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Some Pitiful Cases.
According to law a half-caste is the offspring of an aboriginal woman and Other than an aboriginal man, but the inverse position, certainly very rare
though not unknown, has not been pro- vided for in this State. The law fails to tell us how to classify the offspring of two half-castes and their descendants who are, in fact, of the same blood as the original twain. The law likewise forgets to say how we should place the offspring of an aboriginal male and a half-caste female and vise versa; also of the three quarter aboriginal and the white, . the white male and the half-caste female, and so on. The introduction of a little negro and West Indian blood plus Chinese and Malay, adds to the general hotchpotch until the subjects of my remarks are at their wits end to know how to place themselves. Think it out for yourself, and try how many variations you can arrive at. and you will dimly begin to realise something of the problem present- ed for solution, if indeed you are still in full possession of your mental balance when you have wrestled with the ques- tion for a few hours. To most people these variations look very much alike and only the trained eye can usually detect the differences which exist in endless variety. In Western Australia the fecundity of the half-caste is no less apparent than else where among such people. Large fami- lies are the rule; small ones the excep- tion. Unattached half-caste women often produce many children by a variety of fathers, full-blood aboriginal, half-caste or white. It is not unusual to find a family of brothers and sisters varying in pigmentation from dark chocolate to blond. The case of the children of half caste women, fathered by white men, is sad indeed. Many of these children are 'beautiful youngsters, three parts white showing barely a trace of the black, yet mostly leading the nomadic life of the aboriginal, sometimes under the control and tutelage of a full-blood or half-caste foster father- If the mother has no man they may be found 'gnawing a bone on the woodheap' until they are old enough to work or become some man's prey, like their mothers. It is not unusual for half caste girls and even quarter-castes, to be assigned as wives in infancy to elderly full-bloods, and it is an undeniable fact that many a 'white' native can be found in the camps to-day. '
A Problem. Can anyone explain why the children of a half-caste male and fullblood female should be fairer than those born to a half-caste female by a full-blood father? Place a child of the former beside a true half-caste and one the offspring of two true half-castes and try, if you can, to find 'sufficient difference between them to enable the determination of their parent age. One factor, however, seems clear; atavism is not in evidence so far as col- our is concerned. Eliminate in future the full-blood and the white and one common blend will remain. Eliminate the full
blood and permit the white admixture and eventually the race will become white, always providing the negro, Malay and other coloured races are rigidly excluded. The slightest trace of. negro blood is readily observable and it would require the inclusion of but a comparative few to keep the race dark forever. Some people think that the children of half castes become quarter-castes; such, of course, is not the case. They are much the same as their parents, and it needs the infusion of the blood of another race to further reduce the mixture. If that blood is negroid the progeny be come darker than their parents, but if white scarcely distinguishable from our selves. In the early days of settlement many of the colonists brought with them African and West Indian negro servants. These have left their distinctive features on our Southern coloured population to a marked extent and time does not seem to eliminate the strain. It may be said, too, that this negroid introduction was far from beneficial and does not even compare favourably with the Malay and Chinese. Some of the most intelligent members of our coloured race are those having a fair amount of Asiatic blood in their veins. The conditions under which all these people live are but little known, and few of us yet realise the growing problem arising from their rapidly increasing num bers. Perhaps it is just as well that we should learn more about some of the less well-known difficulties which confront our governing authorities, and you never know how intimately you may some day or other be involved in something which you have hitherto disregarded as of no consequence to you or your people. Many white men are legally married to abori ginal and coloured women of aboriginal descent. The quadroon and octaroon are scarcely distinguishable from the white. Many are handsome, even beautiful, gen- tle mannered, soft voiced girls, speaking perfectly enunciated if somewhat abbre- viated English. Is there to be a colour bar? Nobility of Bearing.
This question must arise within a few years at the present rate of progress: Every State in Australia, except Tas- mania, has the same problem to face, in a greater or lesser degree. Tasmania disposed, of the matter for all time many years ago by eliminating the aboriginal altogether. In this State, out of some three thousand coloured folk (I do not refer to the full-blood), perhaps three hundred or so may be said to live in a manner more or less conforming to white standards. The majority live like their aboriginal forbears, and more often than not have fallen away from grace and become degenerate in deed, their last state being worse than their first. There is a nobility of bearing and outlook about the true uncontaminated black, hot gene- rally shared by his descendant. The former, at least, is ruled and guided by his tribal laws, but our coloured people have for the most part long since forgotten them in their futile efforts to ape the white. The social system of the full-blood kept him from inbreeding, but this very thing accounts for much of the trouble among the rest. They have become 'Mootch.' the word denoting the mating of couples contrary to tribal law under the social system. The half-caste has little family life, social place or legal position with either the white or black, he feels this and acts accordingly. Some few attain precarious leadership among the blacks and a place of trust among the whites, but/not often. Yet the picture has its brighter side. Many are leading happy care-free and use fully employed lives and all goes well so long as the tucker bag is full. When hard times come, keen suffering is uncom plainingly borne. Then, however, the search for a means of livelihood necessitates con- stant wandering from place to place and the idea of a permanent home, becomes a mere dream. Some of us are prone to talk a lot of nonsense about letting these folks work out their own destiny. What is their destiny, and how can an unedu- cated, untrained, ill-nurtured, weakly peo- ple such as these fight against life as it is to-day? And what chance have the growing children of facing the world in the years to come? No home life, no reli- gious influence in childhood, no standards even to guide them — only the evil influ- ence of the -medicine men (who still hold away) to frighten and threaten; no moral backing to help them in the strong call of sex; unmoral, not immoral, be- cause they know, no other life or way. Parental love is strong and expressed in ways calculated utterly to spoil the child, but fear and superstition hold sway, above all. Hundreds of children are to-day ap- proaching adolescence. What is to become of them?