Freo’s Explorer’s Monument shows a way forward on Statue Debate.

There is a debate happening around the world on the place of colonial statues;  statues often in honour of those who have had a mixed record on treatment of follow humans.

Plans to remove statues of Confederate soldiers sparked the deadly Charlottesville riots in the US recently and on the East  Australia aboriginal commentator Stan Grant has also raised the issue.

In the Sunday Times today Sam Wainwright (speaking as himself not  Fremantle Councillor) suggested that some WA colonial statues should be relocated to museums.

This is a controversial issue but I actually think Fremantle has already shown a useful way forward on this.

In the Fremantle Esplanade is the Maitland Brown Memorial (Explorers Monument) doesn not seek to erase the troubling parts of our history but instead shed new, more accurate light on events – an approach that doesn’t gloss over atrocities but instead shows history from multiple angles.

The original 1913 monument has had an extra plaque added to it in 1994 that corrects the biases in the original inscription – showing that history is more than the exploits of heroic explorers, it is also often dark and complex. It is worth checking out.

So rather than erase history I think it is important that we add to it and tell more of the full story so we better understand our history.

Maitland Brown Memorial (Explorers Monument) 

The 1913 Front Inscription reads

THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY G.J.BROCKMAN
As A Fellow Bush Wanderer`s Tribute To The Memories Of
PANTER, HARDING And GOLDWYER,
Earliest Explorers After Grey And Gregory Of This
Terra Incognita. Attacked At Night By Treacherous Natives They
Were Murdered At Boola Boola Near La Grange Bay
On The 13 November 1864.
Also An Appreciative Token Of Remembrance Of
MAITLAND BROWN
One Of The Pioneer Pastoralists And Premier Politicians Of This
State. Intrepid Leader Of The Government Search And Punitive
Party. His Remains Together With The Sad Relics Of The
Ill Fated Three Recovered With Great Risk And Danger From Lone Wilds
Repose Under A Public Monument In The East Perth Cemetery.
Lest We Forget.

1994 Plaque: 
This Plaque Was Erected By People Who Found The Monument Before You Offensive.

The Monument Described The Events At La Grange From One Perspective Only; The Viewpoint Of The White `Settlers`.

No Mention Is Made Of The Right Of Aboriginal People To Defend Their Land Or Of The History Of Provocation Which Led To The Explorers` Deaths.

The `Punitive Party` Mentioned Here Ended In The Deaths Of Somewhere Around Twenty Aboriginal People. The Whites Were Well-Armed And Equipped And None Of Their Party Was Killed Or Wounded.

This Plaque Is In Memory Of The Aboriginal People Killed At La Grange. It Also Commemorates All Other Aboriginal People Who Died During The Invasion Of Their Country.

Lest We ForgetMapa Jarriya-Nyalaku.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

5 Responses to Freo’s Explorer’s Monument shows a way forward on Statue Debate.

  1. Sam Wainwright wants to bring division and trouble that is happening in one place in the USA to this country with his ANTI WHITE AUSTRALIA agenda that will only divide this nation further. As he is a self confessed extreme left socialist this does not surprise me so let hope people remember his agenda at the next election and get rid of this clown once and for all.

  2. Ronald Grant Duncan says:

    As a direct descendant of Maitland Brown I would like to express my views. Those are that I entirely agree the statue should remain in situ so that history is preserved and the views of all involved are democratically expressed. I am sure the absolute truth was known only by those involved and debate without radical views from anyone alive today is healthy.I acknowledge that Australia was the home of the black fellas and for Caucasians to declare it “Terra Nullus” was arrogant and unfair. I believe the blacks had every right to try to defend their territory with preemptive strikes, had they the tactical advantages and intelligence of the invaders it may well have served them not to attack Panter Goldwire and Harding . Having listened to verbal accounts from my mother I have the opinion that there may be truth in the declaration naming it a punitive expedition, If so I can only express my sorrow, Some genuine black people really hate us and I don’t blame them. All we can do now is build the future together and regret the past. Ronald Duncan Great Grandson of Maitland Brown

  3. Pingback: From Perth to Mogumber: Western Australia, Past and Future – Spraul All Over

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