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Mutant Message Down Under

Newspaper article #4

Disgraced Author Offends Again
Janine Macdonald

A Californian woman who falsely claimed she spent four months in outback Australia with a telepathic Aboriginal tribe has published a book on the stolen generations that has offended Aboriginal women with its description of private "women's business''.

Ms Marlo Morgan's latest novel, Message from Forever: a novel of Aboriginal Wisdom, opens with a description of the birth of twins who would later become two of the "stolen children''.

The chairwoman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Ms Evelyn Scott, said such a description would be highly offensive to many Aboriginal women.

Ms Morgan was forced to apologise to elders for claiming her self-published Mutant Message Down Under, in which she told of a four-month trek with a little-known tribe called the Real People, was a true story.

Publisher HarperCollins, which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the book's rights, had to make clear in the re-published version that it was fiction.

Although Ms Morgan does not claim Message from Forever is true, Ms Jo Willmot, chairwoman of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta board of management in the Northern Territory, said anyone who respected Aboriginal beliefs would not have used such a description.

"It starts off as an Aboriginal woman giving birth,'' she said. "That is private women's business. For someone to (describe a birth) is insulting and offending to people and their cultural beliefs.

"It is highly offensive to any group of people that they are falsely misrepresented in respect to their people and their misery,'' she said. "And there is someone else benefiting from it in a financial way.''

The novel tells of Aboriginal twins, born in outback Australia in the 1930s. Separated at birth, the boy is adopted by a white rural family and the girl sent to a Catholic mission.

The boy becomes an alcoholic and, in his mid-20s, is sentenced to life in prison without parole for a double murder he did not commit. The girl is molested by a priest, forced to have a hysterectomy at the age of nine, and sent to work at a boarding house. She later returns to the desert to live with the Real People tribe.

Ms Scott said it was another example of people jumping on the bandwagon of exploiting Aboriginal culture for their own gain. "If you look at the artwork, look at the culture of Aboriginal people, it has all been exploited and bastardized,'' she said.

HarperCollins has not returned phone calls to The Age this week.

The Age

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