In our country we carry a tragedy and a shame. The First Nations Peoples carry the burden in grief that cannot be quenched. We all call it the Stolen Generations story.
Archie Roach knew it, he felt in his own being, felt from within. He searched for family, culture and belonging. In some parts of our country this burden is carried by one person in every three of the Aboriginal community. There is a bond between those who feel this pain. Archie took a long time to find his birth family. He sang of the anguish, it was palpable. Archie sang ‘Brown Skinned Baby’ and Australians began to understand.
Throughout the country, wherever First Nations Peoples travelled or stayed, there were relatives who were looking for any sign of a lost one, a face that looked like family, a way of speaking that seemed familiar.
And so it happened that there came to Archie’s door a woman named Nellie Moore.
Nellie is a person large in every way. A gift of healing runs through her family. There is depth in her. As she comes to Archie she carries the weight of the pain of her sister, Beverly Moore. As a very young woman Beverley had given birth to a baby boy whom she had named Russell. She loved him but when he was only days old she lost him to a white skinned couple who would take him further from her than she could imagine. During nigh on twenty-six years Beverley and Nellie watched for any face or voice that could belong to that brown skinned child of their family. They counted the years as they knew he would grow from childhood to youth to manhood. There was always the hope that he would come looking for them one day.
Russell never did look for family. He didn’t understand he was Aboriginal. He was very far away. He had never met an Aboriginal person.
Then one day Beverley received a call from the USA. Russell was on Death Row in a Florida prison. Archie Roach heard it from Nellie, Russell’s aunt, and the story wrenched his gut. He tells and sings it as only a man of his culture and experience could do. It is a story a white woman cannot tell the proper way.
II invite you to watch as Archie tells it and sings it.