Summary

Note: This object includes a derogatory slur, depiction of and reference to First Nations people. Such words and sentiments are not condoned by Museums Victoria which considers them to be racist. Historical distance and context does not excuse or erase this fact.

Rectangular shaped piece of mulga wood with bark left in place on the two long sides, 1930s. On the front side are 124 holes used for scoring in the card game of cribbage.

The Mulga wood 'Abo' brand was patented by Albert J. Wiley of Adelaide in 1932. A.J. Wiley had owned a woodturning business in Adelaide at least since 1902. By the 1930s Wiley had become a specialist in mulga wood ornaments. Wiley inspired Fred Eaton, camp missionary at Nepabunna to install lathes at the mission in order to teach the Aboriginal people under his care woodturning in 1938.

Physical Description

Almost rectangular shaped piece of mulga wood with bark left in place on the two long sides. On the front side are 124 holes used for scoring in the card game of cribbage. On the reverse is stamped in gold the maker's mark of a map of Australia (missing Tasmania( and the face of a First Peoples man. The right hand edge of the board has a metal plate screwed into it, possibly as a latter addition to hold together a split in the wood.

Significance

Mulga wood, an Australian acacia, was used by First Peoples to make boomerangs, spear points and shields. In the early twentieth century the wood became a popular timber for ornaments and souvenirs, such as this cribbage board. The way this particular piece was branded demonstrates the exploitation of First Peoples and First Peoples' culture to market products while attempting to legitimise a common racial slur.

As recently as the 2000s, such terms and imagery have been used, such as Tourism NT, a Northern Territory government agency, who paid for a sponsored Google link to this slur on the internet until it was removed on May 12, 2010.

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