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31 July 2007
My name's Bob Randall. I'm listed as one of the traditional owners of this region and this is where my grandparents lived and came from, this area. We're the Yankunytjatjara group of people and we share this place with the Pitjantjatjara people and all around us is other desert tribes here.
So I've just come back here now for the last ten years and re-establishing myself on my own tribal area which consists of Uluru and Kata Tjuta with the people who are my generation who are known as the stolen generation.
We're the ones who experienced this terrible thing of being taken away from our families and from our land. I was one of those more ones who had memory of homeland and of being family because I was taken from about 150 ks to the east of where we are sitting now, from Angus Downs Station, where I was living with my family.
We had a Scotsman there, living there, a Bill Liddle, who fitted in with the people and my family's worked for Bill Liddle and they say I was one of those kids who he grew up, like many others of the family and he had an Arrernte Aboriginal wife and then he had children from other women, a lot of them being relatives of mine.
That's where I lived 'til I was about six or sevenish, they say. I was a little boy running around in the community when the constable, Bill McKinnon, came and grabbed me with his camel which lead into my experiences as a stolen generation member.
It was one of the practices of the colonisers to try and change everybody to become like them. They couldn't stand anything different from them and for some reason they had this false assumption that theirs was the only culture worth having.
I suppose they just didn't have the minds and, at that time, to know that everything you do today affects tomorrow. They didn't think apart from the selfishness - 'I'll get as much while I can and leave nothing for nobody.' I don't know where that kind of thinking and living comes from. I really don't, but to me today I think it's the worst possible way of living.
If you cannot consider other people's rights and the right to be as they are I think you're below the gutter-line.
So, what you missed out on was from your place was the right to ceremony, first and foremost, loss of culture, in a way that makes living in a traditional environment a full way of lifestyle.
Because it's so different to the English. It's a caring lifestyle for each other. You know, if you have things it belongs to everybody and that's what I like about the old way.
In the institution you'd start to learn the 'mine-ness'. 'Hang on, this is my shirt, this is my bed, this is my house', which is totally foreign to that other way.
I worked in Adelaide setting up at the Aboriginal Community College and I would take these kids back to Alice Springs because knowing they were from that group of people, the Arrernte, who owned the Alice Springs region and I'd notice some of the parents belonging to these kids and this [unclear] actually happened.
Here was old Joe Egan walking across to me and I said to Nellie and her sister, I said, 'See this man coming down towards me? That's your daddy.' They haven't seen their father before.
And the whole area became electrified and all the other students crowded in and I beckoned, I said, 'Joe, come on over.' And Joe walked across the street near where the KFC is there. And we were there where that old radio program is, their shop, and he came over and I said, 'Joe, this is your daughter Nellie, and this is her sister so and so,' and introduced him and it was just 'Wow', and everybody cried. It was emotional soul stuff.
So, the whole student body who happened to be standing together, myself and the girls themselves and the daddy themself just cried. Here they were meeting themselves as adults now.
And the old people used to say when I took their kids back to them as old grownup women with children that they really expected the kids to still come back as babies and I think the kids themselves expected to see their mother young and beautiful but here was this old lady sitting in the dirt. But they kept this beautiful dream.
I think that was my dream. I always dreamed that when I go back I'm going to still meet my mum. But all I met was her grave. You know, it was a terrible experience.
So, the effects of that experience, not only on the people themselves who had that experience was traumatic and absolutely terrible. It's just not.. it wasn't a very good thing to do to anybody.
By addressing that as a mistake and a wrong turn and going back to that point of being socially, spiritually, psychically and actually going back and saying, 'This is where we made the wrong turn. Let's go back to that point and this time walk together one way, and make sure we're both looking after each other.'