• Sam Watson Indigenous Writer



Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Stolen Generations, sovereignty, injustice, Dreaming


An Aboriginal woman was walking in a city street. It is suburban Melbourne. She has bought a small axe from the hardware store. To her this axe is a traditional woman’s tool. She paid for the axe. She has not done anything wrong. She has broken no laws. She is no threat to herself or to any other person. An armed policeman challenges her. He draws his pistol and shoots her dead.

Author Biography

Sam Watson, Indigenous Writer

Sam Watson (1952-2019) was a senior member of the Brisbane indigenous community. He had blood ties to the Wanjiburrah people of the lands around Beenleigh and Mt Jamborine. The Wanjiburrah people are the lawful owners of the Yugenby language. He also had family connections to the Jagara, Yuggerah and Yuggerapull peoples who are the traditional owners of the country on which Brisbane was built. He also had family and blood line connections to the Biri Gubba people.

His political activism started during his high school days in the 1960s. He protested and marched against the Vietnam War, the White Australia policy and the Apartheid regime of South Africa. In the 1970s he was a member of the staff at the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra and a co-founder of the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party of Australia. He was also a foundation member of the first wave of indigenous survival services in Brisbane such as the legal service, the medical service, the housing service and other programmes and agencies across the state.

In the 1980s he wrote and published his first award winning novel, The Kadaitcha Sung, which was published by Penguin Books. He also wrote and co-produced two major plays which were presented to critical acclaim by Kooemba Jdarra theatre group and La Boite theatre. The first play was titled “The Mack” and was produced in 1997. The second play, Oodgeroo – Bloodline to Country, was commissioned by the Queensland government as part of the 150th anniversary of the state and produced in 2009. In 1995 he wrote and co-produced his first film, Black Man Down, as one of the ground breaking Sand to Celluloid indigenous short films. Those films were featured in festivals across the global network and screened at the Cannes Festival in 1997.

Sam was a co-founder of the Australian Indigenous Peoples Political Party in 1993. He also ran for public office himself at local, state and federal elections and advocated for a treaty with the British Crown. Sam Watson served on many local, state and federal committees. He worked on death in custody cases and with Stolen Generation peoples. He was committed to the struggle to assert his rights as a sovereign Aboriginal man.

In his artistic work Watson explored traditional indigenous cultural themes and tensions. He asserted his own identity as a traditional owner and custodian of the lands across south east Queensland and he celebrated his close affinity and bond with the spiritual strengths of country.




How to Cite

Watson, S. (2020). Moth. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 19(1).