Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Peggy Brock


This thesis investigates the social and racial dynamics of life in the West Kimberley between 1944 and 1969. It identifies three groups defined by their racial characteristics which co-existed on the land: full-descent, mixed-descent and Gudia. It argues that despite many people in these different groups being related to each other, their lives followed different trajectories as a result of government policies and laws which defined people by their degree of Aboriginality. These racial categories were reflected in the social and economic relations of full-descent, mixed descent and Gudia people. Coexistence of these groups is analysed by focusing on one extended mixed-descent 'Nygkina' family. During the 1940s, 50s. and 60s, the children of Fulgentius and Phillipena Fraser left their mission haven and entered the world of employment under Gudia management. In 1944, a young 21 year old Spaniard, Francisco Casanova-Rodriguez, ventured to the Kimberley to work as a station hand. Rodriguez crossed paths with the Frasers in 1946 and he married their eldest daughter, Katie, in December of that year. He was accepted into the mixed-descent family, where kindred relationships deepened by virtue of mutual religious belief systems, amidst a life of discrimination and financial hardships. Rodriguez and Katie were devout Catholics and that became the strength of their relationship. An insight into this family's coexistence with Gudia during the twentieth century is extracted from Rodriguez's diaries, oral histories collected from the Fraser family and associates, and from government archival files. With their mission training the Fraser children became subservient employees to Gudia pastoralists and town business people. Rodriguez taught himself his trade as a builder,-and he, too, worked for pastoralists in an industry that was expected to flourish. But the certainty of a profitable sheep industry never eventuated, and by the early 1970s there were no sheep stations operating in the region. Neither were there many Aboriginal people living and working on the stations. Most had relocated to the towns. Full-descent people lived on reserves, while both mixed-descent and Gudia people lived either in their own homes, or in Housing Commission houses.

Included in

Sociology Commons