Thursday, June 13, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeVolume 28Death is always in their company

Death is always in their company


Rickey Ryder, on the left, was killed in his mid 20s from a knife wound in the thigh inflicted by a cousin brother in a raid at Charles Creek camp.

The hospital, where he died, was accused of neglect. By the time these allegations were dismissed the perpetrator of the crime eluded apprehension. Rickey’s death precipitated others among the Ryders.

The death of 33-year-old Donny Ryder in 2009 at the hands of five young white men attracted national media.

His mother, Therese broke standard protocol allowing his photo to be published and pleading for no reprisals.

Family connections soon had the Four Corners team at my door but I could add little to what was already in the press.

Coronial reports and the hospital’s crowded emergency unit consistently showed most violence to be Aboriginal on Aboriginal.

In this instance the town’s racism occupied the bold print. Clearly Donny’s aggrieved mother thought the sentencing was racist and voiced as much as she left the court, comforted by angry family.

Many months later, another brother who’d gone missing soon after the trial, was found dead in his car far west of town.

There were others. The infant depicted here, Clinton Johnson, also died in his early 20s.

Christopher Neal, Arthur Webb and Joseph Johnson died of medical complications.

Joey Hayes was run over by car.

Jamesy Johnson, sitting with thumb in flagon, on was reputedly “sung” for drunken driving that killed elder, Alphonse Hayes, in a rollover near Emily Gap.

None were much more than 30.

Arranye was the solitary male in camp to gradually decline in his 70s.

Where else in Australia was this happening?

PHOTO AT TOP: Painting by the author. Instagram rodmoss_art


  1. I’m reminded of the February 1966 edition of the National Geographic which published a feature story “The Alice in Australia’s Wonderland”.
    One photo in the story features a group of “Aranda tribesmen” (including some young women) dressed in western garb performing country music with guitars and clapsticks for tourists on their way to Palm Valley.
    Some years ago a friend who knew all of the people in that photo observed to me that every one of them were murdered and / or committed murder. None were alive.
    That photo would have been taken in 1965, the year following equal civil rights to all Aboriginal people in the NT, including access to alcohol – and that’s what destroyed them.


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