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Researched and prepared by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) Aboriginal History WA (AHWA in partnership with the Mount Margaret Aboriginal community to commemorate the Centenary of the Mission.
DLGSC pays respect to the Wongatha people as the custodians of the land on which the Mount Margaret Community is located, and to all Aboriginal people past and present who are linked to the area historically and culturally. Most importantly, recognition
is given to the children whose drawings are represented in this publication and their descendants who kindly supported this project.
Please be advised this publication contains images of people who have passed away.
[Cover] A panorama of Mount Margaret Mission, 1933.
A1340_ER3_84A3, Schenk Family Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
Published 2022 by Nani Creative.
The year 2021 marks the centenary of the establishment of the Mount Margaret Mission, a place of great cultural and historical significance to Aboriginal people throughout the Goldfields region and beyond.
To commemorate this significant milestone, Aboriginal History WA (AHWA) has taken the opportunity of highlighting a number of ‘long-lost’ crayon drawings produced by some of the children attending school during 1939.
As a collection these drawings provide a unique window into life on the mission through the eyes and creative minds of the children — a perspective that is almost always silenced in the written record. They vary in context, capturing elements of
traditional life, the natural environment and the inner workings of the imagination.
Some of the artists would go onto achieve national recognition in their professional life and within the community, never losing their links to Mount Margaret.
A panorama of Mount Margaret Mission, 1933.
BA1340_ERA3_84A3, Schenk Family Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
Hello, my name is Laurel Cooper (nee Johnston) and I’m 87 years old. I am the second youngest of the last four girls still alive who were at the Mount Margaret School when the pictures in this book were drawn. Dora, Lorraine and Maisie are the other
three. They were my sisters in the Graham Home (the dormitory).
I would have been in the kindergarten at the time and I cannot remember Mr Tindale who collected the drawings but I do remember all of the girls and boys who drew them, even though some of them passed away many years ago.
When I looked at the drawings they brought back memories of the time when I was at the mission. I can still remember how it looked so long ago, our old school building, the church, the hall and the houses. Some of the people who lived in them had pretty
gardens just like you see in this book. I also remember the ‘early days’ cars and trucks and how loud they were, not like the ones we have today. The boys liked drawing these. There are also pictures of warlku (quandong) and marlukurukuru
(sturt pea). The warlku is my favourite and we still go out and collect them as well as Karlkurla (bush pear) today.
When I was at school I liked to draw. My teachers Miss Jones and then Mrs Bennett and others would hand out sheets of paper and crayons and we would draw whatever we wanted to. I can still remember my first drawing, it was one of my pet dog, Roogy. He
had big, long ears. I was awarded two cherries by my teacher because the picture was so good. I cried when I had to leave my poor dog behind. On other occasions we were given chalk and a slate which we would use time and time again, just like writing
on a blackboard.
A couple of years ago one of the pictures that I drew at school along with a story was found in the museum in Melbourne. I was flown across there to see it and given a copy to keep.
Even when we were out of school, we would still draw pictures. Sometimes we used charcoal and drew on the tank stand or on the buildings. These pictures didn’t last very long, especially in the winter when the rain would wash them off. Our mothers
also used charcoal to darken our skin when we knew the policemen or protectors were looking for us.
We also used our milpirnti (bent lengths of wire) to create pictures in the sand while telling our stories. We would smooth out the sand, draw a picture with the wire, then smooth it out again to allow us to create another picture for the new part of
the story. This was our favourite way of telling a bush story, especially for the girls. A few years ago, I found a copper milpirnti at Gwalia where we used to play sport and still have it with me. I also have coloured pencils and paper at home for
visitors to use to draw pictures just like I used to.
I think that all of the boys and girls whose work is in this book would be pukulpa (delighted) to know that their work has not been lost. I know that Dora, Lorraine and Maisie would be.
I would like to thank all the people from Aboriginal History WA for all the work they have done in putting this wonderful book together. It not only gives us a picture of what life was like at the time but, most importantly, provides us with a special
way to celebrate the centenary of Mount Margaret.
Located 20km south west of Laverton on the traditional lands of the Wongatha people, Mt Margaret was founded in 1921 by evangelist Rodolphe Samuel Schenk with the assistance of the Australian Aborigines Mission. Initially established as a refuge for
the people of the surrounding area, by the end of the decade the ethos would become increasingly diversified with the creation of a school, dormitories, and various commercial enterprises in line with Schenk’s vision of evangelicalism and education.
During this period, many children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to the mission in line with government policy whilst others were placed there by their parents. In some instances, entire families were admitted.
For over half a century, countless families would pass through the mission, some staying a short time whilst others more permanently. People were drawn to the mission from as far east as the Warburton Ranges, Wiluna to the north, with a smaller number
coming from the south coast and south-west regions.
From an historical perspective, Mount Margaret is generally acknowledged as being more caring and progressive than other institutions of the era.
By the end of the 1950s the number of families residing at the mission had dwindled significantly with most of the residents leaving to take up opportunities in the surrounding pastoral industry or nearby towns. This trend continued through until the
1975 when the mission closed and responsibility for the community was transferred the Aboriginal Movement for Outback Survival.
Three years later the present school facilities were established catering for students from kindergarten through to year 6. An integral part of the school curriculum is devoted to the retention of the Wongatha culture with art continuing to be a valued
form of expression.
The crayon drawings featured in this booklet were collected by the University of Adelaide and the Harvard Board for Anthropological Research on 11 May 1939. An additional 17 were acquired from children attending the mission school at Gnowangerup and 56
from the Moore River Native Settlement school between 1938-1939. A total of 993 drawings were obtained from locations throughout Australia.
The board also collected genealogies and other anthropological and sociological information. Although a genealogy was not recorded for each person within the location, the number of the sheet on which the individual appears is listed within their profile.
The children were provided with sheets of brown wrapping paper (36cm by 53.5cm) and coloured crayons and asked to draw a picture with no limitations placed on the subject matter.
The value of the collection is unquestionable, serving as an important memento to the descendants of the artists and the community as a whole.
BA1340_ERA3_9B, Schenk Family Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
Also known as Kanama @ Kunima
Red, orange, yellow, brown, blue, black and lead pencil drawing of a person, fruit, a car and a bird
13 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 124
SAM identifier N.2315/1, AA 346/18/15/19
Also known as Robin Blizzard
Red, brown, yellow, white, green, blue, black and lead pencil drawing of a house, flowers, a person and a truck by Woobalie.
12 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 125
SAM identifier N2315/14, AA 346/18/15/29
Also known as Morris Brownley
Red, white, brown, blue, green, black and lead pencil drawing including a car, a bird and a tree by Morris Noorie Lince.
Genealogy sheet 152
SAM identifier N.2265, AA 346/18/15/9
Red, white, blue, brown, green, black and lead pencil drawing of a house, flowers, pot plants and two trees by Lena Cooper.
11 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 147
SAM identifier N2315/7, AA 346/18/15/1
Pink, brown, blue, green, white, black and lead pencil drawing of two buildings, a pot plant and a rabbit by Lorna.
14 years old when drawing was made.
SAM identifier N.2270 Lorna, AA 346/18/15/2
3 September 2008, Mount Lawley.
9 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 172
SAM identifier N.2315/10, AA 346/18/15/28
Brown, green and lead pencil drawing of a tree, grass and a rabbit by Edna.
Genealogy sheet 154
SAM identifier N.2315/4, AA 346/18/15/3
Brown, green, black, blue and lead pencil drawing including a truck and trees by Ollan Dimer.
SAM identifier N.2266, AA 346/18/15/4
Red, green, black and lead pencil drawing of a truck, a house and a tree by Rollick.
SAM identifier N.2315/3, AA 346/18/15/5
Also known as Billy
Red, brown, black, green, blue and lead pencil drawing including two trucks, two people and a well by Billy.
16 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 48, 124, 127, 134 and 140
SAM identifier N.2315/12, AA 346/18/15/11
Also known as Teddy Evans
Red, white, brown, black and lead pencil drawing including a house, a car and a tree by Coomarnoo.
SAM identifier N.2196, AA 346/18/15/17
Also known as Bessie Henderson
Red, yellow, brown, green, blue and lead pencil drawing of three birds, a rabbit and flowers resembling the Sturt Desert Pea by Ninggarlie.
15 years old when drawing was made.
Genealogy sheet 174
SAM identifier N.2250, AA 346/18/15/27
Also known as Snowy Hill
Yellow, green and lead pencil drawing of two people and two lights on an attached piece of paper by Ngoonjie. Labels include: 'bush aboriginal being shown electric lights by a partly civilised child'.
Circa 6 years old when drawing was made.
SAM identifier AA 346/18/15/26
Also known as Jean Jones
Red, pink, blue, green, black, white and lead pencil drawing of a house, two birds and flowers by Jean.
Genealogy sheet 185
SAM identifier N2251, AA 346/18/15/23
Red, white, yellow brown, green, blue and lead pencil drawing of two houses, trees, a man shooting a kangaroo, birds and the sun by Lance.
Genealogy sheet 155
SAM identifier N2264, AA 346/18/15/6
Red, yellow, white, brown, green, blue, black and lead pencil drawing of a house, a tree, a truck, a fence, a gate and the sun by Ray McGrath.
SAM identifier N.2268, AA 346/18/15/7
Brown, green and blue drawing of trees by Freddie.
Genealogy sheet 171
SAM identifier N.2225 , AA 346/18/15/21
Also known as Mary Hill
Red, pink, brown, green, white, black, blue and lead pencil drawing of a house, flowers, hills and trees by Mary Mindermara.
Genealogy sheet 134
SAM identifier N2315/9, AA 346/18/15/8
Red, pink, green, brown, white, black, blue and lead pencil drawing of a house, three trees, flowers and clouds by Gracie.
Genealogy sheet 157
SAM identifier N.2269, AA 346/18/15/22
Also known as Tom Murray
Red, white, brown, green and black drawing of a house, trees, phone lines and three people playing with a skipping rope by Cumba.
Genealogy sheet 166
SAM identifier N.2224, AA 346/18/15/18
Red, orange, green, brown and black drawing of a fruit tree by Dora.
Genealogy sheet 173
SAM identifier N.2315/2, AA 346/18/15/10
Red, pink, orange, brown, white, green and black drawing of flowers, fruit and a rabbit by Jimmar.
Genealogy sheet 156
SAM identifier N.2315/6 , AA 346/18/15/24
Green, blue, brown and black drawing including a house, a boat, trees, a river and a car by Merle.
SAM identifier N2315/8, AA 346/18/15/25
Also known as Arthur Stokes
Red, black, white and brown drawing of a house, hills and a car by Arthur.
SAM identifier AA 346/18/15/14, N.2315/5
Also known as Donald Stokes
Red, white, brown, green, pink, blue and lead pencil drawing of a house, flowers, trees, a fence and a gate by Donald.
SAM identifier N.2195, AA 346/18/15/20
Red, brown, green, blue, white and lead pencil drawing of an elephant, trees, a person, a windmill, a building and a car by Charlie.
Genealogy sheet 140
SAM identifier N2315/13, AA 346/18/15/12
SAM identifier N.2315/11, AA 346/18/15/13
Also known as Bill Wesley
White, brown, green, blue, yellow and black drawing including a boat, a house, a tree and the sun by Billarissa.
Genealogy sheet 165
SAM identifier N.2193, AA 346/18/15/15
Also known as Charlie Winter
Born: Circa 1925, Burtville
Language group: Nangatadjara
Died: 29 August 1989, Laverton
Red, yellow, green, pink, blue, brown and lead pencil drawing including houses, trees, two people birds, plants and two ponds by Boongie.
Circa 14 years old when drawing was made.
SAM identifier N.2223, AA 346/18/15/16
Era4/53A2, Schenk Family Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
009973d, Schenk Family Collection, State Library of Western Australia.
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