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Buckley carrying spears, approaching a group of Wathaurong
, c. 1880-1901

by Tommy McRae

black ink pen on paper (frame: 48.7 cm x 42.9 cm, image: 30.0 cm x 23.0 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

Yakaduna (born between 1820 and 1836, died 1901), also known as Tommy McRae, Tony McRae, and Tommy Barnes, was a Wahgunyah man of the Kwatkwat people whose Country stretches south of the Murray River near the junction of the Goulburn River in Victoria. Living on Country all his life, Yakaduna grew up at a time of great change, witnessing the start of European settlement in the 1830s, the gold rush of the 1850s, and working as a stockman by the 1860s. Despite the profound changes wrought on traditional life, Yakaduna continued to be a keeper of cultural practices and knowledge through his drawings. His works show hunting, fighting, and ceremonies, and also document the relationship between his people and the settlers. A number of his works relate the story of William Buckley, an escaped convict who was mistaken for the spirit of an Ancestor due to a spear he took from a burial site, and who went on to live with Yakaduna’s people. While Yakaduna’s drawings were in high demand and collected by settlers including Theresa Walker, his skills and relationships with the settlers did not exclude him from the Board for the Protection of Aborigines, nor the resulting initiatives which resulted in all of his children being taken away. He passed away in 1901 at Lake Moodemere, having been prevented from seeing his children again.

Koorie Heritage Trust Collection
Accession number: LOAN2018.28.3