Manilla's indigenous history is recorded as centred around the "Borah Crossing" area near today's Lake Keepit where around 30 indigenous people were known to be camped in the late 1800s. A bigger picture would place aboriginal occupation far further afield, through country surrounding and within the town limits of present day Manilla and particularly the ground at the joining of the Namoi and Manilla rivers known as "The Junction", pictured here in 1900. Aboriginal people were known to camp in this area well into the 20th century. Very little information exists in print with regard to the interaction of local peoples in the early days of European settlement. It is however recorded, that in 1901 the Aborigines Protection Board at Philip street Sydney, responded favourably to a request by the Manilla Progress Committee for the removal of native people to Borah Crossing by application to the Lands Department for the granting of 20 acres for a reserve.
Much is to be uncovered of 19th century incidents of attack and conflict. Locally, unrecorded oral history claims significant crimes were committed against indigenous families here during the previous century. However, nothing of local knowledge has ever been recorded. It is increasingly important that these stories be written down regardless of negative focus on a town or its past residents.
Two research projects of note are attempting to bring unrecorded incidents into focus:
The University of Newcastle is conducting major research into mapping Colonial Frontier Massacres between 1788 & 1930.
A separate project seeks to map through public input and the sharing of oral history, the 'Names of Places' throughout the continent, which are reputed to be sites of conflict or attack. From public contribution of spoken knowledge, research can then be conducted and the history addressed.
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HISTORY of MANILLA N.S.W.