Recognition at last for a Queensland hero you may never have heard of

The commemoration of First Nations hero Dundalli, the last person publicly executed in Queensland, has been marked as a “truth-telling story of state significance” by the government for the first time.

Jan 05, 2023, updated Jan 05, 2023
Minister Craig Crawford will formally recognise First Nations hero Dundalli this week. (Image:AAP)

Minister Craig Crawford will formally recognise First Nations hero Dundalli this week. (Image:AAP)

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance group on Thursday commemorate Dundalli at Brisbane’s Post Office Square, the site of the former Queen Street Gaol where he was hanged in 1855.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford says he will also mark Dundalli Remembrance Day for the Turrwan, or great leader in the Yuggara language, on Thursday.

“Everyone in Queensland should know the history of Dundalli; it is a truth-telling story of state significance,” Mr Crawford told AAP.

Dundalli was a Dalla man from the Blackall Ranges who was chosen to lead the resistance against European colonists, who were encroaching on their lands and shooting and poisoning them.

For a decade, he led attacks on settlers and violent robberies of homesteads as a form of payback, or restorative justice, in Indigenous law.

After he was caught, a sheriff ordered Dundalli to be hung on January 5, 1855, and he was executed the following day.

Mr Crawford said recognising Dundalli’s story will be one of many truth-telling initiatives to promote understanding and reconciliation before historic laws are introduced to parliament for a treaty with Indigenous peoples later this year.

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With federal government also planning a referendum on amending the constitution to establish an Indigenous advisory body to parliament, he said the time had come to “embrace the spirit” of First Nations’ heroes like Dundalli.

“He was the Aboriginal Turrwan, a lawman and great leader in Yuggara language, chosen to unite all the different tribes to seek restorative justice against shootings and poisonings of Aboriginal people by settlers in colonial Brisbane,” the minister said.

“To colonialists, he was a murderer and a criminal. But to his people, he was a warrior, a freedom fighter, ordained by customary law to protect his people and his lands and waters.”

“Now 168 years on, I think most Australians can embrace the spirit of Dundalli, as we welcome a new era of reconciliation through Voice, Treaty and Truth.”

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