Reading: Indigenous Perceptions of Contact at Inthanoona

October 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

The reading on “Indigenous perceptions of contact at Inthanoona, Northwest Western Australia – by A. Paterson and A. Wilson” reveals some interesting information of the area and the methodology used to study and make conclusions from the area.

Inthanoona is a pastoral head station in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia which operated from the 1860s to the 1890s. Spatial analysis of the region supports the conclusion that the contact motifs demonstrate continuity in Indigenous modes of representation and innovation in subjects. It has the largest assemblage of historical rock engravings.

External historical documentation suggests that Inthanoona (though well inland) was significant in the development of the pearl shell industry in the 1860/70s, provided forced labour through ‘blackbirding’ (with workers as young as twelve, including women and children), though Samuel Henry Viveash’s recollections of Inthanoona detail little troubles with the natives, describing a friendly sprirt and frankly declares his indebtedness to them in their crucial assistance in the station work.

In terms of Methodology, a wide variety of survey and recording techniques were used, and refined, in response to the significant engraved assemblage for a developed landscape approach. Of importance, was the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) used in site survey, which allowed a fixed base station to record correction data whilst mobile GPS receivers were used on site. Meanwhile, complex site features were recorded on pro-forma recording sheets. Significant objects were photographed and synchronised later with the GPS’ clocks. Motifs, engravings, were split into anthromorphs, animals, and other. Engravings of ships and their detail also suggested familiarity with certain ships and interesting and knowledge of their technical details.

The engravings at Inthanoona, supported by an analysis of the whole range of archaeological evidence from the site, demonstrate …  that they have the potential to provide us with direct evidence of Indigenous perceptions of contact. 

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