Sydney: Australian Board of Missions, 1933. First Edition. **Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander browsers are advised that this item contains images of people who have died.
Hardcover (18.6 x 12.5cm); pp.  147 [1, colophon]; 8 illustrations as called for; maroon cloth covered boards; gilt lettering to spine (completely faded); an important association copy with a lengthy inscription in ink occupying the front pastedown, as well as the recto and verso of the front free endpaper; important association copy with lengthy inscription that flows from the front paste down to the recto and verso of the front free endpaper. The inscription is by Norman Gowing, Anglican Mission Priest, to his aunt and uncle. Gowing was responsible for the Aboriginal mission at Cowal Creek (Injinoo), on the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula, a region where the author of the book, Reverend Ernest Gribble, had also served.
Boards rubbed and flecked (most noticeably the lower board) slight lean, pages lightly toned.
The inscription in full reads: To Auntie & Uncle / with love/ from their Nephew / Norman/ 1936./ The Torres Straits Islanders are not Australian Aboriginals - they are a distinct race (more intelligent). But I am in charge of one Aboriginal Mission on mail land of Australia at a place called Cowal Creek. I visited Cowal Creek on Dec 2nd & 3rd (1936). The people heard I was coming or rather they heard a new mission priest was coming from England. When the "Herald" anchored the people saw Flag hoisted & lined the beach. As the small rowing boat brought me to the shore the sang one of the Advent hymns "Hark a thrilling voice is sounding Christ is nigh it seems to say" They sang this very beautifully. They had decorated a small bridge with flowers and built an arch. On the arch (plain boarding) they had drawn a lamp without light & near to this sketched a fire.The words they inscribed were: " Safely landed. Welcome to our Rev. Father. Our lamps have gone out. Give us of your oil." I stayed at Cowal Creek overnight. Took Evensong and Preached and took two Celebrations of Holy Communion next morning one being a special Mass for the children. I shall be visiting Cowal Creek Mission once a month. This book describes the nature of my Parishioners at Cowal Creek that's why I have sent it. It may not mention Cowal Creek as most of Australian Aboriginals are in other parts of Australia. The Church at Cowal Creek is dedicated to "S. Michael & All Angels". Norman 1936. These are the people who are referred to by whites as being little better than brutes & have been looked upon with scorn hence the title of book. Item #1354
E.R. Gribble was a reluctant Anglican missionary who worked as a stockman and looked like a bushranger. By all accounts a complicated man full of contradictions, he was punitive and militaristic in his manner of running missions yet helped to expose a massacre of Aborigines by a punitive police expedition. On another ocaasion he conceald from police the complicity of a mission member in a tribal murder. He suffered bouts of depression and mental instability, and after serving various missions and parishes for more than thirty years, he was finally dismissed from his position at the Forrest River Mission in 1928 for "financial mismanagement, authoritarianism, violation of Aboriginal traditions and an 'obsession with sexual morality'." He defended his record in three autobiographical works, this being the third.
Norman Gowing, the author of the book's inscription was welcomed by a very different kind of community than the sort that Gribble had a hand in establishing. As Helen Harper describes below, the community at Injinoo is unique in its sense that the residents chose to be there, rather than being forcibly relocated and moved.
"The Anglican missionaries who worked in the Torres Strait from 1915 began to visit Cowal Creek, as the settlement was then known, from 1919, and the people subsequently built their own church. From 1923 the settlement welcomed a series of Torres Strait Islander teachers, and from the mid-1930s an Islander Anglican deacon came to live in the settlement. Although government administration later assumed some control over the settlement, removing 'troublemakers' from the early 1920s on, and perhaps having some role in removing the Atambaya people from their camp at McDonnell, the settlement had not initially been established under the auspices of the government: it appears that the people gathered there of their own accord. In this the settlement was possibly unique in Australia, having been established by neither government nor church, and today in Injinoo there is still a very strong feeling that the people belong to the place of their own choice." Harper, Helen. Having language and getting language back: Traditional language use in injinoo today [online]. Australian Aboriginal Studies, No. 1, 1996: 34-44.