On page five of its newspaper article3 February 1929 issue, The Sunday Pictorial printed an article by Douglas Grant under the headline “Lash and Gun When the Aborigines Call for Justice – Degraded by Whites, Declares One who appeals for his People – Great Unparalleled Crime; Land Bartered, Food Despoiled, Womenfolk Molested – Segregation of Two Castes Demanded”. The introduction read “Foster son of the late Mr. Robert Grant of the Australian Museum, Douglas Grant is a full-blooded Australian aboriginal. He was picked up, a poor, forlorn waif, during a massacre of aborigines, their womenfolk and children, in Queensland – somewhat resembling the recent Central Australian shootings-over thirty years ago.”

The introduction continued, “Douglas Grant served in the war with the AIF, proved that the aboriginal can attain a high standard of education and, in the following article, discusses the pitiful condition of his people to-day.”

"(BY DOUGLAS GRANT) Interest in the approaching extinction of the Australian aboriginal is no more than it should be, and I appreciate the honor of being asked to express and opinion on the matter.

The public is not intimately acquainted with the subject, and generally indifferent. But it is one that is of vital importance to the fair name of Australia and to humanity.

This country was taken without warfare, such as marked the annexation of India, Africa and lesser parts of the Empire. What can we do and what are we doing for the first inhabitants, the rightful owners of this land which was usurped and portioned as your heritage?

The natives were conformable, looked on, and wondered, while the great resources of Australia were exploited and brought forth untold wealth.

Greatest of Evils

Then came the first step towards the deterioration of the natives. First liquor, then the greatest of all evils – disease and rapine.

The native, as found by these settlers, had a social tribal plane of moral ethics, that was higher an nobler in its principles than even the so-called morals of civilization. Violation of the moral laws meant death, thus they lived pure and undefiled.

The result of the advent of the European was the sacrilegious breaking of age-old customs, laws and dignity, the outcome of war and bloodshed. The native in righteous indignation and wrath fought for the honor of his daughter, wife and family.

Look at the preponderance of half castes and quarter-castes that are in the Commonwealth, and ask whence do they come? Not from the East, but from the West. The few thousand full-bloods are living a haphazard life. The half or quarter caste is not wanted by his white father, neither is he or his mother wanted by his mother's tribe, and, like Hagar's son Ishmael, has become a wanderer, and outcast on the face of the earth.

Problem of the Half Caste

He is the problem that is to be righted and from what I have observed the half-caste is quicker to pick up anything that veers from the path of rectitude than the full-blood.

Yet the Government has done nothing towards bettering these fold. The few full bloods remaining are scattered over the various States, and in some force in Central Australia, the North West, Norther Queensland and Northern Territory. Apart from the work of the missions nothing is being done.

It seems to me that the missions have been made a side-show for a thoughtless and furious public and I emphatically say that the laxity by the Government officers at these missions and elsewhere is the cause of the present preponderance of half-castes.

Hear the ravings of some who have had some trouble with the natives on some mere pretext or another because the native withstands and ties to protect his own. When it comes to a tribunal and the native tries to give his version he cannot, for he does not understand the European method of law and is consequently found guilty and is penalised-for what?

The shooting of 31 aborigines in Central Australia is damning in the extreme. It shows the utter lack of law and order and protection that is theirs by law of the same Government whose officers shot those unfortunate natives.

I am going so far as to say that the natives have been in some measures either directly or indirectly, imposed upon, or their womenfolk interfered with, by some of the whites in or near that locality! All these things have an origin.

'Tis indeed passing strange that such persons as my foster-father and foster mother, the late Mr and Mrs Robert Grant (and many other notable men), had lived for months in the midst of the wild tribes of North Queensland. In fact my foster-mother was the first white woman to traverse and mix up with these uncivilized and so-called savages.

Mrs Grant often, day after day, remained alone in the camp with the native men and women and children, while Mr Grant was collecting for the Australian Museum, Sydney, the fauna and flora of the locality that was then practically unknown.

The natives showed remarkably keen perception in emulating all things that were shown or taught them, and taken in hand, is amenable to all that this civilized world offers him and can take his place and fill it with honor alongside European confere.

Answered with Gun

The Government has to awaken, and take measures to ensure the lives of the remnants of Australia's original inhabitants. This is not asking too much.

It lies at the footstool of the Government, this great unparalleled crime-a harmless and inoffensive people, left to their own resources, their land bartered and sold, the spoilation of their only mat food supply, the kangaroo, wallaby, etc. also the ravishing and rapine of their women folk. If they call for justice they are answered with the lash or the gun.

It only means that these things must be looked into by set commissions, the two castes segregated and across to the whites debarred under sever and drastic measures. Then, and then only, can we save the lives of these children of Australia.

Also, if scientific research can fathom to the depth the origin of the much discussed lowest order of the human races of mankind-the Australian aboriginal- the original inhabitants of the smallest and youngest continent may be found to be the cradle of the world's people of the present day.

This article appeared on the same page as a “Last Tribute to Mr Bruntnell” the state Chief Secretary. Albert Bruntnell was the member for Annandale in the NSW Parliament from 1910 to 1913, while Douglas Grant was an Annandale Resident. Grant was one of over 1200 Annandale Residents who served in World War 1

Source: 3rd Issue of NLA NX277 Sunday Pictorial Sunday 3 February 1929 – Accessed 18 July 2013 12:24

The article was published in response to a massacre of Aborigines in Central Australia following "Advice -from Alice Springs shaw that a camp of 21 natives was concerned in the murder of. Fred Brookes, a pastoralist." Source: 1928 'KILLED BY WILD NATIVES.', Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 - 1950), 3 September, p. 5, viewed 21 July, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94004902

“In the Supreme Court ot Central Australia, before Mr. Justice Mallara and a jury, the case was continued, in which two natives were charged with the murder of Frederick Brooks in the Alice Springs district.
Constable Murray stated that several aborigines, including two women, were killed during the police pursuit of blacks, which lasted for many days. He could identify the tracks of the accused, owing to the particular shape of tho foot. He came upon six native men and 23 women and children. They showed fight and boomerangs were thrown from a distance of 80 yards, whereupon the police fired and killed the six. He considered that boomerangs were effective at 150 yards. Asked why he did not choose to wound instead of kill, the constable said : 'What could I do with a wounded blackfellow 100 miles away from civilisation!' 1928 'NOT GUILTY.', Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954), 10 November, p. 10, viewed 21 July, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55314693

"The natives' own civilisation was taken from them, and nothing else was substituted, and so the natives had no will to live. Early administrators in Australia had the full protection of the natives in view, a matter which since seemed to have been lost sight of. It was part of the charter   of this country that the natives should have equal rights with the white population. We should endeavor to give the remnant of these people a square deal. They had to be assisted to stand up against our civilization; then they would become a valuable asset" Source: 1929 'THE ABORIGINES.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 23 January, p. 19, viewed 21 July, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16525763

The the AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS' REPATRIATION BILL was read for the second time in federal parliament on 21 March 1929

"Mr ABBOTT - On the 17th December last a police party was despatched to search for an aboriginal who was alleged to have murdered a white settler. At that time the Government Resident did not expect to hear anything of the party for at least ten weeks.No anxiety is entertained for its welfare. The only thing that has happened is that a horse belonging to the police knocked up, and a camel was supplied by one of the station-owners to take its place." Source: Hansard 6 March 1929


1929, English, Book edition: Finding of Board of Enquiry concerning the killing of natives in Central Australia by police parties and others and concerning other matters. Australia. Board of Enquiry - Unpublished report. Chairman: A.H. O'Kelly.

More on Douglas Grant at http://ramin.com.au/annandale/story1-douglas-grant.shtml