Near this paradise valley is a little town of around a thousand people. Like many rural towns in the Great Southland, most of the original, indigenous people live on a ‘Mission’ – on a mission to come back from the concentration camps their grandparents were consigned to, and reclaim their rights to live free.
The Aboriginal Mission is usually placed behind a church on a dry spot. Often (as in the little town of descendants of British squatters and pub-keepers who don’t admit that their village’s name was originally an Aboriginal word) the Mission is placed on the town garbage dump, right next to the cemetery. In this particular town, the tribal people were forcibly encouraged to give up their free nomadic lives and live in a small fenced area they were not allowed to leave. The Mission behind the Cathaholic Church was right next to the town rifle range as well.
In the cemetery all the people, black, white, yellow and brindle, find their final homes. All are separated into sections based on their cultish denominations, of course – mainly Roaming Cathaholics, Anglecans or Prostyterians – except for the blacks. No matter which religion (regional lie) they succumbed to in life, they are all buried together in the black section – the best looked-after section of the cemetery.
There’s no Islime or Joodooist sect/ion in most country towns in Oz, of course. They’re not encouraged by the Munchkins.
When Goorah was born he was wildlife; Aboriginal people had their births recorded not as human beings, but under the Wildlife act, until the late 1960s. When Goorah was a lad he and his twelve brothers and sisters were forcibly taken from their parents, Brigit and Sylvester, and dragged off to pervert-ridden church-run ‘children’s homes’ where they were trained to be slaves and die before their time.
If they escaped to the bush they were considered ‘fair game’; game for the white man (fair is fair, after all), to be shot on sight and no-one the wiser – right up until the 1970s – and until today in some places. Until the ‘70s toilets were segregated and the blacks had to sit on the floor at the front of the cinema to be pelted with half-eaten food by those on the seats behind them – if they were allowed in at all. Of course, they couldn’t use the main entrance.
And they weren’t allowed to eat vanilla ice cream. Only chocolate.
Goorah was ‘given shock therapy’ as a child. He’s found it hard to relate to the city when he was dragged there so they electrified his brain.
Like many brothers and sisters he managed to return home years later, when the laws had changed but the hearts and habits of most landholders had remained the same. To this day the Aboriginal people are made to feel unwelcome in their own land, still driven away at gunpoint if they try to fish or walk in the bush.
In some redneck rural schools they actually teach the kids that the white man discovered the Great Southland, after which the Aborigines arrived from some other island – and of course the children believe it.
To this day most Aboriginal people are kept away from the earth Mother and her sacred places. The children she longs for, those who understand her language and ways best of all, are withheld from her. The great healing has yet to commence and will not take place until indigenous people are reunited with their mother, the land.
Now the rainbow tribes are returning and it's time for the last roundup.
Happy birthday, Mum.
- R. Ayana
images - author's @ http://farm1.static.flickr.com/55/143931252_192e86f1cd_b.jpg
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