8 Books on Indigenous History & Culture That Will Move and Shake You - Beautiful Blog by Koskela
Our lovely friends at Koskela have put together this beautiful blog which resonates closely with our affiliation and desire at Archiblox to reconnect with the original history and cultures of our country.
It’s currently Reconciliation Week and the theme this year is, Don’t Keep History A Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow. Almost 1 in 3 Australians do not accept key facts about Australia’s past institutional prejudices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people. Reconciliation Australia invites people to learn more, and share that knowledge to help us grow as a nation.
A good book is one of the best ways to educate yourself about any given subject. Koskela has put together a list of 8 brilliant books that have the power to completely change your perspective on ATSI cultures and histories. All these books are stocked in their Rosebery store and many are available online.
1. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.
2. The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper
The Tall Man is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell. It is the story of that policeman, the tall, enigmatic Christopher Hurley who chose to work in some of the toughest and wildest places in Australia, and of the struggle to bring him to trial. Above all, it is a story in luminous detail of two worlds clashing—and a haunting moral puzzle that no reader will forget.
The death of Cameron Doomadgee in police custody is also explored in the SBS documentary series of the same name.
3. Us Women Our Ways
A collection of writings on women and Aboriginal identity from 14 senior Indigenous academics and community leaders. The collection engages with questions such as: What makes Aboriginal women strong? Why are grandmothers so important (even ones never met)? How is the connection to country different for Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people's love of nature or sense of belonging to an area? What is Aboriginal spirituality?
These writings are generous, inclusive and considerate of the non-Aboriginal reader's feelings. They are hopeful for the future, with an emphasis on acknowledging, joining with, collaborating and caring.
Edited by Darlene Oxenham, Jeannie Herbert, Jill Milroy and Pat Dudgeon.
4. The Biggest Estate On Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage
For over a decade, Gammage has examined written and visual records of the Australian landscape. He has uncovered an extraordinarily complex system of land management using fire and the life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year. The Biggest Estate on Earth rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. Once Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to the hugely damaging bushfires we now experience. And what we think of as virgin bush in a national park is nothing of the kind.
5. Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari
The ngangkari are the traditional healers of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Lands, encompassing 350,000 square kilometres of the remote western desert. For thousands of years the ngangkari have nurtured the physical, emotional and social well-being of their people. To increase understanding and encourage collaboration with mainstream health services and the wider community, the ngangkari have forged a rare partnership with health professionals and practitioners of Western medicine. Experience the world of the ngangkari as they share their wisdom, natural healing techniques and cultural history through life stories, spectacular photography and artwork.
Produced by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation.
6. Ngarra: the Texta drawings
A mesmerising collection of texta drawings by one of remote Australia's most significant artists. Ngarra was the senior lawman for ceremonies throughout a vast swathe of the Kimberley. Turning to art in 1994, Ngarra developed an electrifying and sophisticated style of painting and drawing, producing works in ochre, acrylic and texta. A brilliant colourist and a great inventor of form, Ngarra boldly combined his unparalleled cultural knowledge with a unique artistic vision.
7. Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum
This catalogue provides a stunning visual record of the 149 rare, historic objects from the collection of the British Museum Exhibition alongside more recent artworks and artefacts made in communities of origin. It reveals how these objects are deeply enmeshed in contemporary lives of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people and continue to be embraced in their culture today.
8. True Girt - The Unauthorised History of Australia Volume 2 by David Hunt
In this sequel to his best-selling history, Girt, author David Hunt takes us to the Australian frontier. With plenty of wit and supporting historical documents he explores the founding of new colonies, the growth of agriculture, the gold rushes, trial by jury and the relentless expansion of white settlement. Hunt also describes numerous episodes of conflict between the European colonists and the Aboriginal people. He digs up evidence of shocking colonist attitudes, such as after the killing of about 30 Wirrayaraay people and trial of their murderers The Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “the whole gang of black animals are not worth the money the colonists will have to pay for printing the silly court documents on which we have already wasted too much time’’.
For more books and research focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, history and cultures we highly encourage you to check out Reconciliation Australia's list of Recommended Reading.