Saturday, March 16, 2013

Darkiñung Recognition

The aboriginal people of the Hawkesbury/northern Blue Mountains area have been carelessly described for many years as belonging to the Dharug tribe. The appellation appears in most of the literature, so naturally Dharug was the term I picked up when referring to the local Aborigines in my books about Robert Forrester and Paul Bushell, published in 2009 and 2010 respectively. (Pictured is my mother's sketch which illustrates page 145 of the Forrester book.)

However Dr Geoff Ford has produced a document which has set me straight, as well as many others. His work was drawn to my attention in the Hawkesbury Historical Society Newsletter, No 102, February 2013, but it was originally submitted to the University of Sydney as a thesis in 2010 and published by the University in 2011. That thesis, in itself, is a fascinating 'outcome' of the 'process' of taking an abiding interest in local and family history. (Dr Ford is a member of the Hawkesbury Historical Society and the Everingham Family Association.)

Ford explored the known fact that historical records dating from Governor Phillip's day described the Aborigines inhabiting the Cumberland Plains (from the Georges River at Liverpool through to Parramatta and Blacktown) as speaking a different language to the Aborigines encountered by the earliest European explorers of the Hawkesbury River. Ford found that only the Aborigines living on the Cumberland Plains belonged to the Dharug (pronounced Tharoog) tribe. He's found that the correct name for the tribe occupying 'the mountain catchment of the branches of the Hawkesbury River below Warragamba, from the Hawkesbury floodplain to the Hunter River floodplain in the north', is Darkiñung (pronounced Darkinyung).

It’s too late to change the books already published by many authors, but books published since 2011 now have the opportunity to benefit from Ford's up-to-date and very thorough research findings. I for one will take care to use the correct term for the local Aborigines in my future writings about early Hawkesbury settlers.

For more details, please refer to Dr Geoff Ford's full 558 page thesis 2010, Darkinung Recognition, online at Sydney University Library, where you can also find a much shorter 'Brief' (summarising the issues and publishing Ford's findings without the extensive analyses), a two page note on geographic borders and a two page Abstract. Presentation of the thesis material in digital form, as a PDF file, makes it easy to find search terms. There are no restrictions on downloading or printing. Spread the word!

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