Back To Moore River And Finding Family
It is very rewarding to unravel river the web of stolen generations’ history. In October, I attended the Centenary Memorial gathering at Mogumber on the Moore River Native Settlement site, 130km north of Perth.
This memorial was create to remember a tragic event that occur in the history of apartheid Australia. Many Aboriginal families have a strong connection to the Moore River Native Settlement. From the Pilbara and the Kimberley, people also sent from the Western Desert and south west. Moore River best known for Doris Pilkington’s book Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence. But there are many other stories, including the one of my grandparents.
The colonists saw the settlement as a solution for the Aboriginal problem. It was establish in 1918. Too many Aboriginal people were wandering around WA, often on reserves close to ration depots, where they received flour or blankets. They were not want by the colonists.
Plus A.O. Plus A.O. The half-castes would merge in and the full bloods would disappear. In his book Australia’s Coloured Minority, Neville clearly outlined how he would achieve this.
Neville issued ministerial warrants for Aboriginal people to be remove from their homes. He first sent Noongars from Perth, then all over WA. To make it easier for people to be remove, he close down ration depots. Women with children particularly vulnerable so they sent to Moore River and Carrolup further south.
Moore River had a population of 193 people in a monthly average. Over 500 people sent from Australia to Moore River between 1915 and 1920. Many of them would die in one of Australia’s most notorious concentration camps.
Laverton, north-east of Kalgoorlie was the location of one of the most tragic stories. It was where 17 people, including women and children, gathered around 1921 at the police station to receive their annual blankets and clothing issue. Instead, they taken into cells, with the men and women separate.
They then placed in a cattle vehicle with a sign that read, 15 niggers to Mogumber. They were laugh at by the local whites and told the tale of the wailing, niggers.
Moore River shut down in 1951, but it reopen by the Methodist Church as Mogumber Mission. It was operational until 1980.
When I received my family’s Native Welfare files from the 1980s, I found out about my grandparents’ stories. Violet Newman, Mum, taken in 1946. She sent to Norseman Mission between Kalgoorlie & Esperance. My grandparents were sent to Moore River.
Most Aboriginal people do not have birth certificates. However, the birthday of horses or the 1st July is given to them. Mum gets the date she sent in the mission, the 19th of October.
My grandfather Len Newman ran from Moore River to search for his daughter. My mum told him that he travel by foot because he afraid of being taken and sent back to Moore River, as had the case with others. After he found mum, my grandfather worked around Norseman.
My grandmother’s story was very different. She never saw her eldest child again. We don’t know anything about the second daughter she gave birth. My grandmother sent her to Moore River, and she taken to Kalgoorlie hospital. That is all we know.
My grandmother a story we heard about when we live in Newman in the Pilbara in the 1970s. This was because the entire Jigalong mob from two hours east of Newman had known her.