Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11506
This essay examines the acts of racial discrimination portrayed in the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara. It takes a close look at the historical background materials Garimara used in her narration of the Stolen Generations, and her role as an advocate for healing and reconciliation amongst her people. Experimental assimilation procedures, with systematic separation of Indigenous Australian children from their families, by the postcolonial government in Western Australia, are the main political issues she addresses in her book, as she strives to regain her own cultural identity. Garimara, who is a victim of the child removal policies herself, makes an emotional decision to publish a testimonial narrative covering an oral recital from her mother and aunts, and thus postponing her own revealing biography. Her story about three young girls of mixed-racial descent, forcefully removed from their mothers, incarcerated in governmental settlements, and finally their heroic escape, became symbolic for the racial suppression endured by thousands of Aboriginal children that eventually became known as the Stolen Generations. The girls’ rebellion against the system, walking 1600 kilometres along the Rabbit-Proof Fence towards their freedom, gave hope and encouragement to many misplaced children to seek their stolen identities. The fence that symbolises freedom and reconnection in the book runs from coast to coast in Western Australia, originally built as a rabbit plague prevention. Doris Pilkington Garimara was twenty-five years old when she was reunited with her mother and heard her story. In this paper the bond between mother and child and the repercussion from early separation is analysed as two opposing elements are presented: the trauma caused by abduction and alienation from native families and culture, and then the need for acknowledgement and reconciliation as the healing journey towards reconnection begins. The topic is explored within a historical context in an effort to show how the book influenced public recognition and brought about reconciliation.
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