Correspondence, W MacDougall, 31 October 1958


Narional Archives of Australia Canberra Office A6456 R136/007 Correspondence, W MacDougall, 31 October 1958 Woomera, SA 31 October 1958 Superintendent Woomera, SA Halfcaste Babies Whilst on patrol I visited the Warburton Range Mission on 14th October, 1958. Maira, second wife of Harry was in the camp. She was the ringleader of the three girls reported on misbehaviour in the vicinity of the Blackstone Ranges last year. She was also used by Harry to assess the prospects of a successful stealing raid on several mining camps. I sent a message to her to come and speak to me but she and her mother promptly went bush. Next dat Mr Green, Mr Fowler and I followed them in the Mission Landrover, they were not many miles away. Maira, once assured that I was not acting on behalf of the police and did not intend taking her away, talked freely. It was established that she is now accepted as Harry's second wife. Both she and her mother stated that she had had a halfcaste child, a male and still-born. She intended returning to Harry after a short holiday at the Mission, and she stated that Harry was waiting for her in the vicinity of Blackstone until she returned, but was keeping out of sight. I asked her to tell Harry that I urgently wanted to speak to him when she returned to Blackstone. Mr Green suggested that Maira and her mother travel with me to Blackstone, and that they bring Harry in to see me. Lilly, the mother, refused to go but Stanley, her father, volunteered. On arrival at Blackstone we found that Harry had been arrested and had, with two others, been taken to Oodnadatta 24 hours earlier. I returned Stanley and Maira to the Mission. During the trip I tried to secure accurate information with regards to alleged misconduct at Tollu. I persistently tried to check Maira's story by getting her to repeat it, which she did with a great amount of detail drawing plans in the dust. Maira's story is as follows - Maira and two friends Nora and Nipin were kept by three white men at Tollu for some considerable time being given five meals a day, breakfast, dinner, tea, morning tea, and afternoon tea. Food supplied being beef, mutton, piggy piggy, tea, sugar, bread, and jam. All three girls travelled in vehicles with the men concerned whenever possible. Finally the men persuaded the girls to drink wine and stay all night in the bunkhouse, each occupying a bed with one of the men. Maira was the only one of the girls who conceived. That night's activity terminated the association, the baby duly arrived still-born, a male child. On checking the above story with Mr Laine at Blackstone, I discovered that in many respect it was fictious. Mr Laine's records showed that the three men named were not at any one time working together at Tollu. None of the men drank, bought, or secured wine while employed. Mr Laine also stated that the work being carried out by those men at Tollu was important and was constantly supervised by himself and other senior employees. No suspicious incidents were observed. This destroys any value there may have been in Maira's story. It is obvious that misconduct occurred somewhere in the Reserve. Why Maira tried to implicate the men who named I do not know. I am prepared to accept the following facts :- (a) Maira produced a still-born male halfcaste child. (b) That she is now Harry's second wife. (c) That she was punished by Harry for associating with a white man. Two spear wounds. Nora and Nipin have not yet been interviewed by me. I recommend that :- (a) The supported statement that the halfcaste male child was still-born be accepted. (b) For the present no further action be taken in regards to the alleged killing of halfcaste babies. (c) That Maira be confined to one of the Missions during Harry's term in gaol - six months. (d) That Harry on his return to the Reserve be instructed to keep his wife well away from white man camps. While at Blackstone I saw the halfcaste child, Silver, born to Kunjapai, wife of Jimmy. She was born about last Christmas. It is alleged this child was conceived in the Musgrave Range whilst Mines Department employees were drilling for water. W B MacDougall Native Patrol Officer
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