Sunday, November 15, 2009

What to think?

Finding skeletons in the closet of one’s ancestors is one thing, but encountering the nasty skeletons of the general public, thrust upon said ancestors is another matter entirely, and one that has proven to be quite the source of personal anger.

In researching my great great grandmother, an Aboriginal woman by the name of Maggie SIMMS, I have found that she was viewed by the early settler/invaders of her country as a curiosity and a mark for mockery. She appears on an early postcard, as listed by Jim Davidson in a 1996 Sydney Morning Herald column, discussing the history of postcards in Australian history:

“This carried across to vignette cards with several images, even for such a small place as Corryong. One card, with seven cameos, leads off with the state school and the Church of England; in between is an image of "Black Mag", an Aboriginal identity, climbing a tree. Intentionally or otherwise, she is inserted between school and church as a marker of progress, an indication of how far white civilisation has advanced. Other pictures show the main street, a railway bridge (more progress) and two waterfalls, for Corryong is displaying its attractions as well as its attainments. The pioneering past was so recent that the two could be merged effortlessly into each other.”

How would you feel, to know that there exists a postcard, advertising a small town in the back of nowhere, which features your ancestor, one of the reasons for your existence, as nothing more than a joke, and as an example of a supposedly dying race?

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