Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Chinese on the Goldfields

Wah Lim, Bendigo
Chinese people first came to Australia when convict transportation stopped. Because convicts had been used for labour, there was now a shortage. Chinese people were used as “indentured labourers”. “Indentured” means that they worked for a certain length of time for their employer.

By the way, if you thought that the word “indentured” had something to do with a “dentist” then you’re right. The word indenture comes from when the English drew up a contract for the worker. It would be written out twice on the one bit of paper, then torn in half – the jagged ‘teeth’ from the tear could then be fitted together later to show they were from the same contract.

Anyway, Chinese people did all the hack work of the colonies – clearing bushland, cooking, shepherding sheep, digging wells. You might think racism towards Asian people is a recent thing, but really it started way back in the gold rush days.

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