Yagan

Yagan, Heirsson Island, Western AustraliaYagan was an Aboriginal Leader of the Nyungar people in Western Australia. In 1829,when Captain James Stirling established a colony on the Swan River, he proclaimed the Nyungar people British subjects. The Nyungar people had little choice but to accept the decision.

Yagan, who was keen to learn more about the new arrivals spoke basic English and often conversed with influential settlers about the inequality and injustice placed on his people.

In the pursuing years Yagan found himself in trouble with the law & in 1832 was sentenced to exile on Carnac Island. It wasn’t long before Yagan escaped off the island.

In 1833 Yagan was amongst three Aboriginal Tribal leaders who were declared outlaws when two white servants were speared on the Canning River.
Yagan, Western Australia

On July 11, 1833 Yagan was killed when reward money of £320 was placed on his head. Two white brothers, William and James Keats shot him while they shared a meal together.

Nineteen year old William Keats who fired the gun was killed by Yagan’s friends whilst James escaped.

Yagan’s head was later cut off by soldiers and preserved by smoking it in a hollow tree stump for several months.

Eventually Yagan’s head was sent to London where it was exhibited at various museums and later buried at Everton Cemetery.

A group of Aboriginal Elders led by Ken Colbung located Yagan’s burial site and demanded Yagan’s remains to be returned to his homeland.

A statue in Yagan’s honour was erected on Heirisson Island in 1985.

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