Kidman's Sale Marks Second Wave of South Australian Colonisation
Kidman's Sale Marks Second Wave of South Australian Colonisation
By Paul Reader / theconversation.com
Jun 28, 2015

The announcement of S. Kidman & Co’s intention to sell their pastoral business and 11 leases marks a new waypoint in South Australia’s progress towards a post-colonial world. From the time when Sidney Kidman first cohabitated the bush with Billy the Aboriginal to the agistment of stockin the Anangu Pitjantjatjara-Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in 2014, Kidman’s history has been interwoven with Indigenous Australia. Not surprisingly the announcement has sparked interest across Indigenous social networks.

The company’s success has generated spectacular interest ever since Kidman’s first Kapunda horse sale in 1900. Kidman’s biographers Idriess(1936) and Bowen (1987) provide fairly romantic pictures of the man and his early colonial success, which can be corroborated in Aboriginal accounts.

Kidman relied on good judgement of people, animals and land. At a time when others in industry were struggling to affirm terra nullius and Social Darwinism as necessities in the settler legal fiction, Kidman was recruiting indigenous “boundary riders” in places with no boundaries, branding cleanskin cattle and ensuring flows of cattle were heading to market.

Land-holding was secondary to maintaining flows and relationships. At his retirement dinner in 1927, Kidman quoted a reputable authority:

“he never saw blacks happier or better cared for than at Macumba”.

 

‘Cattle King’ Sidney Kidman built his company on good relations with the Indigenous inhabitants of the land. State Library of South Australia
Click to enlarge

 

Under successive Kidman managers, the station went on to devise strategies preventing a Macumba stolen generation. Multi-racial communities survived at Macumba until the late 1950s and at Anna Creek till 1979. Rain-makers were paid on productivity bonuses and aspects of customary law were easily maintained on Kidman stations.

Kidman stations became havens for those fleeing poor treatment elsewhere. In 1980, when I first arrived at Oodnadatta, I soon learned of stockman finding skulls with bullet holes in the dune country north-east of the Macumba. Not until 2014 did I learn that some of the same men were actually descended from Wangkangurru survivors who fled the killings in the Kalakoopah around 1884.

A long struggle for land rights

The passing of the Pitjantjatjara Lands Act in 1981 generated a sense of betrayal in Oodnadatta. Senior Yankunytjatjara men living at Oodnadatta had supported the bill, knowing that under customary law their own interests to the north-west would eventually be recognised. Those of Lower Southern Aranda and Wangkangurru descent had missed out.

My employers at the time, the men called me to a meeting:

How come that mob get their land back first? We work hard on stations and speak English. They don’t speak English and sit down all day and they get their land back first!

It was a question I could not really answer, but I knew that somehow black, spear-carrying Pitjantjatjara symbolised “real Aborigines”, empowering a politic within the settler mythology. A month later, in April 1981, the men confronted the land minister, Peter Arnold, at the Oodnadatta airport. According to one department official, “the minister was sorely embarrassed”.

About the same time, Labor MLC Frank Blevins and the future deputy premier, Don Hopgood, met the Oodnadatta Aboriginal Housing Society chairperson, Aboriginal lawman and former Kidman employee, Sidney Stewart, on the police station lawn. (Two-and-a-half years later, in custody again, Stewart would die pushing the lawnmower.) Blevins and Hopgood looked out on streets paved with broken glass and vowed to do something about it.

Once in government, they did; Mt Dare station was purchased to become a national park. The pastoral leases that would have terminated around 2000 were converted into rolling 28-year leases, the closest thing to perpetuity for Kidmans. As early as 1983, the government began informal recognition of native title on non-indigenous pastoral leases, with the first attempts at mining industry “site clearances” to protect Aboriginal heritage in the Arckaringa basin.

In 2012, after a 14-year claim process, the Arabana were granted native title to almost a fifth of South Australia. The determination remains controversial, with a lack of clarity as to who is really represented.

Indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) signed by the claimants and other parties transfer most future rights to the State of South Australia and other persons. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provides for future economic development by Indigenous people, something expressly ruled out in the Arabana consent determination.

The Arabana Aboriginal Corporation (RNTB) reported assets of around $3.3 million in 2014, a paltry sum compared to what may be realised in the Kidman sale and the “future acts” of the colonising government. As a result of native title, Kidman leases gained additional certainty.

While Western Australia’s resumption of pastoral leases for tourism and closure of Indigenous communities as a “lifestyle" change make news, the 2013 Arabana Climate Change Adaptation Project found Arabana people already living in cities and co-management with mining companies as two manifestations of climate-change adaptation.

‘How do we get the land back?’

When I returned to the north of South Australia last year, I discovered people still putting the same question: “How do we get the land back?” They are still sharing a vision of a post-colonial world that has yet to arrive. Despite the outlawing of colonisation by the United Nations in 1960, a second wave of colonisation has proceeded with increasing land enclosure masked by native title.

Coming as it does in a boom market, Kidman’s deserve to get a good price for the business; however, what will Central Australia’s future be like under new, less-related owners? While South Australia continues to be supported by settler legal fictions, whose country is really up for sale?

Any sale is more likely to involve the Foreign Investment Review Board than the Indigenous Land Corporation. I cannot help wonder when the bones of Wangkangurru ancestors will stop surfacing east of the Macumba.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 9,281 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 5,913 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 5,159 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,209 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,688 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 936 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 930 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 897 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 688 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 623 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 623 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Here's How We're Going to End Factory Farming
2 min · 601 views today · Factory farming is a huge problem. But the solution is simple, if you'll join us. Watch this short 2 minute video to see how... Help make a kinder world possible...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 588 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 374 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 368 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 336 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 329 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 287 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 280 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 264 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Kidman's Sale Marks Second Wave of South Australian Colonisation