The Philippines is taking an Indigenous-led approach to remembering European colonialism in the Pacific — a refreshing contrast to the dominant stories about James Cook in Australia and New Zealand.
Artist: John Pickles
Captain Cook’s sailors traded nails for sex, but the history of intimate encounters and their impact on women throughout the Pacific is still largely ignored.
250 years since Captain Cook landed in Australia, it’s time to acknowledge the violence of first encounters.
The Conversation, CC BY 63 MB (download)
The way Australia has commemorated Cook's arrival has changed over time – from military displays in 1870 to waning interest in Cook in the 1950s, followed by the fever pitch celebrations of 1970.
‘The Founding of Australia 1788’, an oil painting by Algernon Talmage.
Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Britain had an urgent problem after it lost its American colonies: where to send its convicts. It settled on NSW after rejecting other options, but the new spot didn’t exactly live up to its billing.
Many teachers want to teach Indigenous perspectives but often lack confidence or know-how. Teachers must be willing to confront the ongoing effects of colonialism in and outside the classroom.
Uncle Fred Deeral as little old man in the film The Message, by Zakpage, to be shown at the National Museum of Australia in April. Nik Lachajczak of Zakpage
An honest reckoning with Captain Cook’s legacy won’t heal things overnight. But it’s a start.
The Conversation 41.4 MB (download)
The impact of 1770 has never eased for Aboriginal people. It was a collision of catastrophic proportions.
A scene from the author’s film The Message, commissioned by the National Museum of Australia. At the first encounter in Botany Bay, two Gweagal warriors threw stones and spears at Cook, saying ‘warrawarrawa’, meaning ‘they are all dead’.
Nik Lachajczak of Zakpage
Incidents from Cook’s first voyage highlight themes relevant in Indigenous-settler relations today: environmental care, reconciliation and governance. This collision of beliefs, it seems, wasn’t lost on Cook.
A picture titled ‘Captain Cook taking possession of the Australian continent on behalf of the British crown, AD 1770’. Drawn and engraved by Samuel Calvert from an historical painting by Gilfillan in the possession of the Royal Society of Victoria.
Trove/National Library of Australia
To find out how the teaching of Captain Cook in Australian schools has changed, I examined textbooks used in the 1950s until today.
Botanist Joseph Banks recommended Botany Bay as the site for a penal colony.
Charles Gore (1788) / State Library of NSW
Botany was an integral feature of Britain’s colonial and imperial ambitions.
Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) with Doug Nicholls on Frenchman’s Beach, La Perouse, on April 29 1970. During the Cook bicentenary protest, activists declared a day of mourning for Aboriginal nations.
Image from the Tribune collection from the 1970 Cook Bi-centenary protest, to be featured in the State Library of NSW's upcoming exhibition 'Eight Days in Gamay.'
Re-enactments of James Cook’s arrival in Australia have served only to gloss over the violence of his interactions with Indigenous people and elevate Australia’s imperial and British connections.
‘Death of Captain Cook’ by George Carter. 1781. Oil on canvas. The painting depicts the killing of Cook during a skirmish with Hawaiians on his third Pacific voyage in 1779.
National Library of Australia collection
Over the course of his three voyages, Cook was frustrated by the refusal of Indigenous people to embrace Western ways. He grew increasingly punitive, embodying the ‘savagery’ he ostensibly despised.
A scene from the Zakpage film The Message, commissioned by the National Museum of Australia. Nik Lachajczak of Zakpage,
Every European ship that voyaged the Pacific was, in the first instance, a floating fortress, an independent command that could send out small shore parties or to concentrate firepower as needed.
Two Dharawal men opposing Cook’s arrival at Kurnell.
Unpicking the threads of the stories told about Captain Cook’s arrival is vital to find agreement on the provenance of materials that changed hands during colonisation.
If we want to conserve ecosystems that escaped European exploitation and mismanagement, we must start listening to environmental histories to compliment scientific research.
The South Georgia pintail duck scavenges on dead seals.
On one of the world’s most remote islands, a species of duck has learned to scavenge on dead seals.
In The Visitors, seven senior law men discuss what to do about approaching ships, unlike anything they’ve seen before.
Playwright Jane Harrison’s The Visitors shows audiences how a group of Indigenous leaders might have debated what to do when the First Fleet landed in 1788 - but where are the women?
The Enderby Island ship image depicting His Majesty’s Cutter Mermaid, which visited the Dampier Archipelago in 1818.
Courtesy: Murujuga Dynamics of the Dreaming ARC Project
An image of a ship on a rock in Western Australia’s Dampier Archipelago depicts HMC Mermaid – the main vessel of Phillip Parker King, an unsung hero of Australian exploration.
Nicholas Chevalier, Mallee scrub, Murray River, NSW, watercolour, 1871.
National Library of Australia
Captain Cook’s 1770 voyage is well known. But at this time, Indigenous Australians also travelled great distances - let’s recognise this in the 2020 commemorations.
Morrison – who was visiting Cooktown in North Queensland – was.
described by Shorten as having a “bizarre Captain Cook fetish”.
It’s true the nationalistic rhetoric around the date has varied over the years but the notion of the date just “fading away” is surely ridiculous.
A replica of HMB Endeavour in 2011.
As the first European seafaring vessel to reach the east coast of Australia, the Endeavour – much like James Cook himself – has become part of Australia’s national mythology.