White Woman Black Heart
White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon, a Memoir
White Woman Black Heart
This book is shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards (Australia) for the Premier's Award for a Work of State Significance. The judges said:"This historical memoir recounts Barbara Miller’s involvement with the aboriginal people of Mapoon on Cape York where the community was forcibly removed from their lands by the Queensland Government in 1963. The Aboriginal story is a first-hand account of their heartbreaking departure and then triumphant return to their lands 11 years later, aided by Barbara and her friends. Barbara recounts that she was inspired to campaign for the Mapoon people by a meeting with Aboriginal elder, Burnum Burnum, who told her, ‘you may be a white woman but you have a black heart’, and in this book describes not only the Mapoon community’s (Aboriginal Australians) decade-long struggle but her own homecoming in finding her place in a loving aboriginal family.”Barbara often found herself saying, “the stork dropped me at the wrong house’ only to find she was repeating her mother’s words. In this riveting historical memoir exploring race relations and social change, Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum, told her, “you may be white but you have a black heart, as you understand my people and feel our heart.’ He suggested to IDA that she take on the Mapoon project and played matchmaker by introducing her to Aboriginal teacher and Australian civil rights movement leader Mick Miller."The Mapoon Aborigines were forcibly moved off their land by the Queensland government in NE Australia in 1963 to make way for mining. With an effective team behind her, Barbara helped them move back in 1974 to much government opposition which saw her under house arrest with Marjorie Wymarra. It also saw Jerry Hudson and Barbara taken to court. In helping the Mapoon people return to their homeland, she found her home as part of an Aboriginal family, firstly Mick’s and later Norman’s as she remarried many years later, now being with her soulmate Norman about 30 years. It is a must read for those interested in ethnic studies and political science as an isolated outback community whose houses, school, health clinic, store and church were burnt to the ground rose from the ashes and rebuilt despite all the odds. It is a testimony to the Mapoon people’s strength over social injustice.…………..This is a highly engaging and inspiring memoir. At its centre is the story of Mapoon which has all the elements of a great drama with the violent expulsion of the community in 1963 and their triumphant return eleven years later. As the author explains she came almost by chance to be at the very centre of the drama which in turn dramatically changed her life. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in political and social change over the last 50 years.Professor Henry Reynolds, FAHA FASSA University of Tasmania, eminent historian & award-winning authorThe author shows great sensitivity, respect and understanding and manages to convey the petty-fogging autocratic paternalistic control of Indigenous people, which pervaded the period of the Bjelke-Petersen era. One can see what Aboriginal people had to contend with and how, with the re-establishment of Mapoon, that a most positive success story has finally been achieved. This is an engrossing and compassionate memoir of an extraordinary woman who through her actions demonstrates what can be achieved through persistent commitment and faith. Dr Timothy Bottoms, author of Conspiracy of Silence, Queensland's frontier killing times (Allen & Unwin 2013) and CAIRNS, City of the South Pacific, A History 1770-1995 (Bunu Bunu Press 2016). Barbara Miller has written this book, a continuum to the trilogy of the Mapoon books. It is a testimony to the endurance and resilience of the Mapoon people and their determination to return to the land of their forefathers.Ricky Guivarra, former Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Councillor

Book Details


  • Nonfiction

Age Level: 

  • Adult
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