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Proving indigineous heritage just because.


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#1 yabbadabbadoo

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

My great grandmother was Aboriginal.  I have known for a long time, but out of respect for my grandmother, I wasn't able to do anything about obtaining proof.  She passed away about 18 months ago so I feel I am able to follow it through now.  

The problem is the process that I need to go through.  I understand why it is the way it is, but I really don't want to claim any benefits from it, I don't need to.  I just want to be able to tick the box on forms when it asks.  Again, not for any benefit, I have no interest in claiming anything, but it still feels wrong ticking it because I don't have a piece of paper that says I can, so I don't.

I do fit the first two criteria of identification, but don't see the point of going through with the third as I don't need the piece of paper to know my heritage.  As I said I just want to tick the right box - obviously this is just a representation of my need to identify publicly, I am not having a tanti over not being able to tick the box.

There is a very strong family resemblance to my great grandmother in many of my extended family members, also in my eldest son.  He is fair skinned but to look at him you can see the resemblance very clearly.  Not that it matters what he looks like, but both my kids know of their heritage, are proud of it and often tell people when discussions come up about indigenous people, like in class, but they are never believed.  

I know they are a very small percentage, but it is important to them.  When DS 2 first started school, they had a performance by some indigenous people.  During it, they called DS 2 up to be a part of it.  After the performance, during recess, the people made themselves available to the kids for questions etc.  I was with DS 2 chatting to a lady and I mentioned that DS 2 had indigenous heritage and she said she knew!  I was of course taken aback as he has no resemblance at all physically.  She said she just knew and she felt it so that is why she picked him out of the crowd.  She said he had an old soul and various other things which were very accurate about his personality etc.   To this day I haven't forgotten that encounter.  He also really identifies with one of my cousins who has been recognised , they talk about spiritual things and are very much on the same wave length.  

So, I don't really know why I have written all this.  I guess I am just frustrated that I have to have a piece of paper to rightfully say that I am of Aboriginal descent.  I know I am, I don't want anything from it, other than to be able to say it without being questioned or for people to assume I want something from it.

Edited by yabbadabbadoo, 04 February 2013 - 01:18 PM.


#2 MissingInAction

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:22 PM

Sorry, I feel like i need more info.  What's the criteria for identification?

#3 yabbadabbadoo

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:26 PM

These are the criteria for proof

-being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent

-identifying as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

-being accepted as such by the community in which you live, or formally lived

#4 Jenferal

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:28 PM

I'm not sure why you need a paper though.
You say you need it to rightfully claim that you are of Aboriginal descent, but what's stopping you from claiming it?
I don't fully understand why the paper is so necessary. Why can't you just say you are of aboriginal descent?
If you don't want to claim anything and you don't want people to assume you want something from it, WHY do you need the paper?
Don't you know the truth already? Does it matter what anyone else thinks?
I don't quite understand the angst.
As MIA said, what is the 3rd criteria needed anyway? Birth certificates?

#5 Le-a

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:29 PM

I get where you're coming from. My heritage is important to me.  

I know nothing of the process involved with getting recognized, but It sounds like something very important to you and your children and your extended family. If I were in your shoes, I would persue it.

Which reminds me, I must get on to the Swiss consulate and register my marriage and my sons birth! It's only been three years!

All the best, I hope it's not too challenging for you, emotionally and practically.

#6 FeralCrazyMum

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:30 PM

I thought that unless you wanted to access services that are reserved for Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander people, you were able to tick the box.

A friend of mine has Aboriginal heritage, although she's not listed anywhere as Aboriginal, her children are regularly included in school activities reserved for indigenous people.

To PP,
The criteria for identification is as follows:
Visit My Website

I used to work in an Aboriginal Land Office and one of the standard items on the monthly board agenda was the Confirmations of Aboriginality.


#7 yabbadabbadoo

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:33 PM

Jenflea, not sure why all the angst.  Maybe because it was always so hush hush in our family, so I feel like I have been lying all these years by not putting it out there on any form I have filled in, not even on the census or school enrolment papers.  Maybe not a biggie to some, but I have an over active conscience which does occasionally prevent me from seeing things logically or without 'angst'.

Edited by yabbadabbadoo, 04 February 2013 - 01:33 PM.


#8 meljbau

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:37 PM

QUOTE (yabbadabbadoo @ 04/02/2013, 02:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So, I don't really know why I have written all this.  I guess I am just frustrated that I have to have a piece of paper to rightfully say that I am of Aboriginal descent.  I know I am, I don't want anything from it, other than to be able to say it without being questioned or for people to assume I want something from it.


I understand how you feel. My DH has been trying to find out about his grandfather too and some people have asked us why we want to know. I guess the same reason most people want to know about their heritage. My DH's grandfather was placed in an orphanage at 5, but the paperwork says his mother was still alive. There are few details on his placement papers unlike most of the other paperwork at the orphanage in his era. We do know his surname and it is the same as a well known aboriginal family in the western district. When he was 10 he was sent from the home to work as a farm boy. All the other boys went down to the western district but he and one other were sent to the north of the state. We wonder if that was to keep him away from his extended family. It is very hard to trace any details as he never had a birth certificate. I've contacted the local aboriginal co-op but the person who held some family records was on sorry business and I haven't followed up.

I hope things work out for you, OP

#9 Mummy Em

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:38 PM

I think you (and your son particularly) will get more out of the process of fullfilling that third part of the process than just the piece of paper saying you are of aboriginal decent. Why not look into getting in contact with other relatives of your grandmother's?

I agree with you, I think it is really important that we have statistics on people who have lost touch with their aboriginal heritage, often not through their own choice.

#10 yabbadabbadoo

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:45 PM

Thanks to those who understand where I am coming from.  It has really resonated with me today because their was a Welcome to Country ceremony at school this morning to start the year.  I was one of few parents who attended and I know that DS 2 in particular would have felt very strongly about it but not really been able to say anything about it.  If he tried to tell his new teacher he probably wouldn't have really acknowledged it.  According to our school records there are no students of Aboriginal descent, so nobody would have had a clue that it meant anything to my DS's.  The lady talked a lot about family heritage and how much it means, so just really sank in today, that's all.



#11 yabbadabbadoo

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Mummy Em, quite a few of my cousins have formal identification, one has even been and stayed with people from where we originated.  That is the one that DS really connects with.  They are all willing to give me the relevant paperwork and I know I should do it, it is just frustrating when people assume you are going to start looking for handouts.

#12 Gudrun

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

If you identify I would think it would be important to tick boxes.  

I guess there could be bureaucratic responses to that in some instances.  But you could deal in any way you want.

You might want to consider that formal recognition might be helpful for your descendants for whatever reason.

There is nothing uncommon about your situation.  It sounds like you have family you can talk to about this.   If not I'd drop in to your nearest Aboriginal organisation eg Aboriginal Legal Service and have a bit of a chat.

#13 laridae

Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:58 PM

You can tick the box.  Is basically the second criterion - self identifying that you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait descent.
If you want to use the services/get benefits etc you would need to do the 3rd step. ie get accepted by the community.  But if you've not had anything to do with it thus far, that may be difficult.

#14 Feral_Pooks

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

I understand OP. I have Koori ancestry but I don't identify with the community, because of the Stolen Generations being very effective I suppose. The only 'mention' of it when I was a child, was my grandmother being very disapproving of my olive toned skin and advising me to stay out of the sun like she does, or else 'she looks like a n-word...'. I know, through talking to other people who have been through the process you are considering, that making claim to that ancestry can feel very healing, like undoing a wrong. Since it was government that often was responsible for dividing families and breaking that connection to culture, there is something satisfying about having the government acknowledge your aboriginality. I wish you all the best in finding the right answer for you and your family.

#15 beaglebaby

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

I say go for it, don't worry about what other people think, you and your children know that you are only doing it to be true to yourself and to honour your family and your heritage.

#16 Zanbam

Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:33 PM

I really feel for you OP.

Identification is a very sensitive and highly conflicted subject for many Aboriginal people for two reasons (I am not saying the first applies to you I'm am just trying to explain the sensitivities and fears).

1. Many people that have been raised in an Aboriginal community and faced discrimination and hardship due to their Aboriginality feel it is wrong for people whose family have always denied their Aboriginality and who haven't been raised 'on country' to claim it, as there is a fear that university scholarships and positions identified for Aboriginal people will go to those who are looking for a free education or entry into a position and they will have an unfair advantage, this isn't an irrational fear but I am not saying this is why you are seeking it.

2. It is recognised that through no fault of their own people were denied access to their families, their culture and their country. This was done by the State under the guise of assimilation and it has had ongoing and highly distressing consequences for all Aboriginal people. It is understood (and greived by many Aboriginal people) that there are many Aboriginal people like you and your son that have been denied your heritage but feel a real and strong connection and don't want it denied anymore.and there are ways that you can research your family which may help.

I don't know which State you are in but in NSW the Family Records Unit in Aboriginal Affairs may be able to help (sorry, can't include the link for some reason but google it and it comes up). You may come up against resistance from your local land council if you go down that path due to a perceived threat (whether imagined or not) to resources reserved for Aboriginal people but if for your own peace of mind and knowledge for your children I think it is something that is very worthwhile to find out about.







#17 Fr0g

Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:31 PM

QUOTE (laridae @ 04/02/2013, 02:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can tick the box.  Is basically the second criterion - self identifying that you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait descent.
If you want to use the services/get benefits etc you would need to do the 3rd step. ie get accepted by the community.  But if you've not had anything to do with it thus far, that may be difficult.


Having official confirmation of Aboriginality can be done without necessarily identifying with local communities. In SA, Nunkuwarrin Yunti confirm the process - the application is a one page sheet, asking for maternal/ paternal heritage and the community the applicant knows/ believes their ancestors lived in. I have submitted requests for confirmation for clients of mine. It is a lengthy process.

If you identify with your Aboriginality, I say go for it. You don't need a reason and you certainly don't have to justify why.

Good luck.

#18 Feral Alpacas

Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:45 PM

OP my mum was recognized by Link Up Qld and that is enough for us all to tick the Aboriginal box on forms.

#19 laridae

Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:58 PM

QUOTE (myfamilyrocks @ 04/02/2013, 03:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For instance, at school I feel it's better not to because, although we acknowledge traditional leaders and teachings, it feels like we are taking something away from the Indigenous children at this school. .... For some reason I see the Aboriginal and Islander children struggling at school and wonder if it would take away more of the funding allocated to these children if my child, who has a distinct advantage, comes along and is part of their stats. The staff are aware of her heritage so for cultural purposes that has been acknowledged within the school. I'd like to not sway the numbers unfairly.


I know at public schools in my state (because I was on a project to implement the software to do it), that people can tick the box, but it still needs to be verified before they can count it officially (so, there is a box to record that they self-identify, and another one that they are verified).

#20 Lim Lam

Posted 04 February 2013 - 04:35 PM

I didnt find out until I was 13 that my 'Dad' was actually my step dad and that my bio dad is aboriginal. After meeting him and all my extended family i mow idetify myself as aboriginal. I obtained the Certification of Aboriginality because my paternal grandmother wanted me recognised in her family..
I grew up in the town where all her and her family live and they watched me grow up without never telling the secret my mum and bio dad made.
I am proud to know my heritage and identify feely as aboriginal, as do my children. I have always had an affinity with aboriginal people and my 2 best friends are aboriginal, although they are very dark and I am light with blue eyes and blonde hair lol.
We do get the occasional extra handout, but only when its something essential and as a single mum of 4 its usually the only way to get certain assistance.

eg My son wants to study at Tafe, Fees $600, Plus full PPS gear $250, Books $150, impossible for me to pay when I can barely buy food sometimes. (last week was $96 on food or 5 people cause thats all I had after paying rent and bills.) And I only work 20hrs a week, and am about to start studying as well myself.
Went to see the aboriginal liason officer and my son is now fully enrolled and kitted out with all his books and safety gear. If he doesnt finish the coure and graduate, I will become liable for these expenses. But for this assistance he wouldnt have been able to enro. Now he has a chance to do what he wants to as his life career, Heavy Duty Diesel Mechanic.

Edited by niknok, 04 February 2013 - 04:37 PM.


#21 Nofliesonme

Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:05 PM

I don't have a piece of paper because I am so far removed from my mother that no one would accept me, I was raised in a white society so to speak and am distanced from my mums side. I just tick that I identify....I don't see how I will ever be accepted as aboriginal decent because of this. Anyone ideas?

Edited by thunda, 04 February 2013 - 05:07 PM.


#22 Super Cat

Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:27 PM

You don't need the certificate to tick the box. You only need it if you're challenged on your Indigenous heritage. Even then that's only relevant if you're claiming a service specifically for Indigenous people. For example if you want it noted on your child's medical records that he is Indigenous you simply tick the box. Same for school enrolment. If your school has say, a breakfast program specifically for Indigenous children you're entitled to use it but if you're challenged you'll need to provide the certificate.

Remember too that Indigenous  people are often under represented in the population because many choose not to identify for various reasons. By ticking the box you're actually helping to show a more realistic representation of the true Indigenous population.

#23 slinky

Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:48 PM

OP I haven read the replies but I am in a similar situation. I do not idetify as Aboriginal but my husband was adopted and has aboriginal heritage. He is unsure of the exact details and doesn't want to find his birthparents but would like to know more about his Aboriginality. Ever since my chldren were born I have ticked the box. We have never "got" anything from it (discouts payment and entitlements I am not sure if there are any) I have just did it to make it easier for my children, when they are older, to idtenify.
My husband would love to be acknowleged as Aborginal but without finding his birth parents it's nigh on impossible.


#24 Zanbam

Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:38 AM

QUOTE (Super Cat @ 04/02/2013, 06:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You don't need the certificate to tick the box. You only need it if you're challenged on your Indigenous heritage. Even then that's only relevant if you're claiming a service specifically for Indigenous people. For example if you want it noted on your child's medical records that he is Indigenous you simply tick the box. Same for school enrolment. If your school has say, a breakfast program specifically for Indigenous children you're entitled to use it but if you're challenged you'll need to provide the certificate.

Remember too that Indigenous  people are often under represented in the population because many choose not to identify for various reasons. By ticking the box you're actually helping to show a more realistic representation of the true Indigenous population.


This is a very good point Super Cat.

#25 HotPozzum

Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:41 AM

Interesting topic and I hope the OP find the resolution she is looking for. biggrin.gif

I have a question, a genuine one - this is not intended to offend in any way!

Is there a guideline as to how closely you are link to Indigenous people ie. how many generations does it apply to? Sorry not wording this very well... sad.gif

Eg. My great grandmother was Scottish but I identify with being Australian as I was born here. If one person in your ancestry was Aboriginal does that count forever "down the line"?  I find it interesting how some people strongly identify with a very distant ancestor yet others do not...




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