I get upset at the increasing belief that the missionaries are to blame for our lot in this world as Aboriginal people.

This is exactly what the government would have you believe. This is what I know and what I have discovered through historical studies:

The untold story of the missions is that people like Rev. Green at Corranderk, Daniel Matthews at Maloga and Rev. John Gribble of Warangesda actually helped us survive to today rather than what is popular belief about Christian missionaries. If it weren’t for people like the three I’ve just named – and there are others who were humanitarians as much as they were Christians – who put themselves in the line of fire and went against the popular view of the day and out of their way and comfort zone to protect and to help educate our people back then we may not have survived.

It was a time when our people were being hunted and shot in the bush, our women used as brood mares to create a half caste work force for the stations and also used as sex slaves on the stations and unpaid prostitutes in the towns, not to mention the ever increasing drunkenness encouraged on our mobs by the white man to belittle and to get what they wanted out of our women, girls and boys.

Daniel Matthews is a great example and I attribute to him the survival, education and longevity of the Bangerang and Yorta Yorta peoples.

He and his wife Janet set aside 20 acres of land of their own selection that they paid for to create a safe haven for our mob.

It wasn’t the Christian missionaries in this case that tried to destroy the people but it was the government and their policies they enforced on the people through their government run Reserves. Even where the government never fully took over the missions they still stifled the good work being done by enforcing the government policies upon the missionaries and the missions.

The first residents of what became Maloga mission were two 14 year old girls who he saved from Moira station, both girls had young babies of 12 and 15 months old when they were taken to Maloga.

Daniel Matthews recorded going to stations and breaking the chains that had our young women tied to beds as sex slaves and he was beaten and had shots fired over his head while doing so. He done this to save the girls, nothing else.

The people responded well to Matthews and his wife and started to flock to Maloga for safety, not forced on to the place. William Cooper is recorded as saying “there can’t be anywhere better than this place, I wish to stay here forever”.

This however wasn’t to be.

Stephen Atkinson, a Barngarla man who lives in Port Augusta

Stephen Atkinson, a Barngarla man who lives in Port Augusta Stephen Atkinson

Maloga started in 1874 and by 1887 was a small community that looked like a township with a church, school and houses all with picket fences out front.

Daniel Matthews built much of it himself and as the place grew the men helped in the building of the houses.

The school had a man by the name of Thomas Shadrach James who was a Mauritian born Tamil pharmacist who became the school teacher at Maloga.

James as a teacher taught the children so well that they excelled and the white farmers began sending their children to the school as they would get a better education there than the state schools in town.

In NSW the Aboriginal Protection Board was created in 1883. By 1885 because of the great work Matthews and Maloga had done for the people the government sent a manager to Maloga to manage the mission and the people.

The government enforced new rules and regulations on the people and on Matthews and by 1888 had pulled down all the buildings paid for and built by Matthews and relocated them upstream to a new reserve to be called Cummeroogunga or now spelt Cummeragunja.

The people hated the new management and it got increasingly worse for them that they walked off in 1939 because of the government and the treatment they received at the hands of the government appointed managers.

The Matthews were banned from ever going to see the people they had helped and who loved them.

It wasn’t the Christian missionaries in this case that tried to destroy the people but it was the government and their policies they enforced on the people through their government run Reserves.

Even where the government never fully took over the missions they still stifled the good work being done by enforcing the government policies upon the missionaries and the missions.

There is no doubt there were some bad missionaries who didn’t act Christian-like at all but if you look at history many of the first missionaries were humanitarians who had the best interests of the people at heart.

It was government policy and the government that done the wrong in most cases not the missionaries.

All missions had to meet government requirements if they were to continue getting government rations and or funding. The missionaries hands were then forced to comply or they couldn’t feed the people they were trying to protect.

There is no doubt there were some bad missionaries who didn’t act Christian-like at all but if you look at history many of the first missionaries were humanitarians who had the best interests of the people at heart.

You will find as soon as the Protection Boards were created in each state the welfare of the people and the treatment of them went down considerably.

Blame the government and their policies not the missionaries.

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