‘See No Evil’

by Ann McGrath

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When Garry Smith visited Western Australia’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in 2013 to retrieve copies of his great-grandmother’s death certificate, he was shocked. The word “Aboriginal” had been removed. Previously, when he had searched online, he had found a certificate from 1915, originally inscribed “Kitty Aboriginal”; in the printed copy, it was just “Kitty.” When Smith and a relative of his asked why the word had been removed, they were told that it was because “Aboriginal” was an “offensive” term. Smith’s great-grandmother’s identity had been “whited” out. Smith said later that the erasure made him feel sick, as if he was expected to be ashamed of being Aboriginal. He also feared that this might create more obstacles for those who make native title claims to Australian land and waters…