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07. Mahomed Usef
Title : 07. Mahomed Usef 07. Mahomed Usef
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Creator : Mountford, Charles P. (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976, photographer
Source : PRG 1218/34/125B
Date of creation : 1935
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 60 x 60 mm
Catalogue record
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Description :

Portrait of Mahomed [Mohomet] Usef, an Afghan cameleer at Lyndavale, near Erldunda, Central Australia.

Mahomed Usef was known to the Aboriginal people as they brought him dog (dingo) scalps to trade in return for food. As dingoes preyed on livestock, they were hunted in an effort to reduce their numbers.

The dog scalps paid a useful bounty and became quite an Outback currency. Aboriginal people traded the scalps for tobacco, tea, sugar and tools and the recipients would claim their bounty at local police stations. It was on such a hunt for dingo scalps that the Aboriginal men had killed their tribesman, Kai-Umen. One of the Aboriginal men accused of the killing, Cowarie, left the group after the attack and went to Mahomed Usef at Uluru (page 93, Warden).

In October 1934, McKinnon arrested Usef for entering and remaining on an Aboriginal Reserve (known as the South-Western or Petermann Reserve), where he was collecting dingo scalps. This was at the same time that McKinnon apprehended the Aboriginal men accused of killing Kai-Umen. Usef accompanied the group to Middleton Ponds Station (owned by Bob Buck). Usef then took himself to Alice Springs. It was at Middleton Ponds station that the Aboriginal men in custody escaped, perhaps because McKinnon has discovered a bullet in the skull of Kai-Umen's remains and asked the prisoners about it at Middleton Ponds. Yokununna was killed during the pursuit of the prisoners.

Later Usef was sought to give evidence when the Board enquired into the treatment of the Aboriginal men in McKinnon's custody. In his evidence of 1st June 1935, Usef states, 'I never saw McKinnon belt, kill, or touch any prisoner in my presence. And I did not see any [Aboriginal] get hit all the time I was with him', (Page 82, PRG 1218/5/2).

Related names :

Mountford, Charles P, (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976

Usef, Mahomed

Commonwealth Board of Enquiry into the alleged ill-treatment of Aborigines near Ayers Rock, 1935

Coverage year : 1935
Period : 1927-1939
Place : Central Australia
Region : Northern Territory
Further reading :

Lamshed, Max, 'Monty' : the biography of C.P. Mountford, [Adelaide] : Rigby, 1972

Warden, James. 'T.G.H. Strehlow and the 1935 Board of Inquiry into the alleged ill-treatment of Aborigines' in Traditions in the midst of change : communities, cultures and the Strehlow legacy in Central Australia : proceedings of the Strehlow Conference, Alice Springs 18-20 September 2002, Alice Springs, N.T. : Strehlow Research Centre, 2004, pp. 89-100

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