05 Dec Jack Dale Mengenen
Jack Dale Mengenen, Ngarinyin senior lawman was born in the bush on Mount House Station, circa 1922 and lived in Derby, Western Australia. He died peacefully in Derby in 2013.
He was Kimberley history personified. His mother, Moddera, was an indigenous woman traditional to the Komaduwah clan estate that falls within the Mount House pastoral lease. Jack’s father, who died when Jack was a small boy, was a hard-living frontiersman who reputedly died (unlamented) as violently as he lived.
After a lifetime as a stockman, retirement sat heavily on Jack, and in the last few years, he has started to document his own rich cultural history and significant historical events in the Kimberley through his paintings.
There are no records of his birth. He was born at a time when it was common to kill the babies of indigenous women who were fathered by white men, either by the orders of the father, or by senior members of the mother’s clan concerned about possible disruption to tradition and social order in the future. It is uncertain why Jack’s life was spared. Following the death of his father, he grew up in the bush with his mother’s father, learning about traditional law and the ways of the hunter-gatherer, with a constant threat of being abducted by police and placed in an institution.