Mistake Creek Massacre

“I do this story again for the future, for the young ones.”

This painting portrays the Mistake Creek Massacre as told by Betty’s mother. Joe, an Aborigine from another country, had his eye on a married Gija woman. When the Gija were camping, he told station owners, the Rhatigan’s, that the Gija had killed their cow. Rhatigan, not realising it was a lie, told his men to saddle up. Joe rode ahead, shooting at the Gija party so he could get rid of the husband. Rhatigan followed behind, also shooting. One of the Gija party escaped and told police. They arrived at the camp but the rest of the party were all dead.

“That blackfella [Joe] tried to gallop away. The policeman got his workers to chase him on the back road. They shot him. I think they cruelled him again and chopped his head off and put it in the fire. That gardiya [whitefella] Rhatigan who shot them all, he grew up my mother. They punished him and made him walk to Halls Creek. My mother bin’ crying for him – but he won the court and, after, they found the cow coming back. Around that place at Mistake Creek that ground was still greasy.”

Courtesy of Warmun Art

..Natural ochre and pigments on canvas
..1000mm x 1200mm
Copyright Line
..Copyright Warmun Art Centre