amanda nettelbeck on mounted police in canada and australia
The history of colonial policing has received considerable scholarly attention in terms of its function to extend and consolidate the legal jurisdiction of British rule over colonised territories and populations. This paper compares some of the complex roles played by Indigenous people who were employed primarily as “trackers” and “scouts” within mounted police forces on Australia’s and Canada’s settler frontiers. A comparative picture of indigenous participation in policing reveals parallels in colonial decision-making that went beyond local conditions, but also illuminates the different pressures of local conditions which affected the value of Indigenous auxiliaries to mounted police. These not only provide insight into the motivations of colonial authorities in enlisting indigenous people into policing networks, but also into how Indigenous people influenced the rule of law into which they were co-opted.
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