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Video Clip Synopsis:
The Yugal Cattle Co was given a grant of $336,000 to go into business running a cattle station. Their dreams of making money from cattle and beef export are big but there are problems. Traditional Indigenous laws are different from white man’s law.

2min 21sec

Indigenous Business - A Cattle Station is an excerpt from the film The Yugal Cattle Company (8 mins), produced in 1973.



The Yugal Cattle Company: After a protracted land rights battle, the Yugal Cattle Company established the first Indigenous-owned cattle station on a reserve in the Northern Territory. This short film looks at the history of the station and the company, which represents the local Aboriginal community, as well as its aspirations and the challenges it faces.

The Yugal Cattle Company was produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 11-12
Theme: Indigenous Work

Key Concepts

Culture clash; Economic sustainability; Land rights; Law

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
NSW:Aboriginal Studies Stage 6
NT:Aboriginal Studies Stages 1 and 2
Qld:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
SA:Aboriginal Studies Stages 1 and 2
Tas:11/12 Aboriginal Studies
Vic:Koorie History Unit 2
WA:Australian Studies Year 11

Context / Background Information

Before 1788, Aboriginal Australians enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle where men, women and children lived in harmony with each other and the environment. Mother Earth was regarded as sacred which everyone respected and did not exploit. This changed dramatically when the invaders arrived from England.

In many areas of the country Aborigines were placed on reserves and missions where white management had total control over their Aboriginal lifestyle. The hunted and gathered foods were replaced with high carbohydrate rations. Language and ceremonies were forbidden. The colonists brought with them their social order and notion of property and Christianity. Aboriginal men were drastically losing their role in society. The women were used as domestics and sexual partners for the white invaders. It is estimated one in six Aboriginal children were sent away to welfare homes or to other reserves far away and many did not ever return home.

In 1971, an Aborigine artist, Harold Thomas, designed the Aboriginal flag in the colours red, black and yellow. Black for the people, the red for the earth and the yellow for the sun, the giver of life. In the early 1970s, the first major department for Aboriginal affairs was created under the federal Labor government. Money was allocated for housing, health, schooling and various projects. This was a form of compensation to try to overcome the poverty among Aborigines. Most of the funding went to white public servants in the administration, and little reached the grassroot-levels. At this time the Gurindji people of the Northern Territory, after a long-standing campaign, were given some landrights. Since then there has been much legislation and government inquiries into landrights and heritage acts.

In the 1970s the Commonwealth Government encouraged some Aboriginal groups to set up enterprises on land that had been made available through Land Rights legislation. However most Aboriginal people still have not had success in land claims.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. Why is this group of people operating this farm?
  3. What difficulties does their traditional culture face in the modern world?
  4. Is the clash a cultural one or an economic one?
  5. How do they deal with this clash between traditional culture and modern economic demands?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Aboriginal society was tied in with a traditional economy. What advantages and what disadvantages might the substitution of a modern economic enterprise for traditional economic activities have for Indigenous people?
  2. Traditional Indigenous culture was closely tied to the environment. How might the running of a cattle ranch help maintain these traditional ties and associations?

Modules That Use This Clip

SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, English Year 11-12