Australian Historical Studies
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Much information on traditional indigenous society in Australian historiography and anthropology stems from the vast store of eyewitness accounts left by missionaries, settlers and government officials. How cautious does one need to be in using such material? After all that it reveals about the moral and legal universe of its writers, can it speak reliably about traditional society? This article traces the production of knowledge about indigenous gender relations at Cape York Peninsula through a lineage of sources from the 1890s to the 1990s and concludes that unless the assumptions embedded in the primary sources are clearly identified, the discourse on Aboriginal womanhood continues to be a colonising project.