Mitchell River Mission, at Trubanaman, was established by the Church of England in 1905. Children living on the Mission were separated from their parents and housed in segregated dormitories for the purposes of education. This practice was also viewed as a means of isolating the children from their culture. In 1918 the mission relocated to a site on Magnificent Creek and was given the name Kowanyama (however, for many years after this move it was still referred to as Mitchell River Mission). In 1966, the Anglican Church approached the government to take control of the mission and responsibility for the mission was handed over to the Queensland Government on 1 May 1967. The mission became a government administered reserve known as Kowanyama.
In January 1903 an Aboriginal reserve on the Mitchell River was gazetted. The Church of England established a mission at Trubanaman near Topsy Creek in 1905. Although the Church administered the Mission, it was answerable to the State who subsidised them. In 1918 the Mission moved 19 kilometres from the original location to a site on Magnificent Creek and was given the name Kowanyama, meaning "many waters".
1905 - 1967 Mitchell River Mission
1967 - 1987 Kowanyama Mission
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Handy Aborigines', Queenslander, 16 September 1911, p. 29, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21921158; 'Mitchell River Mission', Brisbane Courier, 16 August 1919, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20378443; Freier, Philip L., 'Living with the Munpitch: The history of Mitchell River Mission, 1905-1967', in Project Canterbury: Anglicanism in Australia, 1999, http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/freier1999/thesis.pdf; Loos, Noel, White Christ Black Cross, Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20190306231825/http://lryb.aiatsis.gov.au/PDFs/loos_ch4.pdf; White, Right Reverend Gilbert, 'Chapter III: The Mitchell River Mission', in Project Canterbury: Anglicanism in Australia, This web page has the text from a 1917 publication, Round about the Torres Straits, 1917, http://anglicanhistory.org/aus/torres/white/03.html; Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Multicultural Affairs unpublished report on unlicensed Mission dormitories for the Queensland Redress Scheme (2009). Internal report on the history of Kowanyama, courtesy of Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Multicultural Affairs, page xxviii.
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth
Created: 18 June 2014, Last modified: 28 November 2014