In Australia, from 1883 (when the Aborigines Protection Board was established) and, unbelievably, right up to 1969 (when the Aborigines Welfare Board was abolished) an estimated 1 in 10 of all Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families in an effort to 'civilize' them by assimilation into European society and culture.
As most Australians now know, successive Government authorities assumed legal guardianship of all Indigenous children and removed approximately 100,000 part-Aboriginal children from their parents and placed them with white Australian families, or in institutional care. Often they were abused, or used as domestic servants, or simply placed in homes against their will.
This policy has now been described as 'cultural genocide', even though at the time it was presented by state and church authorities as being 'in the best interests' of these 'half-caste' children. Government administrators thought that by bringing mixed-blood Aborigines into the white world, the colour could be 'bred out of them' over a few generations.
Meanwhile the fully black population, regarded as irredeemably primitive, was expected to simply die out by a process of natural selection or 'survival of the fittest'.
From 1915 to 1939 any station manager or policeman could take Aboriginal children from their parents if they believed it was in their moral or spiritual welfare. As described by historian, Parbury;
'In the space marked "Reason for Board taking control of the child", some managers simply wrote "for being Aboriginal"
After 1939 only a magistrate could order the removal of Aboriginal children, but they could now be taken away for such ambiguous terms as 'uncontrollable' or 'neglected', which could virtually mean anything.
In desperation, mothers would attempt to smear their children with black clay, or hold them over a fire to try to darken their skin, or hide them in hollow logs, to...