NAIDOC Week runs from 4-11 July. This years’ NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Heal Country’ and is a call to “seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction”. For First Nations people country is more than a place and is inherent to their identity.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage. To celebrate NAIDOC Week our staff have shared some works from the library collection related to the theme:

Swallow the air – This is the debut young adult novel by Tara June Winch. It tells the story of May, who goes to live with Aunty after her mother dies suddenly. The novel explores May’s journey to find her father, her Aboriginal identity, and a place to belong.

Dark Emu – Bruce Pasco – 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. 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.

Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia – Victor Steffensen

Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of Indigenous fire practices, including improved ‘reading’ of country and undertaking ‘cool burns’, could help to restore our nation. Victor developed a passion for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge from a young age, but it was after leaving high school that Victor met two Elders who became his mentors, particularly to revive cultural burning.
Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire – with burning done in a controlled manner – for land care and healing. Victor’s story is unassuming and honest, written in a way that reflects the nature of yarning. And while some of the knowledge shared in his book may be unclear to western world views, there is much evidence that, if adopted, it could benefit all Australians. 

Growing up Aboriginal in Australia – edited by Anita Heiss. An anthology of childhood stories from well-known authors and Aboriginal identities including:

Tony Birch, Deborah Cheetham, Adam Goodes, Terri Janke, Patrick Johnson, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Jack Latimore, Celeste Liddle, Amy McQuire, Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Miranda Tapsell, Jared Thomas, Aileen Walsh, Alexis West, Tara June Winch.

The stories cover family, country and belonging and provide insight into the lives of lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

Macquarie PEN anthology of Aboriginal literature – edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter. This authoritative collection of Australian Aboriginal writing about culture, history, and life over two centuries, includes both fiction and non-fiction pieces.

The collection ranges from Bennelong’s 1796 letter to contemporary creative writers and is a great starting point to understand the ongoing impact of dispossession, and the resilience of Aboriginal people across the country.

Tell me why: the story of my life and my music – Archie Roach’s memoir of his life as a stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and community leader.

Roach is a member of the stolen Generation, forcibly removed from his family and brought up by a series of foster parents. As a teenager he received a letter that uncovered his previous life and family. The pain of this revelation led to fourteen years living on the streets battling alcohol addiction. Archie went on to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today.

Welcome to Country: a travel guide to Indigenous Australia – Marcia Langton with Nina Fitzgerald and Amber-Rose Atkinson. A curated guidebook to Indigenous Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. Gain insight into Indigenous languages and customs, history, native title, art and dance, storytelling, and cultural awareness and etiquette for visitors. Includes a directory of Indigenous tourism experiences, organised by state or territory, covering galleries and festivals, national parks and museums, communities that are open to visitors, as well as tours and performances.

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