Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scarecrow Jim Crow

Yesterday I wrote about crows; about scaring them off and about the crow as a totem bird in local Djadjawurrung culture, which reminded me to read up on Jim Crow segregation laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure segregation in all public facilities, with a "separate but equal" status for black Americans and members of other non-white racial groups. (source: Wikipedia)
Lalgambook, a mythical mountain in Djadjawurrung culture was referred to by the newly arrived whites as Jim Crow Hill and the local mob was often referred to as the "Jim Crow Blacks". Lalgambook was later named Mount Franklin after Sir John and Lady Franklin had visited the area. Beneath Lalgambook flows the Jim Crow Creek.
The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow" has often been attributed to "Jump Jim Crow", a song-and-dance caricature of African Americans, which first surfaced in 1832. (source: Wikipedia)
In 1838 the first recorded killings of Djadjawurrung men took place by whites looking to settle the land. By 1841 the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate was established on land owned by the Gunangara ginditj clan of the Djadjawurrung although occupied by a guy called Mollison, one of the invading squatters. (Source: Barry Golding GDTA Mt Franklin Walk Tour Notes). The history of the Aboriginal stations at Franklinford, near Mt Franklin, spans 23 years.

The last of the Djadjawurrung, 4 adults and 6 children, were forcibly removed from their land in 1864 and taken to Coranderrk. All but one had died by 1876 the year the Jim Crow laws were enacted in America.

The gold fields of both countries have similar legacies – mistreatment of black and indigenous races for the sake of get-rich-quick schemes. There were numerous killings and massacres of central Victorian Aborigines between 1838-1847 (source: Ian D Clark, 2003). For the Djadjawurrung who were not murdered, land and resource dispossession lead to a convert-or-die or a convert-and-die fascism. It continues today. Mt Franklin is now Australia's largest bottled water brand owned by Coca-Cola Amatil. Read more on my Just Free Water site.

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