information about appropriate professional counselling that is available and/or to encourage participants to report negative experiences to appropriate authorities. If it is envisaged that professional counselling may be

recommended, please nominate specific services.

This can be addressed by not asking for any specific details, and the minimisation of risks includes the use of general terms and non-specific locations.

E4. Describe any feedback or debriefing to be provided to participants that may be relevant to the research.

Not applicable.

E5. If participants are required to complete a questionnaire, indicate the arrangements for ensuring the secure and confidential return of the questionnaire to the researcher (eg sealable, addressed envelope; personal collection by the researcher; other). Also indicate how participants will be informed of the arrangement (eg verbal instruction; written instruction in Letter of Introduction or at the end of the questionnaire; other). If information is to be provided via electronic or web-based technology, participants should be reminded in the written documentation and in on-line material that this is not a secure medium.

Not applicable.

E6. Indicate any relevant data transcription issues. If interview tapes are to be transcribed by persons

other than the researcher, an assurance that such persons will be subject to the same requirements to respect and maintain confidentiality and anonymity of the participant should be included in the Letter of

Introduction to the participant.

Not applicable. All data transcription will be undertaken by the researcher.



E7. Indicate any issues of participant control of data use (a) in the immediate reporting, and (b) in future use of the data; eg will participants have an opportunity to view transcripts of their interview and/or the final report for comment/amendment?

A transcript will be made, and the transcribed interviews will be sent to the interviewees. The participants can then amend any comments made during the interview if this is desired.


Note that data should be retained in accordance with the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on

Research Practice (available at the website which indicates storage of data in the department or research unit where it originated for at least 5 years after publication

(15 years may be appropriate for clinical research).

Please tick all boxes that apply to your research.

On completion of the project, data will be stored:

In writing � On computer disk �

On audio tape  On video tape �

Other (please indicate)…………………………….

Data will be stored in a de-identified form Yes  No �

If No, explain (a) why and (b) how anonymity and confidentiality of participants will be ensured

Data will be stored in the Department/School of Flinders University Yes 

Data will be stored for a minimum of 5 years. Yes 

If you have not answered Yes to both the above two questions, please clarify …


F1. Indicate any other centres involved in the research and other Ethics Committee(s) being approached for approval of this project (if applicable), including the approval status at each. You must forward details of any amendments required by other Ethics Committees and copies of final approval letters received.

No community report will be made, but a copy will be sent to AIATSIS and it will be written in the form of an academic paper.

F2. Indicate amounts and sources/potential sources of funding for the research. You must also declare any affiliation or financial interest.

Not applicable.



F3. Identification Card Requirements for Research Assistants.

Indicate how many accredited interviewer cards will be required for this project (additional to current student or staff identification cards):

Number = 0

Note that enrolled students of the University should use their student identity cards supported by a Letter of Introduction from the responsible staff member/supervisor.

F4. Document Checklist.

Copies of the following supporting documents, if applicable, must be attached to this application. Some sample template documents are included in the application kit. Please mark the relevant circle.

Attached Not applicable

Letter of Introduction on University letterhead from the staff member

(from the Supervisor in the case of undergraduate and postgraduate research projects)

Questionnaire or survey instruments

List of interview questions or description of topics/issues to be discussed, as appropriate

Information sheets for participants at any stage of the project

Consent Form(s) for Participation in Research – by Interview

– by Focus Group

– by Experiment

– other (please specify)

Consent Form for Observation of Professional Activity

Advertisement for recruitment of participants

Debriefing material

Appendix: Privacy legislation matters

F5. Research involving or impacting on Indigenous Australians:

Has a copy of this application been forwarded to the Director of


Yes No




The Researcher and Supervisor whose signatures appear below certify that they have read the

Ethical Guidelines for Social and Behavioural Research, and guidelines of any other relevant authority referred to therein, and accept responsibility for the conduct of this research in respect of those guidelines and any other conditions specified by the University’s Ethics Committees.

As a condition of subsequent approval of this protocol, I/we, whose signature(s) appear(s) below, undertake to



(iii) inform the Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee, giving reasons, if the research project is discontinued before the expected date of completion. report anything which might warrant review of ethical approval of the protocol, including:

• serious or unexpected adverse effects on participants;

• proposed changes in the protocol; and

• unforeseen events that might affect continued ethical acceptability of the project. provide progress reports, annually, and/or a final report on completion of the study outlining

• progress to date, or outcome in the case of completed research;

• maintenance and security of data;

• compliance with approved protocol; and

• compliance with any conditions of approval.

Pro-forma report template may be downloaded from the website

Principal Researcher’s


Section 6.02 Supervisor’s

Date: 5




Date: 5




(for undergraduate and

postgraduate student projects)





Windschuttle, K. 2000. The myths of frontier massacres in Australian history, Quadrant 44(10):8-





Amendments to Ethics Application


(Project 3409 – Frontier Conflict: a comparison of the archaeological investigation of massacre sites in North America and Australia)

i. Clarification of the North American connection mentioned in the Project Title, item C1 (c) and in the second paragraph of the Letter of Introduction. There are no questions reflecting that aspect. The title and letter could be amended to reflect the method described in the application.

The archaeological investigations of massacre sites associated with frontier conflict in North

America have been widely published (Monnett 2005:847). Recently, the archaeological investigations by Douglas Scott established the exact location of the Sand Creek Massacre site

(Soraghan 2005:8; Monnett 2005:847). This instigated a discussion of potential legislation that intends to appropriately memorialise the site. It is this significant contribution that archaeology has made towards understanding and appreciating frontier conflict in North America that highlights the potential contribution archaeology can make towards understanding frontier conflict in Australia.

As a result the avenues and possible input that archaeological investigation can offer towards understanding frontier conflict and resolving elements of a current historical debate will be discussed (drawing a comparison with the American situation). This debate includes the confronting notion of Keith Windschuttle which suggests that massacres did not occur to the extent which historians have acknowledged (Windschuttle 2002:8).

The method described in the ethics application concerns archaeological investigations into massacre sites in only Australia, because there is no publication available concerning archaeological investigation into massacre sites in Australia. As a result interviews need to be conducted to garner the extent to which archaeological investigations have been undertaken and in what capacity within Australia. This is also why the potential interview questions only concern




ii. Clarification of whether participants’ confidentiality will be ensured considering it appears the project has received funding from AIATSIS and that publications will be an outcome (C5)

The project has not received funding from AIATSIS - however a copy of the Honours thesis will be sent to AIATSIS upon its completion. Nevertheless, participants’ confidentiality will be ensured and no specific indicators will be used in the thesis.

iii. Clarification of response to item D2. The interviews do directly involve Indigenous persons as Steve Free (item D1(b)) is an Indigenous person.

D2. The interviews do directly involve Indigenous persons (as several of the interviewees will be

Indigenous people). However they do not comprise a large portion of the sample. The project does address Indigenous issues. A copy of the application has been submitted to the Director of

Yungorrendi (on September 5 th

, 2005).

iv. Reconsideration of response to item D1 and D2 in light of the fact that at least one of the participants is an Indigenous person.

D1. a) The participants are professional archaeologists (both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous persons). The basis for their recruitment is that they have the expertise and knowledge able to assist in providing information that will address the main and subsidiary research objectives of the thesis. They have worked with Indigenous Communities and as a result may have opinions and/or knowledge (anecdotal or otherwise) relevant to the research objectives of the paper.

D1. (d) The researcher is an Honours student undertaking the archaeology degree within the

Department of Archaeology at Flinders University. As those who are being approached are a part of the same discipline there is unlikely to be a conflict of interest regarding the content of the interviews. In light of the fact that several of the interviewees will potentially be Indigenous persons it is important to note that the questions that will be asked will be focussed on their archaeological knowledge.

D2. As above.

v. Provision of a copy of the wording of the email referred to in item D4 and clarification of the source of contact details.

See attached (page 4) for copy of the wording of the e-mail.



Source and contact details will be obtained through Supervisor’s (Dr. Lynley Wallis) personal contacts.

vi. Provision of more information in response to item E1. Clarify how the project will be beneficial to Indigenous communities.

The project is beneficial to Indigenous communities. This is directly resulting from the manner in which archaeology can potentially clarify elements of the aforementioned historical debate

(regarding Windschuttle’s claims over the extent to which massacres had occurred) by providing another type of evidence that can act in concert with other types of data.

vii. Reconsideration of the research process by which Indigenous knowledges and information about massacre sites are ‘filtered’ through archaeologists. How will sensitive issues in relation to massacre sites related by Indigenous people/community members to archaeologists be considered and dealt with throughout the project?

Firstly, the nature of the source information (resulting from the interviews) will be acknowledged throughout the thesis. If it is second-hand or interpreted by an archaeologist after having heard details from Indigenous persons/communities this will be considered and mentioned in the thesis if this information is to be utilised.

The sensitivity of the issues will be considered by excluding any name, place or community identifiers. There will also be a concerted attempt to address any potentially sensitive issues with consideration of this. Furthermore, the issues that are to be dealt with consider an archaeological perspective, and there will be an attempt to focus on techniques (i.e geophysical prospection, excavation technique) so as to increase the generality of focus (so as to reduce the need to focus on sensitive issues).

viii. Consideration being given to whether participants will be able to understand some of the words and phrases used in the interview questions/themes, for instance would they now the meaning of ‘grey literature’?

Yes. If there are any queries regarding terms and phrases they will be explained during the course of the interview.

ix. Letter of Introduction: See attached (page 6) x. Consent Form: See attached (page 5)




Monnett, J.H. 2005. Review – Finding Sand Creek: History, archaeology, and the 1864 Massacre site. The Journal of Military History 69(3):847-48.

Soraghan, M. 2005. Sand Creek Massacre legislation on to Bush. Denver Post, July 27:A.08.




Letter of Introduction




Potential Interview Questions

The interview or discussion that is to be undertaken with individual participants will take the form of a semi-structured interview (approximately 20 minutes – 30 minutes in length).

Possible questions that will be asked include:

1. Massacre Sites:

Have you been informed about massacre events by Indigenous or Non-Indigenous people?

Have you been shown locations of reported massacres by Indigenous or Non-Indigenous people?

Have you ever written on the topic of massacres? If so, in what form (e.g. ‘grey literature’, or in confidential reports)?

2. Archaeological Technique:

What do you consider will be constraints with the application of archaeological investigative techniques on these types of sites?

What particular methods do you think would be of value to this sort of research, and discuss the importance and relevance of each (e.g. oral history, remote sensing, skeletal analysis).

3. Opinions about archaeological contribution:

To what extent and how do you consider that archaeology can contribute to clarifying elements of the historical debate?

Why has archaeology not been utilised to the extent that it has elsewhere in clarifying elements of the debate?

You will also be asked to explain your academic qualifications and experiences associated with

Indigenous communities.




Consent Form


(by interview)

I …............................................................................................................................ being over the age of 18 years hereby consent to participate as requested in the Letter of Introduction for the research project on “Frontier Conflict: a comparison of the archaeological investigation of massacre sites in Australia and North America”.

(c) I have read the information provided.

(d) Details of procedures and any risks have been explained to my satisfaction.

(e) I agree to my information and participation being recorded on tape.

4. I am aware that I should retain a copy of the Information Sheet and

Consent Form for future reference.

5. I understand that:

I may not directly benefit from taking part in this research.

I am free to withdraw from the project at any time and am free to decline to answer particular questions.

While the information gained in this study will be published as explained, I will not be identified, and individual information will remain confidential.

I may ask that the recording/observation be stopped at any time, and that

I may withdraw at any time from the session or the research without disadvantage.

Participant’s signature……………………………………Date…………………...

I certify that I have explained the study to the volunteer and consider that she/he understands what is involved and freely consents to participation.

Researcher’s name – Mirani Litster

Researcher’s signature…………………………………..Date…………………….

NB. Two signed copies should be obtained. The copy retained by the researcher may then be used for authorisation of Items 6 and 7, as appropriate.

6. I, the participant whose signature appears below, have read a transcript of my participation and agree to its use by the researcher as explained.

Participant’s signature……………………………………Date…………………...

I consent to being identified in the final thesis :

Participant’s signature……………………………………Date…………………...




E-Mail Approach


I am currently completing my honours degree in Archaeology at Flinders University

(Adelaide) under the supervision of Dr. Lynley Wallis. The topic of the thesis is – Frontier

conflict: a comparison of the archaeological investigation of massacre sites in Australia and

North America. I am attempting to determine to what extent and in what capacity has

archaeology been utilised to establish details of past events associated with frontier conflict

(pertaining largely to massacres).

I would be very grateful if you would consent to an interview (at a time which best suits you), wherein I would ask you questions pertaining to the thesis topic. I have been advised that you have expertise and experience associated with the topic. If you wish to consent to an interview I am contactable via e-mail at [email protected] My supervisor, Dr. Lynley

Wallis is contactable via e-mail at [email protected], by phone on (+61 8) 8201

3520 or by fax on (+61 8) 8201 2784.

I have attached a list of potential interview questions and would also like to add the semistructured interview/discussion would take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Yours Sincerely

Mirani Litster

This research project has been approved by the Flinders Universtiy Social and Behavioural


Research Ethics Committee. The Secretary of the Committee can be contacted by telephone on 8201 5962, by fax on 8201 2035 or by email: [email protected].au



Ethics Approval



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