Indigenous Spirituality

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade September 2001

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In 1909 the "Aborigines Protection Act"1 was established which gave the government the power of custody and education of all Aboriginal children. In 1938 anthropologist AP Elkin proposed the concept of "assimilation"2 to the Commonwealth and state governments of Australia. Assimilation was a method by which Australia's "˜mixed blood' aboriginals could be absorbed by the general society. Little did AP Elkin and the heads of Commonwealth and state governments of the time know that assimilation would have such a negative affect to thousands of indigenous Australians in the years to follow. By 1951 the assimilation policy was in full swing and the separation of young aboriginal children from their families was a common practise. The generation of people who were taken away from their families is now known as the "Stolen Generation". Members of the stolen generation all lost a great deal of their indigenous spirituality as a result of the assimilation process.

Archie Roach was three years old when he was taken away from his family. A member of the Gundi Tjmaru people of Warrnambool in Western Victoria, Archie was taken away before he had the chance to learn about the spirituality of his people. Archie was not the only child to be taken away from his family; his three sisters and two brothers were also taken away. His parents were told that their children were being taken away for a "picnic"3 and they never saw them again. Archie was "institutionalized"4 in a Salvation Army orphanage in Melbourne where he was taught English in preparation to be sent to a foster home. Archie did not have pleasant foster home experiences in his first two foster homes. In one of those homes he ended up in court as a result of the physical abuse, which he endured. Archie's...