Debesa: The Story of Frank and Katie Rodriguez

Dr. Cindy Cindy Solonec

Debesa: The Story of Frank and Katie Rodriguez
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Debesa: The Story of Frank and Katie Rodriguez

Dr. Cindy Cindy Solonec

‘I listened to my family’s narratives and my ancestors began to emerge in an almost life-like way.’ - Cindy Solonec

This extraordinary and heartfelt story chronicles the lives of the Rodriguez family of Debesa Station in the West Kimberley; their livelihood through difficult times, love of family, place and culture, and the challenges of day-to-day living on a small sheep station amid huge pastoral properties.

Spanning four generations from the 1880s when the author’s maternal great-grandfather, Indian deckhand, Jimmy Casim, met and lived with Nigena woman, Lucy Muninga on Yeeda Station near Derby, Debesa centres on the unlikely partnership of Cindy’s parents: Frank Rodriguez, once a Benedictine novice monk from Spain, and Katie Fraser, who had been a novitiate in a very different sort of abbey - a convent for ‘black' women at Beagle Bay Mission, 130 kilometres north of Broome.

Together, Frank and Katie Rodriguez established Debesa, where Cindy and her three siblings grew up with the rich cultural heritage of their Spanish, Nigena and English ancestors.

Debesa is a sweeping social history of one family’s struggles and triumphs set against the backdrop of the beauty of the West Kimberley.

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