What did the boys learn from the experience? In short, that white Australians were evil and violent, in contrast to the nature loving and spiritual Aborigines:
The most positive thing I gained from the journey was an insight into the amazing, undiscovered, indigenous culture ... The ways the Aborigines respect nature at such a spiritual level ... Our whole group was transformed ... We learned about the horrors which occurred in the early settlement of Australia. At one stage the group was very disturbed, and we were fighting back tears of sorrow. Our indigenous tour guide Quenten told us that some indigenous elders were forced to dig their own graves before they were shot and buried in them. We also came across an old barn where aboriginal men, women and children were herded like sheep, and massacred like lambs to the slaughter.
At other times we were fighting back tears of joy. We became a part of spiritual dances and rituals ... I will never be able to forget that week which saw me and the rest of the group come right out of our comfort zones ...
As I've written previously, this kind of thing is dangerous. There are conscientious whites who lose a sense of their moral status and authority in society when they accept such vilification of whites as the truth. Their path to redemption is then to break ranks and to identify against their own tradition in favour of the other. As I wrote in a recent post:
Such people will want to speak with moral authority in society, but how can they as white oppressors? The path to redemption is, again, to break ranks and to identify with the non-white other in opposition to other unenlightened whites.
This helps to explain why some liberal whites are so obsessed with an anti-white/pro-other agenda. It comes to express their self-concept and identity. It lies at the heart of how they see themselves and the ground on which they stand.
And what of the massacre claims? It's not likely these took place. I searched a list of claimed massacres of Aborigines during the period of settlement and there is no mention of such events in the Yorke Peninsula. The claims of massacres often turn out to be false when they are properly investigated.
Keith Windschuttle is one person who has undertaken such investigative work. I'll give just one example from his book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Sir William Deane, as Governor-General, once apologised on behalf of the nation for a massacre by whites of Aboriginal women and children at Mistake Creek in the 1930s.
However, when the massacre was investigated it turned out to have taken place in 1915 and to have been perpetrated not by whites but by Aborigines (the outcome of a dispute over an Aboriginal woman).
What those Year 9 boys should really be taught is to ask for evidence before accepting claims of massacres. They should also be made aware that frontier violence did not go all one way. I wonder, for instance, if they know of the Maria massacre of 1840, when a group of whites was shipwrecked off the coast of South Australia and then massacred by Aborigines, their bodies being later found stuffed down wombat holes.
Do the boys know of some of the less environmentally friendly practices of Aborigines? Such as the deliberate burning down of forests to flush out animals which transformed the type of vegetation cover over much of Australia?
Are they taught to appreciate the great nature poets and landscape painters of their own tradition? Why not, for instance, immerse them in Wordsworth?
And why should they be taught to associate Aboriginal culture with spirituality rather than their own? Particularly since they are attending a Catholic college. Doesn't Catholicism have something to do with spirituality? Or doesn't that count?
I'm not at all against the Year 9 boys learning to appreciate what Aboriginal culture has to offer. But it should be from a strong, confident, positive awareness of their own culture that they engage with others. Otherwise their school is failing them.