Stolen Generations

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Personal Statement

I tell my story so it can be used as an educational tool in our schools Australia-wide. I want to teach the younger generation about the history of the Stolen Generations. I have a lot of strong encouragement from my family members, especially my grandchildren, to share my story.

Transcript

Mohammad Ali McKee

Duration: 07:56

My name used to be Clyde Alfred Bray, born in Darwin in 1937, and in 1983 I changed my name to Muhummad Ali McKee. 
My father was Norman Bray from Alice Springs.  He … I never see him at all.  I had a mother, or I had a family, til the Welfare snatched me off my mother’s lap and I was stolen, in other words, stolen, and I had no mother, I had no father.  So I’m nobody’s child.  That’s what the government made me as – nobody’s child.

[As a small child, before WWII, Muhummad was taken to a mission on Melville Island, situated north of the Northern Territory]

Oh, we didn’t know our name at all.  We was numbered.  My number used to be 28, so we didn’t know who we were.  We had numbers on our clothes, see, and when they sing out your numbers we didn’t know what was going on.  You know, we wanted our name and all that, and we didn’t know nothing about it.  Oh, we just only called ourselves brothers and sisters – that’s all we said.  “How’re you going brother?”  That’s all we did.
Oh, the Priests, they said, “You’ll find out your name when you leave the island,” or something.  So, when we left, when I left the island and I got married we had to check the registration til we found out what our name was.
We had, I had relations there; I had relations on the island and we didn’t know each other.  We were just still calling one another brothers and sisters. 
And that’s still there, that number, number 28, always number 28, my number.

[Life on The Mission]

I was on the island for, what, about 19 years or more, and that’s where I got all the punishment for 19 years.  And I only went to school once, and that was it – I took off, went in the bush with the Aboriginals, stayed out in the bush with them.  I was the black sheep of the family there, you know.  They … I was picked out from the rest of them, from … and there’s, a brother used to say to me, he said, “We could train a brumby but we couldn’t train you an inch,” you know.  I said, “Well, you might have made it tough for me,” I said, “I’ll be tough.”
I got a hiding every day and all this, and we had to run to the convent to get a feed in the morning; they’d blow the whistle and we had to run, and if you sit there a minute late they take the tucker away from you – that’s how bad it was.
And I said to the Priest, I said, “You got no right to hit us all the time,” “No, we got to train you.” I said, I said, “You’re not training people like that, you’re dragging people up like that,” you know. 
Now, I look back at this for a long time.  I’m thinking all about, “Now, will I ever forgive, you know, forget about them and all that,” but you couldn’t.  It just keeps coming out in your memory all the time. 

[The Priests]

And I had no relation with them – nothing.  You’ve just got to, I’ve just got to just put up with them.  Even when they just say, “How’re you going …?” that’s all they say, “How’re you going?” and all that, I don’t talk to ‘em, you know.  They got to talk to me first, if I talk.
The Local Aboriginal people on Melville Island
They good, they was good on the island, the Aboriginals, because we didn’t worry about dole, eh, no money from the government – nothing.  We used to go out and do hunting every day, and never, never hang around, around the camp – always going hunting.  Yeah, hunting for dugong, turtle, for the turtle egg and all, crocodile. 
Skin ‘em, make money out of them; there was, it was 23 bob an inch for a little square across the stomach.  And we used to, I used to eat shark, crocodile or carpet snake – everything.  A big rat – they call it, we used to call it entemulla.  Bandicoot, a lot of bandicoot over there, the gold bandicoot, and we used to always go over there and get the wild honey and all this – everything.  We had a good time on that island.
I can understand what they say but my conscience all finished.  The government buggered it up.  See, our parents used to talk the language to us, right, and all the … but we couldn’t, we couldn’t get out, you know, with the Priests and all that because they was telling us not to do that.  They sent us over to the island because they wanted to get rid of us.  They wanted to get rid of us because we half-casts, between half-casts and between a white and a black.  We wasn’t wanted – that’s why they shipped us away.
In 1961, Muhummad went to Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory to reconnect with his family
And I tell you what, I got a lot of people over there, relations.  I said, I didn’t say, I said, “I never come for the meeting,” I said, “I just come here to find out if any one of my relations wants me back here,” you know, that’s all I asked.  If they didn’t want me there I wouldn’t care less, you know.  And I had two or three brothers come up and they all come around me.  I even had a photo, I think I’ve got a photo of them there.  Where they was borned, they showed me where my mother was borned under the paddleboat tree on the old station in Wayville, everything.

[Meeting his Brother]

The first time I see my brother they come up – I was working in Darwin then – and he, they come up there, a young boy, he was named Phillip, Phillip Bray.  He come up to Winelli and I said to … he come up to me and I said, “Who the devil you are?” you know, I said, “I don’t know you.”  “No, I’m your brother,” he said.  Oh, yeah?  I look at him again and I couldn’t believe it, and he had another two blokes with him and then I believed him then.  And I was a married man then at the time.
Thoughts About Being Taken
So some people was looked after but I wasn’t sort of that way.  But I had to go that way.  I went, grew up the rough way and that was it, and I stayed rough.  If I die, I said when I die, straight from the hospital and drop me off in a hole, you know. 
I don’t want anybody crying for me all over.  Nobody cried for me when I went away, you know, you’ve got to be tough.

END TRANSCRIPT

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