Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago
About the book
'Meeting the Waylo' is a history of story-making about the experiences of Migeo, Boongaree and Bundle, three Indigenous Australians who were intermediaries on board maritime expeditions in the early nineteenth century. These Indigenous men travelled to the archipelagos of the north-west of Western Australia, where they became central figures in encounters between the crew and local Indigenous groups onshore.
About the author
Tiffany Shellam lectures in History at Deakin University. She works collaboratively with Noongar people and historians, museum curators, archivists and librarians to critique the archives, unearthing hidden and alternative histories generated by encounters between Indigenous people and European explorers and setters in the early nineteenth century. Her first book, 'Shaking Hands on the Fringe: Negotiating the Aboriginal World at King George's Sound', was published by UWA Publishing in 2009.
Relying on a carefully nuanced argument based on a minute and critical reading of the sources, Shellam explores the roles of three Indigenous men- Migeo, Boongaree and Bundle- in mediating between the leaders of Phillip Parker King's second hydrographic expedition (1838-43) to the north west coast of Australia and the local Waylo people.
But this book is also a case study in how historians can use sources written by Europeans to illuminate Indigenous views and understandings, because Shellam refuses to take these documents at their face value. Instead, with a fine critical eye, she looks beyond the Eurocentric cultural assumptions underpinning them to determine a more subtle understanding of the cultures both of the mediators and the Waylo. In the process she also narrates a more complicated set of stories of Indigenous-European encounters. Both in its approach and content this is a path breaking book.