Travel Theme : Spooky (Mogumber Farm information)

This is an extension to my previous spooky post about Mogumber Farm

I have been informed that the link to my former post, with information about Mogumber Farm, would not connect. (Thank you Cindy for letting me know). So I will add more details and information here.

Mogumber Farm was part of the plan, in the early 1900’s to re-educate Aboriginal children. They were forcibly removed from their families, some were only babies, and put into institutions, missionaries and farms. They took away their names,language and culture. Siblings were sometimes sent to different locations. White households fostered some of the children, many became cheap labour. A large number died with only a western christian name, no surname or way of identification.

These indigenous people became known as the “Stolen Generation”

For decades each preceding Australian government would not acknowledge the sins of previous governments and refused to say “Sorry” During the election of 2006 it became a “hot potatoe” and the opposition contender for Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, based part of his election campaign on a promise to say “sorry” to the indigenous people if the Labour Party won the election and he became Prime Minister.

When the Labour Party won the election and became the government Kevin Rudd did follow through with his promise. It became a very emotional day on February 13 2008 and thousands gathered together around the country to hear him say a very heart-felt “Sorry”. (click here for the news report of the speech)

We also came across an Aboriginal grave yard, just iron crosses among the grass and bushes, no names on the crosses. Outside a memorial wall recorded names and dates.

Entrance to cemetery

Mogumber memorial wall

I found the following history from Wikipedia…Early history

The settlement was opened by the Government of Western Australia in 1918. It was originally intended to be a small, self-supporting farming settlement for 200 Aborigines, with schooling and health facilities available for the children and employment opportunities for the adults. The settlement was supposed to accommodate Aborigines mainly drawn from the Murchison, Midlands and south-west regions of Western Australia.

The ambition to turn the settlement into a farming community failed because the land was unsuitable for cultivation.[1] During the 1920s its purpose shifted: Residents were usually brought there against their will as the camp attempted to fulfil the broader functions of orphanage, creche, relief depot and home for old persons, unmarried mothers, and the unwell. It also housed many “half-caste” (mixed-race) children. Many of the Aboriginal and mixed-race children were sent to Moore River, usually against their will, as part of the Stolen Generations.

The Moore River Native Settlement was opened under the auspices of the Chief Protector of Aborigines A. O. Neville. Neville came to this position completely inexperienced in Aboriginal affairs or any dealings with Aboriginal people. He was strongly guided by Rufus H Underwood. Neville adopted Underwood’s anti-mission stance and between them developed the ‘native settlement scheme’, devised to meet the varying demands of non-Aboriginal people, for their segregation from the wider community and the continuing need for Aboriginal labour. It was also meant to fulfill Neville and Underwood’s determination to devise a solution involving an absolute minimum of expenditure.[2]

[edit] Poor conditions

The camp population became increasingly mixed as Aborigines came in from various parts of the state, with some coming from as far away as the Kimberley and Pilbara. By the mid-1920s conditions in the institution had declined significantly as overcrowding and poor sanitation were the norm, with many health problems being reported amongst its inmates. From 1924, the settlement had an average population of 300 and its buildings were becoming dilapidated. By 1933 the Aboriginal population at the institution had risen to over 500, leading to greater deterioration in the conditions experienced by the inmates. Between 1918 and 1952, 346 deaths were recorded at Moore River Native Settlement, 42% of which were children age 1–5.

Socially, Moore River Native Settlement practiced strict segregation of the sexes and separated children from their parents under the dormitory system. Compound inmates were not allowed to leave without written permission. Absconding was a common problem as many tried to re-unite with family members living outside the settlement. To counter this practice, a small number of Aboriginal men were employed as trackers to apprehend absconders.

[edit] Name change

In 1951 the government handed control of the settlement to the Mogumber Methodist Mission, which renamed it Mogumber Native Mission.[3] A greater emphasis was placed by the new owners on Christian guidance and on the vocational training of youths than had existed when it was a government institution. The facility remained running until 1974, when it was taken over by the Aboriginal Land Trust. Currently the land is leased to the Wheatbelt Aboriginal Corporation, and is known as Budjarra.

[edit] Cultural and journalistic coverage

Several plays, films and books have been produced which tell harrowing tales of life in the settlement:

  • Aboriginal poet and playwright Jack Davis‘ play Kullark where an Aboriginal man named Thomas Yorlah is forcibly moved to the settlement and makes numerous attempts to escape. Davis lived in the settlement in the 1920s.
Categories: Aboriginal history, Australia, memories, spooky, travel theme | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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