Zita Wallace was born in the bush at Arltunga, east of Alice Springs around 1939. She was forcibly removed at the age of eight. “They chased after the truck when they realized we were going, and we were all crying in the back…. we were told we were going shopping in Alice Springs and we never returned. There were seven of us put in the back of truck.” She remembers saying in her native tongue at the time, “all the trees are running away from us,” as she looked out the slits in the back of the moving truck. Zita was taken to the Bungalow at the old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs, then shipped up to Garden Point on Melville Island.
“It was a very sad night the first night we went to bed and it was the first time I hadn’t gone and sat beside my grandfather before I went to bed. Every night I would go and sit beside him, just sit, just to be next to him, we were very close.”
“I found out years later from the old men that him and a cousin brother, they walked from Alice Springs, from the homelands out here, to Darwin to look for me. When they got to Darwin... they were told by one of the brothers… that all of us children were dead, your little sister is dead, they all died, because they didn’t want them looking for us any further.”
“They flogged us from day one, to stop us speaking language. They told us we were pagans, and that we were spawn of the devil and that the language was evil and we couldn’t speak it.. so we got belted every time.”
Zita’s husband encouraged her to find her family. She eventually found her brother. “He was in this little old tin shed, and I went down to see him, and he just cried and cried and cried. He recognized me as soon as he seen me. He knew who I was… we had a lovely relationship, him and I… it was a little bit of a different story with my mother… she’d resigned herself to the fact that I was taken away, and that I was a spirit child, I was a spirit, I wasn’t… me, the human child that was taken away, that’s what she really believed in…” says Zita.
Zita was accepted back by her people, and taught all of her traditions and stories. “All the money in the world would never give me what this has given me, being given back my land and being accepted as part of the tribe that my grandfather was head, he was the boss of. So it’s really important to be back here and belonging and no amount of money could compensate for this. What my own people have done for me is what the government should have done for stolen generation people.”