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Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington
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Rabbit-Proof Fence

by Doris Pilkington

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This is the story of three Aboriginal half caste girls removed from their families in Western Australia by government officials who sent them 1000 miles away to a 'residential school', more like a prison than a boarding school, where they were incarcerated and expected to learn to read and write and speak English before being sent off to be servants. The author, Doris Pilkington (Aboriginal name Nugi Garimara)is the daughter of the eldest girl, Molly and she retells their story in simple, straightforward language.

Molly and the two younger girls, sisters Daisy and Gracie run away from the school within days of arriving with only the clothes on their backs and no provisions. They amazingly manage to survive using their native skills in hunting and finding clean water and later strangers who give them food and clothing. Somehow, partly due to the rain and partly to their skills at hiding they manage to evade the police and the trackers sent to find them. Molly is familiar with the rabbit proof fence that runs the length of the state and knows if she can find that then they will just need to follow it home.

Although told simply, this incredible story of tenacity and survival is powerful in portraying the devastation of white settlement on Australia's Aboriginal communities, first by depriving them of their land and the ability to feed themselves and then by allowing a paternalistic government to deprive them of their mixed race children. ( )
  cscott | Apr 18, 2014 |
Best read in conjunction with the film, this memoir fills in details of the girls' trek that are not as explicit in the screen version. What the film provides is both a dynamism lacking in the book, and a broader context for why the Australian government would separate biracial children from their families. I was particularly fascinated by the expenditures made to recover three girls; no comparable manhunt would be mounted in our era for non-criminal escapees.

It would be interesting to compare the rationales for the general removal of native children to boarding schools in different countries, particularly the covert reasoning. The film does a better job of identifying the more pernicious aims of the program. ( )
1 vote OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
The story -- three aboriginal girls who escape from a government settlement and make their way home -- is interesting and exciting. Sadly, the writing is poor; the grammar is iffy and Pilkington isn't very good at crafting the story or at working background details into the main narrative. ( )
  calmclam | Sep 5, 2012 |
RGG: Amazing story of three Australian black aboriginal children's journey on-foot through the Outback after being put in a assimilation settlement.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 4, 2012 |
This is the true story of three bi-racial girls who were taken from their families by the Australian government in 1930 and relocated to an Aboriginal "settlement" half a continent away, and of their daring escape and return to their families.

This was not a great book, but it was interesting enough. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Jul 14, 2012 |
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To all of my mother's and aunty's children
and their descendants for inspiration,
encouragement and determination.
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It was still very cool in the early summer morning; the fresh, clean air he breathed into his lungs felt good.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786887842, Paperback)

Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up and taken to settlements to be institutionally assimilated. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, award-wining author Doris Pilkington traces the story of her mother, Molly, one of three young girls uprooted from their community in Southwestern Australia and taken to the Moore River Native Settlement. There, Molly and her relatives Gracie and Daisy were forbidden to speak their native language, forced to abandon their heritage, and taught to be culturally white. After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls planned and executed a daring escape from the grim camp.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:33 -0400)

Three mixed-race Australian girls, having been taken from their Aboriginal families, escape and return home on foot, without supplies or gear, while trying to evade recapture, in an account based on a true story. Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and takes to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, award-winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captivating story of her mother, Molly, one of three young girls uprooted from her community in Southwestern Australia and take to the Moore River Native Settlement. At the settlement, Molly and her relatives Gracie and Daisy were forbidden to speak their native language,forced to abandon their aboriginal heritage, and taught to be culturally white. After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls-- scared and homesick-- planned and executed a daring escape from the grim camp, with its harsh life of padlocks,barred windows and hard cold beds. The girls headed for the nearby rabbit-proof fence that stretched over 1000 miles through the desert toward their home. Their journey lasted over a month, and they survived on everything from emus to feral cats,while narrowly avoiding the police, professional trackers, and hostile while settlers. Their story is a truly moving tale of defiance and resilience.… (more)

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