Dark Emu – Bruce Pascoe

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviors inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.

This is an important book that advances a powerful argument for re-evaluating the sophistication of Aboriginal peoples’ economic and socio-political livelihoods, and calls for Australia to embrace the complexity, sophistication and innovative skills of Indigenous people into its concept of itself as a nation.” The review by Dr Michael Davis, honorary research fellow at the University of Sydney.


The Biggest Estate On Earth – Bill Gammage


– The Australian Estate –
This book describes how the people of Australia managed their land in 1788. It tells how this was possible, what they did, and why. It argues that collectively they managed an Australian estate they thought of as single and universal.Gammage
The Australian estate was remarkable. No estate on earth was on so much earth…
The book rests on three facts about 1788.
1. Unlike the Britain of most early observers, about 70 per cent of Australia’s plants need or tolerate fire. Knowing which plants welcome fire, and when and how much, was critical to managing land. Plants could then be burnt and not burnt in patterns, so that post-fire regeneration could situate and move grazing animals predictably by selectively locating the feed and shelter they prefer.
2. Grazing animals could be shepherded in this way because apart from humans they had no serious predators. Only in Australia was this so.
3. There was no wilderness. The Law—an ecological philosophy enforced by religious sanction—compelled people to care for all their country. People lived and died to ensure this…
Successfully managing such diverse material was an impressive achievement; making from it a single estate was a breathtaking leap of imagination…
Edward Curr glimpsed this. Born in Hobart in 1820, pioneer squatter on the Murray, he knew people who kept their old customs and values, and he studied them and their country closely in the decades of their dispossession. After 42 years in Victoria he wrote,
1788 management made resources as predictable as farming, and in times of drought and flood made them more predictable. Mere sustainability was not enough. Abundance was normal.
Like landowning gentry, people generally had plenty to eat, few hours of work a day, and much time for religion and recreation. A few Europeans recognised this, but for most it was beyond imagining. They thought the landscape natural and they preferred it so.
They did not see, but their own records show how carefully made, how unnatural, was Aboriginal Australia. It is time to look again.
Three rules directed 1788 management:
• Ensure that all life flourishes.
• Make plants and animals abundant, convenient and predictable.
• Think universal, act local.
These rules imposed a strict ecological discipline on every person. A few non-Aborigines have begun to think this worthwhile, but even on a district scale, let alone all Australia, none can do it.
How Aborigines did it is the story of this book…
“on barren or sandy ground, its character is that of open forest without the slightest undergrowth save grass . . . In many places the trees are so sparingly, and I had almost said judiciously distributed as to resemble the park lands attached to a gentleman’s residence in England.”
– Sturt
“…Two remarkable conical hills, perfectly free from timber, rose in the middle of the largest plain . . . The whole, as far as the eye could reach, was clothed with a thick coat of grass, rich and luxuriant, as if the drought, so destructive elsewhere, had never reached this favoured spot. It was Omio plain. By what accident, or rather by what freak of nature, came it there? A mighty belt of forest, for the most part destitute of verdure, and forming as uninviting a region as could well be found, closed it on every side for fifty miles; but there, isolated in the midst of a wilderness of desolation, lay this beautiful place, so fair, so smiling.”
– Haygarth
“truly beautiful: it was thinly studded with single trees, as if planted for ornament . . . It is impossible therefore to pass through such a country . . . without being perpetually reminded of a gentleman’s park and grounds. Almost every variety of scenery presented itself. The banks of the river on the left of us alternated between steep rocky sides and low meadows: sometimes the river was fringed with patches of underwood (or brush, as it is called) . . . in Australia, the traveller’ s road generally lies through woods, which present a distant view of the country before him . . . The first idea is that of an inhabited and improved country, combined with the pleasurable associations of a civilized society.”
– Dawson
“…typical of a great portion of the pastoral lands of Victoria. It consisted of undulating open forest-land, which has often been compared, without exaggeration, to the ordinary park-scenery of an English domain; the only difference which strikes the eye being the dead half-burnt trees lying about. To bring it home to the comprehension of a Londoner, these open forest-lands have very much the appearance of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, presenting natural open glades like the east end of the former.”
– Haydon
> http://arts.gov.au/…/The-Biggest-Estate-on-Earth-(Chap-1).p…

– Explodes the myth that pre-settlement Australia was an untamed wilderness revealing the complex, country-wide systems of land management used by Aboriginal people… rewrites the history of this continent, with huge implications for us today. –
Winner, Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History, 2012
Winner, Victorian Prize for Literature, and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (Prize for Non-Fiction), 2012
Winner, ACT Book of the Year Award, 2012
Winner, Queensland Literary Awards (History Book Award), 2012
Winner, Canberra Critics’ Circle Award, 2012
Winner, Manning Clark House National Cultural Awards (Individual Category), 2011
Short-listed, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards (Douglas Stewart Prize), 2013
Short-listed, Australian Book Industry Awards (General Non-Fiction Book of the Year), 2012
Short-listed, Australian Historical Association Prizes (Kay Daniels Award), 2012
> http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx…

First Nations Women On Treaty

Redfern Community is hosting a forum to discuss the merits of Treaty. Speakers include Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Amy McQuire, Natalie Cromb and Amala Groom, all First Nation Women.

Excellent clear plain English language wording clarification, key part transcription quotation (—i transcribed by hand over an hour or so) :
“Natalie Cromb – Writer and Paralegal :

Despite many attempts to rewrite and sanitise history, we know that under English law at the time of Governor Phillip’s claim there were three legal regimes under which they could acquire a colony (1) Settlement: where the territory is uninhabited and the settlers’ law—settlers brought English law with them (2) Conquest: where the territory is inhabited and the local law survives so long they didn’t interfere with the laws of the crown (3) Cession: where the territory was inhabited and sovereignty was ceded and the agreed law was agreed between the parties. The prevailing legal doctrine in Australia is that it was acquired through settlement despite the presence of indigenous populations because the English common law declared the lands uninhabited because they declared the people savages and uncivilised by eighteenth century, English, norms. Ultimately, through the doctrine of terra nullius [the] indigenous people where subverted as savages. And this was integrated into the Australian constitution. The illegality of the actions of the crown where clear even as far back as 1832 when the chief protector of Aborigines George Robinson wrote: I am at a loss to concieve by what tenure we hold this country for it does not appear to be that we either hold it by conquest or by right of purchase. This isn’t new to us, we know this country wasn’t settled. We know that sovereighty wasn’t ceded. And it is this disparity of understanding between what we know and what white Australia is told. This is a critical point to the success or failure of any cause, the truth and the wide acceptance of the truth as fact. Sadly we would all know countless people that we’ve encountered throughout our lives that say ‘i had no idea’; ‘i didn’t know this was happening’. It must have been in the history, in the past. The average Australian simply does not know about the fight for equality and rights that indigenous people have been fighting for two hundred and twenty seven years. They don’t understand the history and by history i mean the true history. I mean the fact that indigenous people where subjects of forced and violent dispersals from their cultural lands, they were the victims of massacres and murders, rapes and retributory attacks whenever they resisted. There were genocidal policies based on pseudo-science of indigenous inferiority. There were sinister attempts to murder countless indigenous people when the diseases weren’t killing us fast enough. There was the pervasive mindset of indigenous people being subhuman and this justified it in the minds of the colonisers.

Message from Uncle Bruce Pascoe, Author of Dark Emu

My message to my own people,” says researcher Bruce Pascoe, “is the rest of the country’s not going to change if we don’t stick up for our culture; and our culture was one where we had an agricultural economy.”
“If we stick up for our culture, it’ll be useful not just for us but for the whole of Australia, because some of those crops that our people were growing are going to be useful in the future.”


A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe