Pirltawardli Research Blog

Welcome to the Pirltawardli Research Blog

After about seven years of part-time research around the story of the four German "Dresden Missionaries" and their encounter with Aboriginal communities in the early days of the colony of South Australia, I felt I needed a place to publish my findings rather than storing them in folders and bookshelves.  As this is a private initiative with no funding and structural support, it has always been and will continue to be, slow-pace going to get the pieces and bits together. 

Elsewhere I have mentioned how I got interested in this story during an English Language course at TAFE SA in 2007.  What fascinated me was its two aspects,

  • the highly successful interaction and communication between these four young German men and the local Aboriginal people on the "Adelaide Plains", now being called "Kaurna", on the one hand,
  • and the public judgement of their failure as missionaries by local, church and mission historians both in Australia and "at home".

This was, and still is to me, a fundamental contradiction which can not be reconciled.  Perhaps there is, and will never be, any reconciliation. 

Like in Germany and more broadly in Western Christianity our relationship with people and communities of Jewish and Muslim heritage, it seems as if here in Australia the European settler community has never faced its collective and individual guilt of displacing unsuspecting peoples of First Australians and the whole-sale theft of their land and livelihood.

In this encounter there is an element reaching much deeper than the obvious debate about recognition of the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia and the repatriation of their land through legal processes, as fraud as they may be, like the Native Title Claims.

The members of the three Aboriginal communities who engaged with the four German missionaries in the mid-1800s in the southern parts of what is now South Australia, challenged them in the core of their faith.  Subtly, the writings of these missionaries, being the only surviving link, show how they changed their attitude and behaviour in favour of the Aboriginal people around them, as much as it was possible at their times. 

The key question to this website, therefore, is the teaching influence the Aboriginal people achieved over these missionaries, or in more general terms, the self-agency of what is now called he Kaurna Community (and other Aboriginal peoples) in incorporating these four young Germans and and interacting with them over against a whole-sale onslaught by colonial settlers.

In this Blog I hope to explore this question in more detail, and the website as such, if all goes well, will provide some of the evidence.

For reference:

Administrator. Pirltawardli Research Blog :: Welcome to the Pirltawardli Research Blog, in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 07.02.2015. Last updated: 04.03.2016.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=meta_blog&nr=1133>. Viewed 17.10.2019.