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Doris Pilkington's Aboriginal name is Nugi Garimara and she was born on 'traditional birthing ground under the wintamarra tree' on Balfour Downs Station in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia.
As a toddler, she was removed by authorities from her home at the station, together with her mother Molly Craig and her baby sister, Annabelle. They were sent to Moore River Native Settlement. Molly Craig walked back to Jigalong but was only able to carry baby Annabelle, leaving Doris at the Settlement. At eighteen, Doris left the mission system as the first of its members to qualify as a nursing aide at the Royal Perth Hospital. After marrying and raising a family, she studied journalism and worked in film and television production. In 2002, she was appointed Co-Patron of State and Federal Sorry Day Committee's Journey of Healing.
In 2004, she was named a Western Australian State Living Treasure. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Red Ochre Award for outstanding lifelong contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts.
'Doris Pilkington Garimara was born on traditional birthing ground under a wintamarra tree. This is her life story which follows on from her mother, Molly Craig's story in ~Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. Doris begins with the basic migration of her Mardu ancestors from the Western Australian desert to the cattle stations and settlements on its fringes.
Generations later, living in a workers' camp with her family on Balfour Downs Station, three-year old Doris' life is forever changed when she is removed by authorities to Moore River Native Settlement. This institution, for children judged to be identifiably of mixed race, was the place Molly had so famously escaped from a decade before.
The life of an institutional orphan, as seen through the eyes of a child, is movingly revealed... Leaving behind the regimentation of assigned routines and endless regulations, Doris goes to Perth to train as a nurse's aide but the racist culture of an institutional upbringing leaves an indelible mistrust of her own people. This is the obstacle she has to overcome when as a wife and mother she makes the courageous but difficult choice to find her mother and father, and to begin the journey to reclaim her Mardu heritage.' Source: Publisher's blurb
'The film Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on this true account of Doris Nugi Garimara Pilkington's mother Molly, who as a young girl led her two sisters on an extraordinary 1,600 kilometre walk home. Under Western Australia's invidious removal policy of the 1930s, the girls were taken from their Aboriginal family at Jigalong on the edge of the Little Sandy Desert, and transported halfway across the state to the Native Settlement at Moore River, north of Perth...
The three girls - aged 8, 11 and 14 - managed to escape from the settlement's repressive conditions and brutal treatment. Barefoot without provisions or maps, they set out to find the rabbit-proof fence, knowing it passed near their home in the north. Tracked by native police and search planes, they hid in terror, surviving on bush tucker, desperate to return to the world they knew.
The journey to freedom - longer than many of the legendary walks of [the Australian nation's] explorer heroes... told from family recollections, letters between the authorities and the Aboriginal Protector, and ... newspaper reports of the runaway children.' Source: Publisher's blurb
'A fictional account of one woman's journey to find her family and heritage, Caprice won the 1990 David Unaipon Award for unpublished Indigenous writers. Its publication marked the beginning of Doris Pilkington Garimara's illustrious writing career.
Set in the towns, pastoral stations and orphanage-styled institutions of Western Australia, this story brings together the lives of three generations of Mardu women. The narrator Kate begins her journey with the story of her grandmother Lucy, a domestic servant, then traces the short and tragic life of her mother Peggy.
Kate was born into the institutionalised world of the Settlement, taught Christian doctrine and trained for a career as a domestic. Gradually and painfully she sheds this narrowly prescribed identity, as she sets out on the pilgrimage home.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)