Henty-Gebert, Claire 1930-
Henty-Gebert, Claire 1930-
Born November 4, 1930, in Australia.
Paint Me Black: Memories of Croker Island and Other Journeys, Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia), 2005.
Claire Henty-Gebert is the author of Paint Me Black: Memories of Croker Island and Other Journeys. This book tells the story of the author, who was part of the "stolen generation" of children in Australia who were of mixed Aboriginal and European descent, and because of this were removed from their Aboriginal communities as part of government policy between the 1860s and 1960s. Henty-Gebert was born near Frew River station, the country of the Kaytetye and Alyawarra Aboriginal people. She was the child of white settler Harry Henty and Ruby, an Alyawarra woman. When she was three years old, the author was forcefully separated from her mother (whom she never saw again) and taken to a mission in Alice Springs. With the onset of World War II, Henty-Gebert was moved to a new mission on Croker Island; her recollections of growing up on the island after the war were of happy times. As an adult, she moved to the Northern Territory and embarked on the difficult journey of finding her mother's family. According to a critic who reviewed the book for Australian Aboriginal Studies, the author's story is "told in simple, direct and powerful language." The book was based on primary documentary sources, traditional stories from her mother's land, and from the recollections of family and friends involved. The book is structured so that the beginning traces the author's journey into the care of the state based on her personal memories, while the end of the book gives her family's perspective on the same event, including her (now deceased) mother's eye-witness testimony of her daughter being taken away. "Such yoking of varying textual processes is a marker of the work's success," proclaimed critic Clare Archer-Lean in her review of the book for Pacific Affairs. Henty-Gebert gives insight into the real climate of the time in which she grew up through stories such as that of her white father being killed by an Aboriginal stock worker (hailed as a hero for what he did) and of the anguish felt by those who had to leave their Croker Island home in 1953. "The work's methodology, integrity and message are self-evident…. The book is able to reveal disturbing truths without sentimentalizing and provides as many images of strength and survival as of pain. The work is an important contribution to Australian history and literature," observed Archer-Lean.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Henty-Gebert, Claire, Paint Me Black: Memories of Croker Island and Other Journeys, Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia), 2005.
Australian Aboriginal Studies, fall, 2004, "News from Aboriginal Studies Press."
Pacific Affairs, spring, 2006, Clare Archer-Lean, review of Paint Me Black.