Item 1900/0006

State Records Archive
Consignment: 255
Item: 1900/0006
Title: Yeeda Station – natives not in need of Govt relief

Keywords: Yeeda Station, Wallal Station, Myroodah Station, Arthur Clifton, Arthur Buckland, Michael Brophy, rations

To Officer in Charge, Police Dept, Derby
The Manager of the Yeeda Station informs me that he has been feeding 10 or 12 decrepit old natives for some years past and asks whether he can get any compensation for doing so in future.
The opinion expressed in Parliament is that employers of natives should in all charity support the natives who have worked for them or their immediate relatives when they come destitute and past work and if I am to comply with requests like these from all the stations in each district, the vote allowed me will be expended before half the year is over. I should be much obliged if you would from time to time collect information for me from your officers instructing them to enquire into the condition of the natives at each station they may visit and whether the destitute ones have been former labourers thereon. This would assist me very much in deciding how much relief I can fairly allot. Please reply as soon as possible.
Henry Prinsep

Mr Prinsep,
For your information as game of all description is very plentiful on the Fitzroy, I think it would be an unwise precedent to give relief to any of the natives.
I also think that the stations who have had natives in their employ from their childhood should be made to provide for them in their old age.
M H Brophy
Sub Inspt Police

To Corpl Buckland
Please report for the information of Mr Prinsep if you are aware of any old or decrepit natives at the Yeeda Station who require relief.
M H Brophy
Sub Inspt Police

To Sub Inspr Brophy
For the information of Mr Prinsep I have to report that I do not know of any old or decrepit natives at the Yeeda Station. The Yeeda is a cattle station and they do not employ a great many natives, most of those employed are young boys without women.
About two years ago, the Yeeda employed a large number of natives as they had both sheep and cattle, but they have shifted all their sheep to Myroodah about 70 miles further up the Fitzroy and most of the natives are there. There are thousands of kangaroos and plenty of fish within 2 or 3 miles of the Yeeda, so I do not think that any natives who may be at the Yeeda should require any relief.
A M Buckland

See report from P C Buckland and remarks thereon by Inspr Brophy
Acknowledge and say I’m glad to hear that the aborigines there can get plenty of game and do not need government relief.

To Secretary, Aborigines Protection Board, Perth
I beg to remind you it is now three months since you promised to communicate further, with regard to decrepit natives I reported requiring assistance.
I must remind you, I have had no further reply. And would like to know why! At present there is an old native and his woman on the homestead I have been keeping in food and medicine for some weeks passed as the man cannot hunt for himself and it doesn’t seem fair that stations should be called on to provide for its aged natives when something like £10,000 a year is spent in providing for them in other places of the colony.
I believe the system has been abused in places and I think it likely to continue unless there is more strict supervision. It is not my intention to dictate to the Board what is right and what is wrong. But if one can believe all one hears that goes on at some of the distributing centres. There is room for improvement in places. I think perhaps a close inspection of matters at Wallal Statoin (below La Grange Bay) would reveal a state of things far from satisfactory. I would like it to be distinctly understood my opinions are entirely based upon hearsay from travellers. But as I am stationed on the Broome-[illegible] road junction, I see nearly all travellers and consequently have the statements of many on the matter. And if half of them are true things must be in a disgraceful state. I do not wish my name used as informant in this matter but felt it was my duty to repeat this.
Yours truly,
Arthur E Clifton
Yeeda Station

See letter from Mr A Clifton of Feb 19th 1900
Acknowledge and say that I am now in receipt of further information regarding the conditions of the natives on the Fitzroy River – their ability to get food which is abundant. In a country where there is as much game and as many able young men in the tribes to catch it and feed their old relatives, I do not think the time has arrived for the government to pamper them with too readily afforded relief, which in some other parts of the colony has been said to have pauperised them needlessly – I regret to have delayed so long in my further communication to him but other matters supervened and prevented the subject from coming up for which I must apologise – I take note of the reports which have come to him verbally from travellers and will keep an eye on the places mentioned – as to Wallal as strict measures as possible in such a distant spot are now being taken.

To Chief Protector Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
I am in receipt of yours of 26th May and carefully note what you say re natives.
I extremely regret you find it unnecessary to grant relief to any of the Fitzroy natives.
It is neither my business nor intention to dictate to you what should be done.
Your source of information is if I mistake not, from one whose sympathies are not with the squatter and one who shares the opinion of a few others that the squatter should keep all the decrepit natives in the district, which is as unfair as I would be to expect a landlord to maintain all aged tenants on his holding.
There is a lot to be said on the matter which I do not care to enter into.
And I feel sure if you were to send a capable and impartial man through the district, you would gain much valuable information which you cannot get from either the Resident Magistrate or the Police for reason I will not explain.
I thoroughly agree with you that it does not do to afford relief too readily to the natives. It does an erroneous amount of harm. And I am afraid those who distribute rations at times abuse the privelege.
I can honestly assure you the cases I have brought under your notice are thoroughly deserving of relief. But I cannot in fairness to my employer continue rationing them.
Yours Faithfully,
Arthur E Clifton

Reply and say that if there are any really urgent cases of distress among the natives in the vicinity of Yeeda Station and on reference to the Govt Resident he approves of relief being given I will certainly confirm his approval and acknowledge the account for payment. These accounts should be sent in monthly on the form prescribed (3 copies enclosed) and duly certified by someone who knows of the service having been performed. A travelling inspector will before very long be visiting his district.

To Chief Protector Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
Yours to hand re natives
As there appears to be an Inspector travelling though our district shortly I shall wait his arrival before doing anything concerning relief of natives. One of the old natives I spoke of requiring relief has since died.
Yours Truly,
Arthur E Clifton

Katitjin notes:

Clifton, Arthur Ernest (1873-1952)
The Clifton family were a prominent settler family in the Bunbury-Australind area. Their family homestead, Rosamel, in Australind, was a large dairy and sheep farm that remained in the family for subsequent generations. The Rosamel property was next door to Parkfield, the family farm of George Canler Rose, who, with other Rose family members, were also pastoralists in the Kimberleys. Furthermore, Arthur’s uncle was Archibald Gervase Clifton, who was the Resident Magistrate and Warden for the Kimberleys Goldfields District between 1892 and 1901, although his wife and four children remained living another family farm, Upton, which was adjacent to Rosamel. Arthur married in 1901 and returned to the family property in Australind.

Brophy, Michael (1858-1923)
Inspector Michael Brophy, born in New Zealand, started his police career in the Kimberley region as a trooper in 1891, before being promoted to Inspector at Kalgoorlie in 1902. He went on to Bunbury and then to Fremantle, before retiring in 1922. While in the Kimberley, Brophy led a punitive expedition which resulted in the shooting of 30 Aboriginal people. Brophy reports that, “‘In all my experience with natives I have never known them to make such plucky and determined fight as those blacks.”

Buckland, Arthur (1880-1942)
Arthur Buckland was a police officer in the Kimberley region for over twenty years. He married Amy Walker in Derby in 1905. He was officer in charge of the Wyndham Police Station during the Forrest River Massacre incident and his evidence as a witness was used in the subsequent Royal Commission.

Prinsep, Henry Charles (1844-1922)