NAIDOC Week – always was, always will be

By Nick Whittock – Mumbulla School Librarian

To mark NAIDOC Week 2020, I have put together a selection of diversely brilliant books that celebrate First Nation’s culture and examine with heart and truth, the history of the invasion.

My Place

Sally Morgan’s ground breaking novel tells this history from a very personal perspective, but in that is contained the stories of her family, going back generations, and the beginnings of the story of her people. Sally’s compulsion to tell the story her family has, out of shame and fear, hidden away from, powerfully exposes the trauma her people have been subject too, and reveals their pride in remembering and telling truths that had not yet been told, on a popular scale, to the nation.

Living on Stolen Land (and The Tribe)

Ambelin Kwaymullina (Sally Morgan’s daughter) carries on the family tradition of pushing change through the medium of literature. Her poetic manifesto, Living on stolen land frames the issues of colonialism with confronting clarity, and provides a generous lesson in concepts the colonisers need to learn and understand to find a way forward. A powerful guide to the unsettlement.

Ambelin also writes for the young adult audience. Her series, The Tribe is a futuristic series that focusses on a tribe of young people outcast from the cities of the state that has been rebuilt as an ecological and social utopia, having learnt the lessons from the collapse of an ancestral society. This utopia still has its deep prejudices and The Tribe, all victims of this, have turned to freedom fighting. Each of The Tribe has a special power. The mythology behind the world Ambelin constructs is not based in the Greek or Roman tradition, but comes out of the stories meaningful to her, and from her own cultural tradition.

Guwayu and Maar Bidi

These two books from Magabala books show what incredible work this publisher is doing in terms of putting First Nations writers to the forefront of Australian publishing. Guwayu is a collection of poetry featuring explosive young poets (Evelyn Araluen for example) alongside epic figures like Lionel Fogarty, who has been brilliantly and relentlessly bashing at colonial power for multiple decades. Maar Bidi is a collection of prose and fiction by young First Nations writers investigating the complexity of contemporary experience.

Yiwarra Kuju : the Canning stock route

This was one of the first books I pulled from the Georgie library shelves when I started working here nearly 5 years ago. It tells the story of the Canning stock route from the perspective of the people of the nations through which it passed and impacted upon. The story is told through artworks and remembered accounts, often about the importance of the country being so diabolically threatened by the expansion of the mining and pastoral industries in Western Australia.

Let me know if you’d like to borrow any of these books, or hear about others. Let me know about the great titles you’ve come across as well!