Patty Mills And The Stolen Generation
Blazers reporter Matt Calkins had a must-read story in Monday’s paper about Patty Mills and his Aboriginal heritage.
The subject pertains to his Indigenous Australian heritage, more specifically his Aboriginal mother, Yvonne, who as a 2-year-old was taken from her mother along with her older brother and three older sisters. The abduction was part of a national effort led by the Australian government and church missions to remove Indigenous Australian children from their homes and assimilate them into white culture.
It is now classified as “The Stolen Generation,” and Yvonne was a textbook victim.
“That’s the chip I carry on my shoulder,” Mills continued. “Not just being an Indigenous Australian, but knowing that my mom’s side of my family never got to see me play.” . . .
Told that her mother didn’t want her, she couldn’t elude constant feelings of abandonment.
She remembers having to take a series of intelligence tests when she was 11, each time thinking that if she got a question wrong she’d again be removed from her home.
“I always had this feeling of not being wanted. Thinking ‘are these people going to give me up, too?’ ” Yvonne said. “You grow up with that in mind. You begin not to trust people. You begin to think that you’re the problem. There’s a feeling that you’re less of a person.”
What she didn’t know was that the government was intercepting a deluge of letters from her mother; letters fervently explaining that she never wanted to give her children up, letters to the welfare department at Christmas begging for her baby daughter back, letters chronicling a mother’s pain that Yvonne would not discover until the national inquiry of the Stolen Generation began in 1995.
Like Patty, this is not a topic she discusses often, and speaking about it earlier this month from her home in Canberra, Yvonne couldn’t help but weep.
“I’m sorry, I’m having a little bit of a moment here,” she said. “I just feel so bad for my mother. It was a terrible life. A life of being judged by other people because her skin was dark.”