Architects and supporters of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the intervention) mobilised a range of ideas about Aboriginality to introduce and justify the policy program. These representations link Aboriginality to abuse of Aboriginal children, establishing a debate about the nature and future of Aboriginality in a context that limits the discursive authority of Aboriginal people. Aboriginality is represented as savage and in need of settler-imposed control, and also primitive and in need of development. These constructions understand Aboriginality temporally, situating it in the past but providing moral justification for coercing Indigenous people into the settler present. Aboriginality is also constructed spatially in this discourse, with prescribed communities framed as the location of both authentic Aboriginality and of threatening disorder. The intervention is framed as extending settler authority over this troubling terrain, containing and redeeming Aboriginality through inclusion in the settler nation's moral order.