A Victorian historical author is calling for a main street in Wangaratta to be renamed amid a national push to take down colonial statues considered offensive to Indigenous Australians.
- An author who wrote a book on the Pangerang tribe wants history acknowledged in their honour
- The Black Lives Matter movement has ignited debate around controversial historical statues and place names
- The son of the co-author of the book on the Pangerang tribe says removing history isn’t the answer
The Black Lives Matter protests have ignited widespread debate for the removal of monuments of colonisers including Lachlan Macquarie and Captain James Cook.
Wangaratta academic Wendy Mitchell said Faithfull St should be renamed due to pioneer George Faithfull’s violent history towards Aboriginal people.
“He really wreaked havoc on families and we know this because he wrote it in his own hand, he tells of the carnage that he inflicted,” she said.
Pangerang people ‘should be remembered’
George Faithfull was one of the early pioneers and developers of the north-east Victorian town.
But Ms Mitchell, who co-authored Pangerang historical book Corroboree or War Party: The Last Dance of the Wangaratta Pangerang with Indigenous man Freddie Dowling, said Faithfull had a violent history.
The book, based on historical content and Faithfull’s own notes, details his treatment and the killing of the tribe.
“European squatters trampled unknowingly, blind and ignorant, through the Pangerang’s long-established patterns,” Ms Mitchell said.
“They either killed the Aboriginals or drove them out, used them for free labour as domestic servants, or used them for their own sexual purposes.”
Ms Mitchell said the pioneers accumulated wealth and power through land and that the violent history should be acknowledged.
She suggested the main street be renamed to acknowledge the history.
“I think the conversation needs to be had about George Faithfull and the memorial of him,” she said.
“The Pangerang were incredibly brave and that’s why people should remember what happened to them and work out a way that celebrates their history.”
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Removing statutes ‘not the answer’
The son of author Freddie Dowling, Pangerang man Rod Dowling, said he believed removing the name was not the answer and was potentially removing history.
“If you take away the street names, the people that did those things they’re not going to be there to be remembered and no one will know what they actually did,” Mr Dowling said.
Ms Mitchell said a plaque honouring the Pangerang could also help locals acknowledge the history.
“There should be some story boards to actually say what happened right here at this spot, what George Faithfull did and what happened to those people,” she said.
“It’s a pretty sad history.”
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