My Stolen Heritage

My Stolen Heritage

I was born in Launceston Tasmania in January 1956, the calendar year the Korean War finished, the Olympics came to Melbourne and the Melbourne Demons gained the AFL Premiership. Next the dying of Truganini in 1876, Australians experienced been persuaded that all of the Tasmanian Aboriginals experienced died off and that there were being no Aboriginal individuals living in Tasmania. We now know that is not true but, at the time it developed an surroundings that fostered the perception, amid some mainland Aboriginal persons, that their light-skinned, combined-blood young children could be passed off as immigrants instead than accept their Indigenous heritage.

My paternal Terrific-Grandmother, Laurina Drew was the eldest baby of George Drew, a Dhungutti gentleman from the Macleay River area of NSW and Laurina Hotson, an Englishwoman who is considered to have been a maid or convict who created her way from Sydney to the Macleay River settlement. George and Laurina’s romantic relationship foundered about 1875, just just before the birth of her second little one Ellen.

Laurina Hotson next appeared in official data married to George James who was a popular businessman in Maryborough. With each other they had a further little one Edward and subsequently relocated to the gold mining city of Mount Morgan. The James’ small business in Mount Morgan prospered, with both of those girls marrying and Edward taking above the company upon the dying of his mothers and fathers.

Youthful Laurina, my Good-Grandmother, coincidentally married a younger man who shared her phase-father’s title George James. Younger George was an English immigrant from the Isle of Wight. They experienced 3 little ones Arthur, Laurina and Florence amongst 1892 and 1896. It is not acknowledged when they relocated from Mount Morgan to Tasmania, but the relatives verbal heritage implies that Florence (my Grandmother) was only two or three several years of age.

George and Laurina established a general retail store in Brisbane Road Launceston and lived earlier mentioned the retailer until eventually George died in 1950. Laurina’s chidren had grown and moved on by this phase and “Small Nanna” as she was fondly known as, moved to a little residence in Georgetown, at the mouth of the Tamar River. I have imprecise memories of browsing Small Nanna concerning the ages of 4 and six, when she also died. I bear in mind she was constantly very distinct about covering up if she ventured out into the sun and was specially harsh on my aunts and uncles if any of them failed to cover up or, permitted any of us young youngsters to play in the sunshine.

From my earliest memory onwards, I only ever felt safe and sound, or comfy, in Tiny Nanna’s presence right until I started making good friends at Most important University. Oddly, just about every one particular of these close friends experienced Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage or, their Aboriginal mothers and fathers moved from mainland Australia to escape persecution. My mothers and fathers openly disapproved of my friendships and quite a few of them ended up small-lived.

For numerous many years, until finally 2005, I felt that a little something was missing in my lifetime, my id did not align with how I felt as an person. In 2005, I happened to have a conversation with an elderly aunt who manufactured mention of “Yellow George” as a identify for my Fantastic-Grandmother’s father, for the incredibly initially time. When I pressed her for information and facts, she only stated that “Tiny Nanna’s father was known as Yellow George and he lived in NSW somewhere.”

Curiosity got the better of me and I searched the NSW Authorities Archives for any reference to “Yellow George”. The a single and only reference was in a textual content about the Dhungutti individuals residing in the Macleay River region and described a guy of that name who was granted 26 acres of land on Pelican Island and who fathered two children.

Right after 49 a long time of realizing I was different but not recognizing why, I experienced finally stumbled upon a possible clarification. But Aboriginal folks have no composed language and their history is passed on in song and story. How on earth was I going to obtain the solutions I so desperately necessary? I contacted the Aboriginal Land Council in Kempsey and as luck would have it, the brother of the author of the text I experienced observed, Gary Morris, was one particular of the founder of the Booroongen Djugun Aboriginal University and living in Kempsey.

I contacted Gary and he delivered me with a complete verbal record of the Drew relatives from Yellow George’s father on to Laurina Hotson’s appearance and subsequent departure. As it transpires, Gary and I are cousins by relationship and his contribution to my advancement as a Dhungutti guy is priceless.

I recognize why Laurina and household wanted to NOT be Aboriginal, but I truly feel annoyed and humiliated that my household could be ashamed of our heritage. I do not blame my forebears for hiding our Dhungutti heritage, in point I feel sorry for them mainly because they have not had the option to delight in the close bonds with our wider spouse and children or, our relationship with our land. I have frequented my ancestral household and walked on the land my Dhungutti ancestors did for generations. I truly feel that bond and that closeness but am nevertheless extremely indignant at the close-minded bigots whose attitudes and prejudices stole my heritage and denied me my identification for so long.

Unfortunately, none of my siblings desire to acknowledge their heritage and have correctly removed me from their loved ones because I opt for to be who I genuinely am. My Indigenous loved ones, Dhungutti, Kamiloroi and Dugun people alike all recognise and embrace my Dhungutti heritage and freely give their appreciate and support in my initiatives to find out a lot more about my authentic culture, not the one that was forced upon me.

We are last but not least creating some inroads into redressing some of the wrongs done to the 1st Australians but remember to, I beg anyone, think also about the generations of light-skinned Aboriginal people today whose identities have been stolen simply just due to the fact of the colour of their pores and skin.