Confronting the awful truth of Myall Creek
HISTORY is often a “process of forgetting”, as some commentators have observed, but at Myall Creek yesterday, local State MP Adam Marshall applauded the process of remembering.
Mr Marshall was paying his third visit to the annual Myall Creek Memorial commemoration ceremony, held as a reconciliation gesture on the site of the 1838 massacre of 28 unarmed Aboriginal people by 10 white and one African stockmen.
Modern Australia is better off for confronting such uncomfortable truths such as those presented by the Myall Creek Memorial, Mr Marshall said.
“Only by acknowledging that such things happened, by being openly ashamed that they happened, can we reconcile the past with the present and move forward as one nation,” he said.
“Because unusually for the day, the murderers of Myall Creek were prosecuted and hanged, we have a memorial here to reminds us of this appalling incident.
“But other mass murders every bit as appalling have been quietly forgotten. They are seldom in the history books, or on Wikipedia, to give people today a true reckoning of the cost to Aboriginal people of white colonisation.
“That’s the other significance of the Myall Creek Memorial: to remind us of how devastating the arrival of one people was for another. The effects of that clash are still visible in our society.
“I hope that by acknowledging these events we stitch up the wounds and divisions of the past, and carry our shared scars forward as one people.”
Mr Marshall’s view is shared by the guest speaker at the weekend gathering, Aunty Noeline Briggs-Smith OAM, Aboriginal researcher and family historian and Elder of the Kamilaroi nation.
Aunty Noeline has made a long commitment to truth-telling in history, believing that honest acknowledgement of the past can set all peoples free.