chapter  7
16 Pages

‘Promise Me You’ll Come to My Funeral’: Putting a Value on Wiradjuri Life Through Death

ByGaynor Macdonald

Wiradjuri country encompasses most of the riverine area of central New South Wales, which provided the pastoral and agricultural produce that turned Australia into a wealthy colony during the nineteenth century. Wiradjuri-speaking people, spread over 80,000 square kilometres of undulating hills, wide river valleys and innumerable creeks, had all become colonial subjects between the 1820s and 1860s, although not without periods of fierce resistance to the economic and therefore religious transformation of their country. By the end of the nineteenth century their ability to subsist independently had ended, with just a handful of older people still living in the bush. Small government-allocated reserves are now the core of about 17 ‘local Aboriginal communities’ in or on the edge of rural towns throughout the region.