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Australian Journalist Questions Stolen Generation
By Ian S. McIntosh
March 11, 2004 - In Australias Sunday Mail on February 29, journalist Andrew Bolt, in what he claims is an innocent attempt at finding the truth, denounces the existence of the Stolen Generation, a group of 50,000-100,000 children taken from their Aboriginal parents for racist purposes by racist governments in the early years of the twentieth century, supposedly in the peoples best interests.
Claiming that not one person who was stolen can be identified anywhere on the continent, Bolts naïve and misguided attempt at objective reporting is causing an uproar, particularly because Australian papers are prepared to print his inflammatory remarks.
The recent movie Rabbit-Proof Fence was a scam, according to Bolt. It never happened, he claims. Like a Holocaust denier, Bolt distinguishes discarded children and stolen children as a way of defending practices that nearly destroyed a people. The real victims are the poor young non-Aboriginal children who have to suffer hearing these lies in Australian classrooms, says Bolt. He fears that they will be scarred for life.
Seeking the evidence? The removal books of the former Queensland Department of Native Affairs tell one small part of this sad history of those taken away, and perhaps Bolt should start his research there. Much of the Australian Outback is vacant not just because of massacres and dispersal, but because Australian courts promoted the British legal doctrine of terra nullius (or land without people) and government policy facilitated the removal of Aborigines to reserves and their children to foster homes, for their own good.
Still in existence in Queensland Government filing cabinets are two large bound volumes from the 1897 to 1970s period which describe, in horrifying detail, the removal of nation after nation of Aborigines from central Queensland to government reserves including Cherbourg, Woorabinda, and Palm Island, where they would live out their life sentence at the pleasure of the director of the department of Aboriginal Affairs.
The tragic story of Aboriginal removal in Queensland, as in other Australian states, is a story not fully appreciated by the general public and people like Bolt. The magnitude of the offence is almost incalculable. The reasons for the removal in the first instance are flimsy and not defendable. Next to a scrawled name in the ledger will be a few short words like: Immoral, or Heavy Drinker, or A Threat To Himself Sent to Palm Island. And the list includes entire Aboriginal populations, one name after another, man, woman, and child.
This practice broke up families. No-one was spared. Go to the outback towns of Barcaldine, or Alpha, or even Richmond, and ask what happened to the traditional owners. Where are they? Palm Islanders have nowadays acquired a new local identity, born of the amalgamation of peoples from the four corners of the state, largely because a considerable number of residents did not know where their homeland was located, or even who there parents were.
At any of the old cattle stations of the Queensland interior, the senior white ranch hands will recall the days when the children were forcibly taken away and, even now, will confess that they can hear the hysterical crying of the Aboriginal mothers. It has haunted them all of their lives.
Ask the former directors of the Queensland Aboriginal affairs department, the old protectors. Removals of Aborigines began in earnest in 1897, with the proclamation of the Aboriginals Protection and the Prevention of Sale of Opium Act, which targeted those Aborigines deemed to be at risk of abuse or neglect.
All Aborigines were wards of the state at that time, and all of lifes decisions required the approval of the protector. It was at his discretion whether one stayed on the land or was removed to some far-flung reserve where all of ones routines were to be monitored like a beast. This history is well documented in Rosalind Kidds revelatory text, The Way We Civilize, a reference to these genocidal practices.
It really is unconscionable for a responsible journalist, as Bolt claims to be, to twist this heartbreaking episode of Australian history in the manner in which he does. Facts are needed, of course, but the full story of the crimes committed against the Aborigines is still not appreciated by Australians at large. We all need to do a lot more homework.
Ian McIntosh is Cultural Survivals senior editor.
Source: Cultural Survival
By Andrew Bolt
February 29, 2004 - The truth of Australia's past is hard enough to face, and untruths and exaggerations now will only divide us.
Phillip Noyce claims his new film, Rabbit-Proof Fence, is a true story.
The Hollywood director's publicity blurb repeats the boast: ``A true story.''
Even the first spoken words in the hyped film, which opens next week, are: ``This is a true story.''
Wrong. Crucial parts of this ``true story'' about a ``stolen generations'' child called Molly Craig are false or misleading. And shamefully so.
No wonder that when Craig saw Rabbit-Proof Fence at a special screening in her bush settlement last month, she seem surprised.
``That's not my story,'' she said as the credits rolled.
No, it isn't. Instead, it is Craig's story told in a way that would help ``prove'' the ``stolen generations'' are no myth -- that thousands of Aboriginal children were indeed torn from the arms of loving parents by racist police.
In saying this, I mean no disrespect to Craig.
She has had a film (supported by $5.3 million of taxpayers' money) made of an episode of her life in which she showed extraordinary courage, endurance and willpower -- but it's a film which can't be trusted to tell the whole truth. Who could value its praise?
It was 1931 and Molly Craig was just 14, when she and two of her younger cousins -- Daisy, 8, and Gracie, 11 -- were taken from an Aboriginal camp at Jigalong, in Western Australia's north, and sent to the Moore River Native Settlement, 2000km south.
There these girls were to live with other ``half-castes'' and to go to school, learning skills to help them to adapt to non-Aboriginal society.
But the girls fled after one night, and in an amazing nine-week epic walked home to Jigalong -- all but Gracie, that is, who was found by police at Wiluna.
Craig's feat made the papers but was not written up in full until 1996, when her daughter, Doris Pilkington, who was herself raised at Moore River, wrote the book on which Noyce has based his film.
BUT Noyce and his scriptwriter didn't stick to the facts Pilkington uncovered. Instead, the story was rewritten and now supports a monstrous falsehood -- that we have a genocidal past that is, as Noyce's publicity material declares, ``more cruel than could ever be imagined''.
Let me show you how they did it -- how they told untruths or only half the truth in their ``true story''.
THE FILM opens at Jigalong in 1931, and shows a neat bush camp. Molly Craig is happy and healthy. Her mother is well-groomed. All is well.
THE FACT is many of these bush camps were squalid.
When Doris Pilkington first returned to Jigalong 30 years later, it was still appalling.
``No one prepared me for the conditions that people lived under,'' she told ABC radio in 1999.
``It was shocking. I hadn't seen so many dogs in my life. It was just tin humpies and people just slept anywhere.''
THE FILM shows Molly playing with other children at Jigalong. Everyone is smiling and seems happy.
THE FACT is Molly was the first ``half-caste'' of her tribe, and the full-bloods treated her with scorn.
Pilkington says her mother often had to play alone because full-blood children told her she was neither Aboriginal nor white, and was ``like a mongrel dog''. She had no father to protect her.
THE FILM suggests Molly and her cousins were removed from Jigalong only because the state's Chief Protector of Aborigines, A.O. Neville, was a genocidal racist who wanted to ``breed out the Aborigine''.
It shows Neville outlining his plan to take half-caste children from their families and stop them breeding with full-bloods. We then see him ordering that Molly and her cousins be removed because the youngest girl is ``promised to a full-blood''.
THE FACT is the girls were taken after Neville learned they were in danger.
In 1930, he had received a letter from the superintendent of Jigalong complaining that Molly and Gracie ``were not getting a fair chance as the blacks consider the H/Cs (half castes) inferior to them''. He asked that they be removed.
Others were also worried, given how vulnerable half-caste girls then were to sexual exploitation, particularly by whites.
In December, 1930, a Mrs Chellow from Murra Munda station wrote to Neville about the girls, warning: ``I think you should see about them, as they are running wild with the whites.''
This fits with what Neville told the 1936 Moseley Royal Commission into the treatment of Aborigines: ``The children who have been removed as wards of the Chief Protector have been removed because I desired to be satisfied that the conditions surrounding their upbringing were satisfactory, which they certainly were not . . .''
Even today we rescue Aboriginal children from abuse and neglect -- and in tragically high numbers.
THE FILM shows a policeman chasing the girls in his car and ripping them from Molly's screaming mother.
According to Noyce, this scene ``tells the whole story'' of his film.
THE FACT, writes Pilkington, is that the officer rode up on horseback to tell Molly's stepfather he'd take the girls, and ``the old man nodded''. The officer put Molly and Gracie on a horse, gave them the reins and asked them to follow him.
The next day he picked up Daisy and two sick women at another camp. There was no chase, no struggle.
THE FILM then shows the girls on a train, locked in an iron-barred box for dogs. They travel the last leg to Moore River tossed in the open tray of a truck.
THE FACT is the girls were not locked in any box, and travelled
most of the way south by ship, which Pilkington said they felt was as a ``most
pleasant experience''. They saw porpoises, chatted to the crew and walked the
decks before going to bed in a cabin.
THE FILM shows the girls arriving at Moore River, where they wear prison-style sacks and are woken in the morning by a guard who screams and belts the walls of their room with a club.
THE FACT is photos of children at Moore River show them dressed in European clothes. Pilkington writes that when her mother ran away, she was dressed in ``two dresses, two pairs of calico bloomers and a coat''.
She also says the girls were woken individually and welcomed by one of the female staff.
THE FILM shows children at Moore River singing Way Down Upon the Swanee River for visitors. This shows they're so robbed of their black culture that they sing fake Negro songs instead.
THE FACT is Molly saw no such concert. And Susan Maushart's book Sort of a Place Like Home: Remembering the Moore River Native Settlement says this: ``Journalists investigating conditions at Moore River were invariably impressed by the colourful experience of a staged corroboree.''
THE FILM shows babies left to cry in a room of cots. They, too, seem ``stolen''.
THE FACT is most Moore River children -- 1003 of the 1067 who went there between 1933 and 1936, according to the Moseley commission -- were not ``stolen'' but sent there by their parents to get a schooling or to be safe.
Many had parents living in the camp next door.
SUCH distortions of the truth, and for what? There are enough cruelties in our past we must confront -- the theft of black lands, the half-caste children abandoned by white fathers, and the years of neglect of a people whose culture and communities are now shattered.
There is so much to make good -- which is why the lies of the ``stolen generations'' activists are unforgivable.
The Aboriginal leaders who falsely claim they were ``stolen'', the writers who exaggerate the number of children removed, the silly compensation cases that collapse and the slick claims of genocide all risk making every claim of black suffering seem a cynical try-on.
The truth of our past is hard enough to face. Untruths and exaggerations now will only divide us.
Your film shames not us, Phillip Noyce, but you.
Source: Sunday Mail
Rabbit-Proof Fence writer Christine Olsen regarding some of the 'fact' statements made by Andrew Bolt
March 2, 2004 - Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun 14 Feb) wants to demolish the truth behind the film, "Rabbit-Proof Fence", by either selectively quoting or misquoting from some of the historical records available about Molly Craig's remarkable story.
Molly's story has indeed been extremely well documented by Mr Neville, The Chief Protector of Aborigines in Western Australia at the time.
Andrew Bolt's main argument is that Molly, Daisy and Gracie were not removed from Jigalong because of Mr Neville's plan to "breed out the Aborigine" but to remove them from squalid aboriginal camps for their own good.
"THE FACT is the girls were taken after Neville learned they were in danger. In 1930, he had received a letter from the superintendent of Jigalong complaining that Molly and Gracie ``were not getting a fair chance as the blacks consider the H/Cs (half castes) inferior to them''.
He asked that they be removed. Others were also worried, given how vulnerable half-caste girls then were to sexual exploitation, particularly by whites.
In December, 1930, a Mrs Chellow from Murra Munda station wrote to Neville about the girls, warning:
"I think you should see about them, as they are running wild with the whites."
What he omits from his article is Mr Neville's reply to Mrs Chellow on 30.12.30:
"I have to thank you for your letter of the 19th inst. in regard to the girl "Daisy". I agree with you that in this case it would be inadvisable to allow "Daisy" to mate with her tribal husband who is a full-blood, and as legal guardian of this child I desire it to be known that I disapprove of any such proposition and do not wish the matter to be further considered. There are quite a number of respectable half-caste lads from whom no doubt this girl will in due course select a mate, but it is rather early to think of that at present. ..."
Andrew Bolt also omits the letter from the Superintendent of Jigalong Fence Depot to Mr Neville, written 19 days after his original letter, in which he retracts his advice that they should be taken, saying they are very much part of the black community.
"Yours of the 10th June to hand re female half-castes, Molly and Chrissy. As regards details of parentage appearance & etc.They live with their mothers in the black fellow's camp and therefore have not been in touch with the whitepeople much. They lean very much towards the black and on second thoughts I don't suppose there would be much gained in removing them. I was asked by some of my neighbours if I could do something for them to better their condition hence any letters to you previously."
To further his argument that there was no policy of "breeding out" Andrew Bolt then quotes Neville from the 1936 Moseley Royal Commission into the treatment of Aborigines:
"The children who have been removed as wards of the Chief Protector have been removed because I desired to be satisfied that the conditions surrounding their upbringing were satisfactory, which they certainly were not . . .''
What he omits to tell us is what Mr Neville said in the following year, 1937, when leading administrators of Aboriginal affairs assembled in Canberra. He spoke to a journalist from the Brisbane Telegraph.
"Mr Neville holds the view that within one hundred years the pure black will be extinct. But the halfecaste problem was increasing every year. Therefore their idea was to keep the pure blacks segregated and absorb the half-castes into the white population....The pure black was not a quick breeder. On the other hand the half-caste was. In Western Australia there were half-caste families of twenty and upwards. That showed the magnitude of the problem In order to secure the complete segregation of the children..(they) were left with their mothers (only) until they were two years old. After that they were taken from their mothers and reared in accordance with white ideas."
A scene in the film depicts Mr Neville lecturing to a group of women about his policy of "breeding the native out". One of the lantern slides used, in which he demonstrates his theory of "breeding out" over three generations, is a copy of the actual slide used by Mr Neville during his lectures. Andrew Bolt makes no reference to this.
Andrew Bolt suggests that the girls were taken with their parents consent and he quotes, again selectively, from Doris Pilkington Garimara's book, "Follow The Rabbit-Proof Fence". "
Pilkington writes, " the officer rode up on horseback to tell Molly's stepfather he'd take the girls, and ``the old man nodded''. The officer put Molly and Gracie on a horse, gave them the reins and asked them to follow him. The next day he picked up Daisy and two sick women at another camp. There was no chase, no struggle." This is on page 44.
The full sentence reads "The old man nodded to show that he understood what Riggs was saying."
What Andrew Bolt chooses to omit is the following on pages 44-45:
"A high pitched wail broke out. The cries of agonised mothers and the women, and the deep sobs of grandfathers, uncles and cousins filled the air. Molly and Gracie looked back just once before they disappeared through the river gums. Behind them, those remaining in the camp found strong sharp objects and gashed themselves and inflicted wounds to their heads and bodies as an expression of their sorrow."
Andrew Bolt would have us believe that places like Moore River Native Settlement were benign institutions.
He refers to Susan Maushart's book, "Sort of a Place Like Home: Remembering the Moore River Native Settlement" but again quotes selectively and in one instance seems to deliberately misquote to completely change the meaning of the quote.
He says that the clothes worn in the film are not accurate: "photos of children at Moore River show them dressed in European clothes."
Costumes worn in the film are based on research and actual photographs. Andrew Bolt need look no further than the cover of Susan Maushart's book "Sort of a Place Like Home" to see the exact replica of the costumes worn.
He questions the way the children in the dormitory are woken up at MooreRiver.
"She (Doris Pilkington in her book, Follow The Rabbit -Proof Fence) also says the girls were woken individually and welcomed by one of the female staff."
What in fact would happen is depicted accurately in the film. The tracker would go into the boys' dormitory "beltin'a board with a stick" Then he would go over to the girls' dormitory and "bang on the walls over there." "Sort of a Place Like Home" p45, 47.
Andrew Bolt says that:
"THE FILM shows children at Moore River singing Way Down Upon the Swanee River for visitors. This shows they're so robbed of their black culture that they sing fake Negro songs instead."
The fact is that "The old folks at home" was a song sung to Mr Neville by a small children's choir because it was known to be his favourite song.
He goes on to suggest that Aboriginal children "were not robbed of their black culture". It is here that he damagingly misquotes Susan Maushart's book Sort of a Place Like Home: Remembering the Moore River Native Settlement.
He uses this incorrect quote from the book:
``Journalists investigating conditions at Moore River were invariably impressed by the colourful experience of a staged corroboree.''
Here is the passage in it's entirety and correctly quoted:
In fact, the performance of corroborees was a rare exception to the ban on traditional activities. The reason for this, Jim Brennan explains, was simply that the corroborees were considered good public relations. He remembers Neal trying to get men to hold corroborees whenever important visitors were due. Various press accounts over the years confirm this. Journalists 'investigating' (Susan Maushat's quotation marks) conditions at Moore River were invariably impressed by the colourful spectacle of a staged corroboree. These command performances often formed part of a lengthy concert programme of skits, songs and dances. In such asetting, the ages-old ritual was stripped of its power and dignity, becoming just another amusing item in a native minstrel show. As Jim Brennan remembers, it wasn't long before the performers caught on to what was happpening. "Now and again, Neal, he might say, 'There's a big mob of white people comin' up here today. You better put a corroboree on." We said, "Oh no. No corroboree. ..They wouldn't put the concert on so that he can prove to the whites that everybody's happy, you understand? They're not happy."
Andrew Bolt says that the babies in the cots misrepresents the facts.
"THE FILM shows babies left to cry in a room of cots. They, too, seem``stolen''. THE FACT is most Moore River children -- 1003 of the 1067 who went there between 1933 and 1936, according to the Moseley commission -- were not ``stolen'' but sent there by their parents to get a schooling or to be safe. Many had parents living in the camp next door."
It accurately represents the facts, at least in 1931, when Molly was taken there.
"We felt sorry for them little kids, 'cause they got no mums or dads down the camps, or even aunties and that, like some of us do. And they got to stay in their little pen.." Sort of a Place Like Home p53 "And the kindy, see, ..that's for the kids without no mums" p69
Source: Herald Sun
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