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great new reads

August 30, 2018

Two great new reads by Indigenous authors

Next week on Wednesday 5 September, we’ll be celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day. According to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, “Indigenous Literacy Day is a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy. Through activities on the day, we focus our attention on the disadvantages experienced in remote communities and encourage the rest of Australia to raise funds and advocate for more equal access to literacy resources for remote communities.”

We hope you’ll join us in supporting Indigenous Literacy Day. You can get a head start by reading one of the two great new books by Indigenous authors that we’ve reviewed below!

Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe

dark emu

Bruce Pascoe is an Aboriginal man from the Boon wurrung clan of the Kulin nation, whose traditional land is the now the site of greater Melbourne. He is a teacher, farmer, a fisherman, language researcher, film-maker and writer. In this award-winning non-fictional work, he combines firsthand accounts of White explorers and pastoralists with cutting-edge scientific studies to demonstrate a sophisticated and enduring civilisation that existed across much of the Australian continent before British invasion.

Dark Emu demonstrates that Aboriginal people built permanent dwellings (i.e. houses); utilised celestial navigation; altered the course of rivers with dams and weirs; sowed, irrigated and tilled the land; and boasted a peaceful and prosperous pan-continental system of government along with a flourishing trade economy. Importantly, this well-researched book reveals that this sophisticated Aboriginal society was acknowledged (at times, reluctantly) by early settler-invaders, but such knowledge was later expunged (in some cases, quite literally) from Australia’s history, at the same time as colonisation wiped out Aboriginal populations and destroyed the material artefacts of a society that was tens of thousands of years old.

Change in current practice is sorely needed so that this fragile continent will continue to support human, animal and plant life in the coming centuries. Dark Emu calls for further research and action into how Aboriginal knowledges can play a role in bringing about an agricultural and ecological revolution for the benefit of all Australians.

– Reviewed by Yin Paradies, Coordinator Indigenous Knowledges and Culture, Deakin University

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, edited by Anita Heiss

growing up aboriginalWhat does it mean to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? Edited by author, poet and proud member of the Wiradjuri nation, Dr Anita Heiss, this collection of memoirs provides a vivid picture of what life in Australia is like for Aboriginal people from multiple generations. Contributors to Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia span the diversity of Indigenous cultures and mobs around the country, featuring everyone from famous Aboriginal artists and celebrities to new voices of young activists.

The stories are both heartbreaking and humorous, poetic and terse, reflecting the diverse range of experiences represented by the contributors. From the Stolen Generations, to experiences of multiracial identity, to education and expectations of both White and Aboriginal society, this exceptional collection provides readers rare access to a wealth of stories and knowledge. One thing the stories have in common: they are extraordinarily honest, remarkably vulnerable and decidedly true.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia is a timely collection providing critical insight into both past and present experiences of the traditional custodians of Australian lands. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers have much to gain from this important book.

– Reviewed by Amy Clarke, Communications and Engagement Coordinator, Deakin Library

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