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A Place in the Past: Pilkington and van den Berg on the Moore River ...

A Place in the Past: Pilkington and van den Berg on the Moore River ...

custodianship of a

custodianship of a long>andong> occupied for millennia. Home is livong>inong>g from ong>theong> long>andong>, wherever ong>andong> however that may be. Pilkong>inong>gton’s story is also about reclaimong>inong>g territories ong>andong> overcomong>inong>g arbitrary, ong>andong> ultimately ong>inong>efficient, boundaries like ong>theong> white men’s fences ong>andong> absurd ong>inong>stitutional rules. It is about puttong>inong>g such boundaries to subversive uses, agaong>inong>st ong>theong> ong>inong>tentions of those who built ong>theong>m. The rabbit proof fence, ong>andong> ong>theong> way ong>theong> girls use it as a guidepost back to ong>theong>ir former lives, makes metaphoric ong>theong> undermong>inong>ong>inong>g of authoritarianism as an end ong>inong> itself. Both Pilkong>inong>gton ong>andong> ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong> appropriate ong>theong> resources of domong>inong>ant society ong>andong> combong>inong>e ong>theong>m with Aborigong>inong>al traditions to produce novel cultural forms. In writong>inong>g, ong>theong>y prove that ong>theong>irs is a vibrant, changong>inong>g culture ong>andong> that ong>theong>re can be life for Aborigong>inong>al people beyond ong>andong> outside colonial ong>inong>stitutions. In ong>theong> tradition of When ong>theong> Pelican Laughed by Alice Nannup, Over My Tracks: A Remarkable Life by Evelyn Crawford, ong>andong> Auntie Rita by Rita ong>andong> Jackie Huggong>inong>s, 21 each of ong>theong>se books is both typical of ong>theong> lives of Aborigong>inong>al people ong>inong> a particular historical period, but also extraordong>inong>ary ong>inong> that ong>inong>dividualistic courage, cultural loyalty, prong>inong>cipled compromise, quest ong>andong> eventual success function didactically ong>inong> relation to both white ong>andong> black audiences. To Aborigong>inong>al groups ong>inong> general, ong>theong>se texts are allegories for an unrecognised post-colonial nation; ong>theong>y will a strong Aborigong>inong>al iong>denong>tity ong>inong>to existence ong>inong> ong>theong> mutual imbrication of ‘race’ as a determong>inong>ant of class which is ong>inong> turn coded as shared experience. Although biography is an ong>inong>dividualistic genre, ong>theong>se novels are documents from a collective history yet to be acknowledged by Australia’s majority population. Each privileges ong>theong> social function of biographical writong>inong>g over its ong>inong>dividual function. As Among>andong>a Nettlebeck says, ong>theong>se life stories offer direct testimonies of ong>theong> recent national past: Such life histories are educative ong>inong> numerous ways because ong>theong>y offer, of course, not only testimonies of ong>inong>dividual experience but also accounts of mission life, government surveillance, stolen childhoods, ong>andong> oong>theong>r forms of twentieth century race politics which are ong>theong> ong>inong>heritance of every Australian. 22 Pilkong>inong>gton’s ong>andong> ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong>’s explorations of Aborigong>inong>ality re-establish ong>theong>ir attachment to long>andong> ong>andong> kong>inong>ship ong>andong> negotiate ong>theong> tensions between notions of ong>inong>herited Aborigong>inong>ality ong>andong> ong>theong> need to master its contents. They articulate what Kevong>inong> Keefe describes as ‘a new model of Aborigong>inong>al nationalism’, one which emphasises ‘loyalty to clan, [ong>andong>] to family ong>andong> this reflects ong>theong> many Aborigong>inong>al nations’. It is this ‘federation of Aborigong>inong>al nations, ‘each with its own sense of community’ which Keefe believes provides a strong base for a national ‘imagong>inong>ed community’ that enriches raong>theong>r than replaces earlier pan-Aborigong>inong>al iong>denong>tity discourse. 23 Julia Ravell has a PhD ong>inong> English ong>andong> Cultural Studies from Melbourne University ong>andong> is a journalist ong>andong> former lecturer. 1 Qtd. ong>inong> Diane Smith ong>andong> Rod Lucas. ‘Aborigong>inong>al Biography: Research ong>andong> Resources’. Australian Aborigong>inong>al Studies 2 (1988): 119. 2 Smallacombe, Sonia. ‘Oral Histories of ong>theong> Stolen Generation’, UTS Review 2.1 (1996): 41. 3 Pilkong>inong>gton, Doris. Follow ong>theong> Rabbit Proof Fence. St Lucia: University of Queenslong>andong> Press, 1996: xiii. 8

4 Pilkong>inong>gton Follow ong>andong> Rosemary Van ong>denong> ong>Bergong>, No Options: No Choice: ong>theong> Moore River Experience. My Faong>theong>r, Thomas Corbett, an Aborigong>inong>al Half-caste. Broome: Magabala Books Aborigong>inong>al Corporation, 1994. 5 ‘Aborigong>inong>es Inquiry. Alleged False Statements. Protector Replies to Critics’. The West Australian. May 5 1934. 6 Qtd. ong>inong> Peter Howson. ‘Rescued from ong>theong> Rabbit Burrow: Understong>andong>ong>inong>g ong>theong> Stolen Generation’. Quadrant. June (1999): 11. 7 ‘The Changong>inong>g Years: The Pong>inong>jarra Experience’. New Literature Review 31 (1996): 62. 8 Susan Maushart. Sort of a ong>Placeong> Like Home: Rememberong>inong>g ong>theong> Moore River Native Settlement. Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1993: 200. 9 The first resolution of ong>theong> Native Welfare Conference ong>inong> Canberra ong>inong> 1951. Qtd. ong>inong> Howson ‘Rescued’: 12-13. 10 ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong>, No Options: 162. 11 Julia Martong>inong>ez. ‘Problematisong>inong>g Aborigong>inong>al Nationalism’. Aborigong>inong>al History 21 (1997): 136. 12 Maushart, 317. 13 Baong>inong> Attwood. The Makong>inong>g of Aborigong>inong>es. Sydney: Allen ong>andong> Unwong>inong>, 1989: 150. Qtd. ong>inong> Martong>inong>ez ‘Problematisong>inong>g’: 136. 14 Rosemary ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong>. ‘Extract from The Changong>inong>g Years: The Pong>inong>jarra Experience’. New Literature Review 31 (1996): 59. 15 ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong>, No Options: 128. 16 ‘Compr(om)isong>inong>g Postcolonialisms’. University of Wollongong, February 1998. 17 ong>vanong> ong>denong> ong>Bergong> No Options: 61. 18 In ‘Aborigong>inong>ality: Resistance ong>andong> Persistence’, Kevong>inong> Keefe comments on ong>theong> centrality of ong>theong> concept of ‘carong>inong>g ong>andong> sharong>inong>g’ ong>inong> Aborigong>inong>al iong>denong>tity discourse. Australian Aborigong>inong>al Studies 1 (1988): 69. Accordong>inong>g to Ruby Langford Gong>inong>ibi, ong>inong> ‘In Conversation with Elizabeth Guy’: ‘We were ong>theong> first communists because our culture was based on carong>inong>g ong>andong> sharong>inong>g’, New Literature Review 31 (1996): 55. 19 Cited by Maushart, 171. 20 Doris Pilkong>inong>gton. Under ong>theong> Wong>inong>tamarra Tree. Brisbane: University of Queenslong>andong> Press, 2002. 21 Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1992; Penguong>inong>, 1993; ong>andong> Aborigong>inong>al Studies Press, 1994. 22 Among>andong>a Nettelbeck. ‘Tellong>inong>g it ong>theong>ir way: Presentong>inong>g Aborigong>inong>al Women’s Life Narratives’. New Literature Review 34 (1997): 43. 23 Keefe ‘Aborigong>inong>ality’: 46. 9

Torsos by Dutch sculptor Eja Siepman van den Berg Beauty in ...