My Stolen Heritage

My Stolen Heritage

I was born in Launceston Tasmania in January 1956, the year the Korean War ended, the Olympics came to Melbourne and the Melbourne Demons won the AFL Premiership. Next the demise of Truganini in 1876, Australians had been persuaded that all of the Tasmanian Aboriginals experienced died off and that there were no Aboriginal people today dwelling in Tasmania. We now know that is not genuine but, at the time it developed an surroundings that fostered the belief, among some mainland Aboriginal people, that their mild-skinned, mixed-blood children could be handed off as immigrants rather than acknowledge their Indigenous heritage.

My paternal Great-Grandmother, Laurina Drew was the eldest kid of George Drew, a Dhungutti guy from the Macleay River area of NSW and Laurina Hotson, an Englishwoman who is imagined to have been a maid or convict who manufactured her way from Sydney to the Macleay River settlement. George and Laurina’s romantic relationship foundered all around 1875, just just before the beginning of her second baby Ellen.

Laurina Hotson following appeared in formal records married to George James who was a prominent businessman in Maryborough. With each other they experienced another boy or girl Edward and subsequently relocated to the gold mining town of Mount Morgan. The James’ organization in Mount Morgan prospered, with both girls marrying and Edward taking around the business on the dying of his parents.

Youthful Laurina, my Fantastic-Grandmother, coincidentally married a younger gentleman who shared her phase-father’s title George James. Youthful George was an English immigrant from the Isle of Wight. They experienced three small children Arthur, Laurina and Florence in between 1892 and 1896. It is not identified when they relocated from Mount Morgan to Tasmania, but the spouse and children verbal heritage suggests that Florence (my Grandmother) was only two or 3 yrs of age.

George and Laurina established a standard keep in Brisbane Avenue Launceston and lived over the store right up until George died in 1950. Laurina’s chidren had developed and moved on by this stage and “Minor Nanna” as she was fondly known as, moved to a compact house in Georgetown, at the mouth of the Tamar River. I have vague recollections of browsing Little Nanna among the ages of four and 6, when she way too died. I keep in mind she was often incredibly specific about covering up if she ventured out into the sunshine and was specially harsh on my aunts and uncles if any of them did not include up or, allowed any of us youthful kids to participate in in the sun.

From my earliest memory onwards, I only ever felt risk-free, or cozy, in Minor Nanna’s presence until eventually I started making friends at Primary School. Oddly, each individual 1 of individuals mates had Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage or, their Aboriginal moms and dads moved from mainland Australia to escape persecution. My parents brazenly disapproved of my friendships and a lot of of them were being small-lived.

For a lot of a long time, until finally 2005, I felt that some thing was lacking in my lifestyle, my id did not align with how I felt as an personal. In 2005, I took place to have a conversation with an elderly aunt who made mention of “Yellow George” as a identify for my Good-Grandmother’s father, for the extremely 1st time. When I pressed her for info, she basically mentioned that “Little Nanna’s father was named Yellow George and he lived in NSW somewhere.”

Curiosity acquired the better of me and I searched the NSW Governing administration Archives for any reference to “Yellow George”. The one and only reference was in a text about the Dhungutti men and women living in the Macleay River location and explained a guy of that title who was granted 26 acres of land on Pelican Island and who fathered two small children.

After 49 decades of knowing I was diverse but not realizing why, I experienced ultimately stumbled upon a attainable explanation. But Aboriginal individuals have no published language and their record is handed on in track and tale. How on earth was I likely to find the answers I so desperately desired? I contacted the Aboriginal Land Council in Kempsey and as luck would have it, the brother of the creator of the text I had observed, Gary Morris, was just one of the founder of the Booroongen Djugun Aboriginal College and residing in Kempsey.

I contacted Gary and he offered me with a whole verbal background of the Drew household from Yellow George’s father on to Laurina Hotson’s look and subsequent departure. As it transpires, Gary and I are cousins by marriage and his contribution to my development as a Dhungutti man is priceless.

I fully grasp why Laurina and spouse and children wanted to NOT be Aboriginal, yet I truly feel disappointed and humiliated that my loved ones could be ashamed of our heritage. I do not blame my forebears for hiding our Dhungutti heritage, in truth I truly feel sorry for them due to the fact they have not experienced the prospect to enjoy the close bonds with our wider household or, our link with our land. I have visited my ancestral residence and walked on the land my Dhungutti ancestors did for centuries. I really feel that bond and that closeness but am however very angry at the shut-minded bigots whose attitudes and prejudices stole my heritage and denied me my identification for so prolonged.

Unfortunately, none of my siblings wish to acknowledge their heritage and have correctly removed me from their spouse and children for the reason that I pick to be who I truly am. My Indigenous spouse and children, Dhungutti, Kamiloroi and Dugun folks alike all recognise and embrace my Dhungutti heritage and freely give their adore and aid in my initiatives to study extra about my serious culture, not the just one that was forced on me.

We are last but not least earning some inroads into redressing some of the wrongs accomplished to the 1st Australians but make sure you, I beg every person, consider also about the generations of gentle-skinned Aboriginal people today whose identities have been stolen just since of the color of their skin.

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