Accepted paper:

Dingo scalping and the frontier economy in the north west of South Australia

Authors:

Diana Young (University of Queensland)

Paper short abstract:

During the early decades of the twentieth century intrepid bushmen made a living from collecting the government bounty on wild dog (dingo) skins. These men, so called doggers, were the first non indigenous people to take up residence, albeit illegally, on the last tracts of Aboriginal land left unleased to settlers in the central reserves. Doggers needed the skills of Aboriginal people whom they paid in goods such as tea, tobacco, flour, metal axes and clothing, to hunt the dingo. Exchange with doggers was frequently the way that Aboriginal people obtained settler goods. H.H. Finlayson wrote that dingo skins were a sort of currency in central Australia. In 1937 the newly established Ernabella Mission intervened in this trade by offering Aboriginal people the full bounty thereby cutting out the doggers as middle men. For Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people hunting for dingo on an annual seasonal basis continued into the 1960s. This enabled both returning to their own country and the receipt of cash payment for the scalps that they could translate into store bought and highly desired goods. This paper considers the role of dogging in a frontier economy but also in an economy of images. It examines the role that dingo scalping played for Anangu ( Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people) in re imagining themselves at a time of cataclysmic change during the first half of the twentieth century.

Paper long abstract:

During the early decades of the twentieth century intrepid bushmen made a living from collecting the government bounty on wild dog (dingo) skins. These men, so called doggers, were the first non indigenous people to take up residence, albeit illegally, on the last tracts of Aboriginal land left unleased to settlers in the central reserves. Doggers needed the skills of Aboriginal people whom they paid in goods such as tea, tobacco, flour, metal axes and clothing, to hunt the dingo. Exchange with doggers was frequently the way that Aboriginal people obtained settler goods. H.H. Finlayson wrote that dingo skins were a sort of currency in central Australia. In 1937 the newly established Ernabella Mission intervened in this trade by offering Aboriginal people the full bounty thereby obviating the need for doggers as middle men. For Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people hunting for dingo on an annual seasonal basis continued into the 1960s. This enabled both returning to their own country and the receipt of cash payment for the scalps that they could translate into store bought and highly desired goods. This paper considers the role of dogging in a frontier economy but also in an economy of images. It examines the role that dingo scalping played for Anangu in re imagining themselves at a time of cataclysmic change.

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Indigenous participation in Australian frontier economies