Indigenous Tracker Corporal Sam Johnson To Be Honoured At Police Remembrance Day

Undated photo of Corporal Johnson (far right) with Queensland police colleagues in the 1900s. (Supplied: Friends of the Queensland Police Museum)
An Indigenous man who worked for more than two decades as a police tracker in western Queensland will be honoured in a National Police Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday.

Corporal Sam Johnson, a member of the Bidjara people born in Charleville around 1877, served for 23 years as a tracker.

He died at Longreach from influenza in 1919, and the Friends of the Queensland Police Museum (FQPM) said his resting place in the Longreach Cemetery deserved the dignity of a headstone.

President of the FQPM Bob Burns said Corporal Johnson was a highly respected horseman and tracker with a quiet and sincere disposition and a willingness to work.

“Sam had a good grasp of spoken English; he was a significant person in the area of central-western Queensland, and around Roma and Longreach,” he said.

“A lot of the trackers came and went, but Sam seemed to be quite comfortable working in the European environment, and he was also able to sign his name as well.”

Mr Burns said Corporal Johnson featured strongly in the story of Queensland bushranger brothers Patrick and James Kenniff.

He said Corporal Johnson was the sole survivor of a police clash with the Kenniff brothers.

In 1902, Constable George Doyle from the Upper Warrego Police Station and Carnarvon Station manager Albert Dalke were murdered at Lethbridge’s Pocket, in Queensland’s Carnarvon region.

“There was a warrant for the arrest of the Kenniffs on horse stealing – Constable Doyle took Sam as his tracker, and the station manager decided to go with them,” he said.

Read more at ABC News.

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