Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago
Winner of the 2020 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Australian History
Meeting the Waylo is a history of story-making about the experiences of Migeo, Boongaree and Bundle, three Indigenous Australians who were intermediaries on board maritime expeditions in the early nineteenth century. These Indigenous men travelled to the archipelagos of the north-west of Western Australia, where they became central figures in encounters between the crew and local Indigenous groups onshore.
This book captures the splintering of stories by explorers, later archivists and collecting institutions. By following the footsteps and fingerprints of the archivists as well as explorers, Shellam reminds us that the archive is never a neutral storehouse for history. While explorers sometimes acknowledged the key positioning of Indigenous intermediaries in their raw archives, later refinements rendered them absent. The expedition stories of these men appear unevenly in archives as a result of archival acquisitions, dictated by changing political climates of remembering and forgetting.
Praise for Meeting the Waylo
‘In her deft handling of the colonial archive and her alertness to the politics of historical memory, Tiffany Shellam offers a model for other historians to follow.’
Professor Felix Driver, Royal Holloway, University of London
‘This is a subtle and exhilarating exploration of key cross-cultural encounters in early colonial Australia. In bringing the past to life, Tiffany Shellam also analyses the surviving evidence with delicacy, insight and compassion.
Professor Tom Griffiths, Australian National University
'Meeting the Waylo offers a new kind of Australian history, and a way forward in the project of decolonisation and the truth-telling required for Makarrata. Shellam is deeply attentive to culture, ritual, emotional lives and spirituality – that is, to all the things that mattered most to Aboriginal people. If we are to break out of the colonial, Western and strictly ‘rational’ ways of thinking that so often dismiss these aspects of human life, this is how to do it.'
Grace Karskens, Aboriginal History