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Selections Kara-war-meri and Kara-ko-ra,
or Youeda and Yemara:
a story of two Jugun sisters

Latest update:
12th March 2006

This is a story of two sisters, Kara-war-meri and Kara-ko-ra, of the Jugun people whose country is now occupied by the town of Broome.

Kara-war-meri (big water, or water place), possibly also known as Fanny and as Youeda, was born at Coconut Well, north of Broome in the 1860s and had a relationship with William (Bill) Brooker. Kara-war-meri had two daughters: Mary Polly (later Polly Vincent, Maria Filomena, Philomena Pedro, Mary Philomena Francis, Mary Philomena Angat), who was born c1882 Broome; and Philomena Samson or Sampson (later Philomena Brillante, Philomena Carter), who was born c1887 Broome.

Kara-ko-ra (calm water, or octopus), also known as Yemara, was born in the Roebuck Bay area in the 1860s/70s. She also had a relationship with William (Bill) Brooker, and had a daughter Lydia (later Lydia Kanegai), born c1893 at Barred Creek, just north of Broome.

Bill Brooker, who these sisters were associated with, was an English-born pearler who lived at Cossack from 1875 (when he arrived from Victoria) until his death by drowning in Cossack Creek in 1898.

An Aboriginal woman named Youeda alias Fanny (or sometimes Little Fanny) is recorded in the Occurence Books from Cossack Police Station between 1880 and 1885 - mostly on charges on drunkeness, but on one occasion in 1884 a pearler was charged with taking her on his boat contrary to the pearling regulations; and in 1885 ...one Fanny a little half caste girl... was sexually assaulted at the hotel in Cossack. If this woman is Kara-war-meri, these extracts from the Occurence Book indicate that: she travelled by sea, perhaps working as a diver; she had a daughter in 1885 - this could be Philomena Sampson, or more likely Mary Polly; and her age was was stated as 29 in 1884, meaning she was born in 1855 - roughly the right time for Kara-war-meri.

This is all fairly circumstantial, and more evidence is needed. However, it seems to be reasonable at this stage to put forward the following hypothesis:
Between 1875 and 1880 Bill Brooker became involved with Kara-war-meri/Youeda/Fanny. He met her in Roebuck Bay and took her to Cossack. She conceived two daughters there - one of them (Philomena) at Point Sampson (Cossack), but Bill Brooker returned her to Broome for the birth of each girl. By the early 1890s Bill Brooker was involved with her sister, Kara-ko-ra/Yemara at Barred Creek near Broome, a place where luggers often sheltered, where another daughter, Lydia, was conceived and born. Kara-war-meri/Youeda/Fanny was still alive in 1927 when Mary Polly was recorded by the Broome police as living with her mother and her son at the back of Streeter & Male - she would have been in her late 50s or early 60s by then.

It would be useful to know something about Jugun ways of naming girls and women - that may provide some clues to understanding the names of these women and the relationships between them, and something about the extent of pearling and sheltering of luggers in Roebuck Bay before Broome was officially declared a town in 1883, to understand the use of Jugun women in the pearling industry and the opportunities for contact between Jugun women and white and Asian pearlers during the 1870s and early 1880s when Mary Polly and Philomena were conceived and born.

Kara-war-meri was still alive in 1930 when a police report into an application for citizenship by her daughter Mary Polly noted that she lived with Mary Polly in a cottage near the Streeter & Male staff quarters in Broome. However, by 1945 when Mary Polly was again applying for citizenship, she stated that her mother was no longer alive. Kara-ko-ra was dead by 1941 when her daughter, Lydia, was interned as an enemy alien (because of her marriage to a Japanese man).