Essay on True Aboriginality

Submitted By skl353
Words: 1511
Pages: 7

True Aboriginality: Sharing Values, Stories, and a Connection
Sally Morgan’s novel, “My Place,” is the story of her personal journey to finding an Aboriginal Identity. She is led to this understanding of identity through many cases of storytelling: a very important Aboriginal tradition. The act of storytelling has ministered the transmission of this rich culture through time and preserved of Aboriginal identity through struggles with colonial repression. Dreamtime narratives and historical accounts have accumulated and been passed down through many generations of the Aboriginal community. These have served to maintain the integrity of the ancient Aboriginal values and beliefs which establish a deep connection between the Aboriginal people. This is the connection that Sally is searching for throughout her story and, in sharing her journey to this connection, she expresses the meaning of true Aboriginality and proves that it is much more than skin-deep.
For most of her young life, Sally’s mother and grandmother, Nan, attempted to keep her true racial identity a secret from her to protect her from the callousness of misjudgment and discrimination. They lied to Sally and told her that she was Indian in hopes that she could avoid the racism that surrounded the Aboriginal people and identified them “not in terms of their positive attributes, but in terms of what they lacked: they were ‘under-developed,’ ‘primitive,’ […] uneducated […] ‘backward’” (Dodson 29). However, despite her early ignorance, Sally’s story remains specifically aboriginal because she was still exposed to many unpleasant aspects of her racial identity. Most of these experiences stemmed from the prejudiced stereotypes held by white Australians over Aboriginal people, which led Sally to an acute awareness of the barriers that existed between her and her lighter-skinned classmates. She recalls how, in her first years of school, she “felt different from the other children in [her] class. They were the spick-and-span brigade, and [she], the grubby offender” (28). This ambiguous idea she had of being lower-class seemed to continually be validated throughout her life. At one point, a deacon of her church even went so far as to forbid Sally to befriend his daughter on the grounds that she was a “bad influence” (129). She still hadn’t fully come to terms with her Aboriginality, so she believed there was something wrong with her personally and didn’t understand that these incidents were effects of a larger issue of racial discrimination. She had been engaged in the Aboriginal situation all her life without fully understanding it and, as she grew older, she began to notice even more of the differences that separated her from the majority of her peers. She picked up on many of her family’s idiosyncrasies. She saw that they were more in touch with nature than most in the way they took many stray animals into their care and also in how her mother and Nan looked for signs in the weather. Sally noted that Nan’s “view of the spiritual world was a deeply personal one” and that “Nan influenced [her] greatly when it came to [her] attitude to the wildlife around [her]” (72, 67). This was a directly Aboriginal influence on Sally as Nan passed down the culture’s ancient value of deep spiritual connection with nature.
Their family’s lifestyle was made up of many unique habits that could also be traced back to their aboriginal background. These include Nan’s preference of the “Old Cures” over modern medicine, the use of raw onions for sanitation, and their major concern with saving money. Sally states that “when it came to the economy, Mum’s and Nan’s ideas were rather peculiar” (136). Their economic fears were linked to Nan’s fear of the government because, based on the turbulent past relations between the Aboriginals and the white Australian government, Nan felt she had reason to worry that the government was untrustworthy and determined to hurt their