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Mutant Message Down Under

Newspaper article #3

Dark Places in a Country Built on Lies

.... Morgan's [book] is distasteful, insulting and outrageous.

When first self-published, Morgan's book claimed to be nonfiction. Now, with HarperCollins on the spine, it has become fiction. I think it always was fiction.

It tells how Morgan came to Australia to help urban Aborigines set up a business. She is abducted by a tribe of desert-dwelling Aborigines who take her on a three-month walkabout. It's revealed to her that she is the soul partner of "The Elder" of the tribe. She is taken to a secret underground cave where all the treasures of the Dreamtime are kept and told that the tribe will have no more children because the world is destroying itself.

Morgan says her book is being sold as fiction, not because her claims can't be substantiated but to protect the Aborigines in the book from "legal implications". I can assure her there are no legal implications for the indigenous people mentioned. Her disclaimer has little to do with her story's veracity.

As for the detail ...

She calls us "half-breeds", yet anyone who spends any time with Aboriginal communities knows we have no notion of half- or quarter-caste. You're either Aboriginal or you're not; it depends on how you identify yourself, not on the amount of blood.

The pity is that Morgan rightly asserts that non-indigenous people can learn many things from indigenous culture. We knew about protecting the environment and we know the secret medicinal qualities of the flora around us. Western society ignores or devalues both.

If the book is being hyped as fiction, do inconsistencies and improbabilities matter? Yes, because the book, replete with cultural insensitivity, perpetuates myths and stereotypes.

We don't need people thinking that cannibalism was part of our culture. We don't need to be thought of as "silly uneducated folks" or a dying race. We don't have names like Sewing Master, Big Music, Story Teller and Tool Maker. We don't all want to marry white people so that our children will have lighter skin and be more able to integrate; we're not ashamed of our culture or our skin. And we don't need American tourists seeking spiritual enlightenment and thinking they can suck it from our culture.

Morgan manipulates our culture's values and ideas in support of her own beliefs, hoping her audience will know no better. That's reprehensible, even when disguised as fiction. As an Australian Aborigine - Morgan would call me a half-breed - I am angered by her lame, hideous attempt to cloak her lack of integrity in fiction.


Sydney Morning Herald

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