This Language Was Not Derived From A Greater Language Family.Korean My Stolen Heritage

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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. After Truganini’s death in 1876, Australians were convinced that all Tasmanian Aborigines had died and that there were no Aborigines in Tasmania. Now we know that is not true but, at the time it created an environment that encouraged the belief, among some upland Aboriginals, that their white-skinned, mixed-race children could be passed off as immigrants instead of accepting their heritage.

My Paternal Grandmother, Laurina Drew was the eldest child of George Drew, father of Dhungutti from the Macleay River region of NSW and Laurina Hotson, an English woman who is thought to have been a slave or convict who left Sydney for the Macleay River Settlement. George’s relationship with Laurina was established around 1875, before his second child Ellen was born.

Laurina Hotson then appeared in the official records married to George James who was a prominent businessman in Maryborough. Together they had a son Edward and later moved to the gold mining town of Mount Morgan. James’ business in Mount Morgan prospered, the girls all got married and Edward took over the business after his parents died.

Young Laurina, My Grandmother, accidentally married a boy who had her stepfather’s name; George James. Young George was an Englishman from the Isle of Wight. They had three children Arthur, Laurina and Florence between 1892 and 1896. It is not known when they moved from Mount Morgan to Tasmania, but family oral history indicates that Florence (my Grandmother) was only two or three years old.

George and Laurina established a large store in Brisbane Street Launceston and stayed at the top of the store until George died in 1950. Laurina’s children had grown up and moved on with this step and “Little Nanna” as she was affectionately called, moved to a small place in Georgetown. , on the river Tamar. I have vague memories of visiting Little Nanna between the ages of four and six, when she too died. I remember that he was always very careful about covering up if he went out in the sun and he was very cruel to my aunt and uncle if any of them didn’t cover up or let any of us little kids play in the sun.

From my childhood memory onwards, I only felt safe, or at least comfortable, in Little Nanna’s presence until I started making friends in Primary School. Ironically, each of those friends had Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage or, their Aboriginal ancestors had migrated to Australia to escape persecution. My parents did not openly approve of my friendships and most of them were temporary.

For many years, until 2005, I felt that something was missing in my life, and I could not agree with my feelings. In 2005, I talked to an elderly aunt who mentioned “Yellow George” as Grandmother’s father’s name, for the first time. When I pressed him for more information, he simply said “Little Nanna’s father is called Yellow George and he lives in NSW somewhere.”

Curiosity got the better of me and I searched the NSW Government Archives for “Yellow George”. Only one story was in the language of the Dhungutti people living in the Macleay River region and it described a man of that name who was given 26 acres of land on Pelican Island and fathered two children.

After 49 years of knowing I was different but not knowing why, I finally stumbled upon a possible explanation. But the Aborigines have no written language and their history is given in songs and stories. How in the world can I find the answers I need so much? I contacted the Aboriginal Land Council in Kempsey and luckily, the author’s brother, Gary Morris, was one of the founders of Booroongen Djugun Aboriginal College and lives in Kempsey.

I contacted Gary and he gave me the full history of the Drew family’s voice from Yellow George’s father to Laurina Hotson’s appearance and took off. As it happens, Gary and I are cousins ​​by marriage and his support in my development as a Dhungutti man is invaluable.

I understand why Laurina and her family did not want to be Aboriginal, but I am still saddened and ashamed that my family would be ashamed of our heritage. I don’t blame my parents for hiding our Dhungutti heritage, I actually feel sorry for them because they didn’t have the opportunity to have a close relationship with our whole family or, our connection with our country. I have visited my ancestral home and walked on the same land that my Dhungutti ancestors did for centuries. I feel such a connection and closeness but I am still very angry with the bigoted people whose views and prejudices stole my heritage and opposed me for so long.

It’s sad that none of my younger siblings want to accept their heritage and have removed me from their family because I chose to be who I am. My Indian family, the Dhungutti, the Kamiloroi and the Dugun all recognize and accept my Dhungutti heritage and offer their love and support freely as I strive to learn more about my true culture, not what was forced upon me.

Finally we are making some of the mistakes that were made to the First Australians but please, I beg everyone, think again about the generations of light Aboriginal people who have had their symbols stolen because of the color of their skin.

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