What were the contact experiences of Bennelong during English colonization of Australia?

Bennelong's experiences after contact made him a very unique historical figure. He became a go-between for Aboriginal Australians and English colonizers, learned English, and went to England himself. However, he was also seen by many Aboriginal peoples as representative of the bad things that came with the English, including disease and conquest.

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Bennelong's experiences after contact with British colonizers were extraordinary. Bennelong was a young Aboriginal man who lived close to modern-day Sydney, Australia. In a practice common among Europeans, he was taken captive and made to serve as an interpreter. In the process, he of course learned English, but also became...

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Bennelong's experiences after contact with British colonizers were extraordinary. Bennelong was a young Aboriginal man who lived close to modern-day Sydney, Australia. In a practice common among Europeans, he was taken captive and made to serve as an interpreter. In the process, he of course learned English, but also became familiar with British culture, including clothing and religion. As such, he was an important cultural as well as linguistic translator between English explorers who wished to learn more about Australia (as, of course, they subjugated it) and its Aboriginal inhabitants. He became essentially a diplomat, with connections to the Australian governor Arthur Phillip, who had ordered his kidnapping in the first place. Men and women like Bennelong were common anywhere where cultures collided, but his circumstances after contact were unique. He was taken to London along with another man, and met King George III himself in 1794. Like many people of comparable circumstances who made the trip (Pocahantas of Virginia, for example), he found English weather and society uncomfortable, and quickly sought to return home. His ability to serve as a diplomat between the English and Aboriginal peoples gave him considerable prestige among Aboriginal peoples, but many apparently also blamed him for the disease (particularly smallpox) and loss of lands that resulted from interactions with the colonizers. In short, his experience was that of a man who was caught between two worlds, amid rapid changes inaugurated by contact. For these reasons, he is well-known to historians of colonization, as well as Australians in general.

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