‘Necessary self-defence?’

Pastoral control and Ngarrindjeri resistance at Waltowa Wetland, South Australia

Kelly D. Wiltshire, Mirani Litster, Grant Rigney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper explores frontier encounters between the Ngarrindjeri Nation and pastoralists with reference to Waltowa Wetland—a wetland located on the eastern shores of Lake Albert in South Australia (SA). Numerous accounts of this culture contact are framed by a colonial discourse of the ‘necessary self-defence’ taken by colonists to defend resources that included Ngarrindjeri Ruwe (country); however, little consideration is given to the ongoing agency and resistance of the Ngarrindjeri Nation to these imposed regimes of resource control. By first considering long-term Ngarrindjeri management of Yarluwar-Ruwe (sea-country), this paper frames the European colonisation of Waltowa Wetland as historical mismanagement and maintains Ngarrindjeri resistance to this mismanagement was seen as a threat that resulted in conflict between Ngarrindjeri Old People and pastoralists. Lastly, we explore how cultural memory has impressed these past hostilities onto place in the present, thereby symbolising the ongoing significance of these events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-114
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


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