Crabtree, Stefani A. and Sarah C. Klain

Colonial representatives can be unreliable narrators, as their descriptions were often value judgements of how closely people adhered to similar material and non-material cultures of the coloniser’s place of origin. Yet often they are some of the only narrations we have, and so we must filter through biases to examine Indigenous lifeways at contact. This is true for Jesuit contact with Aztecs, for Caesar’s contact with the Gauls, and of course for colonial contact with Aboriginal Australians. With appropriate caution, we can use these narratives to better understand the past, leveraging the past as a calibration dataset for understanding our present and future.