Every Mother's Son is Guilty: Policing the Kimberley Frontier of Western Australia 1882-1905
by Chris Owen
In Every Mother’s Son is Guilty, Chris Owen provides a compelling account of policing in the Kimberley district from 1882, when police were established in the district, until 1905 when Dr. Walter Roth’s controversial Royal Commission into the treatment of Aboriginal people was released.
Owen’s achievement is to take elements of the pre-existing historiography and test them against a rigorous archival investigation. In doing so a fuller understanding of the complex social, economic and political changes occurring in Western Australia during the period are exposed. The policing of Aboriginal people changed from one of protection under law to one of punishment and control. The subsequent violence of colonial settlement and the associated policing and criminal justice system that developed, often of questionable legality, was what Royal Commissioner Roth termed a ‘brutal and outrageous state of affairs’.
Every Mother’s Son is Guilty is a significant contribution to Australian and colonial criminal justice history.
Praise for Every Mother's Son is Guilty:
An important book. Those who say we need to "move on" should check themselves. This country can't "move on" until there's a reckoning with our past, which we must acknowledge culturally, in the way we do history, and for the terrible generational legacy that manifests in Indigenous disadvantage and extreme poverty and social dysfunction.PAUL DALEY
Chris Owen has given us a major work which will be essential reading for years to come. It is a powerful contribution to national scholarship and to community debate.
HENRY REYNOLDS, STUDIES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY
This is a book that deserves the widest reading. It ranges well beyond its instructive history of colonial policing to become a major contribution to regional history. This is also a big Australian history, of the forcible occupation of the north for the economic advantage of a tiny oligarchy, one shamelessly deploying the political and institutional resources of the emerging Western Australian state in the 1890s.PROFESSOR MARK FINNANE, AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL STUDIES
Owen gives a thorough overview of the change in policing that was implemented and its impact on the future. This volume will make a major contribution to the new Australian historiography and it is a most important reference in understanding the vexed matter of Aboriginal relationships with police in Australia.STEPHEN HALL, INDIGENOUS LAW BULLETIN
In this richly researched account of policing in the Kimberley, Chris Owen considers the devastating effects of this duality [of policing] during the decades preceding and following responsible government in Western Australia in 1890. Complexity is managed with dexterity as Owen draws expertly from a combination of sources, including police journals and diaries, letters and occurrence books; regional reports; the Police Gazette; settler diaries; and Aboriginal elders' accounts.PROFESSOR FIONA PAISLEY, LABOUR HISTORY
Owen’s meticulously annotated account of the entanglement of police violence and government policy with the pastoral dynasties in the Kimberley is essential reading for anyone with an interest in how the wider political and economic context shaped, and continues to shape, contemporary forms of Aboriginal impoverishment, disempowerment, accommodation, survival and resistance.ANTHONY REDMOND, ABORIGINAL HISTORY