Files reveal the silly, scary spies' eye-view of Aboriginal history

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A MOBILE phone rings as Chicka Dixon is talking on the land line.

"What's that? That's bloody ASIO [Australian Security Intelligence Organisation], is it?" the 79-year-old says.

He is only half-joking.

With a 30-year embargo now over, Mr Dixon has in his hands 150 often tedious, sometimes frightening and occasionally humorous pages of his ASIO file from the 1960s and '70s, when he was one of the leaders of the indigenous rights movement.

Mr Dixon was instrumental in the decade-long campaign for the 1967 referendum to include indigenous people in the census, the erection in 1972 of the tent embassy in Canberra, and in setting up the first Aboriginal legal and medical service.

In pages and pages of typed agents' reports, however, the man they called "The Fox" is painted as a "popular, well-dressed and strongly anti-European" dissident.

"Dixon could be a communist or is certainly very close to becoming one," one item says, because of his union background.

"He is an Aborigine," it adds, almost as an afterthought.

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Lorraine Paul - 11/7/2007

good people were spied on by this drongo agency!

One day I'm going to ask for a copy of my own ASIO file! Don't ask for a better world in the land of spy makes you immediately suspected of all sorts of nonsense.