Yagan statue, Heirisson Island

Yagan (ən/; c. 1795 – 11 July 1833) was an Indigenous Australian warrior from the Noongar people. He played a key part in early resistance to British colonial settlement and rule in the area surrounding what is now Perth, Western Australia. Yagan was pursued by the local authorities after he killed Erin Entwhistle, a servant of farmer Archibald Butler. It was an act of retaliation after Thomas Smedley, another of Butler's servants, shot at a group of Noongar people stealing potatoes and fowls, killing one of them.[1][2] The government offered a bounty for Yagan's capture, dead or alive, and a young settler, William Keats, shot and killed him. Yagan's execution figures in Australian history as a symbol of the unjust and sometimes brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples of Australia by colonial settlers. He is considered a hero by the Noongar.[3][4]

After his shooting, settlers removed Yagan's head to claim the bounty. Later, an official sent it to London, where it was exhibited as an "anthropological curiosity" and eventually given to a museum in Liverpool. It held the head in storage for more than a century before burying it with other remains in an unmarked grave in Liverpool in 1964.[5] Over the years, the Noongar asked for repatriation of the head, both for religious reasons and because of Yagan's traditional stature. The burial site was identified in 1993; officials exhumed the head four years later and repatriated it to Australia. After years of debate within the Noongar community on the appropriate final resting place, Yagan's head was buried in a traditional ceremony in the Swan Valley in July 2010, 177 years after his death.[6]


Early life

A member of the Whadjuk Noongar people, Yagan belonged to a tribe of around 60 people whose name, according to Robert Lyon, was Beeliar. Scholars now believe that the Beeliar people may have been a family subgroup (or clan) of a larger tribe whom Daisy Bates called Beelgar.[7] According to Lyon, the Beeliar people occupied the land south of the Swan and Canning rivers, as far south as Mangles Bay.[8] The group had customary land usage rights over a much larger area than this, extending north as far as Lake Monger and northeast to the Helena River. The group also had an unusual degree of freedom to move over their neighbours' land, possibly due to kinship and marriage ties with neighbouring groups.[9]

Yagan is thought to have been born around 1795.[10] His father was Midgegooroo, an elder of the Beeliar people;[11] his mother was presumably one of Midgegooroo's two wives. Yagan was probably a Ballaroke in the Noongar classification.[12]

Other Languages
العربية: يغن
български: Яган
brezhoneg: Yagan
čeština: Yagan
español: Yagan
فارسی: ییگن
한국어: 예이건
Bahasa Indonesia: Yagan
Jawa: Yagan
Nederlands: Yagan (Nyungah)
日本語: イェーガン
polski: Jagan
português: Yagan
Simple English: Yagan
தமிழ்: யாகன்
中文: 雅岡