Mission-based indigenous production at the Weipa Presbyterian mission, Western Cape York Peninsula (1932-66)

Michael Morrison, Darlene McNaughton, Justin Shiner

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    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Previous research on remote nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Indigenous missions in northern and central Australia point to their often tenuous existence and the complex nature of engagements between Christian Missionaries and Indigenous people. This paper explores the contribution and significance of Indigenous production of wild foods in the context of one such settlement located at Weipa on Cape York Peninsula, north eastern Australia. It is premised on the assertion that investigation of the economies of these often remote settlements has the potential to reveal much about the character of cross-cultural engagements within the context of early mission settlements. Many remote missions had a far from secure economic basis and were sometimes unable to produce the consistent food supplies that were central to their proselytizing efforts. In this paper it is suggested that Indigenous-produced wild foods were of significant importance to the mission on a day-to-day basis in terms of their dietary contribution (particularly in terms of protein sources) and were also important to Indigenous people from a social and cultural perspective. We develop this argument through the case study of culturally modified trees that resulted from the collection of wild honey.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-111
    Number of pages26
    JournalInternational Journal of Historical Archaeology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


    • Culturally modified trees
    • Indigenous production
    • Missions
    • Wild honey


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