This Essay Can Be Used As A Book Report Of My Place, By Sally Morgan, Or As An Example Of Written History Vs Individual Memory

1787 words - 7 pages

Sally Morgan grew up unaware that she was Aboriginal. When, as an adult, she discovered her Aboriginal heritage, she was consumed by the desire to understand its significance:What did it really mean to be Aboriginal? I'd never lived off the land and been a hunter and a gatherer. I'd never participated in corroborees or heard stories of the Dreamtime. I'd lived all my life in Suburbia and told everyone I was Indian. I hardly knew any Aboriginal people. What did it mean for someone like me? [1]By delving into her family's past and eliciting the personal histories of her mother, grandmother and great-uncle and incorporating them into her autobiography, Sally Morgan is claiming the dreadful legacy of culture contact between white and Aboriginal Australia as integral to her identity as an Aborigine. For, as Berndt says:the history of Aboriginal people... is... not something that can be shrugged aside or forgotten. The experiences of the past have implications for the present and for the future. They are part of an Aboriginal heritage which... is just as significant, just as vital, as traditional Aboriginal life. [2]The stories of Morgan's family span ninety years, from the early days of first contact in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to the early 1980s. Morgan's great-grandmother, Annie Padewani, was one of the first generation of Aborigines in the Pilbara region to live in close contact with whites. She and her descendants had to decide how to live in a colonized world. Memmi has categorized the responses of an indigenous population to the phenomenon of colonization as falling into two alternatives - assimilation and revolt. [3] Until Morgan challenged the pattern, assimilation had long been the policy of her family.The story of Sally Morgan's grandmother, Daisy Corunna, exposes the hidden side of our pioneer legend. Daisy grew up on Corunna Downs station in Western Australia. Her mother, Annie Padewani, bore two children, Daisy and Arthur, to the white station-owner, Howden Drake-Brockman. He is also said to have sired Albert, Daisy and Arthur's half-brother. Daisy was taken from her mother in early adolescence and told she was going to get an education. The education she received, however, consisted of learning to be the maid-of-all-work to the Drake-Brockman family:They told my mother I was goin' to get educated. They told all the people I was goin' to school. I thought it'd be good goin' to school. I thought I'd be somebody real important... [Instead] I did all the work at Ivanhoe. The cleaning, the washing, the ironing. There wasn't nothing I didn't do. From when I got up in the morning till when I went to sleep at night, I worked. That's all I did really, work and sleep. [4]So the message Daisy received from her 'mentors' was that as an Aborigine, she was not fit for academic learning and that her real place was to serve. And her Aboriginality received further blows. Her reticence to reveal her history to her granddaughter indicates...

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