Molly Kelly, whose childhood trek across 1,000 miles of the Australian desert to return to her Aboriginal mother inspired the 2002 movie ''Rabbit-Proof Fence,'' died on Tuesday at her home in Jigalong in Western Australia, her family said. She was thought to be 87.
Ms. Kelly was about 13 when she, her little sister and a cousin made the nine-week journey with little food or water. When her story came out decades later, she became a symbol of the resilience of Aborigines in the face of mistreatment by Australia's European settlers.
In 1931, Ms. Kelly was taken from her mother and sent to a government institution to be trained as a domestic servant along with her sister and cousin.
Thousands of such forced separations created what are now known as Australia's ''stolen generations.'' The policy aimed at assimilating Aborigines into mainstream society began in 1905 and continued until 1971.
The three girls immediately fled the institution. Ms. Kelly decided that since Jigalong was on a rabbit-proof fence -- intended to stop the spread of imported rabbits -- they could follow it north to their home.