In 2016, my husband Alan McAnespie and I, Olga Collis-McAnespie, began an extraordinary journey when we decided to compile my family tree, a promise I had made to myself when I was young.
My Aboriginal heart is criss-crossed with Muruwari, Guwamu/Kooma bloodlines. The journey, starting with my family, soon found 155 surnames, 879 individuals and 7 generations – all linked by traditional tribal bloodlines.
Working mostly with word-of-mouth information from the families that we tracked down, we built a substantial database that turned into this book.
During our research, we came across heart-warming and yet sad incidents that gave perspective to the hard and the happy times our families have journeyed since the 19th century to the present.
We witnessed a yearning to reconnect our families, as in the ancient times. My kaya (mother) and my yapu (father) were married on the 18th April 1929 at Angledool NSW and it is my belief that they were relocated from Angledool to Brewarrina in 1936 due to poor living conditions in the mission community. (Ref: NSW Aboriginal Protection Board Records year ended June 30th, 1936) It seems ironic that a resurgence of Aboriginal languages is currently being encouraged in the nation.
I remember the ever-present sadness that burdened my parents because the government prohibited the use of their yaan, their mother-tongue and traditional ways. Most of the old language was lost or forgotten. But not all. We included some of these words in our work. Our kapal-kapal (old people’s) memories hold strong stories in their own language.
Let’s hope that our stories will never be lost again. We trust that when people hold this book in their hand, they will cherish this living history that informs and empowers our Family Tree branches – to look with hope for the future.