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Aboriginal Melbourne

Initial relations between indigenous and settler people in the Melbourne region were mixed, but combined to create a familiar pattern marked by colonial power. From the first, both cultural groups desired contact with and control over the other. The settlers sought conciliation with the Aboriginal people, 'savages' as they often termed them, to access their knowledge of the land and then to expropriate it. The Kulin sought to access some desirable European artefacts – steel axes, guns and the like - from these interloping 'white ghosts' and to tame them to Aboriginal purposes. Both sides had mixed views as to how to deal with the situation, but caution and conciliation initially prevailed. As more Europeans arrived to take advantage of the pastoral economy or to work in the growing town, the balance tipped in the Europeans' favour. Conciliation gave way to European arrogance and Aboriginal resentment. Once special Aboriginal legislation was introduced into the Parliament of Victoria in 1860, Aboriginal people were subordinate to the state. The 1920s saw the re-emergence of Aboriginal people in Fitzroy, most living around the intersection of George and Gertrude streets. This community, formed of people from all over the State, forged the first pan-Aboriginal political movement in Victoria. Koories now move more confidently in the wider community, adhering as always to their Aboriginal identities, kin and culture. Most Melburnians now respect these Koorie cultural expressions.