The Proper-bad Lie: Aboriginal Responses to Western Education at Moola Bulla, 1910–1955

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Drawing on Cultural Interface as the theoretical framework, this thesis engages with the complexities and entanglements of Aboriginal childrenโ€™s experiences of Western education at Moola Bulla Native Cattle Station (Moola Bulla) in Western Australia, between 1910-55. Re-storying in this place-based project exposes the government failure to deliver Western education as promised to Aboriginal children in the East Kimberley region. By centring Aboriginal childrenโ€™s responses to the racialised regime at Moola Bulla, the research promotes a powerful narrative that acknowledges injustice whilst at the same time honouring Aboriginal agency. Reframing previous deficit misrepresentations of Indigeneity into strength-based narratives, the study articulates a resistance to colonial master narratives. Most important to the study is the honouring of those who once lived at Moola Bulla, many who are speaking back through the telling of their story. Additionally, the research centres the contributions Indigenous academics are making to the decolonisation of research. Moving away from colonial, paternalistic and racist interpretations of history, the research is designed to decolonise the narrative of Aboriginal education in remote Western Australia, using the wide and deep angle lens of qualitative historical research in education, filtered by critical and Indigenous methodologies. This polyvocal study synthesises 11 interviews conducted with Elders, Aunties and Uncles with published Aboriginal oral histories and testimonials given in the ๐˜‰๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜™๐˜ฆ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ต. The study is also guided by principles of ethical Indigenist research, and as such carries a moral imperative. This dissertation proposes that listening to Aboriginal responses to Western education from the past will better inform our engagement with the delivery of equitable educational opportunities for Aboriginal students in remote contexts in the future. Furthermore, the research will contribute to the wider academic community by addressing and encouraging accountability in Aboriginal education.
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