What is it like being Aboriginal with white skin?

Why should fair skinned Aboriginal people have to justify their Aboriginality?

Apekathe follows the story of two Aboriginal women and their families and how they identify with their Aboriginal heritage.

Using Priscilla Collins' family as the vehicle, this documentary explores this identity crisis in a contemporary environment. A red-haired, freckled woman herself, Cilla's family is made up of shades from black to white skin. There is no doubt within the family that they are Aboriginal, but there is doubt in society at large.

Maureen McGregor is an Aboriginal woman from the Daly River region of the Northern Territory. Maureen does not have to contend with skeptical remarks about her identity as she possesses the characteristics and pigmentation of an Aboriginal person.

Her children however are fair with red hair. As with Priscilla, these children will grow up to be ridiculed for proclaiming they are Aboriginal.

Apekathe shows the diversity which makes up the Aboriginal nation of Australia and why there are people with fair skin who call themselves Aboriginal.

Apekathe means "fair-skinned".

"Aboriginal" means being able to come back to a community. — Maureen McGregor

I draw my identity from my mother because she has been the stronger presence in my life. — Steven McGregor, director


Release dates
1997 - Australia (ABC-TV)
2000 - Australia (Message Stick program)
Video/DVD release date
2002 “Best cultural documentary” Australian Cinematographers Society SA and WA Branches
G - general
Ronin Films
Minnie Read

Priscilla Collins is also the producer of this film.

Alternative title: "Apekathe: Fair-skinned: Cilla and Maureen's story".

Maureen was fostered out at age 6. Her husband is an Aboriginal man with dark parents, but her kids are light-skinned.

Priscilla's husband is also Aboriginal, his mother has dark skin, but he is fair-skinned.

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Apekathe, <>, retrieved 8 July 2020

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