Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children

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20th century

For several decades from the 1920s to the 1960s, the Australian government operated a deliberate policy of cultural genocide, taking young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families and placing them in boarding schools or with white foster and adoptive families.

According to official government figures over 100,000 children were forcibly removed, often kidnapped without their parents' knowledge, let alone consent, even from their own front yards or encampments. They were indoctrinated with white culture in an attempt to make them think and act like whites, with the ultimate intention of wiping out the Aboriginal people by intermarriage and acculturation. The boys were destined as cheap farm and unskilled laborers; the girls for domestic service. Many, probably most, were physically abused, and many were sexually abused. All were emotionally scarred. The plan failed, partly because children refused to acquiesce, partly because even when they thought and acted like whites the whites rejected them, partly because a number of the children went insane under the pressure.

There is currently a lukewarm attempt being made by the Australian government to find out what happened to these children, often called the Stolen Generation, and to reunite families. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves have established a organization, Link Up, to reunite separated families. Some of these people appear elsewhere in this list:

  • Anderson, Edward Warrigal
  • Burnum, Burnum
  • Carmody, Kev
  • Clare, Monica
  • Jagamarra, Malcolm
  • Perkins, Charles
  • Roach, Archie
  • Ward, Glenyse

A very similar, if marginally less harsh, policy was operated by the US government against Native American and Alaskan Native Children, and with the same outcome. Both countries had previously tried simply to exterminate their native peoples by poisoning and shooting, and similar policies have been pursued by many other colonizing powers in attempts to rid their lands of troublesome "savages" by assimilation or genocide. In addition, the Swiss government connived in the Kinder der Landstraße scandal from 1926 to 1973, when Roma children were stolen from their families.

References

"Re: Whitewashing 'BLACKNESS'/Human Rights Down under the USA." Available at: http://www.msstate.edu/listarchives/afrigeneas/199705/msg00411.html
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. ATSIC Submission to the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. Formerly available at: http://www.atsic.gov.au/library/finalsub.htm
"Grants & Outside Funds: Stolen Generations Project," NARU News, 45 (July-October 1995). Also available at: http://online.anu.edu.au/naru/nn-45.htm
The Age [Melbourne], "The Stolen Generation" [archive webpage]. Available at: http://www.theage.com.au/issues/stolengeneration/20001126/index.html
McKiver, Beverley. "Welcome to The Native Adoptee." Available at: http://www.freenet.carleton.ca/%7Ede723/adoptee.html
Edwards, Coral; and Read, Peter, editors. The Lost Children: Thirteen Australians Taken from Their Aboriginal Families Tell of the Struggle to Find Their Natural Parents. (Sydney; New York: Doubleday, 1989)

Indexes

Australian Aboriginal
Australia
20th Century
Birth Identity Disputed or Deliberately Concealed
Ethnic or Religious Identity Confused or Concealed, Racism
Multiple or Unspecified
Child Removed from Home by Social Services
Sent to Boarding School, Apprenticed or Fostered as Part of Normal Traditional Child-Rearing
Government Policy, Assimilation
Others ("Strangers")
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Institutional Care
Tracing Impossible or Birth Family Extinct
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