Down the Hole, Up the Tree, Across the Sandhills : Running from the State and Daisy Bates
Edna Tantjingu Williams
Eileen Wani Wingfield
Kunyi June-Anne McInerney
IAD Press (Jukurrpa books), 2000
5-8yrs, Lower Primary, Primary, Upper Primary
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English, Kokatha language (C3) (SA SH53-06), Yankunytjatjara language (C4) (NT SG52-16)
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- Australian Government policy
- Child / parent separation
- Children, Aboriginal Australian
- Daisy Bates 1859 -1951
- Kokatha people (C3) (SA SH53-06)
- Stolen generations
- Umoona / Coober Pedy (West SA SH53-06)
- Yankunytjatjara people (C4) (NT SG52-16)
This is an important account of the experiences of Indigenous children in Coober Pedy whom the State took from their families over several decades. In order to protect them, their families would, as the book says, ‘chuck em’ down the mining holes to hide all day until nightfall when the State people went away.
The book includes Indigenous language words from three Aboriginal languages – Yankunytjatjara, Kolkatha and Maṯutjara. The pronunciation of these words is explained on each double page spread. At the end there is an explanation of the practice of stealing children and lengthy author and illustrator notes. There is also a note about Daisy Bates, an historical figure mentioned in this narrative. Endpapers contain maps of the areas described.
Edna Tantjingu Williams (1932–1999) was a Yankunytjatjara woman who grew up in the 1930s in the area of Coober Pedy. She was later one of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, senior Aboriginal women who formed their own corporation to keep the traditional culture alive. Eileen Wani Wingfield (1921–2014) was a Kokatha/Arabana woman who was also a member of the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta.
Both authors experienced the beginning of opal mining in Coober Pedy, working on surrounding cattle stations, and the pain of family separation occasioned by white laws which led to the Stolen Generations. They also recall the terrible testing of nuclear weapons by the British at Emu and Maralinga which led to so much suffering.
Illustrator Kunyi June-Anne McInerney, was herself a member of the Stolen Generations, albeit at a later date. Now an acclaimed artist, her paintings are powerful drawings on ochre backgrounds (suggestive of the stark desert environment of Coober Pedy) in which she employs an evocative use of perspective which depicts the emotional weight of this narrative in resonant ways.
- Australian Museum O’Loughlin, Michael ‘The Stolen Generation’ https://australian.museum/learn/first-nations/stolen-generation/
- Common Ground ‘The Stolen Generations’ https://www.commonground.org.au/learn/the-stolen-generations
- ‘Stolen Generations Resource kit for Teachers and Students’ Healing Foundation https://healingfoundation.org.au/schools/
- Wright, R.V.S. ‘Bates, Daisy May (1863-1951) ‘Australian Dictionary of Biography’ Volume 7 (MUP) 1979 [Note: Daisy Bates’ date of birth differs in various records.] https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bates-daisy-may-83
- Kunyi June-Anne McInerney exhibition focuses on the Stolen Generations https://www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au/story/6523828/exhibitions-reflect-on-south-australias-history/
- Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta - Council of Senior Aboriginal Women Coober Pedy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kupa_Piti_Kungka_Tjuta